UPDATE: Samsung’s astonishing Galaxy S10 Plus has taken the top spot in our list of the best phones of 2019 – read on below to find out why we love it!
2018 was a stellar year for smartphones, and while 2019 is set to be even better, there’s no denying that last year’s phones are still top notch (literally, in some cases).
Last year’s launches of the iPhone XS and the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 have made the humble smartphone faster, more powerful and even more versatile than ever before.
Here at TechRadar, we check out almost every phone under the sun, putting the ones that matter through our vigorous testing process to create our in-depth mobile phone reviews.
However, with so many to choose from, we’ve spent hours whittling them down to a top ten, taking into account power, specs, design and value for money. And we’ll always point you in the direction of the latest handsets – after all, nobody wants to be carting around a phone that doesn’t get any updates in a year’s time, right?
So whether it’s one of the many slick Android handsets, the latest iPhone or one from a range of other cool manufacturers, we’ve extensively tested them all so you don’t have to!
Here are our rankings for the best smartphones that are currently available in Australia in 2019.
Now in its tenth generation, Samsung’s Galaxy S range has just about reached the pinnacle of traditional smartphone design with the Galaxy S10 Plus. Boasting the world’s best display, advanced ultrasonic security, reverse wireless charging, exceptional performance and its most impressive camera setup to date, it’s difficult to see where non-folding smartphones can go from here. Combined with Samsung’s new Android 9 Pie-based One UI, the S10 Plus really feels like the ultimate Galaxy phone – it’s no wonder the South Korean electronics giant is ready to embrace a foldable future.
Screen: Regardless of where you stand on the notch vs pinhole debate, you’re likely to be floored by the S10 Plus’ almost completely bezel-free display when you see it in person for the first time.
With its 93.1% screen-to-body ratio, the S10 Plus’ pill-shaped pinhole camera is far less obtrusive than you might assume from simply seeing renders of the device – with One UI’s dark mode switched on, the pinhole practically disappears during a large portion of the phone’s daily usage.
As we’ve come to expect from each new Galaxy phone, the S10 Plus’ QHD+ Super AMOLED screen is brighter and more vibrant than ever before (it’s the first Samsung phone to support HDR10+), though its biggest update comes in the form of an in-display ultrasonic fingerprint sensor, which uses sound waves to create a 3D scan of your prints for more accurate and secure unlocks.
Design: In terms of build quality, the Galaxy S10 Plus is still sandwiched between two gorgeous pieces of Gorilla Glass, although the device’s frame has seen an upgrade from aluminium to stainless steel, making this year’s model altogether more sturdy.
The 3.5mm headphone jack and microSD card slot each make a very welcome return this year, though the S10 Plus’s design isn’t without its flaws – Samsung’s still sticking with its dedicated Bixby button this year, and for some reason, the power button’s placement is now awkwardly high on the device’s right edge, making it difficult to reach unless held a specific way.
Performance: A significant step up from the 3,500mAh battery featured in last year’s S9 Plus, the S10 Plus’ whopping 4,100mAh battery takes the crown previously held by the Note 9, making it the largest Samsung has ever placed in a phone. Even at 80% brightness and with the display’s resolution set to QHD+, we’ve always managed to get a full day’s use out of the device with some battery to spare.
The Exynos 9820 chipset and 8GB of RAM featured in the base model S10 Plus offers snappy app-switching, effortless multi-tasking and excellent gaming performance, producing buttery smooth gameplay in Fortnite at 60FPS while on the ‘epic’ graphics setting. Of course, Galaxy S10 Plus models with up to 12GB of RAM are also available.
Camera: Samsung pulled out all the stops for its latest flagship’s cameras this year, sporting a triple lens setup on the device’s rear – that’s a 12MP regular lens, a 12MP optically-zoomed telephoto lens, and an eye-opening 16MP ultra-wide lens which is said to have a field of view that’s similar to the human eye.
