Best Android phones (December 2018)


With Android thoroughly dominating the mobile industry, picking the best Android phones is basically choosing the best smartphones, period. There are a ton of choices out there, but what’s best in 2018?

Picking the “best” is subjective. Sometimes spec sheets and feature lists are not enough to get an idea of how good a phone really is. In this roundup, we’re looking at the absolute best — the Android phones of 2018 you can’t go wrong with. We picked our selections based on internal testing and have divided the post into four categories: the best overall, best camera, best battery, and best value. Without further delay, here are the best Android phones!


This month we made several changes to the format, reducing the number of phones in the list. As a result, the Galaxy S9 was removed.

Best overall: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is our pick for the best Android phone. It can do basically everything well. It’s a big 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display that shows off video and image content to the highest degree. It’s got a fast processor inside (either the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 or the Samsung Exynos 9810). It has plenty of memory (6GB or 8GB of RAM) and tons of onboard storage (128GB or 512GB).

The Note 9’s dual rear camera takes excellent pictures. The embedded S-Pen has added functionality this time, including remote control support. Even the Note 9’s battery gets an upgrade to 4,000mAh, which means you can work longer on a single charge. It may be expensive, but if you want the best all-around Android phone, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 can’t be beat.

Why you should buy

  • It has high-end hardware, a big display, and a long-lasting battery (and won our Best of Android 2018 Award).
  • The S Pen adds plenty of benefits to an already enticing package.

Why you should pass

  • It’s expensive.
  • Samsung is very slow at software updates.

Runner-up: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

While the Note 9 takes our top spot for the best phone overall, the Mate 20 comes in a very close second. Like the Note 9, the Mate 20 Pro has high-end hardware, a big display and even offers a triple rear camera setup. However, it’s also expensive, with a UI that’s not exactly a crowd favorite, and it lacks the 3.5mm headphone jack the Note 9 still has on board. It’s also not as widely available, with no North American release.

Best camera: Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL

Google hasn’t joined in the current dual or triple rear camera trend with the Pixel 3 family, as both the Pixel 3 and 3 XL use a single 12.2MP rear camera sensor. Thankfully, more sensors in the back aren’t totally necessary for a better photo taking experience. You can take great photos with these phones out of the box. The images have excellent color range and detail, with no need to go into a photo editor afterward.

There are also some nice software features in the new Pixel 3 phones, including Top Shot, which lets you pick the best image from a range of different ones of the same subject. Then there’s Night Sight, which allows the Pixel 3 to take superb photos, even in very low-light conditions. You also have dual 8MP front-facing cameras for excellent selfie shots.

Why you should get it

  • It takes great photos in all lighting conditions.
  • Speedy software updates come straight from Google.

Any reasons to pass?

  • They’re both pricey.
  • Neither phone has a headphone jack.

Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Note 9 actually has better camera hardware inside than the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. However, it doesn’t take pictures as well out of the box so you may have to use some editing software to make the images as good as they can be.

Best battery life: Huawei P20 Pro

A larger battery doesn’t necessarily mean better battery life. Everything from the size of your display to the hardware inside your phone can eat away at your handset’s battery life. In this respect, the Huawei P20 Pro has a big advantage. Its Kirin 970 processor uses AI and machine learning features to help extend the phone’s 4,000mAh battery.

In our battery testing, the P20 Pro was the clear winner on average. Only the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, with its own 4,000mAh battery, and the Vivo V11 Pro, with its smaller 3,400mAh battery, offered any serious competition. You should get around two days of use with the P20 Pro on average, which means you will be spending less time at the power socket.

Why you should get it

  • The 4,000mAh battery lasts extremely long on a single charge.
  • The triple-camera setup is fantastic.

Any reasons to pass?

  • It can take some work to get good pictures out of the cameras.
  • Again, Huawei’s software leaves much to be desired.

Runner-up: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

While the Mate 20 Pro doesn’t have the battery life of its P20 Pro brother, it makes up for that with a huge 4,200mAh battery, which can charge up extremely quickly, in just over one hour.

Best value: OnePlus 6T

What if you could get nearly every feature you’d expect from a high-end flagship phone, but without having to shell out $1000? You can, thanks to the OnePlus 6T. You get the fastest current mobile processor, the Snapdragon 845, plenty of RAM (6GB or 8GB), lots of storage (up to 256GB), and a large 6.41-inch Super AMOLED display with a small waterdrop notch.

You even get something most smartphones don’t have: an in-display fingerprint sensor.

The 3,700mAh battery lasts over a day, and it’s backed up by the company’s fast charging technology that will fully charge it up in less than 90 minutes. All that in a phone with a starting price of just $549.

Why you should get it

  • High-end hardware at a much lower price than the competition
  • Available unlocked or at T-Mobile

Any reasons to pass?

  • Cameras are not the best
  • No headphone jack

Runner-up: Xiaomi Pocophone F1

This phone only costs $340 on Amazon, but it has a ton of flagship-level hardware features. However, the Pocophone F1 cuts some corners the OnePlus 6T doesn’t, with a plastic back, a big notch, and an inferior IPS LCD display. It also runs Android 8.1 Oreo out of the box, instead of Android 9 Pie on the OnePlus 6T.

That’s it for our list of the best Android phones you can buy, but it’s only a fraction of what’s out there. If you’re a gamer you might want to consider a gaming phone. Budget shoppers will want to check out our guide to the best cheap Android phones.

Want to know what your carrier is offering? Check out our guides to the best Verizon phones, best AT&T phones, best Sprint, and best T-Mobile Android phones.

Time for you to speak up! What’s your favorite Android phone on the market? Cast your vote in the poll, and sound off in the comments if there’s anything you’d like to add.


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You can use this cheatsheet which I personally use!

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