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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?

Early 2018 is not a bad time to get a new phone: a few months have passed and all the dust around the new fall flagships has settled and you know what you are buying. Apple has recently introduced three new iPhones, and Samsung, Google and LG have all uncovered their best devices in late 2017.

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 all-around:

Apple iPhone X

Price: $1000 for 64GB, $1150 for 256GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • The notch design is controversial
  • Most apps & games are yet to be optimized
  • Feels like a work in progress
  • Very high price

The iPhone X (where 'X' is pronounced as 'ten') is the most expensive and most advanced iPhone ever built.

Its biggest advantage might be the compact size - it's just a bit larger than the iPhone 8, but it has a much bigger, 5.8-inch taller and narrower screen, the first with OLED technology ever used in an iPhone. With livelier colors, the display looks great.

One more thing has changed as well: the way you unlock this iPhone and the way you navigate around. The home button is gone and with it Touch ID is gone as well. Instead, you get a new Face ID feature that uses advanced technology to create a 3D map of your face, so the phone unlocks when you look at it. The interface looks the same, but is now driven by gestures. Then you have the dual cameras on the back, with support for the cool Portrait Mode that blurs the background of a photo to create a professional portrait look.


Apple iPhone 8

Prices: $700 for 64GB, $850 for 256GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Higher price than before
  • Still big bezels around screen
  • No headphone jack
  • Closed ecosystem
  • Less customization options than on Android


The Apple iPhone 8 is not the most exciting phone - not even most exciting iPhone - in 2018, but it's a solid upgrade that brings a big upgrade in performance with the faster new Apple A11 Bionic chip that also helps improve photo quality in a significant way.

The iPhone 8 now features a glass back and no antenna lines on the back, plus it supports the convenient wireless charging feature. We also love the new storage options: storage has been a big concern with iPhones and the new 64GB and 256GB storage options are definitely liberating.

The iOS ecosystem remains a big reason why one would buy an iPhone: you get guaranteed software updates for years on end, you get the best apps and games first and often exclusively, and the familiar iOS experience is just getting more and more refined.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Price: $725 for 64GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Performance is stuttery
  • Awkward fingerprint location


The Samsung Galaxy S8 is in many ways a revolutionary phone: it features a larger, bezel-less display that takes up nearly all of the front and is gorgeous to look at, and it sports an even more refined design. Despite its 5.8-inch display, the S8 is not too big: it's taller, but also narrower, so it is easy to use with just one hand.

The camera has received some improvements too: you don't have a dual camera here, but the single one is fantastic. It takes fantastic, sharp pictures with a level of detail above most, if not all, other phones. The one thing where we don't have so much change is the battery: it is good, but not great or revolutionary as other parts of this phone. And then there is Bixby: the new smart assistant with a dedicated physical button that calls the feature. Unfortunately, Bixby is not on par with the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or even Siri. Last, but not least, the fingerprint scanner on the S8 is awkwardly positioned next to the camera where it is hard to reach.


Google Pixel 2

Price: $650 for 64GB, $750 for 128GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Big bezels, outdated design
  • No headphone jack
  • No microSD card support


The Google Pixel 2 is all about AI, refinements and improvements.There is one thing that the Pixel 2 is not: a "bezel-less" phone. Quite the opposite, it's got a big and prominent chin and forehead where two front-firing speakers are located for better sound quality. Under the hood, it rocks the Snapdragon 835 system chip, a market improvement from the Snapdragon 821 of last year.

The back of the Pixel 2 retains the glass accent around the camera that the orinal had, but makes it smaller. What is lacking here is a secondary rear camera, but the main one is improved and ranks as one of the best phone cameras ever made. It smartly uses artificial intelligence and auto HDR to capture very dynamic images, that you usually expect to see from a DSLR. And it also supports Portrait Mode.

Sadly, Google has removed the headphone jack in the Pixel 2, a feature the company touted as an advantage just last year with the original Pixel. On a more positive note: the new Pixel 2 is finally water protected with an IP67 rating, identical to Apple's iPhone 8.


Sony Xperia XZ1

Price: $600 for 64GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Outdated design
  • Camera could be better


The Xperia XZ1 is another gradual update in the Xperia series: more refinements, better styling, slightly improved performance and camera. Slightly is the keyword here. But if you like clear Android builds and Sony's brand and styling, the new XZ1 is its best and it comes with cool and novel 3D scanning functionality as well.


