The best smartphone right now is the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
What makes a great smartphone? Is it one that really looks the business, lasts the longest, has the most amazing screen or takes the best snaps? Of course, this is a trick question, as it’s all these things and far more.
Here at TechRadar, we know the pain of trying to pick the right smartphone for you – which is why we spend hours and hours agonising over which to recommend for you. We know that you’re here for either inspiration or to make sure the phone you’re looking at isn’t a dud (or maybe both), and we’ve gathered a real selection for you.
There are a few brands you’ll see a lot here – it won’t surprise you to see that Samsung and Apple are prominent, but Huawei is now becoming a real brand to consider, LG is still offering some top phones and the likes of Honor and OnePlus are still bringing out excellent choices for those on more of a budget.
That’s one of the key things we take into account: the price of the phone, as it’s something that will be a real barrier to entry for most. While many of the phones here are on the higher end of the price scale, that’s because they offer a brilliant experience and we think that’s worth investing in, when you’re going to be using this thing every day.
If you do want to check out something a little cheaper, our list of the best budget phones 2018 is right here for your delectation).
For some further (or more targeted) light reading, head to 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.
But if you just want to know the very best of the best around at the moment, here’s where you should be looking:
1. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
The best smartphone around? Certainly for Android fans.
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
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.
2. iPhone X
The best iPhone Apple has ever made
Release date: October 2017 | Weight: 174g | Dimensions: 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7mm | OS: iOS 11 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1125×2436 | CPU: A11 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64/256GB | Battery: 2716mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP
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…
3. Samsung Galaxy S9
A great phone for the smaller-handed
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
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.