Phew! Everyone make it through the annual summer smartphone drought?
OK, good, because a bunch of new smartphones have recently been announced and released this month, and it’s time to rejigger this list.
We have a new top phone that replaces the Google Pixel, and we also had to make some tough decisions regarding the Galaxy S8 and iPhone 7.
Here’s our list of the best smartphones you can buy right now.
Note: Prices are for buyers in the US and will vary depending on the retailer.
If you were a BlackBerry fan in the company's heyday, you're going to love the BlackBerry Classic. It looks similar to older BlackBerry models but features a sharp touchscreen and an excellent physical keyboard.
My colleague Jeff Dunn reviewed this phone, and he summed it up perfectly:
'This is a good phone. The screen is great, the software is clean, and the whole thing is superfast. But good isn't enough for $US800. With its underwhelming battery and slippery, sometimes uncomfortable design, it's not the device that should reverse Sony's fortunes.'
It's actually available now for $US605 on Amazon, which is a better price for this phone.
The BlackBerry KeyOne with Android is the company's successor to the Priv, which also ran Android and had a slide-out physical keyboard. With the KeyOne, BlackBerry returned to basics and kept the keyboard as a permanent exterior feature.
This could be a great device for those who want a physical keyboard but also access to Google's apps and services, which aren't available on other BlackBerry devices.
The Axon 7 is made by ZTE, a Chinese smartphone maker that's relatively unknown in the US.
Why does it deserve a spot on this list? Because it offers the same -- if not better -- specs as the top Android players here, and it will cost you $US250 less than the big-name brands like Samsung, LG, or HTC.
That means if you don't like the Nexus devices and don't want to pay top dollar for a Galaxy S8, the ZTE Axon 7 might just be the phone for you.
The Moto G5 continues to be our favourite budget-friendly Android smartphone, as it proves that 'good-but-not-great hardware can become strong value at the right price,' according to my colleague, Jeff Dunn, who reviewed the phone.
With the G5 Plus, you get a 5.2-inch 1080p screen, a fingerprint scanner, a great battery life, a 12-megapixel camera that beats other phones in its price range, a near-pure version of Android, and a sleek design.
Still, at the G5 Plus' $US230 price tag, you'll be making a few compromises over the premium flagships. For example, there's no NFC for mobile payments. And the phone still uses microUSB for charging while USB-C -- the new standard for charging smartphones -- has been out for a couple years now.
Motorola and Lenovo recently announced the new Moto G5s and G5s Plus, both of which come with improvements to the camera and design. You may want to check out their details at the end of this list before buying the Moto G5 Plus.
The Huawei Mate 9 boasts a huge 5.9-inch display and great battery life, thanks to its larger-than-average battery.
It's also one of the fastest Android phones you can buy at the moment, and Huawei's own layer of software that runs on top of Android largely maintains the pure Android look that we prefer.
The Mate 9 features a dual camera that helps create depth-of-field effects -- blurry backgrounds, otherwise known as 'bokeh' -- that the iPhone 7 Plus also has.
Wait for it: The Mate 10 is expected to be announced soon, so you may want to wait for the new model if you're interested in Huawei's phone.
The new Moto Z2 Force Edition comes with everything you'd expect from a premium smartphone. As my colleague Jeff Dunn noted in his review, it's 'very fast, its screen looks good, its cameras are capable of taking nice photos, and it has a razor-thin frame.' The 5.5-inch AMOLED display is also more resistant to cracking than most other smartphones out there.
However, it's a little too reliant on the 'Moto Mods' to make it a complete phone that can compete in the top 10 of the list.
The iPhone SE, with its 4-inch screen, is the very best small-form smartphone you can buy at the moment. You get all the best apps, ecosystem, support from Apple, and the same performance as the iPhone 6S for a relatively low $US350 price tag. So far, iOS 11 looks to be running smoothly on iPhones powered by Apple's A9 chip (iPhone SE, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus).
