Top 10 Best Phones for 2018

August 10, 2018

12:43 pm

It’s near enough impossible to get by without a smartphone these days – so it’s worth having the best phone you can buy. In this guide, we’ll be running through the best phones on the market, what they’re great for, and who they’re best for.

We’ll also explain the specs you should be looking for in a new phone, as well as talking about the brands, operating systems and the best deals you can get on each phone.

Read on for our expert list of the best smartphones for 2018

  1. Samsung Galaxy S9+ – The best phone on the market, bar none.
  2. Apple iPhone X – The best iPhone yet, and almost the best phone full stop.
  3. OnePlus 6 – A return to giant-killing form with flagship features for $529.
  4. Huawei P20 Pro – Three AI-powered cameras, sadly not available in the US.
  5. Google Pixel 2 XL – Amazing camera, ‘pure’ Android, great fast-charging.
  6. Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – The best big-screen phone out there just got even better.
  7. Apple iPhone 8 Plus – The big iPhone is better than ever, but feels like the end of an era.
  8. Samsung Galaxy S9 – Can’t quite match its bigger brother, but don’t let that put you off.
  9. Apple iPhone 8 – Builds on the iPhone 7’s solid foundations.
  10. Google Pixel 2 – It’s a bit pricey, but a great Android phone nonetheless.

Which are the Best Smartphones to Buy?

Of course, a simple top ten can only tell you so much. So read on to find out exactly why we think you should fork out your hard-earned for these ten phones, in particular.

We’ll explain the phone camera specs, screen quality and speed, amongs other features to help you decide which phone is right for you.

1. Samsung Galaxy S9+ Review

Samsung Galaxy S9+ S9 Plus

  • From $839
  • 2x 12Mp rear cameras, 8Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage + up to 400GB microSD card
  • 6.2” Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display
  • Android 8
  • Up to 20 hours video playback or 15 hours wi-fi internet use

The Samsung S9+ builds on the innovative and impressive S8+, itself one of the best phones of recent years. The S9+ is almost all screen, thanks to tiny bezels plus a glorious infinity display that wraps around the side of the phone. It also throws in improved dual cameras on the rear.

Its super-sharp 6.2” Quad HD+ display is fantastic for watching TV on-the-go, playing games or even just scrolling through Instagram. The Quad HD+ display means that you’ll get a resolution of 2960×1440 – regular old HD screens have 1080p resolutions.

The S9+ is also great at taking photos for Instagram, with two 12 megapixel cameras adoring the metal frame. One camera has a wide-angle lens, while the other has a much narrower field-of-view. This means that you’ll be able to capture fantastic landscapes, as well as more detailed shots. Throw in 4K video-recording at up to 60 frames per second, expandable storage and the latest version of Android and you’re onto a winner all-round.

Buy the Galaxy S9+ Now

2. Apple iPhone X Review

Apple iPhone X

  • From $999
  • 2x 12Mp cameras, 7Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage
  • 5.8” Super Retina HD display
  • iOS 11
  • Up to 13 hours video playback or 12 hours wi-fi internet use

Celebrating 10 years of the iPhone, the X was always going to go big. So big, in fact, that it sparked a new trend in phone design – the notch. However, this divisive (and since-copied) design isn’t a simple gimmick. It gives apps access to more screen size around the top of the device, while maintaining room for the selfie cameras.

It’s also pretty pricey, coming in at $999. However, you’re getting a lot of phone for your money. The iPhone X has the fastest mobile processor on the market, innovative features such as Face ID – which is now working with third-party apps – and a fantastic display.

You’ll get seamless integration with any other Apple devices you own – whether that’s a MacBook, Apple Watch or even Apple TV. So this could be the perfect phone to round out your Apple collection.

3. OnePlus 6 ReviewOnePlus 6

  • From $529
  • 1x 16Mp + 1x 20Mp cameras, 16Mp front camera
  • 256GB storage
  • 6.3” AMOLED display
  • Oxygen OS (based on Android 8)
  • 3,300mAh battery

You might not have heard much about OnePlus, but it’s a Chinese brand that has been making affordable phones with flagship features for a few years now. Its latest model, the OnePlus 6, is an absolute gem.

Costing just over $500, but offering a pin-sharp 6.3-inch notched display, a remarkable 256GB of storage and two fantastic rear cameras, the OnePlus 6 can hang with the best of them, despite its cheaper price.

