There are so many good phones to choose from in 2018 but which one is the king of the castle? Is there even a winner? There’s no one choice for everyone, so bear in mind the best phone for you might not be number one in our chart.
Phones come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Here, we have ranked and reviewed the ten best phones money can buy.
Most of the flagship phones this year have now been announced, so check out where the iPhone XR, Huawei Mate 20 Pro and OnePlus 6T have ended up below.
Your buying guide for the best phones in 2018
When choosing a phone you should consider these things: build quality and design, ease of use, features, performance and value.
Generally speaking a flagship phone will cost between £600 and £800 but can be over £1,000 in some cases (the iPhone X). On contract you’re looking at between £30 and £50 per month on average but you can spend a lot more if you want an expensive phone and lots of mobile internet data.
We think buying a phone outright is the best value, but we appreciate you may not be able to afford to do that. If you can, you’ll obviously need a SIM card and plan as well as the phone. If you don’t already have one, check out our best SIM-only deals.
Should you buy an iPhone or an Android phone?
There’s more than one mobile phone operating system, but really only two worth talking about: Android and iOS. Windows phones are still around, but only account for around one percent of all phones sold, so it makes more sense to go with Android or an iPhone.
The vast majority of phones today run Android; Oreo is the latest version. While Apple’s iOS platform has a much lower market share, developers almost always release their apps on iOS so it has one of the best app stores you’ll find.
If you have an Android phone or and iPhone and want to move to the other type of phone, it’s fairly easy move your contacts and other data from one to the other. What you can’t move is paid-for apps, so keep this in mind if you’re considering a change of platform.
Why you should buy an unlocked phone
The most important point is that an unlocked phone is almost always a better deal than buying a phone on contract.
The only real exception to this are Apple’s iPhones – because of their traditional popularity, operators do often subsidise the cost of buying an iPhone in order to lock you into a lucrative long-term deal.
But generally speaking if you can afford the upfront cost of the handset, you will pay less over the life of your phone by buying unlocked.
More importantly, you are not locked in to a lengthy contract. If you want a new handset at any time, you can buy one without having to up-purchase your way out of a contract, or commit to another two years.
Just be sure to make certain the phone you’re getting is not locked to a certain network.
The right SIM
One other thing to consider is the size and shape of the SIM required for your phone. Make sure you get a nano-SIM if a nano-SIM is what your phone requires.
For the record, every phone in our Top 10 takes a nano-SIM.
If you get that wrong it is easily solvable – every network will gladly send over a different-sized SIM. SIM cards tend to come in all three sizes – you simply pop out the one you need.
But that’s assuming you are getting a new SIM, and if you’re looking for a SIM-free phone or unlocked phone you probably already have one.
More important is to make sure that if you want 4G you get a 4G-enabled phone and SIM.
1. Google Pixel 3
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the best phones you can buy right now, provided you don’t want an iPhone. The only differences between both models are the larger screen (and notch) and battery on the XL.
They have the best camera ever on a smartphone, outperforming all rivals in most situations. Both have the most premium Google phone hardware to date, good battery life, can charge wirelessly and are waterproof.
Read our full Google Pixel 3 review
2. Samsung Galaxy S9
Beaten only by the OnePlus 6 thanks to that phone’s ludicrous price, the Galaxy S9 is in many ways a safer bet in 2018 despite costing more. It has everything a modern phone can have including wireless charging, full waterproofing and a headphone jack.
Unlike some phones it also manages to have a huge screen and exquisite design without a notch at the top of the screen. And while it looks like the Galaxy S8, it improves the camera even further and adds dual speakers to justify the upgrade.
If you want more screen, battery and dual cameras, then there’s the Galaxy S9 Plus.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 review
3. OnePlus 6T
Although it lacks a headphone jack, wireless charging and waterproofing, the OnePlus 6T is still one of the best phones you can buy right now. It is fairly priced, has the best specs you could hope for, looks great and has cameras that can compete with its rivals.
The glass construction, outstanding display and lightning quick performance starts from £499 or $549 – an incredible price, but you can find the Galaxy S9 for about the same now. The dual cameras are a shade below the quality of the Pixel 3, but most people won’t care or notice.
While its phones have always been excellent, the OnePlus 6T is its best ever, and the phone with which its small compromises finally don’t matter.
Read our full OnePlus 6T review
4. Huawei Mate 20 Pro
It’s a mark of how good Huawei phones have become that there are two in our Top 10. The Mate 20 Pro has a large vibrant OLED screen, particularly great battery life and awesome triple cameras with a slender notch.
At £899 it’s Huawei’s most expensive phone yet (though you’ll struggle to buy it in the US) and benefits from improvements made to Huawei’s EMUI software. AI features also improve the camera experience over the P20 Pro, and it adds 3D face unlock and reverse wireless charging so it can charge other phones.
Stereo speakers, waterproofing and 128GB storage to ensure this is a phone that will last you into at least two or three years of use.
Read our full Huawei Mate 20 Pro review
5. Apple iPhone XS
The OLED display is outstanding and features like the totally secure Face ID unlock system make it the most futuristic phone Apple has ever made. Performance is flawless, much like the build quality. It’s probably still the most desirable phone in the world.
It is fast and wireless charging compatible, but only comes with a slow charger in the box. But improved battery life and amazing dual cameras still make the iPhone XS a no-brainer if you already love iPhone and iOS.
If you want a larger screen there’s the iPhone XS Max.
Read our full iPhone XS review
6. Apple iPhone XR
Apart from an LCD screen and only one camera it’s practically as capable as the XS with the same A12 processor, wireless charging and Face ID.
Six colours at launch gives great choice and battery life is outstanding.
Read our full iPhone XR review
7. Huawei P20 Pro
The P20 Pro stands out thanks to its three (yes, three) amazing rear cameras. Huawei has made a camera system unique in the smartphone market, and if night shots are your thing then this phone will blow you away.
Its glass and metal construction is so much better than the previous P10 phones and if you opt for the Twilight colour, you’ll have a phone that turns heads. £799 is expensive, and it lacks wireless charging and a headphone jack, but it doesn’t matter.
It’s hard to find in the US, but with its EMUI software skin less intrusive than ever, Huawei has made the third-best phone of the year but with the best low light camera.
You might want to consider the smaller, cheaper Huawei P20.
Read our full Huawei P20 Pro review
8. Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The Note 9 takes the winning design of the Note 8 and improves it with better build quality, a larger screen and a sensibly placed fingerprint scanner. The 4000mAh battery is also an amazing upgrade.
The display is the best you’ll find on a smartphone alongside stereo speakers, great cameras and the smoothest Samsung software yet.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 9 review
9. LG G7 ThinQ
Retaining the wide angle dual cameras but adding portrait mode for the first time on an LG phone, the G7 ThinQ is a solid flagship for 2018.
LG is still using an LCD screen in the G7 but it’s extremely bright and has great colour reproduction. It’s also cheaper than rivals at £599 or $750 and has a headphone jack with sound-improving Quad DAC.
There’s a notch, IP68 water resistance, wireless charging and loud, clear audio from the mono speaker. LG’s software skin is a little heavy with some design quirks, but the payoff is worth it for this fully featured handset.
Read our full LG G7 ThinQ review
10. Sony Xperia XZ3
The display can upscale standard definition video to HD automatically, in an all glass curved design that shows Sony catching up with the rest of the industry.
It lacks features like face unlock and a headphone jack and it is mighty slippery but this is the best Sony phone yet and costs less than rivals (in the UK).
Read our full Sony Xperia XZ3 review