On the front of the device, the S10 Plus features a dual lens camera setup, with a 10MP primary camera and an 8MP depth sensor, allowing users to take bokeh self-portraits and photos with other effects. All of this is once again backed by Samsung’s AI-based scene optimiser, which is able to recognise objects and automatically adjust the camera’s settings, as well as show shot suggestions to improve your photos.
Mini verdict: Without a doubt, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 Plus is the best phone of 2019 so far, impressing with its breathtaking display, refreshed user interface, excellent battery life, terrific performance and carefully considered design choices. Simply put, the Galaxy S10 Plus is the phone to beat this year.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus
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On paper, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 doesn’t seem all that different to its predecessor, the Note 8. Look beneath the surface, however, and you’ll find a smartphone that has addressed almost every issue that last year’s model had (although the Bixby button is unfortunately still here, just waiting to be pressed accidentally) to become one of the best handsets that money can buy right now.
Screen & Design: Premium in every sense of the word, the Galaxy Note 9’s design screams sophistication, even when it’s being cheeky (the Ocean Blue colour variant’s striking yellow S Pen can attest to that).
While there was little room for improvement over the Note 8 and Galaxy S9 Plus in the screen department, Samsung has managed to top itself once again by producing a record breaking display for the Note 9 that’s already been named the best of its kind. Its Super AMOLED QHD+ display is exceptionally bright and vibrant, with inky blacks and beautiful curved edges.
Most of all, we love that Samsung’s listened to its customers and has continued to resist current (and arguably misguided) smartphone trends, such as notch cutouts and the abandoning of headphone jacks and microSD slots – we’d much rather it keeps striving to perfect the things that made it the top smartphone brand in the world in the first place.
Performance: Thanks to its large 4,000mAh battery – the largest Samsung has ever placed in a phone – the Note 9 has addressed one of its predecessor’s biggest drawbacks, as despite being one of the biggest phones on the market, the Note 8’s battery was only 3,300mAh. Given the brightness of its display and the power of its internals, the Galaxy Note 9’s longer battery life is more than welcome.
Speaking of its internals, the Note 9 is an absolute powerhouse, with its Exynos 9810 chipset and 6GB of RAM offering snappy performance at all times. The 512GB model is backed by an additional 2GB of RAM (8GB in total), which should allow for even better performance in DeX mode (which no longer requires an additional dock) and for Fortnite to run especially smoothly on the device.
Camera: While the Note 9’s camera is almost identical to that of the Galaxy S9 Plus, that’s no bad thing — users can record super slow motion video (up to 960fps at 720p resolution) and the same variable aperture functionality is available, allowing for the phone’s iris to automatically adjust itself depending on how much light you have access to.
One thing has changed though: thanks to the S Pen’s Bluetooth functionality, you can now use the stylus as a long-range self-timer, allowing you to take selfies while standing several metres away from the phone.
Mini verdict: Though one could argue that most of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s improvements are relatively minor, each one has been made in an effort to provide the best possible experience for users.
Add them all up and what you get is a smartphone with an amazing screen, which also offers immense storage and the excellent performance. The fact it also doubles as a super portable PC when connected to a monitor or television is also a huge potential bonus. In short, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the kind of smartphone that all others should be striving to match.
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So how do you follow-up one of the best flagship phones ever made? By making an even better one, that’s how! With its new Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, Samsung has addressed pretty much every issue levelled at the S8 range, from the awkward fingerprint sensor placement to the underwhelming built-in speakers.
Screen & Design: Until the Galaxy Note 9, the Galaxy S9 Plus boasted the greatest phone display ever produced — quite a feat when you consider the strength of the competition. Its QHD+ 18:9.5 AMOLED display is sublime to look at, with its incredible brightness and rich colours offset by deep, inky blacks that never cease to amaze.
In terms of its design, you’d be forgiven for thinking the S9 Plus looks almost identical to its predecessor from the front, with the only real change coming in the form of a 1.4mm difference in height (that’s thanks to the S9 Plus’ smaller bottom bezel). The back is where the biggest changes have occurred, with a new vertical camera and fingerprint sensor layout that instantly feels more natural than last year’s model.
