CNE DO NOT BSH: Best Android phones 2018: at should you buy?

BY GreenBot Staff

Published 12 Dec 2017

Choosing a new Android phone isn’t easy. The Android universe is teeming with options, from super-expensive flagship phones, to affordable models that make a few calculated compromises, to models expressly designed for, say, great photography. 

Chances are that whichever phone you buy, you’ll keep it for at least two years. So choosing the best Android phone for you isn’t a decision you should take lightly. But we can make things easier: ’ve made picks for the best Android phone in several categories. 

At the bottom of this article, we also list all our recent Android phone reviews—in case you have your eye on a model that doesn’t make our cut.

Updated 1/18/18:  have new picks for the best phone for photographers, phablet lovers,  bargain hunters.

Best overall phone

Samsung’s flagship phones are usually quite good, but the Galaxy S8 S8+ really pull out all the stops deliver a phone that is more polished, usable, technically impressive than ever before. Inside out, this phone is a masterpiece.

The gorgeous design is built around a big, tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio AMOD display that delivers the best brightness, contrast, color we’ve ever seen. The new form factor isn’t just good looking, it’s more comfortable usable, too.

Inside you’ll find the first phone with a 10nm Snapdragon 835 chip, which gives it top-tier performance excellent power efficiency. In fact, these phones performed just great in our battery benchmarks (roughly 9 hours), with real-world use easily taking us through a busy day. 

There are so many features it’s hard to list them all. Bluetooth 5, support for future gigabit E, wireless charging (Qi A), iris scanner, Samsung y Android y support, B-C, headphone jack, I8 water proofing, microSD card support… for such a smooth, slim, attractive phone, it sure packs in a ton of “stuff.”

Samsung’s software is better than ever, too. 

You still have to contend with far too much bloatware from Samsung carriers, the fingerprint sensor is placed in a terrible location. But these sore spots are relatively minor distractions from a phone that does more, looks better, is more delightful to use than anything else on the market.

Best phone for photographers

The original xel produces amazing images, but the xel 2 takes photography to a whole new level. Indeed. The camera in ’s latest smartphone isn’t just the best in an Android phone this year. It has also raised the bar for the entire smartphone industry.

The first thing you’ll notice about the xel 2’s camera is its specs. ke last year, hasn’t gone with a dual camera set-up, in fact it, hasn’t really upgraded the hardware much at all. Check out this specs comparison:

2016 xel: 12.3 M f/2.0, electronic image stabilization, phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-D flash
2017 xel: 12.2 M f/1.8, optical image stabilization, phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-D flash

As always, however, specs don’t tell the whole story. For one, optical image stabilization makes a huge difference in both low-light situation motion pics, but what’s most impressive is what is doing behind the scenes. In the xel 2, is using its AI machine-learning engines to amplify its image processing prowess, the results are simply stellar. For example, even without a second camera, the xel 2 phones take some of the best portraits this side of an DS, even besting Apple’s stellar ione X.

But the best part might be that both the xel 2 xel 2 Xhave the exact same camera. The upshot is the smaller less expensive xel phone doesn’t give up anything to the larger one when it comes to the photography—it even has the xel Visual Core image processing chip that just turned on in the Android 8.1 update. So no matter what kind of photographer you are, the xel 2 is the phone that needs to be in your pocket.

Best phablet (over 5.5 inches)

The Galaxy S8+ was our favorite phablet of 2017 until we got our hs on the Note 8. ile it’s only a fraction of an inch bigger than the S8+, comes with the same processor storage, Samsung has upgraded its productivity phablet in a number of meaningful ways.

The most important change is in the camera. For the first time in a Galaxy flagship phone, Samsung has added a second camera to the rear setup, bringing 2x optical zoom a true portrait mode. That’s on top of the already great camera that’s in the Galaxy S8. The Note 8 has one of the best cameras we’ve used in a smartphone, the addition of a second lens makes a noticeable difference, most notably with a new portrait mode that lets you adjust the intensity of the bokeh effect.

And there are other little upgrades as well. The bigger display makes it feel more substantial to hold, with a higher maximum brightness, it’s much easier to read in direct sunlight. The battery in the Note 8 is actually smaller than the Galaxy S8’s (3,300mAh vs 3,500mAh), but Samsung’s OS optimizations make it last just as long. And even with the same processor, the phone feels faster, thanks to 6GB of RAM a newer version of Android Nougat.

