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The best Android phones you can buy for 2018

Matthew Field
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 smartphone

If you are searching for a new phone, Android will be one of your main choices when picking a device. Fortunately, there has probably never been a better time to join team Android.

Devices running on Google's Android operating system offer far more choice and variety and some of the best Andoird handsets of recent years come from the likes of Samsung, Google and OnePlus.

With Android, there is a wide range of brands to choose from, and we are now in the build up to the new release of Android P, the latest version of its operating system. Most devices now come with Android Oreo, such as the Samsung Galaxy S9.

The Telegraph has spent time with some of the best Android phones over the past year. Here is how they stack up:

The best Android smartphones for 2018

Samsung Galaxy S9

£739, Mobiles.co.uk

Samsung Galaxy S9

Screen size: 5.8 inches

Battery life: All day

Samsung's new flagship Galaxy S9 smartphone is its most advanced yet, with a powerful, dual aperture lens, a gorgeous infinity edge display and a powerful processor. The successor to the excellent S8, it upgrades the phone in all the right ways, with powerful video features such as a 960 frames per second super slow motion mode.

It comes with facial unlocking, a rear fingerprint sensor and can be bought as the 5.8-inch S9 or the 6.2-inch S9+. It's not cheaper, however, starting at £739, but it is now the best Android phone you can buy. You can find all the best deals on the Samsung Galaxy S9 here.

Telegraph rating: 9.5/10

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Samsung Galaxy S9 deals compared

Samsung Galaxy S9+

£869, Mobiles.co.uk

Size comparison - Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+

Screen size: 6.2 inches

Battery life: All day

If you love the Galaxy S9 but want something even bigger, the S9+ gives you even more screen for your money. It also comes with a dual lens camera, with dual aperture set up so you can adjust the level of lighting you let.

It's far from cheap, but it is arguably the most powerful large smartphone out there. It includes features like facial unlocking and Samsung's AR emoji, its answer to the iPhone's Animoji.

Telegraph rating: 9.5/10

Buy now

Google Pixel 2 XL

£799, Carphone Warehouse

The Google Pixel 2 XL, £799

Screen size: 6 inches

Battery life: All day

The Google Pixel 2 XL is the tech giant's latest smartphone and it brings with it some major steps forward. It has a larger screen that covers most of the front of the screen, a rear fingerprint sensor and upgrades its rear dual camera - easily one of the best Android phone for photos out there with a 12.3MP lens.

It has a funky design and works with Google's Assistant AI, which learns how you use your phone and can respond to voice commands. It can also be used to integrate with Google's Daydream virtual reality platform. You can read Technology editor James Titcomb's full review here.

Telegraph rating: 9/10

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Samsung Galaxy Note 8

£869, Carphone Warehouse

Samsung Galay Note 8, £869

Screen size: 6.3 inches

Battery life: All day

Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 is a powerhouse of a phone with a premium price. It comes with a massive 6GB of RAM inside, enough to plug it in and use it like a mini-computer. It comes with a stylus pen for taking notes on the screen, and has the Bixby virtual assistant to take voice commands.

It has a 6.3-inch screen making it one of the largest Phablets (phone/tablets) out there. The Galaxy Note 8 was one of our favourite phones of 2017, but it comes with a premium price of £869.

Telegraph rating: 9/10

Buy now

OnePlus 6

£469, OnePlus

The new OnePlus 6

Screen size: 6.2-inch screen

Battery life: 36 hours

The new OnePlus 6 is the latest smartphone from Chinese upstart OnePlus. An upgrade on the OnePlus 5T, the new model has a larger screen, adopting the iPhone's "notch" design at the top. It has a dual lens camera and the latest version of Android.

The OnePlus adds some elements like slo-mo video and keeps great features from the older models like Dash Charge, which can add almost half a days charge to your phone in just half an hour. You can buy it from OnePlus, or it is available on contract from O2

Telegraph rating: 8.5/10

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Samsung Galaxy S8

£669, Mobiles.co.uk

Samsung Galaxy S8

Screen size: 5.8 inches

Battery life: 20 hours talk time

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a beautiful device. It has an all round Infinity Display, which means the phone screen slides seamlessly to the sides of the phone. It also has a headphone jack, unlike its main rivals from Apple. It is water and dust resistant and features 64GB of internal storage.

The S8 also has security features from the standard fingerprint scanner to iris and facial recognition, and has brought in the Bixby virtual assistant which now includes voice control. The voice control is a little limited compared to what you can get from Siri, however. 

While it raised the bar on smartphones and is probably the best Android phone you can buy, you will have to be able to part with some serious money to enjoy it, and we can expect a new Samsung Galaxy launch next month.

Telegraph rating: 8.5/10

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Samsung Galaxy S8 deals compared

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

£499, Currys

Huawei Mate 10 Pro Credit: Huawei

Screen size: 6 inches

Battery life: Two days

Huawei has emerged as a big player in smartphones in the last two years, aiming to break the US market with high end products designed to compete with Apple and Samsung. This version of the company's phone is, according to Huawei, the first phone putting AI at the heart of your mobile, with an AI optimised Kirin 970 chip.

It offers peak performance speeds when running intensive apps, although with so few AI apps available you won't notice much. It does have exceptional battery life of two days or better, and comes in luxurious colours with a glass back. With a wide 6-inch screen and 12MP dual camera it is a premium phone choice, although it also drops the headphone jack in favour of a USB-C charger. The price has now come down to £499, which makes this a much more attractive offering compared to its original £699 asking price.