At the base of the phone, you’ll find that Samsung has kept the 3.5mm headphone jack around for at least another year, and it’s now accompanied by stereo speakers for more immersive sound — much better than last year’s mono offering.
Performance: Boasting Samsung’s most advanced in-house chipset to date, the Exynos 9810, as well as 6GB of RAM, the Galaxy S9 Plus is a beast when it comes to grunt. Snappy and responsive, the S9 Plus never caves under pressure, boasting some of the strongest benchmark scores of any handset released in 2018. Admittedly, this can cause its commendable but not incredible 3,500mAh battery to drain a little quicker than normal, though you’ll still get a full days usage out of it.
Audio performance is another area where the S9 Plus has taken a big leap over its predecessor. Having listened to music through the S9 Plus’ new speaker mouth (so long, speaker grill) we can confirm that a drastic improvement in sound quality has taken place. Audio is much fuller than before, exhibiting some added depth and bass. Sure, it won’t inspire you to throw away your Bluetooth speaker, but the difference in audio quality is significant — especially when you take into account the inclusion of Dolby Atmos support.
Camera: But the Galaxy S9 Plus’ biggest selling point is undoubtedly its revamped dual camera setup (something not found on the standard S9), which is now capable of taking super slow motion video (up to 960fps at 720p resolution) and has variable aperture capabilities, which allows the phone to automatically switch between f/1.5 (for very low-light photography) and f/2.4 (super bright and vibrant photography). You can even seen the camera’s tiny shutter opening and closing depending on available light.
While Apple may have beaten it to the punch with its AR-enabled Animoji, Samsung has come up with its own equivalent AR Emoji mode, which lets you create a digital avatar (and a set of shareable GIFs) of yourself. It’s a good bit of fun, but if you’re not the selfie type, your mileage on this feature may vary.
Mini verdict: There are a number of other factors that put the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus ahead of the competition, from its incredible QHD+ 18:9.5 AMOLED display, to its powerful new Exynos 9810 chipset. However, it’s the way that Samsung has truly listened to its customers and created a phone specifically for them that makes the Galaxy S9 Plus our current pick for best smartphone.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
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The iPhone XS Max is Apple’s new big iPhone with an expansive 6.5-inch display that can’t be missed if you’re looking for the best phone running iOS 12. It’s fast, has a brilliant all-screen display, and gives you great photos out of its noticeably upgraded 12MP dual-lens rear camera.
Screen & Design: The 6.5-inch OLED screen is the reason to choose the iPhone XS Max over its smaller 5.8-inch iPhone XS counterpart. Admittedly, the phone is still roughly the size of an iPhone Plus, but thanks to the all-screen display (minus the notch cut out at the top), you get a lot more real-estate. Compared to the LCD displays on older iPhones, there’s a noticeable step up in black levels and colour richness.
Elsewhere, the iPhone XS Max is practically identical to last year’s iPhone X, only bigger. While we would’ve loved to see the notch cutout’s size reduced on this year’s models, it’s hard to argue with what Apple has achieved here.
Camera: This is the best iPhone camera ever made, even if the 12MP dual-lens rear camera number hasn’t changed in several years. It’s all about the software inside and how the A12 chipset interprets scenes with Smart HDR.
It’s up there with the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy Note 9, even if Apple’s photos tend to be less vivid in our tests and more true-to-life.
Performance: You’ll get the best battery life out of the iPhone XS Max simply because it has room for a bigger battery. The 3,174mAh capacity is by no means the biggest (Samsung’s Note 9 is 4,000mAh), but Apple’s ownership of both software and hardware means it’s smartly optimized. You’ll get all-day battery life even with heavy use.
The aforementioned A12 chipset also makes a huge difference when it comes to performance, as the iPhone XS Max is easily the fastest handset that Apple has released to date.
Mini verdict: This is the iPhone for anyone who wants what’s new and doesn’t care what it costs. The iPhone XS Max is expensive, but it’s the best upgrade if you’re into big screens and Apple’s ecosystem, like the App Store and iMessages. The iPhone XS is a good choice if you have smaller hands, and the iPhone XR may be better if you have a smaller wallet.
