There are so many good phones to choose from including the Samsung Galaxy S9, iPhone X and Google Pixel 2 but which one is the king of the castle? Is there even a winner? There’s no one choice for everyone, so bear in mind the best phone for you might not be number one in our chart.
Phones come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Here, we review and rank the ten best phones money can buy.
Your buying guide for the best phones in 2018
When choosing a phone you should consider these things: build quality and design, ease of use, features, performance and value.
Generally speaking a flagship phone will cost between £600 and £800 but can be over £1,000 in some cases (the iPhone X). On contract you’re looking at between £30 and £50 per month on average but you can spend a lot more if you want an expensive phone and lots of mobile internet data.
We think buying a phone outright is the best value, but we appreciate you may not be able to afford to do that. If you can, you’ll obviously need a SIM card and plan as well as the phone. If you don’t already have one, check out our best SIM-only deals.
Should you buy an iPhone or an Android phone?
There’s more than one mobile phone operating system, but really only two worth talking about: Android and iOS. Windows phones are still around, but onlu account for around one percent of all phones sold, so it makes more sense to go with Android or an iPhone.
The vast majority of phones today run Android; Oreo is the latest version. While Apple’s iOS platform has a much lower market share, developers almost always release their apps on iOS so it has one of the best app stores you’ll find.
If you have an Android phone or and iPhone and want to move to the other type of phone, it’s fairly easy move your contacts and other data from one to the other. What you can’t move is paid-for apps, so keep this in mind if you’re considering a change of platform.
Why you should buy an unlocked phone
An unlocked phone is one which is not tied to any particular mobile operator, such as Vodafone or EE. Buying unlocked usually means buying the phone outright without a SIM.
The most important point is that an unlocked phone is almost always a better deal than buying a phone on contract.
The only real exception to this are Apple’s iPhones – because of their traditional popularity, operators do often subsidise the cost of buying an iPhone in order to lock you into a lucrative long-term deal.
But generally speaking if you can afford the upfront cost of the handset, you will pay less over the life of your phone by buying unlocked.
More importantly, you are not locked in. If you want a new handset at any time, you can buy one without having to up-purchase your way out of a contract, or commit to another two years.
Just be sure to make certain the phone you’re getting is not locked to a certain network.
The right SIM
One other thing to consider is the size and shape of the SIM required for your phone. Make sure you get a nano-SIM if a nano-SIM is what your phone requires.
For the record, every phone in our Top 10 takes a nano-SIM.
If you get that wrong it is easily solvable – every network will gladly send over a different-sized SIM. SIM cards tend to come in all three sizes – you simply pop out the one you need.
But that’s assuming you are getting a new SIM, and if you’re looking for a SIM-free phone or unlocked phone you probably already have one.
More important is to make sure that if you want 4G you get a 4G-enabled phone and SIM.
1. OnePlus 6
Although it lacks wireless charging and waterproofing, the OnePlus 6 is still the best phone you can buy right now. It is fairly priced, has the best specs you could hope for, looks great and has cameras that can compete with its rivals.
The glass construction, outstanding display and lightning quick performance starts from £469 or $529 – an incredible price considering the Galaxy S9 costs a full £300/$300 more. The dual cameras are a shade below the quality of the Pixel 2, but most people won’t care or notice.
While its phones have always been excellent, the OnePlus 6 is by far its best ever, and the phone with which its small compromises finally don’t matter.
2. Samsung Galaxy S9
Beaten only by the OnePlus 6 thanks to that phone’s ludicrous price, the Galaxy S9 is in many ways a safer bet in 2018 despite costing more. It has everything a modern phone can have including wireless charging, full waterproofing and a headphone jack.
Unlike some phones it also manages to have a huge screen and exquisite design without a notch at the top of the screen. And while it looks like the Galaxy S8, it improves the camera even further and adds dual speakers to justify the upgrade.
It’s an expensive phone at £739 or $720, but sometimes you have to pay to get the best. If you want more screen, battery and dual cameras, then there’s the Galaxy S9 Plus.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 review
3. Huawei P20 Pro
The P20 Pro stands out thanks to its three (yes, three) amazing rear cameras. Huawei has made a camera system unique in the smartphone market, and if night shots are your thing then this phone will blow you away.
