Updated 9/19: We’ve reviewed the new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, and both phones have made our top pick list.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the best overall phone, but the new iPhone 8 Plus is our new top camera phone and the best iPhone yet.
Prefer a big screen? The Galaxy Note 8 is currently the phablet to beat, thanks to its 6.2-inch display and versatile S Pen. If you’re on a budget, there are plenty of great options, even under $250.
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. Based on our testing, the Galaxy S8 (See Plans and Pricing on Samsung) is the best choice for those willing to pay $600 or more on their next phone.
The Galaxy S8 ($750) and Galaxy S8+ ($850)+ boast an Infinity Display that stretches all the way from edge to edge of the design. The screen is also crisp, sharp and colorful. Both S8 handsets feature a fantastic camera as well. There’s no real difference between these two phones other than size, so take your pick between 5.8 or 6.2 inches.
The new 4.7-inch iPhone 8 ($699) is quite good, as its A11 chip is the fastest processor in a phone ever, but we prefer the iPhone 8 Plus ($799) because it offers a bigger display, dual cameras with enhanced Portrait Mode features and longer battery life to go with that A11 processor. Some may want to wait for the iPhone X, which will deliver an OLED display that goes from edge to edge and a new depth-sensing camera for Face ID, but it will start at $999.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s Note 8 boasts excellent dual cameras of its own, which let you adjust the live focus before and after you take a shot, as well as switch between wide-angle and close-up perspectives on the fly.
OnePlus continues to provide the most bang for the buck, with the excellent OnePlus 5, but those on a tighter budget may prefer the less expensive Moto G5 Plus. It boasts a bright screen, long battery life and a rear camera with dual-pixel autofocus technology.
Check out our top smartphone choices in multiple categories, along with new and notable phones we're planning on reviewing shortly. We've also included rumors about upcoming smartphone updates in case you're considering whether to put off your phone purchase for the next big thing.
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 test; and synthetic benchmarks (Geekbench 4 for speed, 3DMark for graphics). We also take photos in different lighting conditions and 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 very best devices make our Best list.
Before you make the decision to buy a phone, you should make sure that something better isn't coming around the corner. Here are the major phones due out later this year.
Google Pixel 2 (Fall 2017)
Google has announced an event for Oct. 4, at which the company is expected to unveil the Google Pixel 2. Once again, expect two phones, though the successor to the 5-inch Pixel isn't expected to be much of a departure from the original. As for the Pixel XL sequel, it's expected to feature a larger screen, and the sides of the phone may also be squeezable to let you control the built-in Google Assistant.
Buying options for the best phones of 2017:
With a striking new Infinity Display that goes from edge to edge, even better cameras and strong performance from Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chip, the Galaxy S8 and S8+ are the best phones you can buy. They also deliver long battery life, lasting more than an hour longer than their predecessors. Even with its voice-powered commands now available, 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 the handsets to beat.
MORE: Galaxy S8 Full Review
The iPhone 8 Plus is a real powerhouse of a phone, thanks to Apple’s blazing A11 Bionic chip. And Apple backs up that speed with versatile dual cameras that add new Portrait Lighting effects to an already compelling 2x optical zoom. In fact, the iPhone 8 Plus edged out the Galaxy Note 8 in our head-to-head photo comparisons. The iPhone 8 Plus also offers a strong 11-plus hours of battery life, an improved 5.5-inch screen with a wide color gamut and louder speakers, along with wireless charging.
The Galaxy Note 8 more than just redeems Samsung for the failed Note 7. It raises the bar for all big-screen phones. Its 6.3-inch Infinity Display, which stretches from edge to edge, 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.
The OnePlus 5 has everything we look for in a great mid-range phone. Its Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor provides flagship-class power, its front and rear camera are both potent shooters, and with a battery life of more than 13 hours on a charge, it's one of the longest-lasting phones we've ever tested. You also get 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage — all for just $479. And if you want to splurge a bit, you can opt for the $539 model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. The only real downside is that the OnePlus 5 won't work on CDMA carriers like Sprint or Verizon.
MORE: OnePlus 5 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 a winner.
MORE: iPhone 8 Full Review
The Moto G5 Plus stands out in an increasingly competitive market for sub-$300 smartphones, thanks to a super-bright screen and epic battery life that keeps the phone powered up for more than 11 hours. We were also impressed by how the phone's camera performed, producing sharp-looking photos even in low light. The unlocked Moto G5 Plus also works on all cellular networks in the U.S., unlike its main rivals, which are limited to GSM-based carriers.
MORE: Moto G5 Plus 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 four hours longer than our previous battery champ, the Moto Z Play. You get more than a long-lasting phone 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.
When your kid leaves the house with the Alcatel Onetouch Go Play in hand, you can be confident the phone will make it back in one piece. This Android phone can withstand 5-foot drops and a dunk in 3 feet of water for half-an-hour; you can even use the Go Play’s volume buttons to snap photos when you’re underwater. An included ViewMe app records what’s on screen along with your face and voice — helpful for sharing gaming exploits with pals. Parents can also install a cell-phone monitoring app on the Go Play to manage how their kids use the phone — something that’s harder to do on an iPhone. And with the price on this phone falling to less than $100, it's an even more attractive option for parents with an eye on the bottom line.
The Galaxy S8 Active boasts many of the features that highlight the S8 lineup — chiefly, the Infinity Display and the Snapdragon 835 — while adding features aimed at appealing to anyone who needs a phone that can stand up to a pounding. The 5.8-inch AMOLED display is shatterproof, and the phone is engineered to survive a 5-foot drop in addition to a dip in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes. You'll get longer battery life, too, thanks to a 4,000 mAh battery that lasted more than 11 hours on our battery test.
Audio is one of the most overlooked aspects on a smartphone, but the HTC U11 doesn’t make that mistake. HTC's BoomSound speakers combine the output of the phone’s earpiece and bottom-firing speaker to produce louder and richer sound than any other phone on the market. On top of that, when you want to listen to things a bit more privately, the U11's included USB-C earbuds offer adaptive audio adjustment that custom tunes sound just for your ears while also give you true noise-cancellation tech. There's just one downside: no headphone jack on the phone. But since HTC includes an adapter dongle in the box,there's still a way to plug in your old headphones, too.
MORE: HTC U11 Full Review
Phones to Watch
The iPhone X is a phone that looks like the culmination of 10 years of innovation, starting with an all-new design that sports a dazzling, edge-to-edge OLED display. Say buh-bye to the Home Button and Touch ID, because they’ve been replaced with simple gestures and FaceID recognition, made possible by the TrueDepth camera on the front. That same camera system makes it easy to insert yourself into animated emojis and enjoy a new array of sophisticated Snapchat filters. Under the hood is a fast new A11 Bionic processor that will make some laptops look slow, as well as dual rear 12-MP cameras that both have optical image stabilization. At $999, this slice of the future doesn’t come cheap, but it looks very promising.
MORE: Top iPhone X Features
As other phones start adding dual rear cameras — most recently, the Note 8 — LG wants to reassert its camera bona fides with the V30. This 6-inch phone features a 16-megapixel telephoto lens with a 71-degree field of view augmented by a 13-MP wide-angle lens with a 120-degree FOV. The result is a phone that can capture more of a scene while also producing high-quality shots when you zoom in. Other noteworthy features include a Snapdragon 835 processor boosted by 4GB of RAM and 64GB of on-board storage that you can supplement with a microSD card. The LG V30 can withstand a dip in 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes, too. We're still waiting for LG to announce pricing and availability on its latest phone.
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