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The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the supercharged version of the ‘standard’ Huawei Mate 20, and while its specs are similar to its less expensive counterpart, with both handsets boasting Huawei’s latest Kirin 980 7nm processor, 128GB of onboard storage and 6GB of RAM, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is able to justify its higher cost with several impressive additional high-end inclusions.
Sporting a number of futuristic features (including one world-first) and a more premium price point than we’re used to seeing from the Chinese manufacturer, the Mate 20 Pro is clearly Huawei’s play for the ‘best smartphone in the world’ crown – and for once, the company is very much within reach, offering a handset we think belongs in the same league as the iPhone XS Max and Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
Screen & Design: With its curved glass display and coloured aluminium frame, it’s very easy to mistake the Huawei Mate 20 Pro for a Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus at first glance. Look closer, and you’ll start to notice Huawei’s signature styling and other, more subtle differences.
Yes, it’s got a notch, but it’s for the inclusion of a second sensor to allow for 3D facial recognition functionality, which is said to provide more security than the standard Mate 20’s image-based facial unlock.
Although our tests have shown the Mate 20 Pro’s 3D face unlock to be exceptionally fast (way speedier than Apple and Samsung’s equivalent implementations), the Pro also offers an in-display fingerprint scanner that you can use instead.
Camera: Of course, being a Huawei phone, it’s photographic capability is also off the charts. Once again sporting Leica branding, the Mate 20 Pro has ditched the monochrome sensor this year, instead opting for a primary 40MP sensor that handles both RGB and monochrome modes.
With this ultra-wide sensor and Huawei’s 3X fixed and 5X hybrid zoom, you can not only close in on any subject (macro photography allows for photos from just 2.5cm away), but also pull out to get a much wider view, making the Mate 20 Pro the most versatile camera we’ve yet seen on a flagship smartphone.
Performance: While Google’s Pixel 3 handsets have only just received wireless charging functionality, Huawei has taken things a step further with the inclusion of reverse wireless charging – and yes, you read that correctly. Compatible with any phone that boasts Qi functionality, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is actually able to wirelessly charge another device when you place the two back-to-back.
Easily the most advanced phone that Huawei has produced to date, the Mate 20 Pro is premium in every sense of the word. Throw in a massive 4,200mAh battery, and what you have is a handset that’s very hard to resist.
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The Samsung Galaxy S9 isn’t quite the phone that the S9 Plus is – it’s only got a single camera sensor, for one – but it’s a more palm-friendly model that still packs the power and top screen quality of its sibling.
Screen: A QHD 5.8-inch screen takes up most of the front of the phone – and it’s still a stunning design. Brighter, more colourful and capable of showing the best of movies, the Super AMOLED tech is once again showing itself to be best thing to look at on a smartphone.
Battery life: Battery life is a little disappointing for a top-end smartphone, meaning you’ll need to think about a top-up during the day if you’re a harder user. Wireless and fast charging capabilities help with this though.
Camera: It’s only a single sensor on the rear of the Galaxy S9, unlike the Galaxy S9 Plus – meaning it’s not as good at photography. But don’t think the S9 takes poor photos, as they’re still stunning, and in low light it’s a sterling performer, with very little noise.
Mini verdict: The Galaxy S9 is a smartphone with all the top-end features you’d want, and more on top. It’s not quite at the level of the S9 Plus, and the iPhone X outranks it in a few ways – but once again the price of this phone is starting to get a little more competitive, making it more of a lure than at launch.
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The Google Pixel 3 is the smaller sibling to the Pixel 3 XL, with a smaller screen and battery, but the same power and excellent camera under the hood.
This is a great handset for those looking for a top-flight phone that can be used comfortably with one hand (although those with smaller palms may need both still).
