1. Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+
Samsung has redefined its flagship handset in the Galaxy S8, offer two sizes of handset with an 18.5:9 display, losing the bezel and offering that premium dual-edge curved design. There’s a long list of things that Samsung gets right in the S8: there’s a pair of great camera, the battery life is good, there’s waterproofing, the latest hardware and the slickest Android skin, fully-featured and pack full of useful functions.
The contentious point falls on the fingerprint scanner, as the location isn’t optimal, but it’s not a deal breaker. The real decision might just come down to how big you want your phone to be, with that tall display meaning your phone doesn’t feel huge, despite the large display. It is expensive, however.
If the price is too much to bear, the then Samsung Galaxy S7 edge comes highly recommended: it offers much of the same – great curved edge display, waterproofing, good battery life and a similar feature set and software experience – but you can buy the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge on Amazon for £200 less than the S8+.
Best of the rest…
The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ aren’t for everyone though, and there are plenty of other great smartphones on the market to consider whatever budget you are on.
2. Google Pixel and Pixel XL
Google comes out all guns blazing with its Pixel and the larger Pixel XL. Both devices offer the same specs, performance and experience with one difference: screen size. The regular Pixel has a 5-inch Full HD display, while the Pixel XL has a larger 5.5-inch Quad HD display.
Launching with a number of exclusive features, but otherwise a clean version of Android, the Pixel phones have a solid build and a fast and smooth experience. The cameras are superb and the battery life is good, leading to a premium Android experience.
The price is a little high, however, and they lack microSD or waterproofing. They even have a 3.5mm headphone jack.
3. Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus
The Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus don’t offer the overhaul in design that we are used to getting every 2 years, though the larger model offers more new features than its smaller sibling in the form of a zoomed camera and the option for digital bokeh effects. The new flagship iPhones are more refined, offering the removal of the headphone jack in favour of stereo speakers, along with better hidden antennas and waterproofing.
They offer subtle changes to the iPhone 6S, such as a new Home button and glossy or matte black finish options, along with faster and slicker performance, as you would expect. Ultimately, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are the best phones that Apple have produced, the premium Apple smartphone experience. If the price is too high, the iPhone 6S offers a similar design and experience for a little less cash.
4. OnePlus 5
OnePlus seems to have grown up with the OnePlus 5, its most ambitious phone yet and looking to be more competitive. Great design meets powerful specs, with the latest hardware to rival top devices. The display is good, although doesn’t lift itself from Full HD like some of its rivals and that’s somewhat reflected in the price. It also offers no waterproofing, which is starting to become something of a tread at the top.
There’s a dual camera system on the back that’s causing some controversy, but you can just stick to regular shooting and not get involved with any of that and still get great results. Of course one of the killer features of this phone is Dash Charge to make sure you’re up and running in no time and oh, that it’s still some £200 cheaper than most of its rivals.
5. HTC U11
The HTC U11 is a remarkable phone. Not because HTC added the ability to squeeze to it, no. It’s a great phone because it does pretty much everything right: it has a unique rear design with those deep glass backs, a high quality of build and waterproofing. It offers a great high res display and the best sound quality you’ll likely find on a phone. Pair that will fuss-free software that’s free from bloat, if not quite as exciting as some of its rivals and you are on to a winner.
Throw in a camera that’s fast and reliable, some excellent headphones with noise cancelling and about the only thing left to complain about is the lack of a 3.5mm headphone socket. This is a phone that will serve just about anyones need, with lots of power from the Snapdragon 835, storage expansion and a battery life that while not quite the best, will get you through the day.
6. LG G6
LG knocked it out of the park with its latest flagship smartphone, the G6. The new device offers a build, performance and display that are all up there with the best smartphones available, as well as lightweight software that is easy to customise and a dual camera system that has a lot of versatility.
It’s more expensive than LG devices have been in the past and although its camera and build quality is comparable in quality to the Pixel devices and Galaxy S8 devices, we prefer the software experience and general overall feel of Samsung’s and Google’s options. LG’s decision to launch early now means rivals are faster, thanks to later hardware. The LG G6 is a great device though, that is every bit the flagship, even if the new 18:9 display is now outshone by Samsung’s Galaxy S8.