OnePlus is also known for its fast charge tech and the 6 claims to give you enough power to last an entire day in as little as 30 minutes of charging. It’s a remarkable party trick.

The phone also runs a modified version of Android called Oxygen. OnePlus claims this is faster, cleaner and more customizable than regular Android – though you’ll still have access to the Google Play Store.

Buy the wallet-friendly OnePlus 6 now

4. Huawei P20 Pro ReviewHuawei P20 Pro

  • From €900
  • 1x 40Mp + 1x 20Mp + 1x 8Mp cameras, 24Mp front camera
  • 128GB storage
  • 6.1” AMOLED display
  • Android 8.1
  • 4,000mAh battery

First things first, you can’t buy the Huawei P20 Pro in the US. This is due to US carriers refusing to stock the Chinese phone due to security concerns. If you’re not in the US, however, you’ll have access to a fantastic phone.

The standout feature is the unprecedented triple cameras. These cameras let you take remarkable wide-angle and detail photos effortlessly thanks, in part, to the AI system that automatically detects what sort of photo you’re taking and adjusts settings on-the-fly for the optimal shot.

It’s expensive, however, but given the sheer amount of hardware you’re getting, from the triple cameras to the 6.1-inch AMOLED screen and huge 4,000mAh battery, it’s certainly worth the investment.

5. Google Pixel 2 XL ReviewGoogle Pixel 2 XL

  • From $849
  • 1x 12.2Mp camera, 8Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage
  • 6” Quad HD+ pOLED display
  • Android 8
  • 3,520mAh battery

Based on specs alone, the Pixel 2 XL looks unremarkable for a 2018 phone. However, its software more than attones for the otherwise so-so specs. Running an unmodified version of Android, the Pixel 2 XL is a delight to use, and you’ll be heartened to hear that you’ll get all the new Android updates first-in-line from Google.

The software also makes the pictures from the single camera really pop. It takes fantastic bokeh pictures (a blurred background with the foreground in sharp focus), and deals expertly with low-light and outdoor settings.

Sadly, there’s no micro-SD cards, but you get unlimited photo storage with the Google Cloud and it comes in a snazzy black and white color scheme. It’s likely to be replaced by fairly soon, but don’t let that put you off – it might see some price reductions in the coming months.

Get Google’s flagship phone

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

6. Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review

  • From $999
  • 2x 12Mp cameras, 8Mp front camera
  • 128GB storage
  • 6.4″ Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display
  • Android 8.1
  • 4,000mAh battery

Samsung’s Note series of phones has always sought to give users of everything, and this latest Note 9 version is no different. It packs in a whopping 6.4″ edge-to-edge display, a mammoth 4,000mAh battery and 128GB storage as standard with the option to add up to a 512GB micro-SD card.

However, the Note 9 has brains to go with its brawn. It’s signature stylus, known as the S Pen, has evolved from a simple note taking implement to a Bluetooth-connected smart stylus than can control your phone from afar. Its two rear cameras also feature the same adaptive sensors as the S9 and S9+, which adapt to the lighting conditions around you, ensuring more detailed snaps.

As with all Samsung devices, it features the Korean company’s proprietary smart assistant ‘Bixby’ which claims to be smarter than ever – able to book restaurants, taxis and more without leaving the app.

Read more about the Note 9 here

7. Apple iPhone 8 Plus ReviewApple iPhone 8 Plus

  • From $799
  • 2x 12Mp cameras, 7Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage
  • 5.5” Retina HD display
  • iOS 11
  • Up to 14 hours video playback or 13 hours of internet use

The iPhone Plus models have always followed a fairly simple mantra – take what’s great about the regular iPhone and make it bigger. As such, you get a larger display, bigger battery and twice the cameras, compared to the regular iPhone 8.

It does look a little awkward next to the iPhone X, with it costing just $200 less, but offering none of the exciting new features of its more expensive stablemate. The iPhone 8 Plus also feels a little like a relic compared to the newer Samsung models, given its large bezels and generally “safe” design choices.

Nonetheless, all its features are still perfectly sophisticated for 2018. Camera specialists DxOMark puts it almost on a par with the X, its Retina HD screen is still crisp and bright, and with the powerful A11 processor you’ll handle most apps and tasks with ease.

