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

 techradar.com  8/9/2018 11:53:25 AM  4  Gareth Beavis

If you're after the best smartphone right now - we'll save you some trouble. It's the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus... just scroll down the page and you'll see all about just why we think that.

However, before you do that, today is the launch of the one of most powerful phones around - the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, so we urge you to check out all our lovely coverage of its arrival.

But, if you're after a phone you can buy right now, then check out the rest of this list. How did we arrive at the decisions? Well, we can tell you it's not an easy process. What matters about a smartphone is a little different to everybody - so we make sure we know these phones inside and out.

We test the quality of the screen, the battery life, the feel of the phone in the hand and the power of the camera (and plenty more besides) to find out which phone we think blends all of these together - and doesn't cost too much.

If you want something that's based entirely on price (and don't want to spend a huge amount) then we suggest you check out our list of the best budget phones of 2018 for some great ideas.

Maybe you know which operating system will suit you - in that case, look at our best iPhone or best Android phone guides. Maybe you're more of a brand loyalist though, in which case go for our list of the best Samsung phones.

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. Huawei P20 Pro

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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: October 2017 | Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1125x2436 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 2716mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Brilliant screen

Powerful innards

Incredibly expensive

What's this? The iPhone X (although it's pronounced 'ten') is the redesigned Apple phone that iFans have been crying out for - and it's now our best phone around thanks to a SIM free price drop seeing it hit £899 (a 10% saving). 

It's got an all new shape, the notch at the top and higher price... but it's the best iPhone that's ever been made too (as long as you don't miss the headphone jack).

Screen: The 5.8-inch OLED screen is the best display Apple has ever crammed into an iPhone. It’s far ahead of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus for so many reasons: the sharpness, the quality, the fact that it fills the whole front of the phone, and the color reproduction.

Battery life: The iPhone X's battery life is pretty good but it's by no means best in class. If you're a very heavy user you might struggle to last more than 12 hours but for most users it'll comfortably last a whole day.

Camera: Cameras on iPhones have always been superb, and the iPhone X is no different. The camera on the X is often stunning, delivering still shots that are rich with detail. Perhaps not quite as brilliant as the Pixel 2 XL, but still right up there with the best.

Mini verdict: This is the phone to buy if you want to treat yourself to a high-end handset – a little extra per month for something you really enjoy taking out of your bag or pocket is worth it (if you can afford it). Will it still be number one next week? It'll need that lower price to hold to stay here...

Read more: iPhone X review

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