It’s remarkably tough to rank smartphones, especially when you have to consider hundreds of different preferences and opinions about what makes a smartphone truly great.
For the latest list of the top 20 smartphones you can buy, I’ve made a controversial choice for the top smartphone you can buy at the moment.
Nope, it’s not from Apple or Samsung.
Check out our list of the top 20 smartphones you can buy:
20. BlackBerry KeyOne
The KeyOne is BlackBerry’s successor to the Priv. Both run Android and feature physical keyboards. But while the Priv’s keyboard slid out from behind its screen, the KeyOne’s is permanently located just below its display.
The KeyOne is a great device for those who want both a physical keyboard and access to Google’s apps and services, which aren’t available on other BlackBerry devices.
19. Motorola Moto Z2 Force
The Moto Z2 Force comes with everything you’d expect from a premium smartphone. As 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.” And its 5.5-inch AMOLED display is more resistant to cracking than most other smartphones’ screens.
However, the Z2 Force is a little too reliant on Motorola’s Mods. Those are the company’s line of snap-on accessories, including external speakers and bigger batteries, that are designed for its Z-series phones. Without such Mods, the Z2 Force doesn’t really measure up to the devices that rank higher on this list.
18. Moto G6 Plus
Every time I check out a new Moto G smartphone, I question why I pay so much for the high-end flagships. There was no exception when I checked out the Moto G6. When it boils down to it, Motorola’s “G” series smartphones do everything I need a smartphone to do for a fraction of the price I usually pay for a new smartphone.
17. Apple iPhone SE/6S/6S Plus
I grouped all these together because they are all two years old, have similar specs, and are still available from Apple. They’re also still amazing smartphones.
Last fall, Apple released iOS 11, the latest version of its mobile operating system, and my iPhone 6S Plus still runs great with it.
The SE, 6S, and 6S Plus all feature great cameras and Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which allows you to quickly unlock your phone. Another bonus: These are the last iPhones that still have headphone jacks.
iPhone SE price: $US350
iPhone 6S price: $US450
iPhone 6S Plus price: $US550
16. Essential Phone
The Essential Phone is a gorgeous device. It has a nearly edge-to-edge display and a case made of ultrapremium materials – ceramic on the back and titanium on the sides. It also runs a nearly stock version of Android, which I prefer over the heavily modified versions that Samsung and LG phones tend to use.
Overall, the Phone is a great first effort from Essential. It’s speedy and takes great photos. It also has two magnetic pins on its back that serve as a connection point for peripherals, including a 360-degree camera and a wireless-charging dock.
Essential recently dropped the price of the Phone to $US500 from $US700. That’s a great deal for a great phone.
15. Apple iPhone 7 Plus
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are now more than a year old, but for $US550 and $US670, respectively, they’re still worthy of your attention.
Apple phones generally offer better apps and a better owner experience than their Android rivals, and the iPhone 7 is no different. The support you get from Apple if something goes wrong is superior to what you get from Android device makers. And unlike on most Android phones, with iPhones you can always get the latest software updates straight from Apple as soon as it releases them.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus offer some compelling features, including water-resistant cases, great cameras that perform well in low light, and a powerful processor. The phones also work well with other Apple products, including the company’s wireless AirPods headphones.
The iPhone 7 Plus’ dual-lens camera system is its distinguishing feature. It allows you to take pictures with a professional-looking “bokeh” effect, which blurs the background behind your subject. Additionally, the system allows you to zoom in on your subjects; its second camera offers a 2x optical zoom.
Unlike the digital zoom feature found in other cameras, an optical zoom allows you to enlarge an image of your subject without sacrificing picture quality.
iPhone 7 price: $US550
iPhone 7 Plus price: $US670
14. Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are “old” phones now that the S9 is released, but Samsung is still selling them for a nice little discount. They’re great phones, but despite the discount, I’d still go for the Galaxy S9 or S9 Plus. The S9 has much better facial/iris recognition, and the fingerprint scanner under the camera is much easier to reach.
Galaxy S8 price: $US600
Galaxy S8 Plus price: $US690
13. Razer Phone
The Phone is marketed as a “gaming” phone, mostly because of its unique display. The Phone can refresh its screen 120 times a second; most phones, by comparison only refresh their screens 60 times a second. The Phone’s faster refresh rate allows it to offer super smooth gameplay.
But the Phone doesn’t just use the feature to make games look good. The refresh rate also affects the way it displays apps and its Android interface. It works beautifully; everything you do on the phone is ultra smooth in a way never seen before on a smartphone. In fact, Razer may have set the standard for how all phone displays should work – not just those on gaming devices.
But there’s more to the Phone than just its screen. It’s also got an eye-catching industrial design that stands out when compared with the sleek and svelte designs of most other Android phones.
The large borders above and below the Phone’s screen may look out of step with the borderless designs of other recent phones. But hiding beneath those borders are the loudest and best speakers we’ve heard on any smartphone.
12. Huawei Mate 10 Pro
The Mate 10 Pro is the most enticing one to date that the Chinese company has offered in the US market. It features a nice, if somewhat generic, design; water resistance; a large, 4,000mAh battery; and a dual-lens camera system.
It also runs on a Kirin 970 processor that comes with something called a neural-network processing unit, or NPU. The NPU lets the phone adapt and respond to how you use it. It can adjust the device’s power consumption to offer both the best performance and efficiency.
Combined with the Mate 10 Pro’s jumbo-sized battery, the NPU allows the device to have insane battery life.
