Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018
With so many different (yet similar) smartphones from so many brands from across the globe, one may start feeling a bit lost. Which one of those many is the best phone you can buy right now, in 2018?

Late 2018 is not a bad time to get a new phone: a few months have passed and most of the dust around the new fall flagships has settled and you know what you are buying.

But there is no definite one-size-fits-all device, as is quite clear these days, and that's why we explore all the options, trying to help you narrow down the choice to some outstanding devices that we think won't disappoint you. With no further ado, here are the best phones you can buy right now.


Best Premium Phones (~$1,000):

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max

Price: from $1000 for XS, $1,100 for XS Max

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Very high price
  • Costly repairs
  • No fast charger in the box
  • Battery life is good, but it's no 2-day phone
  • The notch is still here
  • Pricey 256GB/512GB storage upgrades

Apple's flagship phones for 2018, the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max are the first phones in the world to come with a 7nm chip, which accounts for a big leap in performance over the competition.

Apple has also stepped up its game in terms of camera quality in a big way and the photos from the new XS series look outstanding, capturing a lot more color and doing a much better job at night. 4K video on the XS series is also among the very best we have seen from a phone, with support for 4K60 and impressive color reach in 4K30 mode, where you also get excellent video stabilization.

The XS series also feature great-looking OLED displays that get very bright and show rich color, they have even better sound with a lot of depth to it and best of all, they are devices that are future proof thanks to Apple's long software update support. The price is the biggest downside to these phones and the cost of repairs is also high.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Price: from $1,000

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Very high price
  • Maybe a bit too big for some
  • Android updates take months to arrive
  • Not quite buttery smooth in daily use

The Galaxy Note 9 is the most feature-packed, powerful phone that Samsung has to offer: it comes with a big and beautiful, 6.3" Super AMOLED display, it has the S Pen, double the storage of most 2018 flagships with 128GB on board, and most importantly, it's got a gigantic, 4,000mAh battery inside that makes ensure the phone can last you through even the longest days, and for many it would last the whole two days off the charger.

The Note 9 is a big phone with sharper corners, but it still features the refined and elegant glass design that we are used to seeing from Samsung. The loudspeakers are big and powerful, and it has no notch.


Google Pixel 3 XL

Price: from $900

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Very high price
  • Big and ugly notch
  • No 4K60 video option
  • Traditional three-button on-screen navigation option is gone

The new Pixel 3 XL refines the Google phone formula with an even better camera with huge aspirations, a new glass back that now allows for wireless charging, a dual camera on the front for group selfies, all that while keeping the buttery smooth performance and the long software update support. Google says that it will deliver Android updates to this series for the next three years and you know that you will not need to wait months for those updates to actually arrive to the devices.

Unfortunately, all the rumors about the notch on the XL are true: it has one big and unsightly notch that sticks like a sore thumb, and not only that but the phone also has a quite big chin on the bottom. If you can live with those design compromises and really want a clean and smooth performing phone that uses AI to help you screen calls and keep annoying telemarketers out, as well as capture incredible photos, the Pixel 3 XL is a great choice.


LG V40 ThinQ

Price: Around $950

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Pricey!
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Inconsistent camera performance

The V40 ThinQ is LG's top gun, a phone with a big screen and roughly the size of the iPhone XS Max. It features a larger, 6.4" pOLED screen that is an improvement over the screen of last year's V30, and it sports a whopping three cameras on its back. You have the standard camera and the wide angle lens from earlier LG phones, but what's new here is a third, telephoto camera, so you can cover more distance at better quality. We found the quality to be decent, but not much more than that, as the color science seems to be totally different between the three different lenses and results are not consistent.

The V40 also runs on LG's custom software on top of Android and it's a strange thing that has evolved, but still feels a bit cartoony and not quite on par with the refinement and convenience of other skins. The thing you might be worried about even more, though, is the smaller than average, 3,300mAh battery inside the V40. Battery life is mediocre, below what you can get from other flagship phones, especially at this high price. Speaking of price, the V40 costs somewhere between $920 and $980 at launch.


Best $600-$800 phones:

Apple iPhone XR

Price: from $750

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Slightly bigger bezels than XS
  • No secondary camera
  • LCD screen is not quite as impressive
  • No fast charger in the box
  • The notch is here

The Apple iPhone XR might be more affordable than the premium iPhone XS series, but it's still a top-end phone starting at $750.

Thankfully, being more affordable does not mean that it has made big concessions: the biggest compromise here is clearly the screen, an LCD display with a 750p resolution, while the XS series features modern OLED displays with richer color and deeper contrast.

The XR, however, still excels in terms of performance with the same A12 chip as the XS phones, the same impressive main camera with support for portrait mode (but it lacks a secondary telephoto lens), and it even offers longer battery life than the XS and XS Max. The XR also comes in a variety of cool colors that you get to pick from. Combine this with iOS, long software support and the big catalog of apps and games in the App Store, and we see the XR as one of the biggest hits of 2018 and 2019.

Google Pixel 3

Price: from $800

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Very high price
  • No 4K60 video option
  • Traditional three-button on-screen navigation option is gone

The smaller Google Pixel 3 is a phone well worth considering: first, it's a surprisingly compact device, and second, unlike the XL, it does not have an unsightly notch and looks much more symmetrical.