The iPhone SE also comes with Apple Pay, among other premium features like Live Photos and a fingerprint sensor -- not to mention great battery life.
Apple is still selling the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus; despite being two years old now, they are both still amazing smartphones. Apple recently released iOS 11, the latest version of its mobile operating system, and my iPhone 6s Plus still runs great with it so far. And it's the last iPhone that has a headphone jack, too.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus also come with great cameras anyone would be happy with, and Touch ID is still very fast to unlock the phone. It's an even better deal if you get a refurbished model from Apple's Refurbished Mac Store.
Price: iPhone 6s $US450
Price: iPhone 6s Plus $US550
HTC's U11 has an excellent camera, an eye-catching mirror-finish, and speedy performance. You can even squeeze its edges to open any app you want, including Google Assistant, which is an interesting feature.
In almost every respect, it's a great Android smartphone, but it's let down by a missing headphone jack. It also has larger borders around the display, which is now becoming 'old-fashioned' in terms of design.
The G6 is LG's best smartphone, and it's truly a great phone. LG finally implemented key features like a premium design and water resistance, which finally put LG phones in the same league as other flagship smartphones from Samsung and Apple.
The G6 has a good dual-lens camera that everyone should be pleased with. It also has a slightly-taller-than-average screen that's great for viewing and using your apps, as it shows more of an app than regular screen.
Unfortunately, though, it's running a somewhat older processor, which prevents me from recommending the G6 outright. The Snapdragon 821 processor in the G6 is still a great processor, but Samsung announced the Galaxy S8 with the latest Snapdragon 835 just two months after the G6 was released. With that in mind, you're likely to feel the G6's older processor start to slow down before the Galaxy S8's.
The OnePlus 5 is one the top Android smartphones you can buy for its classy, simple design, excellent performance, great camera, and even better price tag. It also includes a headphone jack.
Sure, it has borders around the display, which is starting to look outdated, but you won't care when you pay $US150 less than smartphones that have ultra-narrow bezels, like the LG G6 and Galaxy S8.
Samsung's Galaxy S8 is the best-looking smartphone out right now, period. Yes, it's better-looking than the iPhone 8, and I'd say it's sleeker than the Note 8. The curved glass on both the front and back of the S8 is a refinement of its predecessor, the Galaxy S7. And the ultra-narrow borders around the screen makes the S8 the new reference for premium, luxurious design in smartphones.
Apart from looks, the Galaxy S8 is laden with features, including water resistance, a taller-than-average screen that's great for viewing more of your content, fast charging, wireless charging, face recognition, iris recognition, the best-in-class camera, Samsung Pay, and a hidden home button.
It sounds like the S8 should take the top spot on this list, but I'm not a fan of Samsung's layer of software, called Touchwiz, that runs on top of stock Android. Unfortunately, it will inevitably prevent the Galaxy S8 from receiving the latest Android updates from Google on time when they're released. And, overall, I prefer stock Android's clean look and functionality.
It's true that the Galaxy S8 wouldn't have features like face or iris recognition without Touchwiz, but those Samsung-specific features don't tempt me as much as timely Android updates.
The iPhone 7 is now last year's iPhone model, but for $US550, it easily beats the $US679 Galaxy S8. As every iPhone does, the iPhone 7 brings better apps and and the best ecosystem to its users compared to any Android phone. And by ecosystem, we mean the apps available to you, the support you get from Apple if something goes wrong, and getting the latest software updates straight from Apple.
It also offers water resistance, a great camera that performs well in low light, and a powerful processor. It also works amazingly well with other Apple products, too, like Apple's wireless AirPods.
The Galaxy S8+ is identical in features to the S8, except it's slightly larger and features a larger 6.2-inch display.
The bigger S8+ model pulls ahead of the regular S8 in this list due to its size-to-screen ratio. It's about the same size as the Plus models of iPhone while sporting a much larger screen. Also, apps and content look fantastic on the large display.
The iPhone 7 Plus' dual-lens camera is the key feature that places the larger iPhone 7 Plus ahead of the iPhone 7. And its new $US670 price tag places it in front of the $US720 Galaxy S8+.