But the best reason to choose the Note 8 over the Galaxy S8+ is the S n. ke Notes of old, there’s a slot on the bottom of the device to keep the stylus tucked away until you need it, Samsung has added a few new tricks to maximize its usefulness, such as ve Message that lets you send animated notes better third-party app support. Samsung has tailored the whole Note 8 experience around the S n, the result is a unique, remarkable phone.

At $950, it’s not cheap, but if you want the best phablet, it’ll be worth it.

Best phone for Tango

Augmented reality is the tech buzzword of the moment, has its own platform for AR called Tango. However, unlike kemon Go, Tango requires some serious hardware specs to function, there are only two phones able to run its apps, the Asus Zenfone AR novo ab2 o. And one of them is clearly superior.

If you’re looking to test out AR apps, Asus’s Zenfone AR is the best option. It has a Snapdragon 821 chip, up to 8GB of RAM, up to 128GB of storage. But what makes it Tango-ready is its impressive camera array. It has three rear cameras: one 23Mmain one, along with motion-tracking depth-sensing cameras dedicated to AR. Its 1440×2560 Super AMOD display is crisp vibrant, hles tracking with ease. Add it all up, you’ve got a device ready to tackle today’s AR apps ( probably tomorrow’s too).

But what gives the Zenfone AR its edge over the novo ab2 o is its size. th a slim frame a 5.7-inch screen, it fits comfortably in your pocket your hs, feels more like a phone than the 6.4-inch ab2 o. And it’s even compatible with ’s Daydream VR platform, so you’ll be on the cutting edge of both sides of reality.

And while Tango is still an emerging platform, there are more than enough apps to keep you occupied, like yfare View for 3D shopping Measure. The Zenfone AR isn’t perfect, but if you want AR in your life, it’s the only phone you should buy.

Best budget phone ($300 or less)

There was a time when the words “budget” “Android” conjured images of disposable, plastic phones with small screens.

The Moto G5 punches way above its weight with a quality 5.2-inch 1080p display, metal body, fingerprint sensor, a very decent camera for its price. For $230 you get 32GB of storage 2GB of RAM with a Snapdragon 625 processor, or for $300 you can bump that up to 4GB of RAM 64GB of storage. 

Not only that, but it’s fully 4G E compatible on all four major U.S. carriers—something that not a lot of budget phones can claim.

The phone has its drawbacks, including microB instead of B-C a lack of NFC, not to mention that the camera is adequate but doesn’t hold up against top-end phones. 

As a complete package, though, the build quality, specs, performance, battery life, software experience here is way better than we’re used to seeing in the $200-300 price range.

Best bang for the buck

OK, it’s getting to the point where this category should just be “Most recent Oneus release.” For years, the company’s hsets have dominated the value category, with premium specs design for hundreds less than its competitors. And the Oneus 5T only widens the gap.

ile the Oneus 5 that launched earlier this year is still a solid value, its 5.5-inch screen design seem a little stale. Oneus changed that with the 5T. ile it has the same Snapdragon 835 chip, RAM, storage as the 5, the screen has changed dramatically, bringing it more in line with the premium Android phones. The 5T has a 6-inch, 18:9 OD display, the bezels around it have been reduced so the overall footprint hasn’t changed much.

That means the Oneus 5T has a display, processor, battery that can st shoulder to shoulder with the xel 2 X Galaxy S8. But while it might look feel like a premium phone, it doesn’t cost as much as one: At just $500, the Oneus 5T is a downright steal.

How we test Android phones

First foremost, we spend at least several days with the phone under review, treating it as if it were our one only. No number of lab tests or benchmarks will tell you as much about a phone as living with it for awhile. ’re concerned with real-world performance, stability, interface usability, camera quality, whether proprietary features are useful or cumbersome. use social media, check email, play games, take photos videos in a variety of conditions, navigate around town, do all the things most people do with their phones.

oneplus 3 benchmarks battery

run a suite of benchmarks, but what matters most is the overall experience.

