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Three excellent new phones under $1000

The four main cameras give you hardware options not possible on the Pixel, including ultrawide and macro shots, but to be honest the overall quality of the photos is average. The processor here is also less powerful than on the Pixel, meaning app and game performance takes a hit, but overall the system is snappy.

There’s a general feeling that the TCL 10 Pro is trying to do everything the $1500 high-end phones do, but does them all a little bit worse. That’s not necessarily bad for the money mind you, and I rate this phone above Samsung’s mid-range efforts if you’re after a solid design and a screen worthy of Netflix binges.

LG Velvet: $899

Pushing up closer to our $1000 limit, the Velvet adds some extras not found on the Pixel or TCL, including 5G connectivity, wireless charging and water resistance. With a 6.8-inch OLED this is a very big phone but it feels slim and slick in the hand.

LG is trying to shake up its smartphone offerings by ditching the complicated letters and numbers of previous models and focusing each device around a tactile theme. As a result the Velvet is also the most fashion-forward on this list, with shimmery colours on both the glass finish and in the custom Android UI, plus an emphasis on content creation and social media. Audio spec gets some high-end love here with superb performance from the speakers, Bluetooth, 3.5mm jack and microphones. The multi-camera array takes better shots than the TCL but can’t touch the Pixel, especially in low light.

The Velvet might not pack the power of flagship phablets like Samsung’s standard Note20 but it is bigger, lighter, prettier, half the price and comes with a lot of character.

iPhone SE: from $749

If you’re after a new iPhone there’s only one choice under $1000, but fortunately it’s a pretty good one. Compared to the Pixel and the two phones above, Apple’s low-price model has the smallest and lowest resolution screen, the most old-fashioned looks with its Home button and big bezels, the smallest battery by a large margin and it’s the only one to lack a 3.5mm headphone jack.

But on the other hand the iPhone SE is the most powerful of the lot, borrowing its processor from the 2019 iPhone 11, so you can be confident every app and game will run smoothly. Unlike the Pixel 4a the iPhone has fast and wireless charging, water resistance and automatic display temperature adjustment. And while photos from the Pixel still win out, the iPhone likewise achieves some stunning single-lens results through software.

The $749 figure gets you an iPhone SE with 64GB of storage, but to bring it in line with the 128GB offered by the three Androids above will cost you $829.

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