Best Phones of 2018

Product Use case Rating
iPhone X Best Phone Overall 9
Galaxy S8 Best Android Phone 9
OnePlus 5T Best Value 9
Pixel 2 XL Best Android Camera Phone 8
Galaxy Note 8 Best Big-Screen Phone 9
Moto G5 Plus Best Phone Under $300 9
Apple iPhone 8 Best Small Phone 8
Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom Best Battery Life 8
iPhone SE Best Phone for Kids 8
LG V30 Best for Shooting Video 8

Updated Feb 15: We've added with the latest Galaxy S9 rumors, including new features and Snapdragon 845 benchmarks.

In the battle between Apple and Samsung for best smartphone, Apple now has the edge with the iPhone X. This 5.8-inch flagship demands a hefty premium at $999, but in return you get the best OLED display we’ve tested along with top-notch cameras and innovative features like Face ID. Plus, this flagship’s A11 Bionic processor (also inside the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus) blows away every Android phone.

If you prefer Android and are willing to pay top dollar, we would wait to buy a phone until the Galaxy S9 is revealed February 25. The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a great phone, offering a 5.8-inch, edge-to-edge Infinity Display, strong battery life and an excellent camera in a sexy curved design. But the Galaxy S9 is expected to offer a much improved camera, faster processor and other enhancements.

Prefer a bigger screen? The Galaxy Note 8 is currently the phablet to beat, thanks to its 6.3-inch display and versatile S Pen. Android purists, however, should get the 6-inch Pixel 2 XL, which delivers a great camera and a squeeze-to-activate Google Assistant.

If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of great options, including the OnePlus 5T. This handset offers an edge-to-edge 6-inch display, Snapdragon 835 processor, dual cameras and fast facial recognition for under $500. You’ll even find excellent values for less than $250, such as the Moto G5 Plus. It offers a bright screen, long battery life and a rear camera with dual-pixel autofocus technology.

Tom's Guide reviews dozens of new smartphones, and we evaluate them in our lab and in the real world based on design, features, performance, camera quality and battery life. Check out our top smartphone choices in multiple categories, along with new and notable phones we're planning on reviewing shortly and the latest rumors about upcoming handsets.

Smartphone News and Rumors (Jan 2018)

Samsung Galaxy S9: Samsung has scheduled a press event for Feb. 25 in Barcelona, where the company will kick off this year's Mobile World Congress by unveiling the Galaxy S9 and S9+. Leaked renders have given us our best look at the S9, with the reported specs fitting in with most of the rumors we've heard up until now. One rumor has the Galaxy S9 costing as much as $100 more than the Galaxy S8.

The S9 should be the world's first phone with a Snapdragon 845 processor inside, which will likely make it the fastest Android phone yet. We have early benchmarks results of the chip. The real emphasis will be on the cameras, though, as the Galaxy S9 will reportedly offer a revamped camera, which should enable much faster autofocus and better low-light performance. You can also expect dual cameras on the S9+ model. It looks like Samsung could have an answer to Apple's Face ID as well. Both models should sport stereo speakers tuned by AKG. Catch up on all the latest Galaxy S9 rumors.

iPhone SE 2: Apple hasn't touched the iPhone SE since the 4-inch phone debuted in 2016, but that may change later this year. Rumors suggest a new iPhone SE will debut in May or June featuring a new glass back to allow for wireless charging. The phone's also likely to get the A10 Fusion processor found in the iPhone 7.However, a leading Apple analyst says the company may be devoting all its resources to the fall iPhone updates, making a spring release for a new iPhone SE unlikely.

Honor View 10:
On display at CES 2018, the mid-range Honor View 10 is coming to the U.S., sporting impressive AI features. Its dual cameras automatically detect objects and select one of 13 scene modes in real time. It also has a metal body, 5.9-inch display with 18:9 aspect ratio, face unlock, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The View 10 should launch sometime in Q1, priced at less than $500.

Samsung Galaxy X:
Samsung's DJ Koh has confirmed that Samsung is working on a folding phone, with the Galaxy X reportedly folding its screen out into a larger display. Not much is known about this device, but recently unearthed patents provide some clues about how it could work.

Buying options for the best phones of 2018:

The iPhone X isn’t just the best iPhone. It’s the best phone, period. That’s because it packs the most impressive OLED screen we’ve ever tested and fastest processor into a gorgeous edge-to-edge design that’s easy to use with one hand. The iPhone X also offers the top dual cameras you can get in a phone, plus a new TrueDepth front camera that enables everything from Face ID for unlocking the device to Portrait Mode selfies.

Another key selling point is the A11 Bionic chip inside, which delivers the fastest performance we’ve seen from a phone. This same CPU is also in the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, but the augmented reality apps, games and other experiences the processor enables just feel more immersive on the iPhone X’s Super Retina Display. At $999, the iPhone X is quite pricey, but it’s well worth the splurge.