Telegraph rating: 8/10

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Google Pixel 2

£619, Mobiles.co.uk

Google Pixel 2 Credit: Bloomberg

Screen size: 5 inches

Battery life: All day

Google's new Pixel 2 is its smaller version of its big brother Pixel 2 XL smartphone. It comes with the latest Android Oreo operating system and is built for use with AI inside. It has a 5-inch screen, so its slim enough for your pocket while also packing serious power and an excellent, 12.2MP camera.

Inside it comes with either 64GB or 128GB of storage, and has fast charging, which Google says will give you seven hours of use in just 15 minutes. It has smart AI features, from Google's Assistant to Google Lens, which can be used to give details of objects you are looking at, such as facts about a landmark. It doesn't have quite the picture quality of the larger Pixel 2 XL, and the style is a little dated for some. It comes in three colours, blue, white and black.

Telegraph rating: 8/10

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Nokia 8

£299, Argos

Nokia 8

Screen size: 5.2-inch screen

Battery life: Day and a half

We praised the Nokia 8 smartphone for its battery life, clean Android operating system and unique design. It is also the first smartphone which will allow you to take a "bothie", a selfie and a normal photo at the same time. 

It comes with an all-day battery life, 64GB of internal storage and the option to add a 256GB microSD card to bulk this out. It maintains a headphone jack, unlike some more expensive models, and has a stylish aluminium body. While we liked the Nokia 8, it sits firmly in the mid-range of Android smartphones and doesn't quite compete with more expensive models from Samsung and Google, although it has had a price cut to as low as £299 on Argos, which is a steal for this powerful phone.

Telegraph rating: 7/10

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The best budget Android smartphones

You shouldn't have to splash out on an smartphone, there are plenty of cheap models you can pick up for under £250. Here are some of the top picks out there:

Moto G5S

£149, John Lewis

Moto G5S, £229

Screen size: 5.2 inches

Battery life: 19 hours talk time

Lenovo's series of Android smartphones are some of the best value buys  out there. This model is an upgrade on the hugely popular Moto G5, bringing a slightly larger screen at 5.2 inches. It includes an upgraded 3GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage plus room for a dual SIM. It includes a 16MP rear facing camera.

It has a sleek, aluminium body and runs Android, keeping its menu and systems simple and in line with the original design. Other features include a fingerprint scanner and NFC to use apps like Android Pay. It has come down as low as £149.

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Nokia 3

​£109, Amazon

Nokia 3

Screen size: 5 inches

Battery life: 20 hours talk time

Cheap and cheerful, the new Nokia 3 is a return for the brand with the phones now made by HMD. The new Nokia 3 looks great with a funky design in four colours and a 5-inch HD screen.

It has reasonable battery life at 20 hours but it is not the most powerful phone around. It has 8MP front and back cameras and comes with the latest Android operating system. Nokia's entry level smartphone is one of the best budget smartphones this year and can be picked up for just over £100 from Amazon.

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What should I look for in an Android phone?

Key technical specs you should be looking for in your smartphone include basic choices such as screen size and battery life to performance indicators such as processing power and storage.

  • Screen size: Current sizes range from just under five inches to close to six inches for screen size, which can be quite large to hold in the hand.
  • Battery life: Any phone with significantly more than 24 hours is considered very good. Many manufacturers will judge battery on "talk time", but the phones will actually last days if left on standby.
  • Storage and memory: Lower spec smartphones will have around 2GB of RAM, the memory space which makes the phone run more quickly, although better models will have closer to 4GB or better. Expect at least 32GB of storage, look for 64GB or more for a price.
  • Camera: Most smartphones will take great pictures and high-end models compete to offer the best. Megapixels (MP) are not everything, but they can create shots with greater close-up details.
  • Operating system: Look for models with the latest Android 8.0 operating system. Soon more models will be coming with the ability to download the beta version of Android P.

What should I look for in my phone contract?

While you can simply break down phones in terms of handset price, many providers in the UK offer deals to pick up new phones for less than the main price.

Android phone buying | Checklist

Many smartphones are available for free if you agree to a two year contract. From there, you will be charged for the number of texts, minutes and the amount of data you use. However, it is almost always cheaper in the long run to buy a phone outright and then pick up a sim only deal.

Phones that are a year or two old may only set you back £15 a month over a two year period for basic levels of minutes and data. The latest flagship handsets, however, will probably cost more than £40 a month, and may also include an upfront cost for the phone as well.

How much should I pay for an Android phone?

The cheapest decent Android phones will cost from £100. These will phones running on Android can still be high quality, just with less power and storage.

Mid-range phones will cost between £250 to close to £500, phones from OnePlus, Nokia and Motorola tend to fall into this category. High-end phones will have the latest dual cameras, huge storage and powerful specs will push you to part with £500 or more.

Verdict

After testing many of the top Android phone releases of the last year, theSamsung Galaxy S9 is now the model as arguably the best buy if you are after an iPhone alternative. With a large screen and bright colours it is the phone to beat, plus it takes fantastic pictures.

Our other favourite is the recently released OnePlus 6. It provides outstanding power and performance in a package that comes in at under £500. If you want a more mid-range Android phone, the OnePlus is our top choice.

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