Screen & Design: At 5.5 inches, the screen on the Google Pixel 3 isn’t exactly small, but it’s one of the smallest in this list of the best smartphones. The full HD resolution isn’t quite as sharp as its larger sibling’s QHD panel, but it still looks great.
Thankfully, Google has reduced the size of the Pixel’s bezel this year, as last year’s model looked pretty dated compared to the competition. While the 3 XL sports a notch cutout in its display, Google has wisely opted to keep its full bezels on the regular Pixel 3, making it look classier in the process.
Camera: You get the same camera here as you do on the Pixel 3 XL, and that’s great news as it’s one of the best smartphone snappers we’ve ever tested. It’s easy to use, extremely powerful and produces excellent shots – even compared to cameras with multiple lenses.
Performance: The Google Pixel 3 battery life isn’t as impressive as the larger Pixel 3 XL which has a bigger power pack. It should give you a day of use, but don’t expect much more than that.
Elsewhere, the Pixel 3’s stock Android OS offers smooth, snappy performance with nothing to bog it down.
Mini verdict: If you’re looking for a compact flagship smartphone with a class-leading camera experience the Google Pixel 3 is the best phone for the job.
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iPhone XS is a minor, but important upgrade over last year’s completely redesigned iPhone. It’s noticeably faster and has an improved dual-lens camera to make it a better choice, if you’re willing to pay the same launch price.
Screen & Design: The 5.8-inch OLED on this iPhone is big, but not a turn off for some people who literally can’t handle the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max (which we like a bit more in our big mitts). This phone size isn’t too much bigger than your old 4.7-inch iPhone 7 or iPhone 6 thanks to its reduced bezel – though you’ll miss the Touch ID home button. You’ll forget about that when staring into the beautiful OLED that’s dreamier than the old iPhone LCD.
In terms of its design, the iPhone XS is practically identical to last year’s model, colour options aside. However, if you’re after a more one-hand-friendly size for a cutting-edge iPhone, this is the one to buy. Alternatively, you could opt for the cheaper iPhone XR, which has a slightly larger LCD display, an aluminium rim (instead of the stainless steel one on the XS) and a series of funky colours to choose from.
Camera: This is where you’ll see differences in the otherwise familiar-looking iPhone XS. Its dual-lens camera offers Smart HDR and optical image stabilisation (OIS). It’s not as vivid as the cameras on a Google Pixel 2 or Samsung Galaxy S9, but you’ll get true-to-life photos that make the 2018 iPhone’s a worthy upgrade.
Performance: The iPhone XS has about the same battery life as the iPhone X, so you’ll get all-day battery life with normal use. Power users may struggle a bit without one of the best power banks, and although Apple says it has 30 minutes more battery life than the iPhone X, the smaller capacity and our tests show it’s shy of that claim.
Mini verdict: Although still expensive, the iPhone XS is our best phone for someone who wants to use iOS 12 and doesn’t want to spend even more money on the bigger iPhone XS Max.
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While LG may have left behind any notion of being a game-changing phone maker in recent years, the company’s become quite reliable at producing exceptional all-rounder handsets that are good at pretty much everything.
Screen & Design: With the new LG G7 ThinQ, the South Korean manufacturer has delivered a phone with sophisticated AI smarts, a fantastic dual lens camera, a stylish design, a super bright QHD+ 18.9:5 display (complete with iPhone X-style notch that can, thankfully, be hidden), terrific audio performance and top-end specs.
That said, unlike most other notch-bearing handsets, the G7 ThinQ sports an LCD display, meaning it’s unable to reach the pure-blacks of an OLED, something that becomes apparent when you first try to hide the notch with a fake bezel and immediately notice the backlighting behind them. Still that does allow the G7 ThinQ to get extremely bright, which means you can always see the screen perfectly, no matter how sunny it happens to be.
Performance: Admittedly, it’s not quite as strong as some of the other handsets on this list in terms of performance, and its battery life left us wanting — we got around 6 and a half hours of heavy usage, which is around an hour or two less than most flagship phones available right now.
