The best phone in the US for 2018 is going to power you through the next year under brand like Apple, Google, and Samsung shaking up our top 10 list. Of course picking between these smartphones is always a tough decision.
The good news is knowing the best phone you can buy in the United States is more than just a hunch for us. We test out the latest and – sometimes – greatest phones in comprehensive mobile phone reviews.
To drill down to a list of our 10 favorites in the US this year, we based January 2018's updated rankings on a lot of geeked-out factors: design, performance, battery life, camera quality and software updates.
Sure, your personal preference among iOS 11 and Android Oreo could sway you to another device besides our top-ranked phone. Likewise, your contract with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile is a personal preference. The best phone for AT&T may not be available on-contract on Verizon, and vice-versa.
That's why we have more than just a No. 1 pick, which, spoiler alert, isn't just Apple's iPhone 8 or iPhone X. We're not that predictable. Before you lock into a binding contract or spring for an expensive unlocked phone, consult our best phone guide, updated regularly.
No surprise, the curved Samsung Galaxy S8 is our best phone thanks to Samsung's longer display that grown in size. It's now a ridiculous 5.8 inches.
What's remarkable here is that the phone's dimensions haven't changed very much. Instead, Samsung got rid of the top and bottom bezel and the physical home button.
We did have issues adjusting to the offset fingerprint sensor on the back and its Face Unlock and Iris Scanner alternatives aren't much better. Bixby, Samsung's highly touted voice assistant is also a no-show.
However, for the few missteps from Samsung, this phone is superb. It has an excellent camera, fast new chipset and good battery life. Just be prepared to spend more than $700 on Samsung's new best, unless you find a good deal.
Samsung Galaxy S8 photography samples
- Read our full, in-depth Samsung Galaxy S8 review
The iPhone X is the most impressive handset Apple has ever made. Ever.
You could argue that the iPhone 4 or iPhone 6 should have that tag, but the X (that's 'X' as in '10') represents something that most iPhone buyers want: a new design, after years and years of the same thing being released.
You know already that this is an expensive phone, but Apple has done all it can to justify that cost. It's got an amazing, well-tuned screen, and a strong camera bolted on the back.
The lack of bezel around the device is a massive departure for the brand, and losing the home button has lead to a redesign of iOS 11 – you might struggle to transition for a day or two if you go for this phone, but trust us, it'll become second nature in no time.
This is the phone to buy if you want to treat yourself to a high-end phone – a little extra per month for something you really enjoy taking out of your bag or pocket is worth it if you can afford it.
iPhone X photography samples
- Read our in-depth iPhone X review
Also consider: If you're in the market for an iPhone but don't want to fork out the cost of the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 Plus is the handset to go for thanks to many similar features. Actually, if you wanted to be really thrifty you could get away with the iPhone 7 Plus, but the updates won't last as long for that device.
The Google Pixel 2 is one of our favorites simply because of the camera quality. Our photos never looked better, and that's thanks to Google's machine learning and focus on optics. This is the closest camera phone to a DSLR replacement. It's also fast, water-resistant and includes dual front-facing speakers, a rare treat.
You're not getting a headphone jack from this year's Pixel phone, and this smaller 5-inch version doesn't have the all-screen display found on the bigger 6-inch Pixel 2 XL. That's okay, its vibrant screen and slightly cheaper price make it a worthwhile choice if you want to upgrade to the latest version of Android.
Pixel 2 / 2 XL photo samples
- Read our in-depth Google Pixel 2 review
Also consider: Like what you see, but need more screen real estate? You you'll want the Google Pixel 2 XL – the 6-inch brother of the Pixel 2 which boasts an eye-popping all-screen QHD (that's 2K) resolution. But, warning, it's more expensive.
The Galaxy Note 8 is Samsung's successful comeback story following the Note 7 recall, and it's a big upgrade for fans of the large-screen smartphone series. It includes the S Pen, a bezel-less screen and two rear cameras. The jump from 4GB to 6GB of RAM will help future-proof this phone and for Dex workstation virtualization.
It's biggest weakness is that off-center fingerprint sensor, weak single speaker and, of course, the price. It's the most expensive Android on our best phones list to date.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 photography samples
Also consider: The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, with similar dimensions, a lower cost and longer-lasting battery is where we'd point you. It only has one camera sensor and the S Pen is absent, but many people could happily live with that.
If you're looking for a powerful phone that packs everything that's good about the Android world, look no further than the LG V30.
The LG G6 is a fine device, but the V30 is the sleek, refined and powerful version of that phone. It's got the most powerful processor around, a great camera and delivers one of the best sonic performances from a phone on the market right now, thanks to the dedicated Quad DAC inside.
This means the LG V30 is a great phone to pick up if you value great-sounding tunes, and want a well-made phone into the bargain. Yes, the price is high, but the combination of features justifies that to a compelling degree.
