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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  • drajitshnew - Saturday, July 07, 2018 - link

    I googled QNOVO & I think that a review of all these fast charging technologies is a good idea. Unfortunately, I think that that may not be FEASIBLE. Reply
  • drajitshnew - Saturday, July 07, 2018 - link

    Amen to that. I was searching a week ago for phones like that. Unfortunately, IMHO a removable battery is only useful if
    1. Someone makes an extended battery.
    2. Your SoC is powerful enough & your usage intense enough that the OEM battery never gets you through 1 working day.
    I might WISH for a removable battery, but the best we can GET is an easily replaceable (by a service center) battery.
    @anandtech iFIXIT has a repairability score. Please consider either giving it weightage in evaluating a phone.
    Reply
  • Quantumz0d - Sunday, July 08, 2018 - link

    Really great point, the iFixit score does matter. I wish they should collaborate and mention this as well. nowadays all phones are costing over 1000USD which is ridiculous for some underspecced HW I/O like lack of jack, sd slot etc.

    Adding this fancy IP rating kills the main factor of the built of the phone entirely like for eg. the Samsung phones have good build standards but once you pop it open bam goes every part of integrity of the phone. A shame..

    This phenomenon won't change. Never will, companies are pushing for planned obsolescene look at the new Android P DP4 that Overview is excl. to the Pixel Launcher, not AOSP. PLUS the damn smart selection option is for Pixel 2017 ONLY. Still press is like little kids with shiny toys, say this is the best phone ever made. Hogwash !
    Reply
  • SavageDamage - Sunday, July 08, 2018 - link

    I don't understand. They're not User replaceable but companies replace them(for a cost obviously) if you send it for that. I can confirm that for the OnePlus at the very least from the above list. Reply
  • mayankleoboy1 - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    can you do a review or a mini-review of Nokia7 plus? Androidpolice gave a fantastic rating to it,and I'm curious what AT officially thinks Reply
  • RaduR - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    How come that Xiaomi is not present but OnePlus is. More expensive and lower quality.
    Great ! Biased review !
    Reply
  • HStewart - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    I have an Galaxy Note 8 which I wanted instead of S9 - I move from iPhone 6 and really the only thing I miss is Voice Mail functional on iPhone is better.

    I am on AT&T and have Call Protect which was awesome on my iPhone which help with stupid spam calls - but Android version pretty remove them - only one complaint tag calls still call on Android

    In general Android seems worst for spam - especially with some application that seem inject adds - I was research barcode scanner for work - and one of the apps loaded up an widget doing ads for apps in the store and other types of spam.
    Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    You've got to be mindful of the apps you install and it can be quite time intensive to hunt down an ad-free app that does the same thing. The other alternative is using paid apps as they don't typically advertise to the user. No matter how you shake it though, Android and ultimately Google/Alphabet offer free services thanks to their advertising. You can, however, disable most of the really invasive data collection and targeted advertising in your Google account settings and there are adblockers for Android too. Reply
  • HStewart - Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - link

    This was only for test with barcode apps for work - they were removed just one of them was notoriously bad - even worst than things I seen on Windows. My experience with iPhone, I never have that - but then again my thought now especially with my experience with Galaxy Tab S3 vs iPad is that apple is much more limited in functionality. Also AT&T Call protect works better on the Note 8. Pretty much move spam calls from once every other day to once a week. Reply
  • Quantumz0d - Friday, July 06, 2018 - link

    What the fk ?

    Oneplus updated design feels premium with glass ? And notch also doesn't have any impact ? Sheesh.. Anandtech also, the same garbage that everyone is regurgitating for sponsorship. Shame.

    That phone is literal garbage - Fake FHD panel, thank the Pentile, USB 2.0 ( reason given by CEO is no one uses it because we have super fast LTE), No SD slot, No IP rating ( cost cutting) stupid refresh cadence - 6 Mo EOL ! And that absurd notch, same battery capacity since OP3T and same resolution since OPO. And camera also on par with Samsung ? LOL ! I've read their notorious watercolor effect.. And retarded camera code - Ask Sultanxda. Idk about the non stop praise of the P20 phones, but after seeing Lumia 1020 sample on GSMArena nobody can say they are better than the stolen (apparently because its China) pixel binning like Pureview technology.

    And HTC is not even worth considering, yeah we know they aren't sponsoring anymore and their retarded built of the new Edge Buttons, agree that phone has issues but didn't even consider it ! While this garbage OnePlus gets it, glass panels on both without wireless charging. And stupid EOL policy making the repairs impossible..why don't you mention Qnovo technology which Sony and LG has to save battery life instead of this faster killing dash crap which is proprietary instead of Qcom QC.

    And where is Nokia 7 Plus ?

    Andrei this is bad. Real bad, just like how Anandtech got roasted for the Intel Conputex drama sugarcoat..
    Reply

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