LG wants its awkwardly-branded ‘ThinQ AI’ functionality to be the big drawcard here, but having spent some time with the phone, it’s clear that it’s perhaps better suited to music lovers and audiophiles. Thanks to its built-in hi-fi quad DAC and DTS:X 3D Surround functionality (both of which require headphones to be plugged into its 3.5mm socket), the LG G7 ThinQ delivers an unrivalled audio experience in the smartphone arena.
Switching on the quad DAC instantly makes audio richer and deeper, providing additional bass in the process, while the latter DTS feature also impresses by offering virtual three-dimensional surround sound regardless of the headphones you’re wearing. It also packs an especially loud built-in speaker, for occasions when you want to listen to something without cans.
Camera: LG is bound to win fans with its terrific AI-powered camera this year, offering similar functionality to the Huawei P20 Pro — simply point at a subject and the LG G7 ThinQ will automatically identify it, adjusting its settings to make sure your picture looks as good as can be. And, thanks to its dual camera setup, the G7 ThinQ can also take those blurry background portrait shots that have become all the rage.
Its Super Bright Camera mode also makes it especially adept at low light photography, and just like the G5 and G6 before it, the G7 ThinQ can take super wide angle photos that fit more into the frame.
Mini verdict: Minor quibbles aside, there’s plenty to love about the LG G7 ThinQ. We think it’s the best phone the South Korean company has released in years.
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The iPhone 8 Plus is a great phone — there’s no doubt about that. It’s a better phone than almost anything Apple has produced before, and it’s, well, just done in a very Apple way. If you aren’t willing to pay the extra premium Apple’s pricey iPhone X, then this might be the iPhone for you.
Screen & Design: There are some strong upgrades: a glass back means you can now charge your iPhone wirelessly, its IPS LCD screen, while dated, still looks terrific, its camera has been enhanced, the internal workings are now among the most powerful in the industry, and little tweaks throughout smooth off rough edges in a way that makes us feel Sir Jony Ive climbed inside his computer and lathed them off himself.
Whether that’s a subtle haptic double buzz when pressing the shutter on the camera, or being able to ‘feel’ the numbers clicking when selecting the time on the alarm, it’s those little delights that… delight. It’s just a shame that the rest of the phone’s design feels a little dated.
Performance: Just like the iPhone X, the iPhone 8 Plus means business when it comes to performance. Backed by long, impressive battery life, the A11 chip allows you to smoothly transition between open apps and play games with nary a hiccup, and AR performance is also boosted by its power.
Portrait Lighting effects may be one of the phone’s best photographic features, but they need some real power to function, and that’s where the A11 chip comes in. Any app that uses high levels of photo manipulation worked pretty flawlessly in our tests, with no lag when working with multiple image layers.
It’s hard to convey the usefulness of all this power for the average user, one who might not use such features regularly – but it’ll keep your iPhone singing more sweetly for the next two or three years compared to the previous generations.
Camera: The camera on this phone is very strong, with two 12MP lenses on the rear combining to deliver great images even in low light, and the double sensors creating some nice, refined blurred-background portrait shots.
Mini verdict: The iPhone 8 Plus is a phone for the Apple fan who wants the longest battery life possible, and the most screen to look at, without having to pay the premium the iPhone X costs.
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Though the Nokia 8 handset from HMD Global was well received and reviewed at release, it was perhaps lacking in the flair and personality we’ve come to expect from flagship phones in 2018.
To remedy this, the Finnish phone manufacturer went back to the drawing board, eventually producing the Nokia 8 Sirocco — a stylish handset that retained its predecessor’s powerhouse internals (with a few improvements) and applied a drastically updated design that’s sure to turn a few heads.
Screen & Design: The first thing you’ll notice about the Nokia 8 Sirocco is that it’s one of the few Android handsets on the market to emulate the curved metal and glass form factor of Samsung’s Galaxy and Note ranges. In fact, it feels quite sharp and thin in the hand, somewhat reminding us of the Galaxy S7 Edge.
