Here is our pick of 2018’s best smartphones – Make the best choice with our in-depth reviews, buyer’s guide and quick-fire summaries
It’s always hard to know when to jump on the technology treadmill, and harder still with smartphones. They’re upgraded every year, and assuming you go with the standard two-year contract lifespan, you’re likely to spend at least half of that time looking enviously on at the latest phones and wondering why your pride-and-joy from 12 months ago isn’t as magical as it seemed then.
With that in mind, we’re regularly updating the best smartphones of 2018 list below, keeping you informed as to how the rankings change as we review newer models. Make no mistake, you’ll be very pleased with any handset on the list below – it’s just that what’s around the corner might be even better.
This is the only guide you need to uncover the best mobile phones of 2018. From budget marvels to the finest flagship smartphones, you’re guaranteed to find the device you’ve been searching for – at a price you can afford, and with all the features you need.
If you’re not sure what kind of smartphone is right for you, then have a read of our buyer’s guide. This will help you decide between Android, iOS and Windows Phone, and run you through all the key specifications you need to look for when buying a new phone. If you can’t be bothered to click the menu above, you can click here instead.
Best smartphones of 2018:
1. Samsung Galaxy S8
2,960 x 1,440
Price when reviewed: 64GB SIM-free, £689 inc VAT
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus sweep all before them in 2017: there’s no argument – these are the best smartphones on the market. They look gorgeous, with the most notable upgrade this year the taller, slimmer shape enabled by the new 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
That means, although the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have 5.8in and 6.2in screens, they’re not as big and bulky in the hand as you might expect, and with the home button moving off the bezel and onto the lower portion of the display, there’s barely any screen border left in place on the front.
These are the best-looking phones we’ve come across, and are faster than last year’s S7 models. And although the price was originally very high, with the64GB Samsung Galaxy S8 costing £689 and the 64GB Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus going for a shudderingly high £779, both phones have recently dropped dramatically in price to around £590 and £650 respectively.
That means the Samsung Galaxy S8 in both guises is the phone to beat. Not only is it fast, packed full of features, with one of the best cameras you can get in a smartphone, but it’s also better looking and better value than many of its key rivals asare you waiting for? Get out and buy one.
2. OnePlus 5T
2,160 x 1,080
When it comes to reasonably priced phones OnePlus is still king and its latest handset – the OnePlus 5T – is mid-range mobile royalty. For £449, it packs in the sort of core componentry we’re more used to seeing in top-end, £600+ flagships such as the Samsung Galaxy S8, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium and the HTC U11 and combines this with sleek good looks and a range of high-end features.
Its dual-20-megapixel and 16-megapixel rear camera is focussed on low-light photography, and the new all-display front is a sheer joy to behold. It also runs Android 7 and all-round performance is fabulous battery life is top notch and, as you’d expect, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor ensures the phone feels incredibly fast.
The one fly in the ointment is that OnePlus phones are the most expensive they’ve ever been, and it might deter potential buyers. Where OnePlus handsets used to circle below the £400 mark, the OnePlus 5T – ever since the OnePlus 5 – is priced at £450. Still, that’s a good deal less than the rest of the phones on this list. Look Apple, you don’t need to price people out of house and home for the latest top-end smartphone, OnePlus is showing you how it’s done.
3. Google Pixel 2
Price: £629 inc VAT, 64GB
1,080 x 1,920
You might expect to find the Pixel 2 XL here along with its smaller sibling, but unfortunately, we found its display distinctly underwhelming and would struggle to recommend it to anyone. You can read Jon’s full review of the Pixel 2 XL here.
The Google Pixel 2, on the other hand, is an outstanding device. It has the best camera we’ve seen on any smartphone and is capable of taking phenomenal snaps even in tricky light conditions. We also love its simple interface. Unlike many of its competitors, it’s not loaded with bloatware, and everything is easy to find and just feels right. You’ll also get software updates and the latest versions of Android before anyone else. Just don’t be tempted to buy the XL version.
4. Huawei Mate 10 Pro
1,080 x 2,160
|Dual: 12MP + 20MP|
|Hisilicon Kirin 970|
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is another fine handset from the Chinese giants – it looks beautiful, is capable of capturing great images and has a battery that won’t give up on you. It’s no Note 8 beater – the screen isn’t quite good enough for that – but as handsets for bigger hands go, it’s streets ahead of the Pixel 2 XL. What’s more, it’s now come down in price to only £529. Huawei phones are coming on in leaps and bounds, and each generation gets a little closer to being the top dog. At this rate, we wouldn’t be surprised if 2018 is the year it finally hits that target.
