It’s 2018, which means this list has three smartphones that cost $US1,000 or more.
Fortunately for many of you, however, a massive, four-figure price tag doesn’t necessarily make a phone the obvious choice. There are a bunch of sub-$US1,000 smartphones that you should consider for their designs, performance, and value.
Check out our list of the top 20 smartphones you can buy right now:
20. BlackBerry Key2
The BlackBerry Key2 is arguably the most unique smartphone on this list because of its physical keyboard. The trade-off here is you sacrifice some screen space to make way for the keyboard. That might appeal to some BlackBerry enthusiasts, but not so much to regular smartphone users.
19. Motorola Moto Z3
On it’s own, the Moto Z3 is a fairly basic smartphone that boasts a nice, slim design. You can attach some of Motorola’s “Moto Mods” to give it some extra features that you wouldn’t find on any other smartphone, like a projector, an extra loud speaker, or a larger battery pack.
The flagship Moto Mod is a 5G module that will let the Moto Z3 connect to Verizon’s 5G network, which should offer blisteringly fast data speeds. The only problem is that Verizon’s 5G network will be limited to a few cities, including Los Angeles, Houston, Sacramento, and a city that has yet to be announced, when the 5G Moto Mod is released in early 2019.
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 7 Plus
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are now more than 2 years old, but for $US450 and $US570, 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: $US450
iPhone 7 Plus price: $US570
16. Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus
The Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are “old” phones now that the S9 has been 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
15. 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 them 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.
14. Razer Phone 2
The Razer Phone 2 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 Razer Phone 2 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. And Razer added wireless charging, water resistance, and even fancy lighting for its logo on the back for its latest model, too.
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.
13. Essential Phone
The Essential Phone is a gorgeous device that’s been getting the latest Android updates at the same time as Google’s own Pixel devices.
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 even if it runs on last year’s Snapdragon 835 chip, and it takes great photos.
Essential recently dropped the price of the Phone to $US500 from $US700, and its price can periodically drop even further at times. That’s a great deal for a great phone.
12. 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.
11. iPhone 8
The iPhone 8 comes with the now-antiquate iPhone 6-generation design. But it does have a refined glass-and-metal case, a superb camera, and strong performance. With it, Apple supports both wireless and fast charging – features that Android phones have long offered but had been missing from previous iPhones.
10. 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.
9. iPhone 8 Plus
The iPhone 8 Plus is well-worth considering if you want the core of the iPhone experience. It might come with an antiquated design, but it comes with the same chip as the iPhone X, and a great dual-lens camera, where one of the lenses is a dedicated optical zoom lens.
iPhone 8 Plus Price: $US700
8. 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.
The S9 Plus is among my top smartphone picks because it’s a clear example that you don’t need to spend $US1,000 – the price of an iPhone XS – 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.
7. iPhone X
Apple doesn’t sell the iPhone X anymore, but it’s still widely available at carrier stores for $US900.
The iPhone X may run on last year’s A11 chip, but many iPhone X users aren’t noticing much of a difference in performance compared to the iPhone XS with the newer A12 chip. That’s perhaps thanks to iOS 12 and the extra optimization it comes with.
In some respects, it’s actually a better deal than the new iPhone XS, which costs $US100 more for few significant upgrades. But if you’re going to pay $US900 for a smartphone, those who can afford to might as well spend the extra $US100 to get the newer model.
Price: $US900 at most carriers
6. LG V40
I’m happy to finally place an LG phone towards the top end of this list. The LG V40 is a great smartphone with all the usual high-end Android phone features, and it comes with a triple-lens rear camera system that offers users the best versatility in taking photos.
You get a regular wide angle lens, LG’s signature ultra-wide angle lens, and a dedicated optical zoom lens. Meanwhile, phones with dual-lens systems, even LG’s G7, offer you either a zoom lens or an ultra-wide angle lens on top of the regular wide angle lens that almost all smartphones come with.
