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Here Are the Best Smartphones You Can Buy Right Now

by Brandon Russell | July 14, 2018July 14, 2018 11:00 am PDT

Is the smartphone in your pocket feeling old and busted? Lucky for you there are a lot of really good smartphones on the market right now. (When is there not?) On the whole, the first six months of 2018 have been forgettable; about the only notable thing has been the rise of the notch, which continues to divide consumers.

But there are still some great (notch-fee) options out there, from the Galaxy S9 to the Pixel 2, the latter of which set a high benchmark with its camera last year. That’s the thing: A few of our choices are from last year—they may be old, but they continue to push the envelope with innovation and quality.

We’re breaking our list down into categories, covering things like Best Screen, Best Camera, etc. There’s no battery option because, well, the majority of smartphones today offer excellent battery life. These are the categories we thought are most important, with a few extras thrown in.

What’s interesting is that you can swap out any of our choices for something else. Smartphones are so close in performance, design, and value, that the separation in quality is marginal. While we consider our overall pick to be the best smartphone you can buy, there are plenty of excellent alternatives.

Best screen: Galaxy S9

With a top-of-the-line processor and one of the market’s best designs, there’s a lot to like about the Galaxy S9. But its standout feature is its OLED display, which stretches from edge to edge, giving it a gorgeous an infinite look. Additionally, the display’s colors are vibrant, it gets plenty bright, and it has excellent viewing angles. Best of all, there is no notch, making it one of the few that hasn’t jumped on the trend. [Review]

Key specs

  • Display: 5.8-inch Super AMOLED (1440 x 2960)
  • Camera: 12MP
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 845
  • OS: Android 8.1
  • Battery: 3,000mAh

Best value: OnePlus 6

The OnePlus 6 doesn’t really qualify as a budget phone anymore, especially when devices like the Moto G6 exist. But at $529, few devices offer better value. You get a Snapdragon 845 processor, up to 8GB of RAM, a dual-camera setup, and a beautiful all-glass design. Plus, the OnePlus 6 sports a clean version of Android without any unnecessary bloat. [Review]

Key specs

  • Display: 6.28 Optic AMOLED (1080 x 2280)
  • Camera: 16MP + 20MP
  • RAM: Up to 8GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 845
  • OS: Android 8.1
  • Battery: 3,300mAh

Best camera: Pixel 2

There are many reasons to like the Pixel 2. It features a sleek and functional design, terrific battery, and the best Android experience of any phone. But its standout feature is its camera. Thanks to a blend of technical prowess, engineering, and some next-level algorithms, the Pixel 2 manages to do with one lens what some phones can only do with two. [Review]

Key specs

  • Display: 5-inch AMOLED (1080 x 1920)
  • Camera: 12MP
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 835
  • OS: Android 8.1
  • Battery: 2,700mAh

Most unique: Oppo Find X

With a truly all-screen design and a camera system that pops up, the Find X is easily this year’s most interesting smartphone (so far). When you see what it can you’ll realize how truly clever the device is; it’s unlike anything on the market. With so much discourse around the notch, the Find X is a breath of fresh air, even if its mechanical nature isn’t a good long-term solution. In a sea of sameness, the Find X proves that innovation isn’t dead. [Image via TheVerge]

Key specs

  • Display: 6.42-inch AMOLED (1080 x 2340)
  • Camera: 16MP + 20MP
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 845
  • OS: Android 8.1
  • Battery: 3,7300mAh

Underrated: Essential Phone

The Essential Phone had a rough launch, but it has come into its own over the last several months. It features one of the market’s best design, high-end specs, and a price that won’t make your wallet cry. The software experience is also one of the best on the market, with regular security updates and the promise of prompt software support well into the future. [Review]

Key specs

  • Display: 5.71-inch (1312 x 2560)
  • Camera: 13MP + 13MP
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Processor: Snapdragon 835
  • OS: Android 8.1
  • Battery: 3,040mAh

Overall: iPhone X

We’ve already explained why we think the iPhone X is the market’s best option right now. Through a combination of design, hardware, and software, the iPhone X feels unlike any other smartphone, even with so many copycats on the market. And there’s still nothing quite as advanced as Face ID, giving the iPhone X an important edge over the competition. Although it’s $999, the iPhone X is well worth the price. [Review]

Key specs

  • Display: 5.8-inch Super AMOLED (1125 x 2436)
  • Camera: 12MP + 12MP
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Processor: A11 Bionic
  • OS: iOS 11.4
  • Battery: 2,716mAh

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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