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Best mobile phones of 2018: our pick of the year's finest smartphones

A great phone to suit every pocket.

In the smartphone world, 2018 has been a year of ever-larger screens, divisive notch designs and multi-lens cameras.

It’s also been marked by the rise of artificial intelligence to help eke out phones' battery life and ensure you get better quality photos.

But which phones really stood out over the last 12 months? And at a time when handset prices seem to creeping higher, which handset really justify the substantial outlay?

Read on for our pick of the handsets that really lit up the last year in pocket technology.

Compare deals for the latest phones at our dedicated comparison page.

Happy with the phone you've got? Take a look at our pick of the best SIM only deals.

1. iPhone XR

You may have read reports that the iPhone XR isn’t selling as well as expected.

Whether that’s true or not, we’re not sure. But one thing we can be certain of is that the iPhone XR is the best of Apple’s three new iPhones.

It manages to offer a bright and crisp display despite using older LCD technology, a move which has allowed Apple to keep costs down(ish), with a starting price of £749.

Want to know more? Read our in-depth iPhone XR review..

It strips out the needless and often frustrating 3D Touch found in the higher end versions. Yet it keeps Face ID, a feature that no other mobile-maker has come close to rivalling.

Thrown in a design that’s a bit bulkier than the XS but still sleek, as well as the A12 Bionic chipset and this is the iPhone of choice for price-savvy consumers in 2018. And our pick for the year's best, bar none.

Compare deals for the iPhone XR.

2. OnePlus 6T

There’s a whole range of things to recommend OnePlus’s late-2018 flagship smartphone.

First, of course, is that price tag. Starting at £499 SIM-free for a device with 128GB storage and a snappy 6GB RAM, it’s half the price of Apple’s iPhone XS.

But its affordability isn’t its only calling card. There’s the impressive in–screen fingerprint scanner, eyeball–stroking 6.41–inch screen, unintrusive ‘teardrop’ notch design, 4K video recording and stellar dual lens camera with smarter shooting thanks to AI enhancements.

Throw in a battery that can get from 0–60% in just 30 minutes and lasts 36 hours on a single charge, as well as the latest Android Pie software, and the OnePlus 6T is a device that puts pricier rivals well in the shade.

3. iPhone XS and XS Max

Apple’s top–end devices don’t come cheap. Starting at £999 and £1,099 SIM-free for the standard XS and XS Max respectively, they’re testament to the California company’s undying commitment to being a luxury brand.

But put that to one side and it’s hard to argue with their hugely impressive array of features.

Read our in-depth review of the iPhone XS.

Not least the striking OLED displays, best-in-class Face ID scanning security and A12 Bionic chip that is more powerful and efficient than previous processors.

The cameras are impressive too, with first-class Portrait Mode and low–light shooting.

All of which goes to make the best iPhones Apple has ever produced. No phone in 2018 could match Jony Ive’s design either, despite it sticking close to the template of last year’s iPhone X.

Sold on the iPhone XS? Take a look at our selection of monthly contract deals.

Think you'd prefer the XS Max? You'll find a selection of contracts on our comparison page.

4. Huawei Mate 20 Pro

2018 was the year that Huawei really made a splash, thanks to a number of terrific new devices.

Chief among them was the Mate 20 Pro.

Released in November, it’s a late entry into the best phones of the year stakes, but fully deserves its place.

That notch design doesn’t look ugly (unlike some other devices we could mention, including Google’s Pixel 3 XL), while the triple lens camera, with 40-megapixel, 20-megapixel and eight-megapixel sensors, takes some of the best pictures we’ve ever seen shot on a smartphone.

And with the latest Android Pie software as standard, and it’s not hard to see why people who were once wedded to Samsung and Apple phones are now looking Huawei’s way.

Take a look at Huawei Mate 20 Pro deals.

5. Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S9 in hand hero

Samsung’s 2019 Galaxy S phones are refinements on a classic formula rather than radically new. But that didn’t stop the S9 and S9 Plus garnering rave reviews.

Why? Well, for starters the 12-megapixel camera, despite being a single-lens shooter, can handle low light and bright situations with aplomb.

Want to find out more? Read our full S9 and S9 review.

The S9 Plus’s dual lens effort was even better, with ultra-wide and telephoto lenses for excellent portrait shots.

Then there’s the microSD option, allowing users to boost storage by a massive 512GB.

Throw in ultra-bright displays and all–screen designs and these were the leading lights until Samsung’s rivals finally showed up later in the year.

S9 the phone for you? Find and compare deals on our comparison page.

Prepared to spend a bit more to get the S9 Plus? Scan our pick of the best deals.

6. Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 camera

Samsung’s Note 9 is a very mighty handset, indeed.

With 512GB of internal storage that’s expandable to 1TB via microSD and lightning fast octacore processors, it my well be the year’s most powerful handset.

That’s not all. It’s got a whole new range of S-Pen features designed to make it a breeze to work and create, while the 6.4–inch screen and sleek design ensure it’s a genuine object of desire.

We put the S9 through its paces back in September. Take a look at the uSwitch review.

And rounding off an excellent package is a 12-megapixel dual camera that’s every bit as good as that on stablemate, the Galaxy S9 Plus.

Compare Samsung Galaxy Note 9 deals.

7. Google Pixel 3

Google’s Pixel 3 isn’t the cheapest Android smartphone out there, with a 128GB model costing £739 SIM–free.

But it is the best way to experience Google’s mobile operating system the way it’s meant to be.

You get the very latest software updates, from tweaks to Maps and its public transit directions to the ability to use Duplex to make calls and bookings for you using AI smarts.

Plus there’s that market–leading single lens camera that can take images every bit as good as dual lens set-ups.

The 5.5–inch display is also more than ample for catching the latest movies or watching YouTube.

Compare deals for Google's Pixel 3.

8. Honor 10

Honor 10

With an RRP of £319.99 SIM–free (and a whole host of deals online that let you bag it for way less), the Honor 10 is the mid–tier phone everyone had to beat in 2018.

Its 5.8–inch screen is gorgeous and its 16-megapixel and 24-megapixel dual lens camera is every bit as sharp as devices three times more expensive.

The notch and all–screen design look great, while the ultra shiny colour options help it stand out in a space where gun-metal grey and black finishes have become inescapable.

Pick up the Honor 10 SIM-free.

9. Nokia 8 Sirocco

Nokia 8 Sirocco

Nokia-owner HMD has made a strong play for the mid–tier market and the Nokia 8 Sirocco delivers against its rivals in spades.

There’s the dual LED–flash camera with 12-megapxel and 13 megapixel sensors and Zeiss optics. A sharp 5.5–inch screen. And ultra slim 7.5mm design.

But what really makes it stand out is its software.

Like other Nokia phones, it’s powered by an exclusive software dubbed Android One, which brings it with a host of clever battery-saving and security features.

10. Huawei P20

Huawei P20 Pro

Its superb 12-megapixel and 20 megapixel dual cameras and 5.8–inch LCD screen made the P20 a serious contender for one of the year’s best cameraphones.

And while the updated Mate series might have superseded it, the P20 remains a superb option for those who want cutting-edge tech at a lower price.

The octacore processor and 4GB of RAM keep it ticking nicely, while the £399 SIM–free price is a boon for those who love a bargain.

Category: Features
Tagged: smartphones
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