WIRED Recommends the best mobile phones, including the best Android phone, the best budget smartphone and the best cameraphone.
You check your phone a dozen times a day. At least. It’s how you talk to your loved ones, devour box-sets, buy groceries, keep up with the world and even browse for next season’s wardrobe. In short, you don’t want to be stuck with a dud phone. These are the best mobile phones you can buy right now.
WIRED Recommends: Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Pros: Superb hardware
Cons: High price
Samsung has made phone buying easy for those who like Android and have a lot of money to spend. It may cost almost £900, roughly double the price of the original Note from 2011, but the Galaxy Note 8 is an almost faultless phone.
Its screen is a mammoth 6.3 inches across, but as the Note 8 has an ultra-widescreen display and almost no bulk around it, it’s surprisingly easy to handle. Apple’s iPhone 8 Plus is almost 4mm wider, despite its smaller 5.5-inch screen.
Like previous Note phones, a smart stylus turns the screen into a miniature graphics tablet. It may be the best feature you almost never use, but is just not found elsewhere.
The Note 8 also has one of the most versatile cameras going. There are two sensors on the rear, for lossless 2x zoom, and great optical image stabilisation in both lenses maintains good image quality even at night.
£869 from samsung.com
Best mid-range smartphone: Honor 9
Pros: Great value, advanced features
Cons: Little wrong with it at the price
Apple and Samsung smashed through the smartphone price ceiling in 2017. The Honor 9 is a reminder that spending £1,000 on a phone is completely unnecessary for most people.
At £390, it crams-in a rather unlikely amount of tech, beating what Samsung, LG and even the Moto series offer at the price. That includes a high-end CPU, 64GB of storage and a great 5.2-inch screen.
A dual rear camera also has a crack at the 2x lossless zooming the iPhone 7 Plus made mainstream in 2016. It’s not quite as effective, but at half the price we’re lucky to get such features at all. An ultra-shiny glass and metal finish completes the Honor 9’s successful impersonation of a £500-plus phone.
Its main issue is the OnePlus 5. While more expensive, that phone has a slightly better camera and a larger screen.
£390 from hihonor.com
Best iPhone: iPhone X
Pros: The most desirable phone around
Cons: Extremely expensive
One of this year’s big tech questions: do you love or hate “the notch”? This is the display cut-out the iPhone X’s new ultra-narrow screen surround leaves at the top of the 5.8in display.
It’s the first major iPhone redesign in what feels like a lifetime. A lot of what was comfortable and familiar about Apple’s phones has been dumped, but there are exciting new features too.
Rather than using a fingerprint scanner, you unlock the phone using your face. And the ultra-smart rear dual camera array can fake studio lighting and backgrounds even if you’re just shooting outside your house.
That many are most excited about the iPhone X’s animated poo emojis says a lot about how well Apple is still tuned into the state of the world. But, hey, that’s the world we’ve made.
It may be the most expensive iPhone ever, but initial stocks sold out immediately. It seems we’ve not reached the limits of what people will spend on an Apple phone.
£999 and up from apple.com
Best smaller Android phone: Samsung Galaxy S8
Pros: Great hardware, software and camera
Cons: Flashier cameras are available
A few years ago you would never have guessed Samsung would be behind one of the most tasteful, least gimmick-laden phones of the year. But that’s just what the Samsung Galaxy S8 is.
It doesn’t have multiple rear cameras or other widgety features, the Galaxy S8 just nails each phone fundamental. It’s as if the thing is made as the archetype from which all other phones sprout.
The camera is great at day or night, the 5.8in Super AMOLED screen remains unbeaten in its class, the curved-front, zero-bezel style makes it unusually easy to handle and even the battery life is great.
There’s just one niggle that keeps on popping-up: no-one likes the placement of the fingerprint scanner on the back. But when there’s no room for it on the front, it had to go somewhere.
£689 from samsung.com
Best cameraphone: Google Pixel 2 XL
Pros: Glorious camera
Cons: Problematic screen
If you’ve read up on the Pixel 2 XL already, you may have heard about its screen problems. Google aimed for colour accuracy, but as all our eyes are trained to love Willy Wonka-grade saturation, a lot of people were left upset.
There are a few other display issues too, but if you can swallow those the Pixel 2XL is a tremendous Android phone. Its highlight is the camera.
There’s only one sensor on the back but its dynamic range beats every other phone currently available. As photo nerds know, it’s dynamic range over pure detail that really separates a good camera from a great one.
Like other Pixel phones, the Pixel 2XL is here to show off the very latest version of Android, 8.0. There’s no app bloat, no quirky custom layer that’ll date like 70s wallpaper. Many of you may be put off by the phone’s contentious screen, but it doesn’t stop the Pixel 2XL from being one of the best phones of the moment.
£799 from google.com
Best budget smartphone: Moto G5
Pros: Excellent value
Cons: Little progress in the series outside of design
Phones have always been expensive. And they’re only getting more so. The Moto G5 is a £170 phone you don’t need to be embarrassed to take out in public.
For a sixth the price of an iPhone X it offers 80 percent of the goods. This was also the first generation of Moto G to have a part-metal shell rather than a basic plastic one.
Cynics could call it an illusion, a thin plate of aluminium that slots into a plastic-sided battery cover. However, it’s enough to convince the fingers this isn’t an entirely cheap and cheerful phone.
A fingerprint scanner, 5.2in 1080p screen and very solid general performance cement the Moto G5’s reputation as a phone that punches above its weight. However, owners of the Moto G4 don’t need to upgrade as the processor is no better, and neither is the camera. Daylight photos often look great with the right exposure tweaks, but night ones rarely do.
£170 from motorola.co.uk
Best for deal hunters: OnePlus 5
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