MORE: iPhone X Full Review

With a striking Infinity Display that goes from edge to edge, improved cameras and strong performance from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chip, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are the best phones you can get without paying the iPhone X’s astronomical price tag. Samsung’s phones also deliver long battery life, lasting more than an hour longer than their predecessors. The Bixby virtual assistant remains a work in progress, and the back fingerprint sensor could be more conveniently located. Overall, though, the 5.8-inch S8 and 6.2-inch S8+ are excellent.

MORE: Galaxy S8 Full Review

Once again, OnePlus has found a way to upstage pricier flagships. For just $499, the OnePlus 5T features a rich 6-inch OLED display that nearly goes from edge to edge, along with a fast fingerprint scanner, speedy facial recognition and a powerful Snapdragon 835 processor. The dual cameras impress, too, outgunning the much pricier Galaxy Note 8 in some of our test shots. Add in more than 11 hours of battery life and the fastest charge time we’ve seen, and you have a fantastic value. (Our only issue is that the OnePlus 5T doesn't stream Netflix in HD right now, which should be addressed in an update.) If you don't mind paying $60 more, the $559 OnePlus 5T Sandstone White features 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage in a phone with a striking white case sporting a sandstone finish; it's a limited edition model.

Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL offer snappy performance, a Google Assistant you can summon by squeezing the phone and an ingenious new Google Lens feature that can recognize everything from phone numbers and landmarks to restaurants in the photos you take. For our money, the Pixel 2 XL is the better choice among Google’s phones, because you get a bigger and sharper 6-inch display, longer battery life and, frankly, a much better looking design from the front with less bezels. The Pixel 2 XL lacks wireless charging, but its fast wired charging works well, and its single rear camera produces shots that give the iPhone X a run for its money.

MORE: Google Pixel 2 XL Full Review

The Galaxy Note 8 more than just redeems Samsung for the Note 7. It raises the bar for all big-screen phones. The 6.3-inch Infinity Display stretches from edge to edge and is simply gorgeous. More important, the Note 8’s dual cameras give you more flexibility than other phones, letting you adjust the Live Focus (bokeh) effect both before and after you take the shot. The S Pen is improved on this phone, too, letting you save more screen-off memos and create fun new Live Messages you can share with others. Last but not least is a battery that lasts a very good 11-plus hours. The Note 8 is pricey, but it’s worth it.

MORE: Galaxy Note 8 Full Review

The Moto G5 Plus stands out in an increasingly competitive field for value-priced phones, thanks to a super-bright screen and epic battery life that keeps the phone going for more than 11 hours. The camera also impresses, producing sharp-looking photos even in low light. The unlocked Moto G5 Plus works on all cellular networks in the U.S. If you don't mind paying a little more, the newer Moto G5S Plus offers a bigger 5.5-inch display and dual rear cameras for $279. But we still think the G5 Plus is a better value for bargain hunters.

MORE: Moto G5 Plus Full Review

If you’re not a fan of phablets, the iPhone 8 gives you the most power per inch of any device on the market. In addition to a mighty A11 Bionic chip that runs circles around Android phones, the iPhone 8 benefits from a bigger and faster camera sensor that takes fantastic-looking photos, including Live Photos with fun new effects in iOS 11. Add in above-average battery life and access to fun new augmented reality apps, and you have the best small phone.

MORE: iPhone 8 Full Review

We've never tested a phone that's lasted as long as the Asus ZenFone 3 Zoom did on our battery test. Surfing the web continuously over T-Mobile's LTE network, the ZenFone 3 Zoom lasted 16 hours, 49 minutes. That’s nearly 90 minutes longer than next longest-lasting phones. You get more than an all-day charge with Asus's $329 device. Dual rear cameras offer optical zoom in a phone that won't put too big of a dent in your wallet.

MORE: Asus Zenfone 3 Zoom Full Review

Now that the iPhone SE starts at just $349 for 32GB, it’s a great starter phone for kids, especially since a lot tweens and teens use the iMessage app. The 4-inch display is definitely on the small side, but this handset provides easy access to all the apps your little ones want to use, whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat or Zello. The 12-MP camera also captures good-looking pics for the price, including Live Photos. The iPhone SE’s front camera could be better for selfies, but overall it’s a strong choice.

MORE: iPhone SE Review

Serious content creators should take a good look at the LG V30, which boasts the best wide-angle camera in a phone yet along with a very large f/1.6 aperture for letting in lots of light. The V30 also captures stunning 4K video complete with a wide array of compelling effects and filters you won’t find anywhere else. The 6-inch OLED display is another plus, which nearly goes edge to edge. The only thing holding this phablet back is relatively short battery life.

MORE: LG V30 Review

What Smartphones Cost

The best premium phones like the Galaxy S8, Pixel 2 XL and iPhone X cost anywhere from $750 to as much as $1,000. However, there are great values with flagship-level specs under $500. On a budget? You can get a very good Android phone for less than $250.

How We Rate Phones

We rate smartphones using a combination of subjective criteria (including design and ease of use); our own benchmarks (e.g., our battery, audio and display tests; and synthetic benchmarks (Geekbench 4 for speed, 3DMark for graphics). We also do real-world speed tests (such as video editing) and take photos in different lighting conditions to compare the results.

