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Building the perfect Android Frankenphone: The best parts of the best phones of the year

Android phones didn’t just break the bank in 2019, they also broke speed, photography, and display records. Samsung and OnePlus delivered handsets that were as groundbreaking as they were gorgeous; Google pushed the limits of smartphone photography; and LG continued to march to its own drum, crafting some truly unique beats along the way.

But for all their strengths, there’s no perfect Android phone. So this year, I decided to build one. Well, on paper. Without further ado, here’s the 2019 Android Frankenphone, built using the best parts of the best phones of the year.

android frankenphone labeled Rob Schultz/IDG

You can build a killer Android phone with a piece of every great handset released in 2019.

Display: OnePlus 7 Pro

You can’t have a great phone without a great display, and the OnePlus 7 Pro had it this year—even better than the the Galaxy S10+ and Note 10+. Samsung might supply the display OnePlus uses, but the 7 Pro does it better. Why? Because of its 90Hz refresh rate, which makes scrolling super speedy. It’s not just that the 7 Pro is one of only a handful of phones that offer a refresh rate higher that 60Hz, it’s that OnePlus has delivered it in a display that’s so perfect, it’s like a cherry on top. And now it’s Samsung that needs to do the catching up.

Display size: Galaxy S10+

android vs iphone screens Christopher Hebert/IDG

The Galaxy S10+ (center) hits the sweet spot when it comes to screen size.

While the OnePlus 7 Pro has the best display, it’s a little too big for my tastes. At 6.7 inches, it’s one of the biggest phones ever made and pretty much impossible to use with one hand. But at 6.4 inches, the Galaxy S10+, is basically the Baby Bear of phones: just right. It’s smaller than the Note 10+ and the iPhone 11 Pro Max, and easily fits in my pocket, yet it’s still big enough to get serious work done.

Front design: Note 10+

The biggest story of 2019 was the ever-shrinking bezel, and the race to the first full-screen phone is truly underway. But until we get there, the Note 10+ is the phone that does itty-bitty bezels best. Its camera cutout is centered (unlike in the Galaxy S10+) and its receiver is the tiniest of holes along the top edge. The rounded corners of the display match the rounded corners of the phone, the chin is nearly as thin as the forehead, and the side bezels are nonexistent thanks to the infinity display. Lots of phones claim to have all-screen designs, but the Note 10+ is the only one that’s actually almost there.

Rear design: LG G8X

As the fronts of our phones have become overtaken by screens, it’s become easier to distinguish them from the backs of phones, from the Pixel 4’s square camera to the OnePlus 7T’s circular bump. But LG made the prettiest one of all, with a camera that’s entirely encased under glass. It’s the only phone with a rear case that’s completely smooth and flat, and if feels downright luxurious to hold. And it’s not too shabby to look at either. I’ve become so accustomed to bulbous bumps, and I can appreciate how the Pixel 4 and OnePlus 7T fully embrace them as part of their designs. But when I run my finger along the surface of the LG G8x and feel nothing but smooth glass, it makes all those camera bumps feel ancient.

Color: Note 10+

galaxy note 10 prizm Daniel Masaoka/IDG

Why have one color when you can have all the colors.

A whole bunch of cool colors debuted this year including Flamingo Pink (S10), Oh So Orange (Pixel 4), Cosmic Purple (Mate 30), and Martian Green (Galaxy Fold), but my favorite is the one the captured them all: Aura Glow on the Galaxy Note 10+. A virtual chameleon that’s constantly shifting its hue as you use it, Aura Glow might be the first phone color that truly needs a clear case—or none at all.

Processor: Snapdragon 855+

With all due respect to the Snapdragon 855 that powers the Galaxy S10 and note 10, Google Pixel 4, LG G8, and a slew of other high-performing premium handsets, the Snapdragon 855+ in the OnePlus 7T is a little faster and a little better at rendering graphics. The extra speed is particularly noticeably with 90Hz displays, which is probably why OnePlus is one of the only phones to use it.

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