The best smartphone of 2018: 15 top mobile phones tested and ranked
Posted by Gareth Beavis on 27th May 2018
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This post was originally posted on TECHRADAR TECH NEWS

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You’re here because you want to know which, out of all the dizzying choices on the market, is the best smartphone.

Well, we’ve done the hard work for you, testing every phone out there and coming up with this definitive list of the very best smartphones around – pages where you can browse easily and see which device takes your fancy.

TechRadar’s test are long and rigorous, looking closely at the key things that matter: the screen quality, camera capability, battery life and overall design and feel in the hand… and most importantly putting these in real-life context, rather than just chucking a set of lab-generated numbers at you.

We’re already approaching June, and we’ve now had all the flagship phones from the first half of 2018 unveiled – you can read our in-depth reviews of the Honor 10 and OnePlus 6, as well as our detailed preview of the HTC U12 Plus, before they arrive very soon in this list of phones.

If this list is too broad for you, we’ve got good news: there’s also our ranking of best iPhone or best Android phone, and if you’re wedded to the most popular smartphone brand, then we’ve even got a list of the best Samsung phones.

As you can see below, the best smartphone right now is the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, thanks to a tremendous technological and design combination – but see for yourself which feels right for you.

Remember, these phones are the very best the market has to offer, and while we do take price into account if you’re looking for something more on a budget, then head to our best cheap phones page to get some other recommendations.

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

If you’re looking for the best smartphone around right now, it’s the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus (as you might have seen on the previous page) – but Apple’s latest effort comes mighty close.

The iPhone X (although it’s pronounced ‘ten’) is the redesigned Apple phone that iFans have been crying out for. 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, 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). 

Read more: iPhone X review

The Huawei P20 is easily the best phone that the brand has ever produced, and it’s troubling the top of our charts. Huawei has got so much right on this phone, and it now truly its place in the same breath as Samsung and Apple as a top smartphone choice.

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

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 some ways – but it seems that’s been noted, as we’re already starting to see more competitive pricing for this handset on contract as retailers look to galvanise interest, so have a look at our price comparison tool below.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S9 review

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was the first time the brand’s phablet range was seen as a real rival for the Galaxy S phones – the larger screen and more power starting to resonate with the average phone buyer. The S Pen is the real point of differentiation, and it’s cool to always have a notepad with you.

Screen:  The Note 8 maximises Samsung’s dual curved edge and nearly bezel-less Infinity Display to the point where this phone feels like a mini tablet from the future. It’s more squared off than the Galaxy S phones, but still lovely to look at. 

Camera: The camera on the Note 8 is superb and near the front of the pack for all round quality. On the rear its dual lenses allow for optical zoom as well as digital zoom, as well as live focus which enables you to do all kinds of effects including blurring the background – even after you’ve taken the shot.

Battery life: The battery in the Note 8 isn’t quite best in class – you can thank the large screen and slender design for that. But it’ll still last you all day unless you’re streaming a lot of video or using it with the brightness pumped up.

Mini verdict: It’s an expensive phone – only just behind the iPhone X in terms of out-and-out cost. It seems that with the Note 9 starting to be whispered about the cost is becoming less of an issue – John Lewis in the UK has an incredible SIM free deal for the phone, and other retailers are starting to discount it too, which sees it rise to fifth place in our rankings.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review 

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a phone that might not instantly be on your wish list, but the brand has made huge strides of late (just look at where the P20 Pro sits), and the battery life is something that outranks most on this list. If you’re feeling that it’s time for a change, this is worth checking out.

Screen: The Full HD screen is a match for the Pixel 2 but not its other Android competitors like the Galaxy S9 and Note 8 phones from Samsung. As such, the screen on the 10 Pro is very good…but not spectacular.

Battery: The biggest talking point of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is its battery. Huge at 4,000mAh, it translates to impressive performance, with the possibility of stretching usage to two days from a single charge if you knock it to flight mode overnight.

Camera: On the rear, the dual camera setup is a solid point-and-shoot option, but it really excels if you dive into manual mode; if you’re a camera enthusiast who’s willing to spend time fine-tuning, you can get some great shots from the Mate 10 Pro.

Mini verdict: It’s not the best looking or bristling with the most features, but the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a brilliant phone if you’re looking for a big screen and top quality battery life, and it’s starting to get even more competitive on contract, far undercutting the phones ahead of it in this list.

