The Best Phones and Tablets of 2020

Tech Lists Best of 2020
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The Best Phones and Tablets of 2020

What’s happening in the world of phones and tablets? Paste asked tech journalist Jason D’Aprile for his thoughts on the best new phones and tablets of 2020. Whether you’re looking for a new top-of-the-line smartphone, affordable options, or a tablet for the kids, this list has you covered.

10. ReMarkable 2

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$399

The original ReMarkable tablet answered the gnawing question “how cool would an entirely digital ink tablet be for creative types?” The answer was “very.” Think of it as a larger Kindle that you can freely write, read, and draw on like you would a piece of actual paper. Thanks to the pencil-like stylus, the ReMarkable really is like writing on a paper notepad. Except this notepad saves everything, and uploads it to the cloud, your email, or other places. It can take your handwritten notes and turn them into text, let you mark up PDFs as if they were physical documents, and more. The ReMarkable 2 is an overall improvement over the original. Thinner, lighter, more powerful, and much better battery life, if you’re someone who still loves writing, drawing, or just doing things by hand, this is the distraction-free device you want.


9. Samsung Galaxy Tab S7

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$650

There mostly seems to be two kinds of Android tablets these days: Samsung’s Galaxy Tabs and an endless bevy of sketchy, super-cheap knockoffs from China. There may be a few other choices in the middle, but the Tab series still reigns supreme. The A7 is a great tablet for a cheap price, but the S7 is the top-end that competes handily with iPads. If you’re camp Android, the superfast hardware, gorgeously sharp and responsive screen, and excellent battery life all make the S7 the best.


8. Apple iPad Air 2020

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$599

There’s a lot of confusion for some about the various types of iPads out there, but the Air, with its enhanced, faster hardware, super-stylish design, and overall refinements make it the best iPad for nearly everyone. It’s a slightly downgraded version of the iPad Pro and even uses the Magic Keyboard, so it’s also exceptional as a laptop alternative. Over 10 hours of battery life, a better camera, and various minor improvements throughout all enhance the joys of using an iPad. That said, it’s pricier than the basic iPad for mostly stylistic improvements, so if cost is a factor, there’s no shame in going with this year’s stock iPad.


7. Amazon Fire HD 10

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$150

Amazon’s latest Fire is the best we’ve seen from them. Excellent hardware specs meld with a decent 10.1 inch screen and the most refined update of Amazon’s Fire OS. Granted, Fire tablets are clearly aimed at those already heavily invested in the Amazon Prime ecosystem. So even though the OS is based off Google Android, it’s walled off almost entirely from anything outside Amazon’s own environment. Just the same, this is an absurdly cheap, yet powerful tablet that’s perfect for watching and reading on, and if you have a kid’s account, also a solid choice for the youngsters.


6. Microsoft Surface Go 2

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$400

WIndows-based tablets haven’t exactly taken off, but Microsoft has been steadily improving and refining their Surface devices. The Surface Go 2 is a huge improvement over the original, with noticeably better hardware, a far improved battery, excellent built-in webcam, and slightly bigger 10.5 inch screen. The form factor is thinner and all around lighter, and since it runs Windows, you can run the same work, school, and entertainment apps you use on your main PC without a hitch.


5. Apple iPhone 12

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$699

Boosting a noticeably improved large OLED screen and blazing speed, the stock iPhone 12 is a surprisingly enhanced iteration of the company’s phone line. Supporting 5G and a new design with the narrower bezel “edge-to-edge” screen and ceramic shield body that makes the screen feel even larger and survive longer, there’s not much to complain about here. If you’re an Apple person in search of an update, the 12 is for you.


4. Google Pixel 4a 5G

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$499

Google’s mid-range phone is the best Android phone in its price range. While the overall hardware is terrific (much like last year’s Pixel 4), the phone has the highest quality camera in the pack, Google’s unadulterated version of its Android OS, and is just a great performer all around. The large 5.8 inch OLED screen is terrific and responsive, and it’s ready for that new 5G signal. While the battery isn’t the best we’ve tested, the overall package is definitely worthwhile.


3. Apple iPhone 12 Pro

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$999

Take the iPhone 12, tweak it even more, and you have the Pro version (or the Pro Max version for even better battery life). Better and more of everything is the philosophy here. More RAM, more storage, a noticeably better camera with an impressive low-light and night mode and 2X optical zoom. All that goodness is packed inside a super-stylish stainless steel body for more durability and water resistance than the base phone, making it among the absolute best phones on the market.


2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5G

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$750

If you’re still pining for that phablet-sized Android phone, Samsung’s newest Note is still top shelf. Samsung’s line of Android phones are always impressive, but the Notes are the ultimate marriage of everything we love about a phone with the versatility of an almost-tablet experience. The big draw, so to speak, has always been the stylus that tucks away in the body of the phone, letting you write, draw, and do a myriad of tasks as if it were a steno pad. The blazing speed and features of this phone, great screen, and hefty size are all reasons to stick with this Samsung.


1. Google Pixel 5

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$699

Google’s 2020 flagship phone comes in just one model, and while we were disappointed that model wasn’t the gloriously large XL version, what we did get is a superb pure Android device. It’s comfortable and intuitive, and doesn’t come bogged down with unnecessary third party extras and apps that just try to reinvent the wheel. The hardware is top end and Pixel cameras never fail to impress. It takes some amazing shots and the night mode for the camera is still fantastic. Most importantly, Google updates the latest Pixels first, so you’re always assured to have the newest version of Android and its vital updates before anyone. Given how Google keeps adding new features via these updates, that’s a big perk.