However, the comparisons basically end there, as the Sirocco employs many of the design choices we’ve come to expect from more modern phones, including slim bezels, a beautiful QHD OLED display, a rear fingerprint sensor, USB Type-C charging and data transfer and the complete lack of a 3.5mm headphone jack (okay, that one we could’ve held onto).
Performance: The inclusion of a whopping 128GB of internal storage is also welcome, though you won’t find a microSD card slot here. What you will find, however, is a Snapdragon 835 chipset, a 3,260mAh battery and 6GB of RAM.
Fans of the ‘Pure Android’ experience will also be pleased to know that the Nokia 8 Sirocco belongs to the Android One series of smartphones, all of which run an unmodified version of whichever Android version it shipped with (in the Sirocco’s case, that’s Android 8.0, though it’s now been updated to Android 9.0).
Camera: The Nokia brand has always been synonymous with its camera functionality, and in that regard, the Sirocco does not disappoint. It’s got a Zeiss Optics dual camera setup (12MP + 13MP) that’s capable of some impressive snaps.
Mini verdict: For now, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is the best handset that HMD Global has released yet. If you’re keen on owning a phone with the Nokia branding on it, this is the one to get.
Read the hands on review: Nokia 8 Sirocco
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The Galaxy S8 Plus might be a year old, but it’s still impressive and the cost is lowering nicely these days.
You can get incredible photos in many conditions, the screen is pin-sharp and it’s just boosted a couple of places in this list thanks to a nifty price drop this week.
Screen & Design: The 6.2-inch screen, actually called an Infinity Display by Samsung, spills to the edge of the phone, and is a well-made fusion of glass and metal. It feels great in the hand, thanks to a rolling design – and like the other Galaxies in this list, is water-resistant too, to an IP67 level.
Performance: The battery life is superior on the Galaxy S8 Plus compared to the Galaxy S8 (obviously) and also the Galaxy S9 (more surprising), thanks to having a larger power pack in there without much more work to do – it’ll easily last most people a day or so.
Camera: The camera is a top fusion of auto mode and pro settings for those that like to dig a little deeper – the quality of the snaps is more often than not pin-sharp, and the screen quality really highlights your photos. It lacks the dual sensor and low-light capabilities of the S9 Plus, but it’s a terribly good performer for those that don’t need the highest-of-high-end smarts.
Mini verdict: Don’t let the age put you off – this is still an immensely powerful phone with a strong spec list. The screen, camera and design are still premium, and while not as good as the S9 Plus, it’s a lot a cheaper thanks to being on sale for longer.
Read more: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review
The Samsung Galaxy S8 looked space age when it was launched last year, and the Galaxy S9 apes it in many ways. It’s not the top phone in Samsung’s range any more, but it’s jolly close and it seems that retailers are starting to discount it both SIM free and on contract, which is why it’s jumped up our list.
Screen & Design: The screen was the very, very best on the market and is still now a top performer, coming with the elongated, 18.5:9 ratio that stretches impressively up and down the phone – very similar to that on the current Galaxy S9. With powerful colour reproduction and contrast ratio that make everything look clear and crisp, it’s also got the QHD resolution that we expect from all the top phones.
Performance: The battery life, despite being smaller than in previous devices from Samsung, is still pretty decent. It’s not amazing, but it’s not very far from the performance of the Galaxy S9 and will last around a day… although you might want a little top up, which can be achieved quickly through a wireless charger or the speedy adapter in the box.
Camera: The camera is still very strong, despite being usurped by the S9 – the auto mode offers clean, crisp and clear shots every time and combined with screen quality makes you want to show off your best snaps. There’s an easy-to-use pro mode as well to get the best out of your snapping.
Mini verdict: This is the phone to go for if you want a strong performer and don’t mind it’s a little older. As such, it’s much cheaper than it was at launch and thus offers fantastic value for money.
Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S8 review
You’re at the end of the guide, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help you still – if you’re stuck on which model is for you, we’ve got a tool that can compare all the phones together and you can decide which one suits you best based on the cost.
If you want to get all the info, then use the tool below or check out our full mobile phone plans page.