In our series of best product guides, here’s the latest update to our recommended Android Smartphone list. All numbers in the text are updated to reflect pricing at the time of writing (July 5th).

We’re at the end of the spring refresh cycle, which means that all vendors have released their relevant devices for this generation. So now we can finally discuss the broader picture in terms of our current recommended device list.

AnandTech Android Smartphone Recommendations: Q3 2018
Segment Option #1 Option #2
Flagship (US/CHN/JPN) OnePlus 6 Galaxy S9/S9+
Flagship (EU/ROW) OnePlus 6 LG G7
Upper Mid-Range Galaxy S8 Honor 10
Best Value Honor 7X Honor 9 Lite

This year started off with Samsung releasing the Galaxy S9 and S9+ which we reviewed in detail. Oddly enough, this year many vendors opted not go toe-to-toe with Samsung in terms of device announcements and releases, and instead in the subsequent months following MWC we’ve seen a staggered release of competing devices from various vendors. Huawei was the first in line with the launch of the Huawei P20 and P20 Pro in early April. We’ve covered more exotic devices such as the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2S and currently have OnePlus 6 and LG G7 reviews cooking in the oven. The HTC U12 deserves a mention of its existence, however he hadn’t had a chance to review it and due to its high pricing it has trouble to really distinguish itself.

The upper-mid-range is something that’s always a though to evaluate because if most of the time new devices at this price-point clash with last generation flagships which offer equally good value at their discounted price. The phones who do stand out on their own this generation are the Honor 10 and Honor View 10 which come with very similar fortes as Huawei’s flagships, but come at lower price points.

Best Flagship Devices Americas, China, Japan: OnePlus 6 & Samsung Galaxy S9/S9+

While we haven’t had the chance to publish our review of the OnePlus 6 yet, I’ve spent sufficient enough of time to test out the basics and come to conclusion that this device offers the single best value among current generation smartphones. The OnePlus 6 offers a fantastic updated design with a new glass back panel that overall feels and looks very premium. The phone has a notch but it does not detract from daily usage and the software integration is seamless.


OnePlus 6

In terms of performance the Snapdragon 845 inside the OnePlus 6 offers the very same blazing fast performance that I’ve come praise in the review of the Mi MIX 2S. What the OnePlus 6 does what the MIX 2S couldn’t do is to deliver a high quality screen: the AMOLED screen not only offers better display quality but also is more efficient as the OP6’s battery life exceeds that of the MIX 2S and almost comes near that of the Snapdragon Galaxy S9+, but manages to do it with a smaller 3300mAh battery while being both thinner and lighter.

Camera wise the OP6 easily battles with the S9’s at the top of daylight capture picture quality, meaning it’s among the best cameras currently available.

Choosing the S9 or S9+ over the OP6 comes at a slightly higher price point, but what you get in return is a higher resolution screen at no cost of battery life, and improved low-light camera capture capabilities along with a microSD slot (although OP6 offers much larger base capacities at the same price). Both options don’t disappoint and are as close as you can get in terms of no-compromise devices.

Best Flagship Devices Europe, Rest of World: OnePlus 6, with other considerations

The reason I split the flagship category into regional recommendations is Samsung’s uncompetitiveness in terms of the Exynos 9810 variants of the S9. While sporting the same excellent screen and camera, performance and battery life unfortunately does not compete against Snapdragon 845 devices. Here, the OnePlus 6 sits relatively alone in terms of best overall rounded package.


LG G7

Alternatives to the OP6 in Europe are the LG G7, while its camera isn’t up to par with the S9, it bests the Exynos in terms of performance and battery life. The screen of the G7 is its weakest point as it’s impossible to achieve accurate colours as LG has returned to its abysmal screen calibration practices. LG still offers the only flagship phones with wide-angle camera lenses so if you value this feature, there’s little competition.


Huawei P20 Pro

Huawei’s P20 Pro deserves a mention in terms of its excellent battery life which is industry leading among flagships and comes with a respectable camera in daylight, and outstanding picture quality in low-light with the best zoom optics on any phone. The latter’s disadvantage comes virtue of its very high price premium at release, but prices have by now fallen enough that the P20 Pro is maybe a consideration if one can get it under 700€ - still it’s a very polarizing device with some very good positives but also some negatives. The Mate 10 would have made a good contender at its current price of below 500€ - however its slight battery advantage doesn’t make up for being bested in every other category by the OnePlus 6. Also, no headphone jacks on Huawei’s latest phones is a minus.

Google’s Pixel 2 phones both overprice themselves out of competitiveness both in the US and especially Europe – both having disadvantages on the screen, with the regular Pixel 2 offering a subjectively unlikeable design with large bezels and the Pixel 2 XL suffering from quality issues on the LG OLED screen – the same issue as to why I can’t recommend the LG V30 as one would have to try one’s luck out in terms of getting a unit with a good screen.

Best Upper Mid-Range Smartphones: Galaxy S8, Honor 10 & Honor View 10

As I’ve noted in the introduction, this category of new phone releases always has trouble in terms of managing to compete with previous generation flagships. In today’s market, the Galaxy S8, either Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 variants, both still offer great value and still beating out new smartphones at their updated new full price points of ~450€/$515, but most importantly the S8 offers an outright fantastic deal when bought refurbished at 350€/$380.