For all else, this is the same phone as the 3 XL, with the same excellent pOLED screen, incredible camera with advanced new features like Top Shot, Night Sight and more, and it's powered by the same internals.

Of course, it comes with Google's promise for timely software updates and support for the next three years, so you won't need to wait for months on end for an update and you know the phone will stay relevant years from now.

Samsung Galaxy Galaxy S9 and S9+

Prices: $620 for S9, $710 for S9+

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Mediocre battery life
  • Not perfectly smooth daily performance

The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ are some of the finest phones that you can buy in the $600 to $800 dollar range. They feature a stylish glass and metal design, impressive Super AMOLED screens as well as great cameras. Samsung is one of the few companies to keep all options on board, so these two phones have both a microSD card for memory expansion, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack for those who want it.

Samsung also offers a ton of features in its Samsung Experience interface on top of Android, and little flagship conveniences like wireless charging are also on board.

What's not quite great about the S9 series is battery life, which is just okay, and the software updates situation as you have to wait for months to get the latest updates.


Razer Phone 2

Price: $800

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Big and bulky

The new Razer Phone 2 has ironed out a lot of the shortcomings of the first generation device and is now a much better pick for a daily driver, and not just a gamers' phone.

First and foremost, the Razer Phone 2 has a brighter display that looks better outdoors and it comes with an improved camera. The staples of the Razer experience: the 16:9 screen with unmatched 120Hz refresh rate, the big speakers are all here, and the speakers are equally as impressive with a bigger and fuller sound than most any other phone out there. Now, however, you also have water proofing on board and a super cool new glowing logo on the back that can change colors. Speaking of the back, it's now made of glass and this has allowed Razer to incorporate wireless charging.

At a price of $800, the Razer Phone 2 is not terribly expensive and is worth considering.


HTC U12+

Price: from $750

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Interface looks a bit dated now
  • No wireless charging

The HTC U12+ continues HTC's quest to gain back its popularity  does not have the trendy edge-to-edge screen, but it's nonetheless a stunningly beautiful phone (even if it might be a bit too wide for comfortable one-handed use). The HTC Sense interface has not changed much and has some elements that look the same as they looked say five years ago, but if you don't mind this, it is a very fast UI. The squeeze function might be a gimmick but it works well. Battery life is solid as well.

Overall, this is the underrated overperformer of Android flagships.


LG G7 ThinQ

Price: $750

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Interface is not too exciting
  • Battery life is just average


The new LG G7 ThinQ is a powerful Android phone with a glass-and-metal design and the Snapdragon 845 system chip on board, but it differs from all the rest with its unique, dual camera system where the secondary camera is actually a wide-angle one rather than a telephoto one. You can use this camera for some great panoramic shots and you still get software portrait mode with the main camera. The G7 has an evolved interface and a very bright display, as well as a more powerful loudspeaker.

Best value-for-money phones:

OnePlus 6

Price: from $520

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • No wireless charging
  • Lacks full water protection


The OnePlus 6 is the first phone that comes to mind when you look for a budget alternative without any major compromises. The OnePlus 6 now features an even larger screen (yes, with a notch, but we don't mind), a thinner bezel, and a more elegant glass and metal design. It also comes with OxygenOS that brings some welcome speed optimizations that make the Android platform really fly on this phone. You also get the welcome option to use gestures for navigation rather than old-school on-screen buttons. OnePlus has also significantly improved camera quality and you get really good shots with this phone. 


Apple iPhone 7

Price: $450

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Interface takes some getting used to
  • No water resistance
  • No optical stabilization in camera

The Apple iPhone 7 is the most affordable iPhone that is available from Apple and at its $450 starting price, it offers the iOS experience at the lowest price.

While it is a phone with big bezels that looks a bit dated in comparison to newer designs, it features the familiar Touch ID home key navigation, a very compact form factor, a pretty good camera, as well as a few more years of software updates to ensure it will stay relevant. And while it's not cutting-edge anymore, the smooth and reliable performance combined with the rich catalog of iPhone apps and games, will make it a great choice for many people.


Pocophone F1

Price: $350

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Plastic back
  • Not particularly stylish
  • New brand, many unknowns


The Pocophone F1, the first phone made by Xiaomi for its new Poco brand, offers incredible value for the money. Equipped with the powerful Snapdragon 845 system chip, this phone is a steal at a starting price of around $350. Pair this fast performance with excellent battery life thanks to a large, 4,000mAh cell inside, and you get a pretty mighty combination.

The two biggest compromises with the F1 are the plastic materials used when building it and the fact that it has an LCD screen, which does not quite look as rich and lush as OLED screens.

Honor 10

Price: $450

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Interface takes some getting used to
  • No water resistance
  • No optical stabilization in camera

The new Honor 10 is a phone that almost seems inspired by the OnePlus success and it tries to compete with the OnePlus 6 as close as possible. The Honor 10 has definitely got the snazzy design with a stunning glass back and it even brings a dual camera magic and some powerful performance and specs on board. And yes, it also comes with a notch, but that almost seems like a necessary evil these days.

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