Read more:  Huawei Mate 10 Pro review 

The Pixel 2 XL is all about the camera, with a wider frame and more expansive screen for watching all manner of content. You’ll buy it for the pictures you can take, but the power and latest Android upgrades will impress too – Android P is getting pretty close and will bring some nice changes to this phone first.

Screen: The Pixel XL 2 has an expansive 6-inch display that’s decent for gaming and video playback (although a few issues have surfaced around its viewing angles), and it boasts an improved design over the smaller Pixel 2, with slimmer bezels housing its dual front-facing speakers.

Battery life: The XL has good battery life – you won’t have a problem with it. It will comfortably last you a full day under normal conditions and with normal use, and its ability to save power when it’s not doing anything means it’ll last a few days in standby.

Camera: Like the smaller Pixel 2, the camera on the XL is stunningly good. Photos look fantastic, and they’ll please both casual and more serious snappers alike. Low light conditions in particular are where this phone shines – perhaps not as competent as the Galaxy S9 pair though – and you’ll struggle to take a poor snap with this phone.

Mini verdict: This phone is for you if you want to go for a pure Android experience with the best camera on the market, and with a large, high-res screen. It’s a pricey phone but worth it if the above appeals. 

Read more: Google Pixel 2 XL review

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. It will do the job for years to come, too – so if you buy this phone you’ll manage a good couple of years out of it. 

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S8 review

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 is LG’s best ever smartphone. 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. 

We’ve just seen the LG G7 ThinQ, which is quite the rival to this phone, so it might be worth holding on for a few more weeks to see how that phone gets on in our reviews.

Read more: LG V30 review

The Galaxy S8 Plus wasn’t different enough to its smaller brother in 2017, and it remains more expensive, but it’s still one of the top phones around right now. You can get incredible photos in many conditions, the screen is pin-sharp and it’s just boosted a couple of places in this list thanks to a nifty price drop this week.

Screen: The 6.2-inch screen, actually called an Infinity Display by Samsung, spills to the edge of the phone, and is a well-made fusion of glass and metal. It feels great in the hand, thanks to a rolling design – and like the other Galaxies in this list, is water-resistant too, to an IP67 level.

Battery life: The battery life is superior on the Galaxy S8 Plus compared to the Galaxy S8 (obviously) and also the Galaxy S9 (more surprising), thanks to having a larger power pack in there without much more work to do – it’ll easily last most people a day or so.

Camera: The camera is a top fusion of auto mode and pro settings for those that like to dig a little deeper – the quality of the snaps is more often than not pin-sharp, and the screen quality really highlights your photos. It lacks the dual sensor and low-light capabilities of the S9 Plus, but it’s a terribly good performer for those that don’t need the highest-of-high-end smarts.

Mini verdict: Don’t let the age put you off – this is still an immensely powerful phone with a strong spec list. The screen, camera and design are still premium, and while not as good as the S9 Plus, it’s a lot a cheaper thanks to being on sale for longer.

Read more: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review

When it comes to the best Huawei phone, that’s clearly the P20 Pro, with the super fancy camera, dual speakers and incredible battery life. But that’s a phone for the power user, and if you like the design in a slightly smaller, more affordable package, then check out the P20.

Screen: The screen looks pretty good in most lights, with the brightness not going to eye-hurting levels. Out of the box it looks just fine, and the way it pushes to the edge of the bezels impresses too. It’s not the best on the market and is only Full HD, but we’re OK with that.

Battery life: The battery life, like the screen, is also just fine, making it to around 10PM on moderate use. That makes sense given the smaller power pack in there, and it’s still better than some other phones on this list.

Camera: The dual camera offer loads of effects, and the pictures are enhanced thanks to the inbuilt software making the best out of what you’re shooting. There’s also 960fps super slow motion video recording, which is what many top-end phones are bringing to the table.

Mini verdict: The Huawei P20 is a good phone with a strong design, and the kind of spec list you’d expect for the price. It’ll reward someone willing to play with the settings a little as it’s a very functional phone indeed.

Read more: Huawei P20 review

So the iPhone X is the phone to buy if you want the best from Apple right now, but if you’re more of a traditionalist you’ll love the familiar stylings of the 8 Plus. It’s got a strong camera and all the power of the X, as well as an easier-to-understand interface if you’re a long-time iOS user.

