The best smartphone of 2018: 15 top mobile phones tested and ranked

 techradar.com  10/4/2018 3:00:24 PM  6  Gareth Beavis

It's been a big couple of months in the world of smartphones, with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max making waves with their incredible size, power and price tags.

But despite being some of the highest-spec phones on the market right now, they're also up there in terms of expense and a lot of the features might not apply to everyone... but boy, are they all worthy of their place on this list.

We know that it's not all about the high-cost, super spec phones all the time so we've made you a handy list of all the top smartphones that you can get on the market right now, assessing what really matters to you, the buyer.

We test these phones rigorously, making sure that we check every angle and feature - but most importantly, considering whether they've got a decent battery, great screen, strong design and a cracking camera.

On top of that, they can't be too exorbitant in price either - not everyone wants or can afford a supercar of a handset, so we've made sure there are plenty of options for you there.

If you do want to focus on the cheaper side of things, then check out our list of the best budget phones of 2018 for some great ideas. 

Still here? Still thinking about which phone to go for? Don't worry... there are 15 excellent options to choose from.

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Release date: March 2018 | Weight: 189g | Dimensions: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 / Exynos 9810 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Battery: 3,500mAh | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Super premium build

Excellent low-light cameras

Battery doesn't last as well as some others on the list

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is a big phone that's designed for big hands - and it takes the very best of what's on the smartphone market and puts it together in a compelling package that we've loved testing, despite the strong competition on the following pages.

Screen: The Super AMOLED 6.2-inch display has been measured as one of the very best around right now, with super colours, great dynamic range and, essentially, the very best viewing experience you can have on a mobile phone.

Battery life: The battery life on the S9 Plus is better than that seen on the smaller S9, thanks to the 3,500mAh battery in the Plus model - although it's probably the weakest part of the phone, not offering as much life as we'd have liked.

Camera: The camera on the Galaxy S9 Plus is among the best on the market, and the dual-aperture capability offers some startlingly good snaps when things get a little darker. 

Colours can look a tad washed out when the exposure is higher, but the power of the sensor, with memory built into it to make it smarter than most rivals, offers very low-noise shots.

Mini verdict: If you're after a bigger phone with all the features that matter on board, the Galaxy S9 Plus is that and more.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review

Current page: 1. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: the best smartphone

Next Page 2. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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Release date: April 2018 | Weight: 180g | Dimensions: 155 x 73.9 x 7.8 mm | OS: Android 8.1 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 2240 | CPU: Kirin 970 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 40MP + 20MP + 8MP | Front camera: 24MP

Amazing camera

Superb battery life

Interface isn't market leading

Only Full HD display

The Huawei P20 Pro is easily the best phone that the brand has ever produced, and it's troubling the top of our charts. Even if you've never heard of this brand before, the P20 Pro is a phone that deserves its place among the very best brands out there.

Screen: The 6.1-inch display is only Full HD, but that does help with battery life. This is actually probably one of the weakest parts of the phone, as it lacks the colour reproduction of its rivals, but it does come with a screen protector pre-fitted, which is a nice touch.

Battery life: The Huawei P20 Pro will get you a day and half of light to moderate use - it goes down after a full month's effort, filling it with apps, but even still we're getting a good day's hard use, which is great.

Camera: The camera is the standout feature on the Huawei P20 Pro, offering three lenses... and they're actually useful. The resolution is pin sharp thanks to brilliant image stabilisation, the software photo optimisation is excellent and having that 40MP sensor has been boosted well by Leica for good low light performance.

Mini verdict: The main issue you have to overcome with the P20 Pro is the fact you might not be familiar with the brand, but not only is Huawei a worthy competitor to Apple and Samsung, but it's the most likely to get the bigger price drops first (which is worth checking out using our price finder below).