LG V30 photography samples
- Click here to read our in-depth LG V30 review
Also consider: The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is a similar device in terms of both power and cost, while you get a slightly better camera and the use of the S Pen; however the V30 probably just edges it for audio performance.
A big-screen, pure Android experience and an incredible camera are the cornerstones of the Android smartphone fan's wish list.
The Pixel XL 2 has an expansive 6-inch display that's decent for gaming and video playback (although a few issues have surfaced around its viewing angles), and it boasts an improved design over the smaller Pixel 2, with slimmer bezels housing its dual front-facing speakers.
There’s plenty of power under the hood, where the latest Snapdragon 835 chip is coupled with 4GB of RAM, but it’s round the back, with the 12MP camera, where the Pixel 2 XL really shines.
Photos look fantastic, and they'll please both casual and more serious snappers alike.
Google Pixel 2 XL photography samples
- Read our full Google Pixel 2 XL review
Also consider: The obvious alternative here is the Google Pixel 2 – everything you get with the 2 XL you get with the 2, except the higher price. Note though that the Pixel 2 is a smaller phone, although it doesn't have the same viewing angle issues.
If you want a really big phone running Android, this is it. It's the 6.2-inch, plus-sized version of our favorite phone, the 5.8-inch Samsung Galaxy S8.
Samsung built its 2017 flagship handsets with elongated screens that wipe away the needless bezel and physical home button and give you a more immersive display. You also have the fastest specs, a great camera and slick software this the S8 Plus.
You're going to have to learn to hold a big phone, but luckily, it's not much larger than the S7 Edge or the ill-fated Note 7. Making the screen bigger without making the phone much bigger is one of Samsung's many tricks here, and it's why this phone is near the top. It'd be even higher if it weren't for the price and the terribly placed rear fingerprint sensor.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus photography samples
- Read our in-depth Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review
Also consider: If the Galaxy S8 Plus is a little too big for your hands, the more compact Galaxy S8 could be right up your street. It still sports the impressive Infinity Display, while its 5.8-inch screen is still sizeable without being overbearing.
The iPhone 8 Plus is the best 'regular' iPhone available right now – the iPhone X is the more impressive device overall, but the 8 Plus is a little more affordable.
The 8 Plus does use the same design as previous handsets, with the removed headphone jack, bezelled front and longer design in keeping with the traditional iPhone shape.
Whether that's a good thing or not depends on how much you want the new X, but you're still getting a brilliant phone here.
Wireless charging is hardly a new technology, but its presence on the iPhone 8 Plus is a real boon, and the improved screen technology makes using this handset a nice experience.
The camera is an improvement over the snapper on the iPhone 7 Plus, while the improvement in power makes usage even slicker and battery life is better than that of previous iPhones.
iPhone 8 Plus photography samples
- Read our in-depth iPhone 8 Plus review
Also consider: The standard iPhone 8 is very good too, and with a more manageable form factor and lower price point it's the phone that's likely to appeal to a wider audience – but if you're looking for Apple perfection and have a slightly bigger budget, it has to be the 8 Plus.
If it's an affordable flagship you're after, look no further. The OnePlus 5T offers facial recognition, a 6-inch 18:9 display, dual rear cameras, a premium metal body and the latest power under the hood, all for a price that comfortably undercuts Apple, Samsung and friends.
To achieve the lower price point some corners have been cut, but the cuts aren't as severe as you might think. There's no QHD resolution display, stereo speakers, expandable storage or standout camera, but what you do get is a highly capable Android smartphone that, more often than not, outperforms its price bracket.
The Honor 9 is cheap, but has fewer features, and while the Samsung Galaxy S8 and iPhone X may offer the ultimate smartphone experience, they have price tags which many will be unable to afford.
If you're willing to put up with a few small compromises then you could argue the OnePlus 5T could be even further up this list. One thing is for sure though: in terms of value for money it won't disappoint.
OnePlus 5T photography samples
- Read our in-depth OnePlus 5T review
Also consider: The Honor 9 is the another cheaper flagship model, combining a lower price with high-end specs. Both it and the OnePlus 5T make compromises here and there, but overall they're excellent value for what's on offer.
The new iPhone 8 isn't the phone that many will have been waiting for, as it comes with a similar look and feel to previous models – again. The iPhone X is Apple's more revolutionary iPhone.
That doesn't mean it's a bad phone, far from it in fact with a power boost under the hood, water resistant and a decent camera upgrade making a difference. We also really like the new glass back and the wireless charging that comes with this design change.
There's no point upgrading from the 7 to 8, but if you're currently using an iPhone 6S or older then the jump to the 8 is a good one.
iPhone 8 photography samples
- Read our in-depth iPhone 8 review
Also consider: The obvious alternative here is the iPhone 8 Plus, but we'd say that if money is no object (and that's a big 'if') you'll enjoy the iPhone X a lot more, thanks to the smaller in-hand feel and massive upgrades.