2020’s most expensive cell phones cost four figures or even more. Most people expect to be wowed by the technology when paying such a high price, and most flagship phones don’t disappoint. Edge-to-edge screens, high-powered dual-lens cameras and facial recognition are only a few of the features packed into the most expensive phones available to the retail market. Or you can just go for gold and diamonds. 

key takeaways

  • The most expensive phones easily top four figures, if you don't have an older model to trade in.
  • Apple's iPhone 11 Pro is over $1,000, but Samsung's Galaxy Fold is nearly $2,000
  • LG is making a bid for the high-end crowd with its G8X ThinQ Dual Screen, which sells for nearly $950.

Note: All prices are manufacturer's list prices, where available, and current as of Feb. 8, 2020.

Apple iPhone 11 Pro ($999/$1,099)

Apple's latest top-of-the line baby costs $999 for the 5.8-inch Super Retina XDR display screen, $100 more if you want the 6.5-inch display. (Prices can be up to $300 less if you've an old iPhone to trade in.) Much of it duplicates the iPhone X (see below). The big deal with the new model: an innovative triple-camera system, with three different lenses. Other innovations: 20 hours of video playback (four more than the iPhone X), and being water-resistant to a depth of four meters. If you can manage with just a dual-camera system, 17 hours of video, water resistance down to 2 meters and HD display, the iPhone 11 is just $849 (the 256GB version).

Apple iPhone X ($649)

The arrival of iPhone 11 considerably brought down the cost of the iPhone X, which had a four-figure price tag upon its launch. Assuming you have no phone to trade in, the biggest X, with 128 GB, will now set you back $649. Representing Apple’s first unique design since the original iPhone launched a decade ago, it features a 5.8-inch front display utilizing a Samsung OLED screen and no front home button. Dual rear cameras match the quality of those on Samsung’s highly touted Galaxy Note 8. Advanced facial recognition unlocks the phone and activates Apple Pay. Other features include wireless charging, dust and water resistance and the AR-ready iOS 11 operating system. 

Samsung Galaxy Fold ($1,980)

"A phone and a tablet in one cutting-edge device!" Samsung's site for the Galaxy Fold breathlessly proclaims. Actually, the main thing getting cut was fingers, when this priciest-phone-ever was first released in 2019: The screen was prone to shattering. Samsung re-jiggered and re-launched, and now the 9.5-oz. phone, which transforms from a 4.6-inch handset to a 7.3-inch tablet, is less fragile. Among its other strengths: In tablet mode, it can run three apps at once; it has 512GB of storage; it features a three-lens rear camera and one front camera. Samsung includes wireless Galaxy Buds with the device.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ ($1,299/$1,099)

The latest in Samsung's traditional line, the Galaxy Note 10+ comes with an S Pen stylus and high-speed internal specs. Everything about the phone is big, from the 6.8-inch screen to the 1.5TB of storage space (with a micro SD card). There's a 5G version for the ultimate in connectivity, whose list price is $1,299; if you can manage with good old 4G, the phone is only $1,099. And if you can struggle along with a slightly smaller, 6.3-inch screen, the Galaxy Note 10 will set you back only $949.99.

Google Pixel 4 XL ($999/$899)

The Google Pixel 4 XL features the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 processor (CPU), along with 6GB of memory (RAM) and either 64GB or 128GB of solid-state (SSD) storage (the 128 GB version costs $999). It has a dual-lens camera, which can combine a telephoto lens and the company's Super Res Zoom tech to deliver sharp zoomed images. On the 6.3-inch screen, above the display, is Project Soli technology, which allows you to control certain aspects of the phone's software without touching it, just by waving. Look, Ma, no hands! The Google assistant, which you can access by squeezing the phone's sides, is reputedly smarter, too. If you can manage with a 5.7-inch screen, the Google Pixel 4 will run you $100 less.

LG G8X ThinQ Dual Screen ($949.99)

LG is usually associated with budget phones, but its G8X ThinQ Dual Screen is making a bid for the luxury market. Equipped with 128GB of storage (which a microSD card can boost to 2TB) the phone has two 6.4-inch OLED screens, as the name suggests—but the second display is embedded in an included case. So using it is optional, depending on whether you're in a multi-tasking mood. The G8X comes with a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC, DTS:X 3D Surround support, and balanced stereo speakers, to enhance music and soundtracks. it boasts a dual-lens rear camera, and a high a hi-res 32MP selfie camera with Pixel Binning. It runs the Android 9.0 Pie operating system. The Google Smart Lock feature lets you in keep the phone unlocked when connected to trusted devices or in trusted places.

Three Cell Phones for the Ultra Wealthy

Some people care less about high tech than they do about high fashion. They prefer to trade features such as facial recognition and edge-to-edge displays for diamonds, precious metals, and exotic animal-skin covers. If that's you, one of these three are worth investigation.

Goldgenie iPhone 11Pro Max (£8,397.00)

Goldgenie’s iPhone 11Pro Max gold smartphone is an iPhone 11 in every respect, except that it features 24k gold plate (or rose gold, or platinum if you prefer) and an Apple logo and bezel made of VS1 brilliant cut diamonds. It’s available in a 256 GB or a 512 GB version.

Gresso Regal Gold ($6,000)

 For those who prefer the Android OS, the Gresso Regal Gold is handcrafted from a single super-thin plate of titanium (a mere 8.8mm). The black body features 18K yellow or white gold inserts, plus a 5-inch full HD Gorilla Glass screen, quad-core processor, 32 GB of memory and a 13.0 MP camera.

Goldvish Eclipse Desiring Arcadia (Onyx Alligator) (€92,900.00) 

Finally, for the ultimate in luxury smartphone buyer, there’s the handmade-in-Switzerland, Android-powered Goldvish Eclipse Desiring Arcadia in Onyx Alligator smartphone. The top of Goldvish's Eclipse line, it comes complete with a decorative rectangular baguette-cut white diamond accompanied by 320 additional diamonds, all encased in an exotic black alligator leather cover. The 646GB-storage device comes with a 5.5 inch full HD screen, and—like all Eclipses—a 13 MP back and front camera, a tri-microphone with noise cancellation, and bottom-facing stereo speakers. 

The Bottom Line

Not counting the limited-edition luxury models listed above, most people will do well to wait to purchase their next cell phone until they are eligible for an upgrade. If that doesn’t coincide with the release of the phone you want, it’s still better not to grab at first release: Sit on the sidelines while first adopters help the company work out the bugs. (There are always bugs.)