With Android thoroughly dominating the mobile industry, picking the best Android phones is almost synonymous with choosing the best smartphones, period. While Android phones have few real opponents on other platforms, internal competition is incredibly fierce. From sleek devices that impress with premium design, to powerhouses brimming with features, to all-around great devices, and affordable phones that punch above their weight, the Android ecosystem is populated by a staggering variety of attractive phones. But which of them are the best smartphones of 2018?
“Greatness” is subjective, and sometimes spec sheets and feature lists are not enough to make 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.
Best Android phones update:November 7
This month, we removed the Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, LG G7 ThinQ, and OnePlus 6 to make room for the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Google Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, and OnePlus 6T.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, and for good reason. The Mate 10 Pro won Android Authority’s Best of Android 2017 award, and the Mate 20 Pro is certainly in the running this year.
The Mate 20 Pro features an all-glass design and comes with Huawei’s popular gradient color scheme. You have your choice of five color options, but we really prefer the emerald green model.
Elsewhere, the device comes with the Kirin 980 SoC, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and a fancy new Nano Memory slot for expandable storage. Oh yeah, and it has three rear-facing cameras — one 40MP standard sensor, one 8MP telephoto lens, and one 20MP ultra wide-angle sensor.
It’s blazing fast, has great battery life, and some of the best cameras you can get on any smartphone. What more could you want? Well, there is one downside to this phone… availability. This is the best Android phone, by far, that isn’t coming to the United States. Huawei doesn’t have the best relationship with the U.S. government, so Americans who want to get their hands on one will have to import it.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The Note 9 is still the big, S Pen-touting flagship we expect from the Note line. It has a 6.4-inch Super AMOLED display, Snapdragon 845 SoC, 6 or 8GB of RAM, a crazy 128 or 512GB of storage, as well as the same dual-camera setup we first saw on the Galaxy S9 Plus. It basically has the best specs you could expect to see on a smartphone in 2018.
There are some upgrades worth pointing out. First, the battery. Samsung increased the battery from 3,300mAh in the Note 8 to 4,000mAh in the Note 9. Plus, the S Pen now supports Bluetooth, so you can actually do things like control your phones camera and control music with the S Pen’s button. It’s pretty awesome.
Finally, the dual-camera setup on the back might be the same as the S9 Plus, but the Note 9 can recognize what’s in a photo and automatically pick the best camera settings for each scene.
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are here. While they may not rival the Galaxy Note 9 in terms of specs, these phones improve on the very aspect that made the Pixel 2 so great — the camera. They still sport the same single rear cameras as the Pixel 2, but there are a ton of camera software improvements here. Top Shot mode will take multiple pictures of your subject and recommend the best one. Night Sight will also arrive for the phones soon, which is supposed to bring next-level low-light photography thanks to computational photography. Finally, there’s a mode called Motion Auto Focus that lets the Pixel 3 focus on a subject in a video, no matter how much they move around.
They both have 18:9 screens (well, 18.5:9 for the XL), yet they still look very different from one another. The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch Full HD+ screen that makes it look like a smaller Pixel 2 XL, while the Pixel 3 XL has a big ol’ notch at the top of its screen. Both phones also come with Qi wireless charging support, no headphone jack (womp womp), and still manage to squeeze in front-facing speakers.
The Pixel 3 could be considered the Android iPhone. But is there anything wrong with that?
Despite being almost half the price of the competition, the OnePlus 6T is in the running for phone of the year.
The 6T doesn’t provide the ultra-luxurious experience you’ll get with the Galaxy Note 9 or iPhone Xs, but it does provide 90 percent of what those phones offer for about $550. You get the most top-of-the-line specs out there, fantastic build quality, and decent cameras. The OnePlus 6T is also the first smartphone in the U.S. to include an in-display fingerprint sensor.
If you happen to hate notches, the 6T is probably the closest you’ll get to a notch-less display without going the Samsung route. OnePlus included super sexy waterdrop notch on the 6T that makes it looks like Google didn’t even try with the Pixel 3 XL.
If you’re trying to boycott all of the $1,000 phones out there, or just want a solid smartphone that works well, buy the OnePlus 6T. We don’t think you’ll regret it.
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus
The biggest improvements in the Galaxy S9 have to do with the camera. The S9 sports a single Dual Pixel 12MP autofocus sensor with OIS, along with support for two apertures at f/1.5 and f/2.4. This mechanical iris lens is able to switch between apertures depending on the lighting conditions. If you need something even more powerful, the Galaxy S9 Plus comes with a dual-camera setup on the back.
Samsung also included its own creepier version of Apple’s Animoji, called AR Emoji, allowing you to make GIFs and send cartoony videos to your friends.
These are new Samsung smartphone flagships, so it’s no surprise that they feature the most top-of-the-line specs currently available. They come with 5.8- and 6.2-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED displays, 4 and 6GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and both are powered by either the Exynos 9810 or Snapdragon 845 SoC depending on your region.
Huawei P20 Pro
For starters, these are some of the most eye-catching devices we’ve see so far. Both models are available in a few different colors, but the P20 Pro comes in a unique twilight edition that features a glossy blue-to-purple gradient that changes tone depending on the lighting condition. That’s not the only reason the P20 Pro will be a head-turner, either. The higher-end model comes with three rear-facing cameras at 20, 8, and 40MP. The 20 and 40MP cameras do lack OIS, but Huawei says its AI-assisted stabilization will make up for users’ shaky hands.
These are Huawei’s first 2018 flagships, so both phones have some killer under-the-hood specifications, too. The P20 comes with a 5.8-inch Full HD+ LCD display, 4GB of RAM, and a 3,400mAh battery, while the P20 Pro sports a 6.1-inch Full HD+ OLED display, 6GB of RAM, and a 4,000mAh battery. Both devices are powered by Huawei’s Kirin 970 SoC, which can also be found in the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro.
Best Android phones 2018: Cast your vote, and participate in our giveaway!
There you have it, our picks from the best Android phones of 2018. Out of those listed, which do you feel is the very best smartphone of 2018? Be sure to sound off in the poll below. Each month we will also be conducting a giveaway, giving our readers a chance to win the phone with the most votes.
Winner, October 2018: Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (5,419 total votes)
Congratulations to Kumud S. from Nepal, winner of our October 2018 giveaway!
Looking for something more specific than just the best phone of 2018? Maybe the best cheap phone, a dual-SIM phone, or something specific to your carrier? No matter what you’re looking for, we have you covered: