PhoneArena Awards: best phones, tablets, and smartwatches of 2018

PhoneArena Awards: best phones, tablets, and smartwatches of 2018
And just like that, another year is almost behind us. It was a year that went under the "play it safe" motto, with most companies across the smartphone industry simply following trends instead of trying to wow us with overly radical products.

But boring 2018 wasn't.

In fact, the past 12 months were marked by a number of notable events and advancements: we got our first glimpse at 5G; we saw the emergence of the gaming phone niche; we got a tease of a life beyond the notch; foldable smartphones got a step closer to becoming a mainstream reality; and the number of cameras you can now have on a phone got to 5! 

No less importantly, we added a whopping 258 new phones to our database – many of which we got to review or at least play with. Which were the best among them? Scroll down to find out!

Best value-for-money phone of 2018: OnePlus 6T



Before we get to the most exciting category on the list, we need to talk about the OnePlus 6T and its importance in the field. Right now, the top-of-the-line phones dominating the market command prices of $1000 or more, and we don't expect high-ends to get any cheaper next year. Meanwhile, even the most popular budget phones can't wow us with much – aside from their low cost, of course. The OnePlus 6T is the best phone to fill the gap between the two categories. It delivers a flagship experience at a fraction of the cost, and that with very few compromises made in the process. Long story short, if you want a great phone at a great price, the OnePlus 6T is your best option. 

Runner-up: Pocophone F1


"Poco-who?" you might be asking yourself right now, and that's okay. After all, it has only been a few months since Chinese company Xiaomi announced its Pocophone sub-brand. But the launch of the Pocophone F1 caused quite a splash – in some markets, at least, as the phone was only made available in parts of Europe and Asia. Priced at the equivalent of ~$350, it was unmatched by any competitor at this price point in terms of processing performance and camera quality. Battery life is also top notch with this one. The catch? Well, you don't get a fancy glass back with the F1. There's no water resistance, NFC, or wireless charging either. But one can't complain given the price. We only hope that whatever Pocophone launches next year makes it to the US. 


Best smartwatch of 2018: Apple Watch Series 4



Smartwatches – you don't necessarily need one, but having one is cool nonetheless. And if you go for the Apple Watch Series 4, you won't be disappointed. It is the best and most exciting smartwatch we got to review this year: light and comfortable to wear, with stylish design and a great screen, and packed with sensors for fitness tracking, activity monitoring, and a whole lot more. On top of that, Apple's best smartwatch comes with a handful of features you won't get on any other smartwatch, including ECG readings and fall detection. That last one we hope you never get to see in action this winter.


Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Watch


Samsung stepped up its smartwatch game with the release of the Gear S2 in 2015 – and it hasn't slowed down since! The Galaxy Watch is the newest addition to the company's lineup, and it can do a whole lot more than to count your steps. It is a full-fledged fitness companion and activity tracker – but also a stylish lifestyle accessory that doesn't look like a geeky toy when worn. We wouldn't mind finding one of these with our name on it under the tree this year.


Best tablet of 2018: iPad Pro



The newest iPad Pro is the winner in this category not only because it is a lightweight, powerful piece of kit with a gorgeous display and excellent battery life. It is the leader in its class not only because it is a gateway to a treasure trove of apps, games, and media within the Apple ecosystem. The iPad Pro is the best tablet of 2018 also because... other companies have mostly given up on competing with it, hence the alternatives are scarce. So if you need a tablet to keep you productive and/or entertained on the go, give the iPad Pro a look, and while you're at it, check out that Apple Pencil too.   


Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Tab S4


The Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 is the only iPad alternative worthy of attention. Among its key strengths are the fancy design and the beautiful display, but there's a whole lot more going for it. Samsung took the underwhelming Android tablet experience to a greater level by adding its own interface layer optimized for productivity on the go, with multitasking and support for its keyboard case accessory. And speaking of accessories, Samsung is bundling an S Pen with its Tab S4, so you can unleash your inner artist onto its canvas!


Best smartphone of 2018: Apple iPhone XS and XS Max



A lot of great phones launched throughout the course of 2018, making it as hard as ever to pick the top among them. But at the end of the day, we concluded that if one wants a reliable, good-looking, future-proof smartphone – no matter the price – then the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max are the phones to go with. As we've come to expect from an iPhone, the XS and XS Max deliver flawless performance, take lovely photos, and deliver gorgeous visuals on what are probably the best screens on a phone right now. Whether you’ll be using this powerful tool as a $1000 Facebook machine, or as a pocket computer for photography, media creation, reading, or life organization is up to you.


Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Note 9


The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is still the ultimate Android phone, as long as money is no object. It does well everything a premium, high-end phone should do – and then some! In addition to the fast performance, gorgeous screen, and outstanding photo and video quality, owners can enjoy the convenience of Samsung's DeX Mode for productivity without the bulk, as well as the usefulness of the S Pen for sketching and note-taking when inspiration strikes. And all of that while getting more time than ever away from the charger thanks to the biggest battery ever in a Galaxy Note. 

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137 Comments

1. KingSam

Posts: 1449; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

The iPad is the best budget tablet for the masses. I agree with most on the list.

16. danny_a2005

Posts: 361; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

Google is nowhere to be found here

21. AmashAziz

Posts: 2927; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

I agree with you. Concerning phones, my choice for Best Overall phone of 2018 is Mate 20 Pro. And best budget phone of 2018 is Poco F1.

44. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

If Note 9 would have been first, I would have said it's ok, but Mate is not a contender for the "best" title. The display is less nice than the ones in both A and S. The support (I also include ecosystem) is better on the first 2. Performance is better on the XS. It doesn't have distinctive relevant features (reverse charger is not one of them) - both A and S phone do. Mate is great but not "best".

47. AmashAziz

Posts: 2927; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Just no.

123. hellhr

Posts: 39; Member since: Feb 25, 2016

Mate 20 Pro has almost the same quality screen as Xs. It has way better cameras, way better GPS, way better charging, way better non slippery housing, on screen FPS. And IOS vs Android is a mater of taste. A12 is faster, granted. Not enough to win title Best of 2018.

127. Leo_MC

Posts: 7432; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Objectively speaking, either xs or Note is better than Mate.

75. Phullofphil

Posts: 1789; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

Since everybody after this post is mostly acting like a complete mommas boy bottle babies over an opinion article, it seems to me that just like you not agreeing with this. All you idiots are still on this site complaining. Well except that one time they scored the note 9 higher on something than the iPhone. Your opinion is more biased than any. Renner that

2. morgeus09

Posts: 106; Member since: Aug 19, 2018

Best tablet is surface pro 6

13. hmd74

Posts: 540; Member since: Jan 31, 2013

I think the Surface shouldn't be in Tablets category. It's more like a portable computer. But tablets like iPad or Galaxy Tab are multimedia and fun to use devices with big screens.

49. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

Yet the Surface can be exactly what you said of the other 2. It's a tablet with a better OS. They are all computers. They are in different categories though. The Surface is not unique, but I wouldn't comlarenit to an iPad. That's taking the Surface down to a low level.

126. hmd74

Posts: 540; Member since: Jan 31, 2013

Believe me those two are more easy to use for ordinary and daily usage. If i'm going to use a large device for watching movies, or web browsing i'd go for iPad/Galaxy tab. AND don't forget the number of Tablet apps available for Android or iOS(specially this one).

134. skips

Posts: 480; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

true, tablet interface isn't even that intuitive and easy to use on Windows, as I've tested with my surface book. I mean, true it's powerful and more capable of doing demanding tasks over iPad Pro due to how much richer and how much more the software usually offers to user comparing to mobile OS's. It's (SP6) technically a tablet but even it isn't without it's faults - worse battery life, less intuitive interface (if you're solely relying on tablet counterpart, don't buy the keyboard, mouse, etc), most x86 programs arent that friendly for touch based usage, as for those that are, those are just apps from the store, and, hey, it's still lacking some of them or it feels like it's plainly lacking active support for them.

135. skips

Posts: 480; Member since: Oct 04, 2015

just because it on paper does more doesn't necessarily mean it's straight up better. If anything, i'd call it a tie between SP6 and iPad Pro 11/13. Two different spectrums, one excels more at multimedia consumption, casual usage, other one -more at productivity based work, ykwim. Both are great devices.

19. AmashAziz

Posts: 2927; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Surface Pro 6 is a hybrid with a laptop processor and desktop OS, which also can transform into an OK tablet. So it should have its own hybrid category, in my opinion.

130. Cat97

Posts: 1892; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

Surface Pro is hands down the best tablet. Others are toys in comparison.

3. Papa_Ji

Posts: 850; Member since: Jun 27, 2016

Surface Pro 6 is best tablet and iPhone XS and Max are not in even Top 5. There are many great devices like Mate 20 pro, Mi MIX 3 , Vivo Nex ,Oppo Find X , Honor Magic 2....

8. baldilocks

Posts: 1505; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Phones that hundreds of millions of people don't want or have never heard of.

17. danny_a2005

Posts: 361; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

As far as I know, Huawei is the third vendor of smartphones, if you haven't heard of it, I can see you have eyes for one brand. Which is quote stupid tbh.

29. Elvis358

Posts: 227; Member since: Mar 25, 2018

And yet you you're self mention only Huawei.

50. strategic_developer

Posts: 1627; Member since: Jul 17, 2018

So what. But many millions are buying per the fact Huawei sells and makes more phones than Apple

15. Fred3

Posts: 521; Member since: Jan 16, 2018

iPhone wins every year in this site. They even had iPhone youtube ads on most of the year

83. chenski

Posts: 768; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Every year its apple samsung, people should just ignore this list and do their own study to see what phone is best for them

22. AmashAziz

Posts: 2927; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

I don't think Oppo Find X or Vivo Nex S are better overall phones than iPhone Xs Max. I know you like to troll but just sayin....

74. Poptart2828

Posts: 395; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

They are because they offer total freedom.

137. I_have_boxes

Posts: 74; Member since: Jun 02, 2018

As far as design goes, the Nex has the iPhone beat no competition. But overall I wouldn't say it's better. It lacks water resistance and wireless charging. And while it doesn't have a notch, the display is not that great. The pixel density is very low, the minimum brightness is too high, and the maximum brightness is too low. Also for people that don't use a case, the iPhone is more durable because of the stainless steel frame. I still like the Nex more, but it does have some drawbacks.

73. Poptart2828

Posts: 395; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

Completely agree

4. koioz

Posts: 142; Member since: Nov 29, 2018

Note 9 > XS Max

23. AmashAziz

Posts: 2927; Member since: Jun 30, 2014

Note 9 is feature packed to the brim! I love that Samsung goes kinda all-out on its Notes. Now if it would do the same for its midrangers....

37. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1060; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

They use their mid-rangers to test the waters for their flagship series. unfortunately they price them as a top tier mid or bottom tier flagship without the proper justification

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