Of course, we also run extensive benchmarks: 3D (both Ice Storm Unlimited Sling Shot), , GFXch, AnTuTu, Geekbench, Vellamo. run all our tests with the phone set up the way it would be out of the box, without disabling any pre-installed apps or services. do, however, make efforts to make sure benchmarks are not interrupted by notifications that background downloads aren’t taking place. may not report results from all of these tests (real-world everyday performance is far more important than benchmarks), but we do share the most interesting results.

Before running each benchmark, we make sure the phone is charged to 100 percent, plugged in, left to cool off. ones can sometimes run slower as their batteries get low, charging the phone can make it hot cause the SoC to slow down. So we do our best to make sure every test starts with the phone topped off at room temperature.

en we run battery benchmarks ( Geekbench), we calibrate the display to 200 nits disable all auto-brightness screen-dimming features. Display brightness plays a major role in draining your battery, we want to create a level playing field. Of course, we also keep a close eye on how long the battery lasts in our everyday use, including screen-on time, stby time, even how fast the battery charges with the included charger.

at to look for in a phone

Smartphones are very personal. Everyone has different needs, a unique budget, personal preferences. You might need to access secure corporate email documents with a phone that works on lots of networks around the world. Or you might spend all your time chronicling your life on Snapchat.

That said, there are major features of all smartphones that you should compare before making a purchase decision.

Display: A good display has a high resolution (1920×1080 for smaller phones, 2650×1440 for larger phones), so that you can read fine text without it becoming blurry or illegible. A high-resolution display is especially important for VR. You want a display that accurately displays colors when looking at it from any angle, a high contrast ratio maximum brightness will make it easier to see in bright sunlight.

note7  5

Samsung leads the pack for display quality.

Camera: Smartphone vendors like to tout camera specs like megapixels aperture, but a high resolution wide aperture (low f-stop number like f/1.8) only get you so far. The particulars of the sensor, image processing chip, camera software have a huge impact on the photo- video-taking experience.

You want a camera that launches quickly, focuses in an instant, has no lag between when you hit the shutter button the photo is taken. A great phone camera produces shots with accurate colors little noise in lots of different environments. If you take selfies, pay particular attention to the quality of the front-facing camera. Finally, we love manual camera controls, reward phones that deliver manual fine tuning.

ocessor memory: Most modern phones are “fast enough” for common tasks like web browsing social media. You don’t always need a super high-end processor tons of RAM unless you plan to use your phone for more taxing activities like 3D gaming, VR, or video editing. Still, don’t settle for less than 2GB of RAM a Qualcomm Snapdragon 600-series processor or better.

Battery: Every time they poll users about what they want out of their next smartphone, “better battery life” is at the top of the list. The capacity of a smartphone battery is measured in milliamp-hours (mAh), ranges from just under 2,000 mAh to over 4,000 mAh. ones with bigger, brighter displays more powerful processors drain the battery more quickly, though, so a smaller less-expensive phone with a 2,500 mAh battery might actually last longer than a big high-end phone with a 2,800 mAh battery. Still, as a rule of thumb, more mAh is better.

roid m battery settings

You want a phone with a big battery. In general, the higher the mAh rating, the better.

Size weight: Some people love big phones. Some love smaller phones. Some want a lightweight phone that disappears in the pocket, while others need to feel some heft. It’s a matter of personal preference. Don’t assume that you won’t like large phones if you have small hs, however. There seems to be no real correlation between h size preferred phone size.

Software Bloatware: If you want a phone that runs pure Android with no embellishments, you need to buy a Nexus model. Anything else you buy is going to have a custom build of Android; that could be good or bad (or both at once).

one makers change the Android interface icons to varying degree, add features software of their own. Sometimes this stuff is useful, sometimes it isn’t. e-installed apps that can’t be removed (usually called “bloatware”) can slow down your phone or, at the very least, take up valuable storage space. And if you buy a phone from a carrier instead of an unlocked carrier-neutral model, you’ll probably find a bunch of carrier apps you may not want. Know what you’re getting into before you buy.

Our latest phone reviews

Is there a phone you’re interested in, but don’t see it recommended as one of our top picks? That’s fine—different users have different needs preferences. Maybe another model is the best one for you. Take a look at our latest reviews to see what else is out there.