The iPhone 7 Plus, unlike the normal 7, lets you take pictures with a professional-looking 'bokeh' effect, in which the background is blurry in contrast to the subject. The phone has a second telephoto lens that achieves 2x optical zoom, which means it zooms into subjects without sacrificing picture quality like digital zoom does on most smartphone cameras.
With its gorgeous design, ultra-narrow bezels, beautiful display, fast performance, dual-lens camera, and fancy stylus-based features, the Note 8 takes the best features of Samsung's Galaxy S and Note smartphone lines and smashes them together into a phone that's hard to beat.
Despite the availability of the newer and flashier Galaxy Note 8, Google's Pixel and Pixel XL still take the top spot for Android phones because they run stock Android and Google's Pixel launcher, which gives Android a cleaner look and gets the latest Android updates on time. Not only that, the Pixel smartphones are still great performers with excellent cameras.
Now that Apple has released newer iPhones though, the Google Pixel and Pixel XL must accept their new place as the third-best smartphones you can buy. The new iPhones simply offer better value when it comes to performance, features, specs, and design.
Price: Pixel $US649
Price: Pixel XL $US769
For the last few months, Apple's iPhone 7 gave way to the Pixel and Pixel XL as the top smartphone you can buy. Now, the iPhone 8 is here, and Apple is back on top.
The iPhone 8 comes with a refined glass and metal build, a superb camera, and incredible performance. It also finally includes wireless charging, as well as support for fast charging -- two features that were missing in previous iPhones but have been present in Android phones for years. And, like many Android phones before it, the iPhone 8 is water resistant, too.
If it's so similar to Android phones, why does the iPhone 8 pull ahead? It's iOS and the Apple ecosystem. You get the latest updates straight from Apple as soon as they're released, apps are generally better designed on iOS, and you have the Apple Store locations to go to in case something goes wrong with it.
The iPhone 8 Plus brings with it all the best parts of the iPhone 8, but adds a bigger, better screen, a dual-lens camera that can do some fancy tricks, like optical zooming and adding depth effects for beautiful photos, and more.
It's the best phone you can buy, at least for now. The iPhone X has yet to come out, and it could very well take the iPhone 8 Plus' spot.
Motorola and Lenovo recently announced the Moto G5s and G5s Plus, which will be released this fall in the US. They bring a few improvements over the original G5 smartphones.
The new Moto G5s features an all-metal design compared to the half-metal, half-plastic design of the original G5. It also has a slightly larger 5.2-inch display versus the original's 5-inch display, and it has a slightly larger battery, too. The G5s' camera is 16 megapixels, which is a bump up from the original G5's 13-megapixel camera. It will come with a higher price tag closer to $US300.
The Moto G5s Plus also has a few improvements over the original G5 Plus. One of the biggest improvements is a 13-megapixel dual-lens camera system. The screen is also bigger at 5.5 inches compared to the original's 5.2-inch display. As with it's smaller sibling, the G5s Plus comes with a full-metal design. The G5s Plus will come at a higher price tag of around $US350.
Both the rumour mill and the common annual smartphone release cycle suggest Google will release the Pixel 2 in the coming months.
So far, rumours are saying the Pixel XL 2 will come with a refreshed design that's more premium than the current model. The regular Pixel 2 is said to come with a more modest design update.
We're expecting bigger screens for both Pixel 2 models, updates to the already-excellent Pixel camera, and perhaps water resistance, which the original Pixels did not ship with. We are hearing that it won't come with a headphone jack, though, which would be interesting. Check out Pixel 2 rumour roundup for more details.
The iPhone X (pronounced 'ten') will be available for November 3. Starting at $US999, it will be the most expensive iPhone to date, but it will also come with some standout signature features, including a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED 'Super Retina Display,' a facial-recognition system for unlocking your phone and using Apple Pay called Face ID, wireless and fast-charging capabilities, and more.
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