After we've conducted all of our testing, we rate each device based on its features, performance and overall value. Only the top-performing devices make our Best list.

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  • Niaz__
    The Best Upcoming Smartphone in 2017 is Doogee Mix because of Super Small design Looks very Beautiful And Doogee Mix Price is Much better than Xiaomi Mix Also 4Gb And a 6Gb ram version Available .
  • Lkaos
    Sony Xperias are better than any Samsung and Apple of their respective generations, it's funny how you never test them...
  • nunnuuhamnaar
    Good work continue
  • sebastherrien81
    Well you should add the repair cost in your review as "combination of subjective criteria" because for most peoples theirs life are on that things they bring in their pocket who look like a big and fragile glass, I told you this as a owner and a technician in cell phone/tablets/computer...etc repair. And in that category Samsung could fall above the average because this compagnie sold theirs parts a way over the price juste the screen assembly cost half the price of the phone "super AMOLED" cheap and stupid technology micro led connected in series like the light we put in our Christmas tree one blow nothing turn on anymore, yeah sharp and crisp screen but easily breakables and over priced... so people have the choice to do the repair for 400$ or buy another one and this is what Samsung want and peoples a willing to have more debt because in 2017 they just cannot live without a stupid smart phone !! Dont just test those phone do a background check before doing a review because even if your tests tell us that Samsung is the best smart phone every year its still a piece of shit who have all problems that other phone don't like network, charging port, wifi, bootloop, amoled screen, fake waterproof or not working at all....
  • jlovebites
    Wonder when or where you can ever find actual subjective views of phones, without the authors kissing the arse of Apple and Samsung. How I wish for a real review. I guess I can always LOL.
  • Ramachandran_3
    you have every criterion. but phone is a phone and it most essential use is TALKING. which is the best phone for TALKING., particularly for moderately hearing impaired and not using hearing aids. It is absurd to talk about camera, internet use etc etc.
  • ellwoodd
    The LG V20 is there best phone for music, and it isn't even close. I'm an audiophile and I have had very high end components and this sound quality from this phone and its capabilities deliver incredible sound, and can drive high-end headphones like the HiFiMan 400i's.
  • gabriel.morales41
    Nope, the Note is the best overall phone and camera phone. The iPhone the best camera phone?!? I don't think so!
  • King Dranzer
    XPERIA XZ PREMIUM is performance king has best and first 4K HDR display with most accurate colors possible. It has most natural camera with best stabilization. It also has best secondary cam with ultimate stabilization. Best speaker setup. One of the top 5 phones for battery backup on 100%charge(iPhone 8 or 8Plus not tested but don't think they will be in top 5 positions).

    XPERIA XZ PREMIUM is presently holding the throne of best all round smartphone.

    @MARK SPOONAUER please get you info correct and please do more research before posting.
  • kcgoat26
    is anybody else tired of cell phones being pushed at you week after week
  • rgd1101
    Anonymous said:
    is anybody else tired of cell phones being pushed at you week after week

    Usually I just don't read them.
  • jkinabru
    I'll stick with HTC..They have always treated me well and I like supporting the underdogs..
  • ihab666
    SONY, THE ONE AND ONLY........for battery life, camera, user friendliness (home screen and app config), ergonomics (buttons on correct side of phone), display, looks, reliability and well made. Pity Tom is guide only to crApple and Samdung ( yes I know crap and dung is found in toilet or on soles of shoes)
  • blueprintsrecords
    Where was LG V30?
  • Lkaos
    Anonymous said:
    XPERIA XZ PREMIUM is performance king has best and first 4K HDR display with most accurate colors possible. It has most natural camera with best stabilization. It also has best secondary cam with ultimate stabilization. Best speaker setup. One of the top 5 phones for battery backup on 100%charge(iPhone 8 or 8Plus not tested but don't think they will be in top 5 positions).

    XPERIA XZ PREMIUM is presently holding the throne of best all round smartphone.

    @MARK SPOONAUER please get you info correct and please do more research before posting.

    Right? But all people want are Samsung (One of Android's worst makers!) or iPhone (idiot's Phone)...

    And after the S7 debacle, i wouldnt touch a Samsung phone without a 10 foot pole...
  • Lkaos
    Anonymous said:
    Wonder when or where you can ever find actual subjective views of phones, without the authors kissing the arse of Apple and Samsung. How I wish for a real review. I guess I can always LOL.

    You can try GSMarena, but treat it with a grain of salt...
  • whill2179
    So much slamming of phones and phablets. What's the best phone you have is the one in your hand. Deal with it.
    I personally like more ram like people like to have in their computers so 6 gigs is fine right now. Being able to input with a stylus is also a plus.
  • lzaiken
    I think a cell phone should provide phone service as a high priority. It would be nice see that feature addressed.
    Many folks live outside the center of a large city..
  • Ramachandran_3
    main function of a cell phone is for talking and messaging with loud and clear voice without distortion at any audio volume. you should give the best phone in this category
    obviously those who need this type of phone may not high end phones. so your list of best phone should be moderately price.