Among new smartphones, it’s very hard to beat the Honor 10 and Honor View10. The phones offer the same basic specifications as Huawei’s flagships along with the new Kirin 970 chipsets, but come in more affordable designs at £371/379€/$465 for the Honor 10 and £399/429€/$499 for the View 10.

Best Budget Smartphones: Honor 7X,  Honor 9 Lite

This category of devices is very hard for me to write about due to the sheer size of the market and particular regional segmentation. Matt last year commented particularly how in the US this segment is very barren, and this was mostly due to the fact that many of the most attractive phones in the price ranges either weren’t officially available in the country or they didn’t come with the correct support for the needed frequency bands.

Fortunately Honor was able to introduce the Honor 7X in the US and has all the required bands for operation on AT&T and T-Mobile at least. At $199 / 229€ the you get a quite excellent phone – the most defining feature of the phone is its 18:9 2160x1080p LTPS IPS LCD screen which frankly at the price range manages outperform many of its peers in its category and can very well keep up with higher end devices.

An alternative to the 7X in Europe is the Honor 9 Lite which comes with the same hardware internals at a similar price of £199 / 199€ and comes in a much more premium feeling glass design.

The Redmi Note 5 is of particular interest in Europe and Asian countries as it supports all relevant frequency bands and is officially sold by Xiaomi. The Redmi Note 5 doesn’t have quite the as elegant and robust design as the 7X or 9 Lite, however where it absolutely shines is in its hardware power as the Snapdragon 636 in the phone just offers the best performance in this price category. Unfortunately I haven’t tested the Redmi Note 5 so I can’t comment on screen or camera quality when compared to the Huawei’s and as such can’t make full judgment on the phone.

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  • mayankleoboy1 - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    i would be hesitant to buy a asus phone. their UI is horrible, and their record of updating phones is pathetic.
    I would pay Rs.5k more to get a OP6, just for the better software support.
    Reply
  • drajitshnew - Saturday, July 07, 2018 - link

    @mayank, if you really want to be sure of updates buy pixel. The updates available unfortunately vary from model to model within the same brand. Eg I've a note 3-- it has only 1 repeat One update. But from what I've heard Samsung usually does better. But it's your luck.
    Btw for the price of S9 + you can but 1 zenfone now and another in 2 years
    Reply
  • drajitshnew - Saturday, July 07, 2018 - link

    @Andrei you should consider dexterkarthik's suggestion and add zenfone 5z as an alternative --perhaps with a note that you have not seen the phone personally. You have a GREAT following in India, which you ignore. I've been reading for 15 years.
    @dexterkarthik thanks for bringing that model up. Comments like yours are why I go through comments.
    Reply
  • rrbalp - Thursday, July 12, 2018 - link

    according to my view best mobile & technology in india is Jio Fiber. Jio GigaFiber is a technology for indian users to increase speed of internet. it also improve the performance of mobiles. you can also get more info from official site of Jio GigaFiber i.e https://jiofiber.org/ Reply
  • stargazera5 - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    How about a new category of "Replaceable Battery" Many of us still prefer to not have to throw our phone away after a couple of years because the battery is barely functional. Reply
  • cfenton - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    The LG V20 is about your only option for a high(ish) end phone. I think some of the Samsung J series still have removable batteries, but they are mid-range at best. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    Yeah, the Samsung J7 and J3 do have removable batteries, but they are indeed only a few steps up from the bottom of the budget phone ladder. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    It's oddly counterintuitive, but a number of ultra-budget prepaid Android phones have replaceable batteries and easily removed back panels. Their low spec processors, lack of RAM, and limited on-board storage may cause them to become obsolete sooner, but they can arguably serve their owners for longer as a result of the crucial battery factor. Reply
  • invinciblegod - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    Does a motomod count? Reply
  • Quantumz0d - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    Form over function these days, you see him praise that fragile glass back feeling premium.

    Nobody cares about it. But you know LG has Qnovo technology along with Sony but never gets mentioned. Thanks to the tech journalists only positive on the sponsored OEMs.

    And how the world leading Apple defines everything, we don't even see blatant copying of iPhone jackless strategy of this absurd notch and planned obsolescence of sealing batteries. LG v20 is a great phone but its HW flaws are debilitating to that device and the company. They went v30 with sealed design but at least good, unfortunately now more BS like killing the Power button design signature detail on back, balanced design without notch to notch.

    Similarly the jack fiasco, no one adds a good emphasis on the DAC except a few like ZTEs AKM chips, old HTC 10, Vivo phones with AKM (heck even the new Nex has an AKM DAC), WHY ? because Apple dictated Beats are best and wireless is future. And no one cares about Audio quality, my Samsung Galaxy S with removable battery has a Wolfson chip with Linux driver and Voodoo mod rents LGs and all others..

    Unless these tech journalist mention and call them out they will pull this koolaid crap continuously, that's not happening so we are SOL.
    Reply

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