5. Apple iPhone8 Plus
|Apple A11 Bionic|
Price: 32GB SIM-free, £799 inc VAT
The iPhone 8 Plus is a very fine phone indeed – and with its dual cameras and bigger screen, it’s a big improvement on the standard iPhone 8. The trouble is that while it’s very good, it’s also rather expensive for what it is: £799 for the 64GB version puts it well ahead of the equally good phones above, and given there’s no way to expand the storage with a microSD card, you may well need to drop £949 for the 256GB version.
The battery life is good, the cameras are excellent and wireless charging is a welcome addition – even if its years behind Android in adoption. But crucially, this doesn’t feel like a big step forward from the iPhone 7 Plus, which makes the asking price a tough old pill to swallow. You won’t be disappointed, but if you’re willing to look beyond the walls of iOS, you’ll find better for less money.
6.Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Price: 32GB SIM-free, around £650 inc VAT
Sony is back with another 4K screen handset, and this one is very good indeed. The problem is that its brilliance is despite the 4K screen rather than because of it. You don’t need a 2,160 x 3,840 resolution on a 5.5in display – it’s silly and your eyes can’t tell the difference.
But it’s not quite as silly as the last time Sony pulled this stunt: it’s actually an improvement on the regular XZ (where the Z5 Premium was not compared to the cheaper Z5) and it’s at a price point that’s similar to its competitors the Samsung Galaxy S8 and the HTC U11. It’s just a shame that Sony didn’t save some of that money from the pointless screen to undercut them…
7. Honor 9
1080 x 1,920
|Dual 20MP/13MP rear & 8MP||HiSilicon 960|
Price: £380 SIM-free
If last year’s Honor 9 was a surprise hit, this year’s version – the Honor 9 – is an outright winner. It’s a proper rival for the OnePlus 5 in the mid-price smartphone race, looks much nicer and undercuts it on price.
It can’t quite compete with the OnePlus 5 for outright performance. Battery life isn’t nearly as good and neither is the camera. However, if £450 is still a bit too rich for you and you fancy a phone that looks almost as nice as a Samsung Galaxy S8, the Honor 9 could be just your cup of tea.
8. Apple iPhone SE
640 x 1,136
Price: 32GB SIM-free, £379 inc VAT; 12GB SIM-free, £479 inc VAT
Buy the Apple iPhone SE now from Argos
If you’re one of those people who bemoans the lack of compact phones on the market, then the iPhone SE is for you. Apple’s tiny phone may not contain the latest bits and pieces, but it’s still fast, it still has a great camera, and it’ll slip into your pocket and you’ll barely notice it’s there.
The iPhone SE is millimetre-identical to the iPhone 5s but it contains all the power of the iPhone 6s and its rear-facing camera, plus the storage options are have been increased to 32GB and 128GB since launch.
The 4in screen might look like it’s lacking in pixels compared to today’s giant-sized handsets, but since those pixels are crammed into such a tiny space, it’s just as sharp as the iPhone 7. Of course, the tinier screen means that web pages are far more cramped than on those larger handsets – but many people will be willing to suffer such minor inconveniences in the name of compactness.
There are some downgrades compared to the larger, newer iPhones, but this remains one of the best compact smartphones out there still. Oh, and did we mention that the battery life is amazing? Well, it is.
9. Samsung Galaxy J5
720 x 1,280
|13 & 5MP|
Price: 8GB SIM-free, £160 inc VAT
It’s taken years, but Samsung has finally nailed the budget formula – the Galaxy J5 gives a hint of Samsung’s flagship phone brilliance for a fraction of the cost of the Galaxy S7.
If you weren’t paying attention, it would be easy to mistake the J5 for Samsung’s not-so-elderly S5 flagship. The design looks nigh-on identical, and that is to say, quite lovely – there aren’t many £160 phones that look this good.
Crucially, though, the Galaxy J5 is actually a pretty great smartphone. There are, of course, limitations: the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor is modest, so you shouldn’t expect a mind-boggling turn of speed in games, and the 720p display isn’t up to the standards of the very best.
Should any of this bother you, though? No, it shouldn’t. The Galaxy J5’s AMOLED display might lack for pixels, but it doesn’t lack for quality, serving up bold, vibrant images that IPS-equipped rivals can only dream of.
Battery life is top-notch, too, and the replaceable battery guarantees that the J5 won’t be set for the scrapheap once the battery begins to lose its potency. For a budget phone, that’s a big attraction.
The camera could be better, but who cares – at £160, this is a veritable bargain of a phone.