The 20 best smartphones in the world

Here at Business Insider, we have the luxury to play around with a large number and wide variety of smartphones, and it’s my duty to rank them.

I take into account a smartphone’s price, design, features, and ecosystem, and I make the hard decisions to put certain smartphones ahead of others.

You’ll find in this list a variety of premium and mid-range smartphones I think you should seriously consider. With that said, these 20 smartphones are all excellent and they all deserve a good hard look before you make your purchase.

Here’s our list of the best smartphones you can buy.

Note: Prices are for the US consumer market and may vary depending on the retailer.

20. BlackBerry Classic


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.

Price: $US173

19. BlackBerry KeyOne

Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

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 still want access to Google's apps and services that aren't available on other BlackBerry devices.

Price: $US550

Read the BlackBerry KeyOne review »

18. Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Antonio Villas-Boas/Tech Insider

The Galaxy Note 5 is a killer big-screen phone, and it's still technically the latest Galaxy Note phone you can buy as a result of the Galaxy Note 7's exploding battery issues. Like previous versions of the Note, it has a large, vibrant display and a stylus for taking notes. The metal-and-glass design is great, too.

Price: $US430

Read the Galaxy Note 5 review »

17. ZTE Axon 7

Antonio Villas-Boas/Tech Insider

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.

Price: $US400

Check out our hands-on with the ZTE Axon 7 for more details »

16. LG V20

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

The LG V20's second screen at the top of the device is genuinely useful, as it gives you shortcuts to your favourite apps and music controls even when the screen is locked.

It also has great specs and a good camera, and it's incredibly light for its size. It will also appeal to Android diehards holding on to legacy Android features like a removable battery and expandable microSD storage.

Unfortunately, those legacy Android features mean LG had to compromise on the overall build quality of the V20, which doesn't match the premium flagship league it's in.

Price: $US403

Read the LG V20 review »

15. Moto G5 Plus

Business Insider/Jeff Dunn

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.

Price: $US230

Read the Moto G5 Plus review »

14. HTC 10

Antonio Villas-Boas/Tech Insider

The HTC 10 is a beautiful, extremely well-built smartphone. It can be bought unlocked, which means you won't find annoying bloatware on the 10.

Price: $US499

Read the HTC 10 review »

13. Moto Z

Tech Insider/Jeff Dunn

The regular Z model is one of the thinnest phones we've held, and it's gorgeous. We also love the fact that it runs a near-pure version of Android.

The Moto Z also supports different modules that can attach to the back of the phone to give it new and better functionality. For example, you can attach a speaker module for better sound, or a projector module to project videos on a nearby wall.

The Moto Z should work with most carriers. The Moto Z Force model is a Verizon exclusive that's currently available for a pricey $US720.

Compared with the regular Z model, it has an extra strong screen that Motorola claims is shatterproof, as well as a larger battery.

Price: $US408 to $US720 (Depends on exclusive Verizon 'Droid' models.)

Check out our review of the regular Moto Z »

12. Huawei Mate 9

Business Insider/Jeff Dunn

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,' which the iPhone 7 Plus also has.

It's not water-resistant like Samsung's Galaxy S8 or Apple's iPhone 7, but for $US600, Huawei's Mate 9 makes a strong case for a place in your pocket.

Price: $US580

Read the Huawei Mate 9 review »

10. iPhone SE

The iPhone SE, with its 4-inch screen, is the best small-form smartphone you can buy at the moment. You get all the best apps, ecosystem, support, and the same performance as the iPhone 6S for a relatively low $US400 price tag.

It also comes with Apple Pay, among other premium features like Live Photos and a fingerprint sensor -- not to mention great battery life.

Price: $US399

Read the iPhone SE review »

8. iPhone 6S Plus

Antonio Villas-Boas/Tech Insider

Now that the iPhone 7 Plus is out, the iPhone 6S Plus gets a $US100 price cut, and that's a great deal.

Fine, you don't get all of the latest features that the iPhone 7 Plus has, like water resistance or that fancy dual-lens camera, but the iPhone 6S Plus is no slouch. It runs on the powerful A9 chip and has features like 3D Touch, which can detect how hard you press on the screen and open up a new layer of controls for your apps.

It also has an incredibly fast fingerprint sensor, as well as Live Photos, which let you capture a three-second video with audio when you press the shutter button.

Price: $US650

Read the iPhone 6S/6S Plus review »

9. HTC U11

Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

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.

Price: $US645

Read the HTC U11 review »

7. LG G6

Antonio Villas-Boas/Business Insider

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, however, 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.

Price: $US500

Read the LG G6 review »

7. OnePlus 5

Business Insider/Antonio Villas-Boas

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 regular 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.

Price: $US479

Read the OnePlus 5 review »

6. Galaxy S8

Hollis Johnson

Samsung's Galaxy S8 is the best-looking smartphone, period. Yes, it's better-looking than the iPhone, too. 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. And Samsung's own software isn't even fully baked onto this phone yet; the company's own Siri-like virtual assistant, Bixby, will not be ready at launch, and will roll out in an update for this phone later in the year.

Price: $US670

Read the Samsung Galaxy S8 review »

5. Galaxy S8+

Hollis Johnson

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.

Price: $US762

Read the Samsung Galaxy S8 review »

4. iPhone 7

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Without a doubt, the iPhone 7 brings the best apps and ecosystem to its users. And by ecosystem, we mean the support you get from Apple if something goes wrong, as well as getting the latest software updates straight from Apple.

It also works amazingly well with other Apple products, too, like Apple's new wireless earphones, called AirPods.

The hardware also got a few improvements over the iPhone 6S, like water resistance, a camera that performs better in low light, a more powerful processor, and even redesigned antenna bands. However, a few point were docked due its lack of a headphone jack.

Price: $US650

Check out the iPhone 7 review »

3. iPhone 7 Plus

Marques Brownlee/YouTube

The iPhone 7 Plus' dual-lens camera is the key feature that places the larger iPhone 7 Plus in over the iPhone 7.

It lets you take pictures with a professional-looking 'bokeh' effect, in which the background is blurry in contrast to the subject. The second lens is also a 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.

Yet, like the regular iPhone 7, the lack of a headphone jack played a role in the iPhone's demotion from the top spot of this list.

Price: $US769

Read the iPhone 7 review »

2. Google Pixel XL

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The new Pixels are Google's first smartphones -- the company took more control over the hardware than it did with its earlier line of Nexus devices.

What you get is a sleek-looking aluminium phone with a stylish glass panel on the back that cleverly offers grip for your index finger. The Pixel XL's camera holds its own against the iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S8, too, and its HDR mode adjusts your photos to look amazing.

Google's Pixel XL, the larger model with a 5.5-inch screen, shares the same specs as its smaller sibling, the Pixel. Yet the XL doesn't offer more features that help justify its higher price tag like the iPhone 7 Plus does -- it's just a larger Pixel.

Price: $US769

Check out the Pixel review »

1. Google Pixel

Darren Weaver

Yes, despite the availability of the newer and flashier Galaxy S8, Google's Pixel still takes the top spot because it runs stock Android and Google's Pixel launcher, which gives Android a cleaner look and gets the latest Android updates on time.

It's also a superior phone overall to our previous top pick, the iPhone 7 Plus. It has a better screen, is lighter, and has useful features like fast charging.

The Pixel runs on the powerful and power-efficient Snapdragon 821 and 4 GB of RAM, which should hold up until the next Pixel is released. It also has an excellent 12.3-megapixel camera that easily holds its own against the iPhone 7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy S8. If you want the best Android experience, this is the phone to get.

Price: $US649

Read the Pixel review »

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