Its glass and metal construction is so much better than the previous P10 phones and if you opt for the Twilight colour, you’ll have a phone that turns heads. £799 is expensive, and it lacks wireless charging and a headphone jack, but it doesn’t matter.
It’s hard to find in the US, but with its EMUI software skin less intrusive than ever, Huawei has made the third-best phone of the year but with the best low light camera.
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 8
The Note 8 is a large phone with a stylus, so it’s not for everyone. But its dual cameras, insanely good OLED display, performance and extra features make it one of the best you can buy.
The stylus is not necessary for input, but using it opens up notation and drawing options no other phone on the market can offer. The 6.3in display is one of the best to play games and watch video too – you might even use it instead of your tablet.
It uses the older but still excellent Snapdragon 835 processor but means some phones will now perform better in 2018. But unless you’re high-end gaming you won’t notice any difference, and you could well find the Note 8 cheaper than its eye watering £869 or $950 RRP.
5. Apple iPhone X
the most expensive phone in our list at £999 or $999, but spread over a two year contract may be more manageable for you.
The first OLED display on an iPhone is outstanding, and features like the totally secure Face ID unlock system make it the most futuristic phone Apple has ever made. Performance is flawless, much like the build quality. It’s probably the most desirable phone in the world.
It is fast and wireless charging compatible, but only comes with a slow charger in the box. But improved battery life and amazing dual cameras still make the iPhone X a no-brainer if you already love iPhone and iOS.
6. LG V30
We won’t talk about LG’s recent struggles since it has made a phone as good as the V30. It has premium glass and metal build in a slim, no notch design, a great OLED screen and dual cameras that allow for stunning wide-angle photos that no other phone can manage.
LG’s software might not be to everyone’s taste, but here it’s refined and slick. A headphone jack with a DAC that actively makes wired headphones sound better whatever you’re listening to could well be a feature that you want, and can only find on this phone.
You should be able to buy the V30 it for around £599 or $599 now, making it a good choice if you want a premium smartphone but don’t want to spend close to £1,000.
7. Google Pixel 2
If you want a pure Android experience with amazing performance, the best camera on a smartphone and guaranteed software updates for three years from its release, the £629 or $649 Pixel 2 is the phone for you.
This is the smaller of the Pixel 2 phones but it actually has the better display. And though those bezels look big in 2018, they contain useful two loud front facing speakers, great for video and podcasts – but there’s no headphone jack.
And oh, the camera – it’s incredible, and amazing that Google can achieve so much without the need for dual cameras. Trust us, this is the smartphone that will make you take more photos, so good are the results. It can even do portrait mode with one lens.
8. Huawei Mate 10 Pro
It’s a mark of how good Huawei phones have become that there are two in our Top 10. The Mate 10 Pro has a large vibrant OLED screen, particularly great battery life and awesome dual cameras (and no notch!)
It’s cheaper than others too at £699 (though you’ll struggle to buy it in the US) and benefits from improvements made to Huawei’s EMUI software. AI features also improve the camera experience, though it’s not as good at imaging as the Huawei P20 Pro.
Also built in is a real-time translation feature, waterproofing and 128GB storage to ensure this is a phone that will last you into at least two years of use.
9. Google Pixel 2 XL
The Pixel 2 XL is a completely different phone to the smaller model. Google has ironed out some of the display issues in a software update to make the 2 XL a much better phone than it was at launch. It starts at £799 or $849.
It has the same software and amazing camera as the smaller one, but has a larger, taller, slightly curved screen and smaller bezels that still have dual front facing speakers. There’s no headphone jack, but a dongle in the box.
If you want the fastest Android security and software updates and a large display then this phone is for you – even if the competition is slightly more compelling than this Google-made vision of what a phone should be.
10. Apple iPhone 8
Although the design is ageing somewhat, the iPhone 8 is very much a modern smartphone. It has a superb display, improved battery life, waterproofing and wireless charging – hence the newly glass back.
The A11 Fusion chip is the same one that’s in the iPhone X so performance is phenomenal, as is the improved – but single – camera. Of course, the advantages of iOS are also here in iMessage, Facetime, timely software updates that will go on for years and the huge array of apps available.
There’s also a great new gold colour that’s subtler than before and starts at £699 or $699. If you want a new iPhone and don’t want to spend £1,000, this is the one to go for.
Read our full iPhone 8 review.
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