Read more: Huawei P20 Pro review


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Release date: March 2018 | Weight: 163g | Dimensions: 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 / Exynos 9810 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Premium build

Excellent screen

Battery life not great

Single sensor on the rear

The Samsung Galaxy S9 isn't quite the phone that the S9 Plus is - it's only got a single camera sensor, for one - but it's a more palm-friendly model that still packs the power and top screen quality of its sibling.

Screen: A QHD 5.8-inch screen takes up most of the front of the phone - and it's still a stunning design. Brighter, more colourful and capable of showing the best of movies, the Super AMOLED tech is once again showing itself to be best thing to look at on a smartphone.

Battery life: Battery life is a little disappointing for a top-end smartphone, meaning you'll need to think about a top-up during the day if you're a harder user. Wireless and fast charging capabilities help with this though.

Camera: It's only a single sensor on the rear of the Galaxy S9, unlike the Galaxy S9 Plus - meaning it's not as good at photography. But don't think the S9 takes poor photos, as they're still stunning, and in low light it's a sterling performer, with very little noise.

Mini verdict: The Galaxy S9 is a smartphone with all the top-end features you'd want, and more on top. It's not quite at the level of the S9 Plus, and the iPhone X outranks it in a few ways - but once again the price of this phone is starting to get a little more competitive, making it more of a lure than at launch.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S9 review


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Release date: April 2017 | Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Exynos 8895 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Amazing camera

Lovely design

Brilliant screen

Biometric issues

The Samsung Galaxy S8 looked space age when it was launched last year, and the Galaxy S9 apes it in many ways. It's not the top phone in Samsung's range any more, but it's jolly close and it seems that retailers are starting to discount it both SIM free and on contract, which is why it's jumped up our list.

Screen: The screen was the very, very best on the market and is still now a top performer, coming with the elongated, 18.5:9 ratio that stretches impressively up and down the phone - very similar to that on the current Galaxy S9. With powerful colour reproduction and contrast ratio that make everything look clear and crisp, it’s also got the QHD resolution that we expect from all the top phones.

Battery life: The battery life, despite being smaller than in previous devices from Samsung, is still pretty decent. It's not amazing, but it's not very far from the performance of the Galaxy S9 and will last around a day... although you might want a little top up, which can be achieved quickly through a wireless charger or the speedy adapter in the box.

Camera: The camera is still very strong, despite being usurped by the S9 - the auto mode offers clean, crisp and clear shots every time and combined with screen quality makes you want to show off your best snaps. There’s an easy-to-use pro mode as well to get the best out of your snapping.

Mini verdict: This is the phone to go for if you want a strong performer and don't mind it's a little older. As such, it's much cheaper than it was at launch and thus offers fantastic value for money.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S8 review


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Release date: September 2017 | Weight: 158g | Dimensions: 151.7 x 75.4 x 7.3mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 6.0-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2880 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64/128GB | Battery: 3300mAh | Rear camera: 16MP+16MP | Front camera: 5MP

Streamlined design

Excellent audio performance

Low-light photography not great

The LG V30 is a quietly impressive phone, jam-packed with all manner of tech. It's offering some of the top specs around and does it with a strong battery life, as well as being an audio marvel... perfect if you love listening to tunes on the go. 

Screen: The V30 sports the fashionable 18:9 aspect ratio complete with an attractive 6-inch OLED display with 2880 x 1440 (QHD) resolution. While there are still bezels at the ends, the phone looks and feels superb.

Battery life: The battery life is one of the LG V30's best features, easily lasting a day and if you're a light user it could potentially go two days between charging.

Camera: The V30's camera is good - you'll be able to take shots in all conditions and be happy with them. But it's not quite as good as the camera on the Samsung S9 phones, the Pixel 2 or the iPhone X.

Mini verdict: The V30 was LG's best ever smartphone at launch. It's got the most powerful processor around, a great camera and delivers one of the best sonic performances from a phone on the market right now, thanks to the dedicated Quad DAC inside. 

The LG G7 ThinQ is now in our list and it's quite the rival to this phone, so check that out higher up the list if you're wondering if that's a better option - it will be for many.

Read more: LG V30 review

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