Best big phones:

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (or Galaxy S8+)

Prices: $930 for Note8, $825 for S8+

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Price, price, price
  • Tall hardware makes reaching certain spots difficult
  • Battery life is sufficient, but not outstanding
  • Screen brightness could use a tiny kick


The Note 8 is one of the best Samsung phones out there: it's got the S Pen for added functionality and a secondary camera for portraits and that camera supports stabilization too. But it's not much different from the S8+ apart from that, it even has a smaller battery because of that S Pen.

The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is the bigger of the two S8 siblings. Unlike Apple's devices, though, we have no huge differences here except for the larger screen and the bigger battery. The S8+ is the same beautiful, full-screen phone that display an outstanding level of craftsmanship. It also features a bezel-less, 6.2" display with a 18.5:9 aspect ratio (it's taller than a regular display) that looks gorgeous. The fingerprint is now on the back alongside the camera. The S8+ comes with a new interface and the brand new context-aware Bixby assistant.


Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Price: $800 for 64GB, $950 for 256GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Higher price than before
  • Still big bezels around screen
  • No headphone jack
  • Closed ecosystem
  • Less customization options than on Android

If you can deal with its bigger size, the iPhone 8 Plus rewards you with a great battery life, and a dual cameras setup with Portrait Mode that is not present on the regular iPhone 8.

All else is identical to the smaller 8: you have the fast Apple A11 Bionic chip as well as the home button and the latest version of iOS. With timely software updates and a buttery smooth iOS experience, this phone offers stability.

The iPhone 8 Plus, however, is also more expensive than the 8 because of its larger screen, battery and dual camera system: the base model costs $800, while the 256GB one that we recommend carries a whopping $950 price tag. And the design that features those larger bezels remains decidedly outdated when compared to other phones with edge-to-edge screens. The iPhone 8 Plus also could feel too big and uncomfortable to carry in a pocket.


Google Pixel 2 XL

Prices: $850 for 64GB, $950 for 128GB

Pixel 2 XL on the right

Cons

  • Display is unsatisfactory, poor viewing angles, burn-in issues
  • Design is bulky, cumbersome
  • No headphone jack
  • No microSD card support

Google's larger phone, the Pixel 2 XL, is a beautifully crafted device with a "bezel-less" design (but it has more bezel than other similar phones), the latest Android software and hardware, and aspirations to have the best camera ever on a phone.

The hidden highlight of the Pixel XL, however, is without a doubt the stock Android experience with the promise for timely updates in the future and the smooth performance.


LG V30

Price: $800

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • LG's interface needs a refresh
  • Some V30 displays have uneven colors
  • No Portrait Mode

LG's best phone so far, the V30 features a stylish glass and metal styling, an edge-to-edge screen with no annoying notch or any other interruption, and a dual camera system with a super wide-angle camera unlike any other phone.

The V30 is a phone that will make the most demanding techies happy: it has a high-quality audio output to make your expensive headphones pump out sound to their maximum, and it has manual video recording capabilities that will make enthusiast videographers happy. But it's also a good phone for just any other person in need of a phone. The interface is a bit strange and clunky, and photo quality is not quite the best, but overall the V30 is easy to recommend.


Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Price: $800

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Huawei's interface has some awkward behaviors and looks

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a big phone made with an attention to detail and it features an impressive sleek design and an edge-to-edge screen. On the practical side of things, it also has a big battery that will keep it going longer than some others.

On the back, you'd find a distinct dual camera setup that takes some good picture (not quite on par with the very best, though). What might take some getting used to is the Huawei custom interface on top of Android. Clearly inspired by iOS in some places it performs well, but takes some getting used to.


HTC U11

Price: $650

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Interface looks dated now
  • Too wide
  • No Portrait Mode

The HTC U11 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.


Best value-for-money phones:

Essential Phone

Price: $500 for 128GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Sub-par camera
  • Still some stability issues
  • No headphone jack


The Essential Phone is the newest competitor on the flagship block and it brings a lot of innovation: a beautiful, exclusive ceramic body with a meticulous fit and finish, a clean Android experience with the promise for timely updates and the latest Snapdragon 835 processor. It's also got a dual camera setup with a color + monochrome cameras that don't seem to deliver as great results as one would expect, but updates are promised to fix that. The Essential Phone has also got a curious magnetic attachment port that supports a 360-degree camera at the moment, but has the potential of being a hub for a growing ecosystem of accessories in the future.


