Vendors in the smartphone market are competing on all kinds of fronts as more new features and capabilities are added to flagship devices each year.
The battery life, processing speed, camera quality, design and screen resolution are compared in the finest of detail by users and media outlets at every launch.
Here are some of the top listed smartphones for 2018:
A market leader in the smartphone market and the latest device in its range – the OnePlus 3 continues the low-budget smartphone maker’s trend of producing some top-notch handsets.
The OnePlus 3 is a sturdy and well-made device.
Its 5.5-inch display is bright and crisp, with decent resolution and contrast up with the most expensive handsets on the market.
Although the chassis is a little slippery, it’s nothing a case won’t fix (you’ll probably want one anyway to protect the exterior against knock and scrapes) but looks wise, the OnePlus 3 is very inoffensive.
The Snapdragon 820 processor integrated into the OnePlus 3 is paired with a whopping 6GB of RAM – more than its main competitors the Galaxy S9 and iPhone X and although it looks impressive on paper, in practice, we couldn’t feel much difference between it and a device with 3GB or 4GB RAM using Android Marshmallow.
What is impressive though is the OnePlus 3’s battery life.
It can take a whopping 17 hours in video usage and 45 hours in everyday tests.
This is a go-go!
Samsung Galaxy S9
It’s difficult to argue with the fact that the Samsung Galaxy S9 is the hottest launch of this year.
Coming so soon after the Galaxy S8 – which was thought by many critics (IT Pro included) to be the best phone of last year – the S9 has a tough act to follow.
Samsung has – somehow – managed to make the Galaxy S9’s top and bottom bezels even thinner.
It’s only a tiny reduction (after all, there’s hardly anything to shave off) but the screen-to-body ratio is even more impressive than the Galaxy S8.
The dimensions are virtually identical, too.
Measuring 8.5mm and 163g, it’s half a millimetre thicker than its predecessor and 10g heavier, but the difference is beyond negligible.
The Galaxy S9 is – so far, at least – unquestionably the best phone of the year, and indeed the best phone ever made. It’s the fastest Android phone we’ve ever seen, the screen is predictably gorgeous and the camera is a knockout.
Sony Xperia XA2
The Xperia XA2 hits all the right notes that you’d expect from a device in this price range. It offers capable (if not entirely stellar) performance, an excellent display and a great camera, all wrapped up in an attractive chassis.
Competition in the mid-range market may be stiff, but the Xperia XA2 puts on a hell of a show – and all for just £250. Sony has aptly demonstrated why it’s the best in the biz when it comes to impressive yet affordable devices.
There’s no denying the beauty of the LG G6, with its stylish metal frame, Gorilla Glass 5 glass back and Gorilla Glass 3 put to good use on the front of the device. It may attract fingerprints, but that’s a small bugbear in the scheme of things.
The display is the LG G6’s headline feature. It’s 5.7in of bright beauty, with a reasonably unique 18:9 aspect ratio. This makes certain actions such as reading the news, watching movies, taking pictures, multitasking and gaming a whole lot more practical.
The camera also puts up a good performance thanks to its top quality dual lenses and an impressive HDR mode that adds a shed load of details into photos.
What’s a little disappointing about the LG G6 compared to other newbies on the Android smartphone train is it runs on the Snapdragon 821 processor rather than taking a step up to the Snapdragon 825.
It’s sluggish compared to its octa-core counterparts and some of its features, such as the fingerprint sensor, don’t compare favourably.
The OnePlus 5T is not only one of the cheapest flagship Android devices to launch in the last 12 months, but it’s also one of the most impressive, even if OnePlus isn’t one of the smartphone big boys and it’s not that much of an upgrade from the OnePlus 5.
The beautiful edge-to-edge display is encased in a sleek outer casing, with two powerful cameras and impressive internals too: the top-of-the-range Snapdragon 835 processor runs the show, with an optional speed boost up to 8GB RAM from the standard 6GB if you wish.
Battery life is one of the best we’ve seen on such a large-screened device, thanks to its 3,300mAh battery capacity, offering double the life of the Samsung Galaxy S8.
But the amazing thing about the OnePlus 5T, given these high-grade specs, is the price – it’s available for just £449 (inc VAT), which is significantly less than its arch rivals.
The Nokia 8 is the flagship device in the reinvented Nokia brand. With Carl Zeiss optics, an impressive spec sheet and pure Android with bloatware kept to a minimum, it’s a solid entry into the Android family.
Although the camera isn’t the best in its game, the Nokia 8’s performance is certainly something to shout about, with speeds to rival the more expensive Samsung Galaxy S8. Other reasons to buy the Nokia 8 include free unlimited storage via Google Photos, which will go some way to boost the 64GB internal storage.
Battery life is also impressive, with HMD, Nokia’s parent company, packing in a highly optimised 3,050mAh battery, which uses a custom heat pipe and graphene shielding to allow the device to dissipate the heat generated by the battery and to make it last in excess of 18 hours – certainly a top performer in the Android game.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Nokia 8 is its highly attractive price point. At less than £500 SIM-free, it’s a truly mighty handset, coming in with better performance than the Google Pixel and a £100 saving too.
Samsung Galaxy S8
When the Samsung Galaxy S8 launched, it shot to the top of our list, thanks to its gorgeous edge-to-edge display, amazing camera and speedy hardware. With the Galaxy S9 now available, it may not be the very latest device any more, but it’s still one of the best around.
What’s more, it’s had a pretty significant price cut, meaning you can pick it up for around £500 – including tax. That’s excellent value, particularly given how well it stacks up against current-generation flagships. If you want a top-quality phone without having to fork over almost a grand, this is still a great choice.
Google Pixel 2 XL
Google’s second attempt at a 100% in-house designed big-screened smartphone has yielded the Pixel 2 XL, a worthy successor to the original Pixel, bringing in a better camera, more power, and smarter features.
For example, if you give the handset’s lower edges a squeeze, the Google Assistant is fired up without the need to bark “OK Google” at the phone.
The camera now makes use of Google’s machine learning prowess to produce some of the best smartphone photography around without the need for a dual-lens camera array.
And the 6in pOLED display now practically curves around the edges of the handset, and while there are bezels, they now hold stereo speakers. There are some issues with the display’s viewing angles and the colours aren’t as immediately vibrant as those on other OLED equipped phones, but the size of the Pixel 2 XL’s screen makes it great for productivity on the move.
The Pixel 2 XL also runs near-stock Android Oreo, meaning its stripped of bloatware and extraneous apps. It does have the Pixel Launcher on top, but this makes navigating apps and getting access to data an ease, and essentially presents Android in its best light.
Arguably, the Pixel 2 XL is the best pure Android experience around and is well worth your consideration if you want to access Android in the way Google intended it to be.
Samsung Galaxy J5
Samsung has brought its smartphone expertise to the budget end of the market with the Galaxy J5.
This little-known gem brings all the build quality and panache of its more expensive stablemates to a device that’s a fraction of the cost.
Somewhat surprisingly, it also doesn’t lose out in other areas. While performance wasn’t exactly show-stopping, the J5’s battery life was truly stonking, racking up just under 18 hours in our playback tests.
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