Welcome to our roundup of the very best smartphones money can buy. The T3 team has tested every handset under the sun, and this guide is designed to provide you with all the key info you need so you can choose the best smartphone for you.
We only include the best phones in this list, so you can be sure you’re always getting the very latest cutting edge device, and we’ve listed all the phones in order of preference, too, so there’s no confusion. The first phone is the best phone.
So whether you’re after the most powerful Android smartphone money can buy, or a shiny new iPhone upgrade, we’ve seen and extensively tested them all so you don’t have to.
Take a look and we guarantee you’ll find the best smartphone for your need, beginning with the very best phone currently available…
It’s also worth noting that Huawei has just announced its flagship device, the P20 and P20 Pro. We’re currently reviewing the device, but it’s shaping up to be worthy of your cash.
Is the iPhone X the best phone this year? Yes. But only by a whisker. The Samsung Galaxy S9 is so close (especially if you prefer Android), while Apple’s own iPhone 8 Plus gives you so much of the iPhone X technology without the extra cost. In the end though, it’s the ultra-desirability of the iPhone X that wins it.
The first thing that strikes you about the design is, obviously, the 5.8-inch AMOLED screen. It’s certainly true that the edge-to-edge screen looks absolutely stunning, both from a design perspective and from a technology viewpoint.
Of course, there’s also the top ‘notch’. This does intrude on the screen slightly, especially when you want to be fully immersed in something, but call me crazy – I kind of like it. It gives the phone a visual identity.
Aside from the screen you’ve got Apple’s blazing fast A11 Bionic processor, fantastic dual camera with portrait lighting mode, and FaceID (which actually works very well).
It’s the marriage of software and hardware, something that Apple’s always been good at, that’s so effective here and that’s especially the case when it comes to Face ID.
Of course, we have to mention the price. The iPhone X costs a considerable £999, making it the most expensive iPhone to date.
We’ll start by saying this, if you think that’s too much money then the iPhone X isn’t for you. Is it worth £999? Well, it’s complicated. Just like a Louis Vuitton Bag, there are more affordable alternatives that do exactly the same job, but it’s all about prestige and branding.
Apple has slowly been morphing into a luxury goods company for a while now, and the iPhone X is another step in that direction. It’s essentially a luxury item from a designer brand, so I feel it charging £999 is somehow more justified than Samsung charging £850 for the Note 8.
Basically, it’s the refresh the iPhone needed, and Apple has succeeded in creating an incredibly desirable package. It’s the best smartphone you can buy.
The S9 is the complete package, as well as the amazing display and industry-leading specs, this handset also has decent battery life, an excellent camera and amazing performance. With all of that combined, you get not only the best-looking smartphone, but one of the top performing smartphones in the universe. Yes, the universe!
We think the 5.8-inch S9 is perfect, but if you’re after an ever larger smartphone, Samsung also offers the Galaxy S9+, which features a massive 6.2-inch display.
Okay, so unfortunately Samsung hasn’t released a perfect phone – there are a few small niggles – it’s not the most exciting update over the S8 (which can now be purchased relatively cheap) and Bixby is still inferior to Google Assistant. But we guarantee you won’t be disappointed if you buy this phone.
Whether it’s the excellent camera, the metal-and-glass chassis, the oodles of power involved or just the fact that the software and virtual assistant work in perfect harmony with the hardware, Google’s got a lot right here and this is a brilliant phone.
2017 was when Google came into its stride with the Pixel sequels. Google now has clear vision for its flagship smartphones. The design is distinctive and has character, and the Pixel 2 XL’s edge-to-edge screen makes it the one to go for.
Of course, if you prefer smaller screens, the 5-inch Pixel 2 is also available, which is identical the OG (apart from size and screen).
Looking to upset dominance by the big brands is OnePlus, who took the mobile world by storm in 2014 with one goal, to be the flagship killer. We think it’s latest smartphone, the OnePlus 5T, has finally achieved that goal.
The OnePlus 5T gives you the latest smartphone trends, including an impressive 6-inch edge-to-edge display and dual camera set up with portrait mode. These new features are backed up by crazy powerful specs, a lightning fast fingerprint sensor, and a genuinely premium design.
Perhaps what’s most impressive is that you’ll get all of that for less than £500.
The OnePlus 5T isn’t perfect though, the premium aluminium casing still lacks waterproofing, and the screen is only HD, rather than QHD (2K) found in many of its more expensive rivals.
Still, it’s a very impressive phone, and if you’re reluctant to spend more than £500 on a device, this is definitely the one to go for.
Here we have the iPhone 8 Plus – probably one of the most anticipated smartphones of the year. Some feel its sheer size does make it tricky to hold, but there’s no denying Apple’s beautiful 5.5-incher is a winner. If you prefer iOS to Android and don’t want to splash out on the iPhone X, this should be your first choice.
Apple has chosen to stick with a similar design to the iPhone 7, swapping the out the all-metal case for a glass back and making it heavier (more premium feeling). There is a glorious new Gold colourway available, and to top it off, the glass casing allows Apple to add wireless charging. The S8 and recent S9 design does make the iPhone 8 feel slightly dated now, however.
It’s inside where the iPhone 8 Plus has received the biggest overhaul – now packing Apple’s blazing fast A11 Bionic processor. The dual camera has also received a significant upgrade, now a better sensor and smart software powering it. To finish it off, the iPhone 8 Plus comes running iOS 11, Apple’s latest and greatest mobile OS.
It is expensive, and may be too large for some, so the standard iPhone 8 with a 4.7-inch display is also worth your consideration.
The HTC U11+ is the most impressive smartphone HTC has made in many years. Taking the best bits from the U11 and combining it with a sexy edge-to-edge display, with a bit of extra innovation thrown in for good measure.
It’s again shown the rest of the competition how to make a premium smartphone, and its camera, battery life and performance is right up there too. HTC has really worked on the criticisms of the previous generation devices, and created their best ever flagship smartphone.
It’s great to see HTC innovating with the squeezable edges, which make interacting with the device much easier, and the minimal tweaks they’ve made to stock Android are amazing, making this one of our favourite smartphones in 2018.
The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is the latest flagship from the Chinese smartphone giant, and we really, really like it. It’s the ideal smartphone if you need a powerhouse for business, but it’s also got plenty of features which make it great as a personal device as well.
We love the Mate 10 Pro’s Leica-branded dual camera, which can capture some very pleasing images, and the OS is coming on leaps and bounds as well.
One of the coolest features packed into the device is mobile-PC experience when you hook up it to an external display. It only needs a USB-C to HDMI cable, rather than powered dock, making it more portable and as a result, immeasurably more useful.
But it’s not quite perfect. The UI still lags behind its competitors, as does the camera. While we love the design, it’s a little more generic than the likes of Samsung and Google.
Despite its flaws, we really enjoyed using it, thanks to a neat blend of design and features. Plus, the battery life is class leading, capable of lasting around two days.