Screen: The 5.5-inch screen is great and includes important upgrades to the colour reproduction and the temperature too – so images look more clean and lifelike. It’s not as sharp as the screens on some of the best Android phones but the inclusion of True Tone tech, first seen on the iPad Pro, means you get some great quality.

Battery life: The battery life of the iPhone 8 Plus is good, but not amazing. You’ll normally be able to survive a full day without topping up but on those times when you have the screen fired from morning to night (watching video or using maps etc), you might find yourself just scraping by.

Camera: The camera on this phone is superb, with two 12MP lenses on the rear combining to deliver great images even in low light, and the double sensors creating some nice, refined blurred-background portrait shots.

Mini verdict: It’s still a top iPhone and perfect for anyone who wants to upgrade but doesn’t want to pay the eye-watering price commanded by the iPhone X. You won’t be disappointed by this iPhone, as long as you don’t mind the similar design to handsets from the last three years. 

Read more: iPhone 8 Plus review 

If you want a smaller phone, the iPhone 8 continues to fill that gap. It’s not the most mind-blowing in terms of some of the specs – it’s only got the single sensor camera, for instance, and the screen isn’t the highest-res – but it’s the perfect upgrade if you just want a no-nonsense, cutting-edge iPhone. 

Screen: The screen may not be as sharp as the big-hitting Androids in this list but the iPhone 8 still delivers excellent performance with some clever refinements to improve the visual quality – and crucially its size makes for an easier in-palm experience.

Battery life: The battery life of the iPhone 8 isn’t hugely impressive… but better than older iPhones. You’ll just about be able to squeeze a day out of it and if you’re upgrading from an iPhone 6 or 6S you’ll find it a lot better (and it packs wireless charging too).

Camera: The camera is pretty comparable to that of the iPhone 7, which was itself a great camera phone. So there’s not a huge step forward here, but you won’t struggle to take a great picture.

Mini verdict: The iPhone 8 pales in comparison to the iPhone X, and offers fairly minimal upgrades to the iPhone 7… but still has some nice design refinements and easier charging thanks to wireless capabilities.

Read more: iPhone 8 review 

The Pixel 2 is the palm-friendly version of the higher-rated 2 XL… and it’s got the same incredible camera on board. The screen isn’t as high quality as some rivals, but one of the key things that the Pixel range brings is access to the latest version of Android – so get ready for Pineapple Upside Down Cake or Popsicle soon.

Screen: Unlike its chief competitors, the Pixel 2 has a lower-res screen – it’s only a full HD resolution and so it’s outmatched by all the Samsung phones in this list. The screen-to-body ratio is not as sleek as the S8 or the iPhone X, with bigger bezels top and bottom – so it looks a lot less impressive visually.

Battery life: The Pixel 2 makes fantastic use of Android’s battery saving features and thus sports all-day battery life. It’s not top-end, but has good enough life and will last a day with medium usage.

Camera: The seriously impressive 12MP rear camera is by far the best feature of the Pixel 2. This phone has the best camera of any phone out there, whether in low light or taking stunning portraits, so if the snapper is the most important part of a phone for you, the Pixel 2 is the phone to get.

Mini verdict: The dual front-facing speakers are great for firing audio directly at you, while a Snapdragon 835 chipset and 4GB of RAM keep everything running smoothly – and its water-resistant body means the Pixel 2 will even survive a dip in the bath. The Pixel 2 is a great phone and it’s the camera that really stands out as best in class.

Read more: Google Pixel 2 review

This might not be the latest Honor phone, but it’s a handset that’s big on a few features – and those come at less of a cost than you might expect, which is something of a speciality of Honor’s.

Screen: The Honor View 10 has the extended 18:9 display ratio, and while it’s not QHD it’s still pretty good indeed. Colors are a bit rich, but can be customised, and it’s decent for gaming too.

Battery life: Honor has chucked a large battery pack in here, and despite having a little more grunt under the hood it can easily last over a day in most scenarios, which is pretty good. It can also support quick charging too, which is handy.

Camera: The Honor View 10 struggles here a little, with the dual 16MP snapper. On the plus side, it’s easy to use, has a fast shutter and you can zoom in 2x without loss. Overall image quality can be a little shaky compared to others on this list, but it’s pretty reasonable (as you’ll find on most smartphones, it seems).

Mini verdict: Honor phones are often the same – but that’s no bad thing. As a brand, it’s very much on the up, and offers decent performance for less money. You might struggle at first with the interface, but beyond that you’ll be pleased with the experience on offer.