7. Blackberry KeyOne
The BlackBerry KeyOne might be something of a surprise entry, with the company struggling to find form with its recent handsets. But just as we rated the BlackBerry Priv, the KeyOne brings something unique to the Android smartphone space with that physical keyboard.
The unique offering is a natural choice for those who loved the BlackBerry if the past, with programmable keyboard shortcuts and plenty of innovation on the top of Android to make this phone stand-out. It’s not the most powerful handset out there, but at the same time, you’re not being asked to pay flagship prices for it either.
8. Motorola Moto G5 Plus
The Moto G shocked the smartphone world when it launched: so much phone for so little money. The Moto G still dominates this end of the market, bringing features and experiences with a level of quality that many at this level lack. The Moto G5 Plus gives you a lot of phone for your money, with great build, finish and features.
The price is creeping up however, seeing this Plus model now sell for over £200. We’d still say that this is the best in this class of device, however, and if you can’t spend too much on a phone, the Moto G5 Plus does it without feeling budget.
9. Honor 8 Pro
The Honor 8 Pro isn’t as exciting or as future-facing as some of the 2017 flagship smartphones, including the LG G6 and Samsung Galaxy S8, but it is still a great affordable device. It’s the same size as the Apple iPhone 7 Plus, so it will be a little wide for some, but that size packs in a 5.7-inch Quad HD display and a great battery performance in its sub-7mm build.
The navy blue finish is great and the dual camera setup is good fun too. The EMUI software can be a little heavy-handed and it certainly isn’t as clean as the pure Android experience of Pixel, but at £475, the Honor 8 Pro is a worthy consideration for those that want a big-screen, powerful and long-lasting phone that won’t destroy your bank account.
10. Apple iPhone SE
Fulfilling the requirements of those looking for a smaller iPhone, the iPhone SE is about as budget as Apple gets. Starting at just over £300, the iPhone SE punches into the mid-range, but the only thing mid-range about this phone is the display size.
The iPhone SE has all the power of the , giving you speed and power that smaller phones often fail to give you. It’s a full-bore iPhone experience that’s pared with an excellent camera, offering the consistency you expect from Apple. For those after the Apple experience without the hole in their pocket, the iPhone SE is an excellent choice. It’s also one of the best selling iPhones out there.
11. Huawei P10 and P10 Plus
The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus are the latest flagship smartphones to appear from the Chinese manufacturer, with the P10 Plus being our favourite of the two. The larger device is one of the best looking smartphones to come from Huawei to date, while also offering a great battery life, capable dual cameras, plenty of power and storage and mature EMUI software.
The P10 will be the better option for those that want a smaller device, but the P10 Plus is certainly right up there in terms of Android devices. It isn’t perfect, with the screen’s finish picking up fingerprints and the camera software not always excellent, but the P10 Plus is a solid example of a 5.5-inch smartphone.
12. Samsung Galaxy A5
The Samsung Galaxy A5 is an impressive device for a sub-£400 smartphone. It has a solid design and build, coupled with a display and performance that punches well beyond its price point. The A5 is a cheaper version of the S7 but without feeling like a cheaper alternative.
It doesn’t offer the most powerful processor, the most pixel-dense screen or the best camera out there, but it’s a compelling device that is well worthy of consideration if you’re on a budget, or not too fussed about the latest and greatest software.
13. Honor 8
For a mid-level device, the Honor 8 lays down some solid specification benchmarks for its £370 price. As a day-to-day phone, the design and ability of this mid-ranger are considerable. It’s an upgrade over the previous model that will give plenty of competitors a run for their money.
The battery life could be better, the processor performance lags a little at times and it doesn’t offer the perfect graphics for gaming. That said, there is plenty of merit in the Honor 8, and its biggest problem isn’t actually itself, but the competition it is up against, such as the OnePlus 3T that is only £40 more.
14. Lenovo P2
The biggest complaint in smartphones is battery life. The solution is to have a huge battery. The Lenovo P2 finds itself in a class of its own, a budget handset with a huge battery, so it will last longer than most people will need it to. While the battery is definitely king, the compromise is that the rest of the phone is only ok.
That means you get enough power, a camera that’s ok and an experience that’s ok rather than great. That said, you’ll still be using it at the end of a long weekend, while most flagship phones will have flaked out.
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