The LG V40 is also a top choice for audio enthusiasts who appreciate good sound, as it comes with a higher-quality amplifier inside that makes music sound better through wired headphones.
5. iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
The $US1,000 iPhone XS and $US1,100 iPhone XS Max deliver the peak of Apple design, performance, and features. They’re technically the best iPhones you can buy, but their position on this list is decided by their high price tags.
If you’re willing and able to spend a minimum of $US1,000 on a smartphone, then go for it. Otherwise, I think four figures for a smartphone is too much, especially when it doesn’t come with things like a fast charger, or even a USB-C adaptor dongle for your wired headphones.
Both phones have exactly the same features. The main difference is the screen and body size, and that’s up to you whether you prefer smaller or larger phones.
iPhone XS Price: $US1,000
iPhone XS Max Price: $US1,100
4. Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The Galaxy Note 9 is the best Android smartphone that Samsung has released. It has a large 6.4 inch display that looks fantastic with Samsung’s technology. And combined with its high-powered specs, it’s a veritable productivity and multitasking machine. I’ve also recently come to appreciate the S Pen stylus for taking notes at the spur of a thought and for keeping me organised, and it gives me more precision for tasks that I’d usually reserve for a computer.
At $US1,000, it’s priced for enthusiasts and power users rather than the casual smartphone user. But if you’re comparing the Galaxy Note 9 to another $US1,000 smartphone – the iPhone XS – it’s a better phone.
3. Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
The $US800 Pixel 3 and $US900 Pixel 3 XL have the best smartphone cameras in the business, hands down.
They also run Google’s vision of Android, which is clean, well-designed, and receives Android updates the moment Google releases them. That’s something few Android phones can boast.
The new Pixel 3 phones also come with dual-lens selfie cameras – one of the lenses takes regular selfies, and the other takes ultra-wide angle selfies.
The new Google phones are a little more expensive than I’d like them to be, hence their position as third on the list.
The only differences between the two phones is the screen size and front design – the Pixel 3 has a more traditional smartphone design, while the Pixel 3 XL has a notched design. The Pixel 3 XL’s notch is unfortunately the worst on this list, but as with every other notch, you get used to it and forget about it pretty quickly. It would be a shame if you ruled out the Pixel 3 XL just because of the notch.
Pixel 3 Price: $US800
Pixel 3 XL Price: $US900
2. iPhone XR
The $US750 iPhone XR is more appealing than its more expensive counterparts, the $US1,000 iPhone XS and $US1,100 iPhone XS Max.
In almost every respect, you’re getting the same experience as the iPhone XS series, save for slightly larger bezels, and a lower-resolution LCD display compared to a superior OLED display, and a dual-lens camera. But, in my mind, all that extra stuff from the iPhone XS series isn’t worth an extra $US250.
At $US750, the iPhone XR is a great value for an iPhone with such a large screen and latest specs. It’s just a shame that there’s no iPhone X-style phone under $US700 for those who like smaller displays.
1. OnePlus 6T
The OnePlus 6T doesn’t come with a lot of the features that other phones in this list have, like wireless charging, official water resistance ratings, dedicated zoom or ultra-wide angle lenses, or an ultra-sharp 1440p display. And yet, it earns the top spot on this list.
That’s because it does the things it does do so well, like looking good, taking photos, running Android and apps, charging quickly, and lasting a long time on single battery charge. And it does all those things for a base price tag of $US550 compared to the $US750+ price tags of smartphones above.
I never missed any of the extra features from other, more expensive top smartphones while using the OnePlus 6T. If I were to buy a new smartphone, this would be the one for its excellent design, performance, and value.
The OnePlus 6T is also the first OnePlus phone to be sold by a US carrier – T-Mobile – and it’s also the first OnePlus phone to be compatible with Verizon’s network.
Price at T-Mobile: $US580 for 8 GB RAM 128 GB model
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