Read more: Honor View 10 review

This is Sony’s latest flagship phone, bringing the best elements of the brand’s tech in one handset. The latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset lives under the hood, and there’s an interesting new haptic engine to ‘enhance’ your movie and music watching.

Screen: Sony always has excellent screen technology on its phones, and while it’s only 1080p the quality is still high. There’s HDR playback, a longer 18:9 screen format and it’ll upscale the stuff you’re watching, meaning you’re always going to get a strong experience for Netflix and more.

Battery life: Battery life on the XZ2 is good, if not the best on the market. It now offers wireless charging so you can top up easily on the go, and you’ll get a day out of most uses. There’s also Sony’s Stamina mode to extend things when needed, and Qnovo battery care means your phone’s power pack will go for months longer.

Camera: Sony’s camera tech has always been good, if not stunning, and while the XZ2 is an improvement over the XZ1 it’s not a huge leap forward. The intelligent scene recognition is the best we’ve seen it, there are some neat features inside to help you snap the right moment and there’s even a bokeh mode. Sadly it’s not dual sensor, but 4K HDR video recording is a first on a smartphone.

Mini verdict: Another good, solid phone from Sony that does everything well and brings some more advanced features than previous handsets from the brand. The design is a little chunky and the fingerprint scanner in the wrong place, but otherwise this is the top Sony phone around at the moment.

Read more Sony Xperia XZ2 review

This is Sony’s latest flagship phone, bringing the best elements of the brand’s tech in one handset. The latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset lives under the hood, and there’s an interesting new haptic engine to ‘enhance’ your movie and music watching.

Screen: Sony always has excellent screen technology on its phones, and while it’s only 1080p the quality is still high. There’s HDR playback, a longer 18:9 screen format and it’ll upscale the stuff you’re watching, meaning you’re always going to get a strong experience for Netflix and more.

Battery life: Battery life on the XZ2 is good, if not the best on the market. It now offers wireless charging so you can top up easily on the go, and you’ll get a day out of most uses. There’s also Sony’s Stamina mode to extend things when needed, and Qnovo battery care means your phone’s power pack will go for months longer.

Camera: Sony’s camera tech has always been good, if not stunning, and while the XZ2 is an improvement over the XZ1 it’s not a huge leap forward. The intelligent scene recognition is the best we’ve seen it, there are some neat features inside to help you snap the right moment and there’s even a bokeh mode. Sadly it’s not dual sensor, but 4K HDR video recording is a first on a smartphone.

Mini verdict: Another good, solid phone from Sony that does everything well and brings some more advanced features than previous handsets from the brand. The design is a little chunky and the fingerprint scanner in the wrong place, but otherwise this is the top Sony phone around at the moment.

Read more Sony Xperia XZ2 review

This is Sony’s latest flagship phone, bringing the best elements of the brand’s tech in one handset. The latest Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset lives under the hood, and there’s an interesting new haptic engine to ‘enhance’ your movie and music watching.

Screen: Sony always has excellent screen technology on its phones, and while it’s only 1080p the quality is still high. There’s HDR playback, a longer 18:9 screen format and it’ll upscale the stuff you’re watching, meaning you’re always going to get a strong experience for Netflix and more.

Battery life: Battery life on the XZ2 is good, if not the best on the market. It now offers wireless charging so you can top up easily on the go, and you’ll get a day out of most uses. There’s also Sony’s Stamina mode to extend things when needed, and Qnovo battery care means your phone’s power pack will go for months longer.

Camera: Sony’s camera tech has always been good, if not stunning, and while the XZ2 is an improvement over the XZ1 it’s not a huge leap forward. The intelligent scene recognition is the best we’ve seen it, there are some neat features inside to help you snap the right moment and there’s even a bokeh mode. Sadly it’s not dual sensor, but 4K HDR video recording is a first on a smartphone.

Mini verdict: Another good, solid phone from Sony that does everything well and brings some more advanced features than previous handsets from the brand. The design is a little chunky and the fingerprint scanner in the wrong place, but otherwise this is the top Sony phone around at the moment.

Read more Sony Xperia XZ2 review

You’re at the end of the guide, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help you still – if you’re stuck on which model is for you, we’ve got a tool that can compare all the phones together and you can decide which one suits you best based on the cost.

If you want to get all the info, then use the tool below or check out our full mobile phone deals page.

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