Buy the Apple iPhone 8 Plus here

8. Samsung Galaxy S9 ReviewSamsung Galaxy S9

  • From $719
  • 1x 12Mp camera, 8Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage + up to 400GB micro-SD
  • 5.8” Quad HD+ Super AMOLED display
  • Android 8
  • Up to 17 hours of video playback or 14 hours of internet use

Although the S9+ tops the list, an eighth-place finish for the regular S9 means it’s far from a bad phone. In fact, this slightly smaller model is still one of the best phones on the market.

You still get the notchless edge display with tiny bezels, but this time it’s only 5.8” across the diagonal, rather than the 6.2” screen on the S9+. You’re only afforded one 12Mp camera, although this is still an excellent shooter and packs the same camera smarts as its bigger brother.

This means the S9 will excel in a variety of situations, from low-light night time settings to action photography. It’s also IP68 rated, meaning it’s effectively waterproof – great if you want to take photos on the beach, for example. All told, the S9 is a great phone, but not quite as great as its bigger brother.

Buy the S9 here, or see our pick of the Best Waterproof Phones for 2018

9. iPhone 8 ReviewiPhone 8 front and rear small

  • From $699
  • 1x 12Mp camera, 7Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage
  • 4.7” Retina HD display
  • iOS 11
  • Up to 13 hours of video playback or 12 hours of internet use

It’s likely that the iPhone 8 will be the last 4.7” iPhone Apple ever makes, bringing to end a design style that began back in 2014 with the iPhone 6. The design might be familiar, but the up-to-date innards mean that this is still a thoroughly modern smartphone.

Packing in a sharp 12Mp rear camera, the iPhone 8 can still just about hang with the dual camera models at the top of this list. It has 64GB of storage as standard – the first time on the regular iPhone. This means you should have sufficient storage for all the snaps you take.

Of course, should you go overboard, Apple’s peerless hardware-software integration comes to the fore with iCloud.

It’s evolution, rather than revolution with the iPhone 8, but it’s no lesser for it.

10. Google Pixel 2 ReviewGoogle Pixel 2

  • From $649
  • 1x 12Mp camera, 8Mp front camera
  • 64GB storage
  • 5” Quad HD+ pOLED display
  • Android 8
  • 2,700mAh battery

When the Pixel 2 was unveiled at the end of last year, it felt like Google was playing it a little bit safe. It featured much sturdier bezels than its XL sibling, a relatively small battery, and no micro-SD card slot.

However, it was, at the time, the best phone camera in the world, according to DxOMark, and it’s barely dropped down the list since. Combine with unlimited photo storage via Google Cloud, and you have a phone that could make even the moodiest snapper happy.

Much like the iPhone 8 above, the Pixel 2 sticks with tradition for its line. While it didn’t change the game, it was at launch, and still is today, a great phone.
How to Choose the Best Phone for You
So, looking at that list above, you’ll likely have noticed that a lot of the top phones have pretty similar specs. That means plenty of options when it comes to picking your phone, but it doesn’t make choosing any easier.

To make things simple, we’re going to talk through the specs so you know which ones really matter.

  • Phone Cameras – This is a hugely competitive feature in this Instagram-age of ours. The best cameraphones now often have two (or even three, in the case of the Huawei P20 Pro) cameras that work together to take great shots.
  • Phone Storage Space – Most phones now offer at least 64GB of internal storage, with some offering up to a whopping 512GB. iPhones get access to Apple’s iCloud storage which allows 50GB storage for just 99 cents a month.
  • Memory Card Slot – Most Android phones, though notably not the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL offer support for microSD memory cards. These can double or sometimes triple your available storage for $20-30.
  • Screen Size – Phone screens are bigger than ever, with some topping 6” diagonally. However, many recent large phones have avoided feeling unwieldy by removing bezels and adopting the tall, but narrower, 16:9 aspect ratio rather than the traditional 3:2.
  • Screen Quality – Typically, the higher the screen’s resolution, the better the screen will look. However, there’s more to screens than just the pixels. Whether the screen is an OLED or LCD, for example, will impact screen quality.
  • iOS vs Android – or Apple vs Google. iOS gives you better integration with other Apple devices and typically better security, but you have less control and customization. There are more Android devices to choose from, and you have more control over your OS, but the experience isn’t quite as slick as iOS.
  • Phone Battery Life – Batteries are measured in mAh, and the higher the number, the bigger the battery. Most top phones can typically last between a day and a day-and-a-half of typical usage.

For more detail on each of these features, see our guide to Phone Specs Explained

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Tom Fogden is a writer for Tech.Co covering everything from website builders to mobile phones. He also loves soccer, probably too much.

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