11. Samsung Galaxy Note 8
With its gorgeous design, ultra-thin borders around its screen, a beautiful display, fast performance, a dual-lens camera system, and fancy stylus-based features, the Note 8 takes the best attributes of Samsung’s Galaxy S and Note smartphone lines and smashes them together into a phone that’s hard to beat.
10. HTC U12+
The HTC U12+ sports a unique design for those who are tired of more traditional smartphone colour options. It comes in three glossy colours that can shift to a different colour when you hold it in a certain light.
With a dual-camera system on the front and back, the HTC U12+ is a high-end performer, and it features HTC’s signature squeezable edges that can be set to do different things, like bring up apps or smart assistants like Google Assistant and even Amazon’s Alexa.
Just note that it doesn’t work on Verizon’s network.
9. LG G7
The LG G7 is a great smartphone that should certainly have a place on your short list. It features everything you could possibly want in a smartphone, including performance, a great camera, and other features like wireless charging and water resistance.
It even has a headphone jack and one of the loudest speakers I’ve heard on a smartphone. As an LG phone, it also comes with a high quality audio amplifier for the best quality music through headphones compared to most other smartphones.
8. Google Pixel 2
The Pixel 2 might not be the most beautiful Android phone you can buy, but it has a secret weapon that vaults it above most of the competition – it runs the latest and purest version of the operating system at all times. Because it’s unadulterated, that version looks and runs better than any of the tweaked takes on Android other phone makers include with their devices.
Better yet, because the Pixel 2’s Android is unmodified, you’ll be able to install the latest updates as soon as Google rolls them out. That’s not something you can usually do with other Android phones. But it’s important and, hey, who doesn’t want to get the latest version of Android as soon as it’s available?
But the Pixel 2 has other features that help put it ahead of other Android devices, including an amazing camera, great performance, and outstanding battery life. And unlike its predecessor, the original Pixel, the Pixel 2 is water-resistant. All told, it’s like a smarter -if less attractive – Galaxy phone.
7. Apple iPhone 8
The iPhone 8 comes with a refined glass-and-metal case, a superb camera, and strong performance. With it, Apple is finally supporting both wireless and fast charging – features that Android phones have long offered but had been missing from previous iPhones.
6. Samsung Galaxy S9
The Galaxy S9 is a superb smartphone with almost every feature under the sun. It sports the latest specs, best display, one of the best cameras you can get on a smartphone, a gorgeous design, wireless charging, water resistance, and several other features that make the Galaxy S9 a fool-proof buy.
So why doesn’t it get the top spot on the list? Other smartphones, including its bigger sibling the Galaxy S9 Plus, come with dual-camera systems. On top of that, Samsung’s own version of Android isn’t for everyone.
5. Google Pixel 2 XL
The Pixel 2 XL has nearly the same components and features that make the Pixel 2 great, but it comes in a bigger package with a larger display and a fresher-looking design. The Pixel 2 XL isn’t the best-looking Android phone, but with the narrow borders around its screen, it looks sleeker and more refined than its smaller sibling or its predecessors from last year.
And the unadulterated Android experience it offers is unbeatable.
Users and reviewers initially reported encountering several problems with the Pixel 2 XL, mostly with its screen. Some reported the colours it displayed weren’t as vibrant as those on other top Android phones. Google later issued an update that made colours appear more vibrant.
4. Apple iPhone X
The iPhone X is Apple’s biggest leap in design and features in years, but it’s held back by a massive $US1,000 price tag, questionable Face ID performance for unlocking, and the lack of a backup fingerprint scanner.
Face ID might actually work perfectly well for some people, but a minimum of $US1,000 for this smartphone doesn’t work well for many others.
3. Apple iPhone 8 Plus
Starting at $US800, the iPhone 8 Plus is essentially the same smartphone as the $US1,000 iPhone X. You get the same dual-lens camera and performance. You’re only missing out on Face ID, a new design, and the iPhone X’s beautiful OLED display. But that still doesn’t warrant the iPhone X’s price tag. Android devices have had OLED displays for years without going into quadruple digits for the price.
The iPhone 8 Plus has a fingerprint scanner instead of the iPhone X’s Face ID, and it’s a better phone for it. You don’t get the Animoji feature that only works with Face ID, but Animoji aren’t exactly an amazing reason to go for the iPhone X over the iPhone 8 Plus.
2. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
The Galaxy S9 Plus is largely just a bigger version of the regular Galaxy S9, but it has a dual-lens camera system where the secondary lens serves as a 2x optical zoom lens. The Plus model also comes with more RAM than the regular S9, which helps with overall performance speed.
It’s my top smartphone pick because it’s a clear example that you don’t need to spend $US1,000 – the price of an iPhone X – to get a top, premium, full-fat smartphone experience. The Galaxy S9 Plus checks off all the boxes and I’d easily recommend it to anyone looking for a new smartphone.
1. OnePlus 6
The OnePlus 6 doesn’t have wireless charging, an official water resistance rating, the sharpest screen, or the absolute best camera on a smartphone. But for what it offers at its $US530 price tag, the OnePlus 6 is the best smartphone value you can buy at the moment. I’d recommend the OnePlus 6 to anyone looking for a new smartphone.
It’s the fastest performer of any Android smartphone, it has a beautiful design, it has a great camera, and the company’s Dash Charger is the fastest and best charger you can find on any smartphone.
The OnePlus 6 also runs a near-stock version of Android with the company’s Oxygen OS. I’ll always prefer the clean, stock look of Android rather than the Android operating system you’ll see on phones from Samsung, HTC, or LG.
The biggest caveat is that it doesn’t support Verizon and Sprint.