OnePlus 5T

Price: $500 for 64GB, $560 for 128GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Camera quality is a bit short of flagship grade
  • Automatic brightness too aggressive, screen often appears too dim
  • Lacks water protection


The OnePlus 5T is a new flagship-grade phone offered for a great price. It looks very similar to the company's previous phone, the OnePlus 5, but also brings innovation in one key area: it has a larger, 6" edge-to-edge screen. For all else, it features a nearly identical metal body with a nice, ergonomic curve, it features some improvements to the camera performance, and it has its fingerprint scanner on the back now. You also get a new identification option: Face Unlock, which is impressively fast, but not as secure as 3D face scanning systems. The 5T is also one of the fastest-charging phones ever, with support for Dash Charge.


LG G6

Price: $600 for 32GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Battery life is below average
  • Pricey for what it is

The LG G6 marks a new era for LG: less experiments with crazy designs and a focus back on the essentials of great design and performance. The new G6 is not a revolutionary phone, but it still has the extremely cool bezel-less screen with a new, taller 2:1 format. It has also improved its already very good cameras: now you have two 13-megapixel shooter for the dual camera system on the back, so there is no abrupt switch in the camera when you zoom in and out. LG has also improved battery with the G6 to good (but it's still not great), and coupled with nice software experience, the LG G6 is one of the best options for a new phone out there.


Huawei P10

Price: €500 for 64GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Huawei interface is hard to get used to
  • First party apps are a bit lacking


The Huawei P10 is a beautifully designed, stylish phone for a price much lower than most other flagships, yet with a similar level of performance and a very good camera. The bad news is that it will not be sold in the United States (at least initially), but it will be in all other parts of the world.

Under the hood roars Huawei's own Kirin 960 system chip, which is indeed a powerful creation, and Huawei has improved the dual camera system. The idea is to be able to blur the background to images, a nice effect, but not quite as accurate as the Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus. Still, it's nice to have and you get a secondary, black-and-white camera that gives you a different perspective to images.


Moto X4


Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

The new Moto X4 is a stylish dual camera phone with a mid-range price of $400. It's also available on Google's Project Fi, the affordable US carriers, as an Android One device with clean Android build and the promise for timely updates.

And it's a great phone on its own: with a good-looking design and an LG-like secondary wide-angle camera that allows fitting more in the frame.


Moto Z2 Play

Price: $450 for 64GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Display not bright enough, colors not accurate
  • Sound quality is not very satisfying
  • Recharge times should be faster
  • Performance not a huge upgrade over first-gen model


If you want the phone with the best battery life in this list, the Moto Z Play is certainly that. With its economical Snapdragon 625 chip and specs that are not too demanding, this is the true 2-day battery phone and that is quite the gamechanger. Apart from that, it is just a good and thin phone. It is not particularly elegant with those huge magnetic connections, but you can add some neat Moto Mods to spice its looks, or at least use as easily exchangeable covers. The Z Play has also got a solid camera that is able to shoot 4K video and it has been updated to Android 7.0 Nougat.


Honor 9 and Honor 8

Price: $400

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Interface takes getting used to
  • Very slippery

The new Honor 9 is a phone that brings refinement in a beautiful design and shows that Huawei can really build some great-looking phones.

The Honor 9 is a good value for the money and offers a good camera in its class and a solid battery life. The 18:9 screen looks good and while the interface takes getting used to, the phone is an easy recommendation.


Best compact phones:

Apple iPhone SE

Price: $350 for 32 GB | $450 for 128 GB

Apple iPhone SE

Cons

  • Design feels dated with those big bezels
  • Loudspeaker is not among the best

Big phones are just not everyone's cup of tea (at least not yet), and that's why there is still a market for extremely compact devices that you can easily use with a single hand.

The iPhone SE is one of the best such phones you can get at the moment: in fact, it's the only phone of such small sizes. It stands out not just with its size: even among Android compacts, it offers the fastest performance with a great and consistently reliable 12-megapixel camera that can capture 4K video and supports the fun Live Photos.

On top of that, the small iPhone SE features better battery life than even the iPhone 6s and 6: its smaller screen size and newer silicon allow for more effective use of battery. Add to that the affordable (at least in the US) price, and you have quite the appealing small phone.


Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact

Price: $540 for 32GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • All plastic design is not among the best
  • The phone is a bit too thick
  • Seems overpriced for what it is

The most notable alternative to the iPhone SE in the compact phone market is the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact.

The phone features a 4.6-inch display in a very compact body (but it's not an edge-to-edge screen). 


Best affordable phones:

Moto G5S Plus

Price: $240 for 32GB storage, 3GB RAM ; $300 for 64GB storage, 4GB RAM

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • No real waterproofing (nano-coat only)
  • Aging micro-USB port
  • Bokeh effect produces underwhelming results


The new Moto G5S Plus brings back the Moto G series to where it first started: an amazing value-for-the-money proposition. At under $300, this phone is great value: it ships with a clean and well-performing version of Android, it's got very good performance, a decent camera and above average battery life. The G5S also features a sturdy metal design that feels reassuringly solid.


Sony Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra

Price: $350 and $450

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • No water resistance
  • No Portrait Mode


The Sony Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra are two affordable phones with a personality. With that angled, rectangle Sony design they stand out, and the slightly rounded edges make them more comfortable to hold.

While they lack the trendy taller 2:1 displays, we are perfectly happy with the 16:9 screens that we get: they are more convenient for watching video and Sony has eliminated the side bezel almost completely to achieve a very appealing modern look.

And yes, finally, both phones come with a fingerprint scanner (we say 'finally' because in the US, Sony used to sell its phones without a fingerprint scanner for years). The fingerprint reader is below the rear camera and is easy to reach. With the Snapdragon 630 chip on board, the phones perform well in daily tasks, have great battery life and can even record 4K video with stabilization. The phones are slightly thicker because of their larger batteries and the XA2 Ultra barely fits in a pocket with its huge screen. Overall, great affordable phones by Sony.


Nokia 6

Price: $230 for 32GB | $160 with Amazon Prime locsckreen ads

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Camera often takes blurry pictures
  • Regular shooting mode has some trouble with dynamic range
  • Loading times can take a second or two in OS, borderline painful in loading games
  • Fingerprint authentication requires two taps, one to wake up and one to authenticate


The Nokia 6 is a very affordable Android phone from a brand you can trust with a clean interface, very good battery life and the promise for quick software updates.

The phone also comes with a very good camera for its class and a durable, all-metal design. The processor on board is the humble Snapdragon 430, which does okay in daily tasks, but falls behind other affordable phones that feature the more powerful Snapdragon 6xx chips.

Honor 7X

Price: $200 for 32GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • No USB-C; no fast charging
  • Camera becomes very temperamental in low-light
  • EMUI 5.1 isn’t very good-looking


Priced at just $200, the Honor 7X pushes the boundaries of what's expected in an affordable device as it has a nearly bezel-less, edge-to-edge 18:9 display and a peppy performance. The 7X also features a metal construction and feel that you expect from more expensive devices. It runs on Huawei's own Kirin 659 chip that does well enough in the daily grind, and the phone has a decent camera and a solid battery life.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Price: €310 for 32GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • A bit overpriced
  • Sub-par video rec quality, lack of video stabilization results in very shaky videos
  • Runs on an outdated Android version
  • Performance is a bit stuttery, especially with more intense apps
  • No LED notification light


The new Galaxy A5 (2017) is more than just the sum of its parts: it's a beautiful, stylish, compact phone that features water-protection, a rarity in affordable phones of this class. It also just runs well on Samsung's new TouchWiz interface, it has got a rock solid battery life that could go to as much as two days, and it features cameras that do great in daylight. It's biggest drawback is the poor video stabilization that makes all of your footage look as if it was recorded during an earthquake, but if you do not care too much about that, the A5 (2017) is a great phone. Remember that the Samsung A series are not officially sold in the United States.


Xiaomi Mi A1

Price: €230 for 64GB

Best smartphone you can buy in 2018

Cons

  • Display quality is sub-par, bluish colors
  • Photo, video and audio recording quality is not great


The Xiaomi Mi A1 is the company's first Android One phone. That means it is free of clutter, runs fast and will get updates faster than most other Xiaomi phones. Great news!

Also, we love that it has the Snapdragon 625 on board, as the chip is very frugal and allows for some great battery life figures. The dual camera system on the back is also a luxury in this price segment, so we're glad the A1 has it.


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