Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

With so many different (yet similar) smartphones from so many brands from across the globe, one may start feeling a bit lost. Which one of those many is the best phone you can buy right now, in January 2018?

Early 2018 is not a bad time to get a new phone: a few months have passed and all the dust around the new fall flagships has settled and you know what you are buying. Apple has recently introduced three new iPhones, and Samsung, Google and LG have all uncovered their best devices in late 2017.

But there is no definite one-size-fits-all device, as is quite clear these days, and that’s why we explore all the options, trying to help you narrow down the choice to some outstanding devices that we think won’t disappoint you. With no further ado, here are the best phones you can buy right now.

Best phone in a regular size:

Apple iPhone X

Price: $1,000 for 64GB, $1,150 for 256GB

iPhone X

The most advanced iPhone ever built is here: the 10th anniversary iPhone, or simply the iPhone X (where ‘X’ is pronounced as ‘ten), is here. Its biggest advantage over earlier iPhones is in the compact size – it’s just a bit larger than the iPhone 8 while having a much bigger, 5.8-inch screen of the new OLED type that is much bigger and yields much livelier colors. There is one other thing that’s changed: the way you unlock and work with an iPhone. The home button is gone and with it Touch ID is gone as well. Instead, you get a new Face ID feature that uses advanced technology to create a 3D map of your face, so the phone unlocks when you look at it. The interface is all gesture based, the cameras are state of the art (there are two cameras on the back, Portrait Mode, and the tele cam is stabilized, an advantage over the 8 Plus). Also, it costs $1,000.

Apple iPhone 8

Prices: $700 for 64GB, $850 for 256GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018


  • Cleaner design
  • Fast performance with A11 Bionic processor
  • Impressive colors on display
  • Wireless charging
  • Smooth and fast iOS 11 user experience, regular updates
  • Outstanding camera, great video stabilization
  • Water-proof, louder dual speaker


  • Higher price than before
  • No 3.5mm headset jack
  • Closed ecosystem
  • Less customization options than on Android

The Apple iPhone 8 is not the most exciting phone – not even most exciting iPhone (that would be the X) – this year, but it’s a solid upgrade that brings a big upgrade in performance with the faster new Apple A11 Bionic chip that also helps improve photo quality in a significant way.

The iPhone 8 now features a glass back and no antenna lines on the back, plus it supports the convenient wireless charging feature. We also love the new storage options: storage has been a big concern with iPhones and the new 64GB and 256GB storage options are definitely liberating.

The iOS ecosystem remains a big reason why one would buy an iPhone: you get guaranteed software updates for years on end, you get the best apps and games first and often exclusively, and the familiar iOS experience is just getting more and more refined.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Price: $725 for 64GB

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is in many ways a revolutionary new phone: it features a larger, bezel-less display that takes up nearly all of its front and is gorgeous to look at, it sports an even more refined design, and it has become more powerful and smarter with the addition of the new Bixby assistant.

Yet despite its 5.8-inch display (keep in mind that you should not compare inch size directly with other screens, since this one has a different, taller aspect ratio of 18.5:9), it is not too big: it’s taller, that’s true, but its width is about the same as on the Galaxy S7 predecessor, so it is easy to handle in a single hand. The camera has received some improvements too: it shoots a little brighter images and seems to be able to get more definition in the details. The one thing where we don’t have so much change is the battery: it is good, but not great or revolutionary as other parts of this phone.

Google Pixel 2

Price: $650 for 64GB, $750 for 128GB


  • One of the best cameras with great dynamic range
  • Latest stock Android Nougat, updates promised
  • One of the smoothest performers
  • Great Google Assistant features
  • Premium design, solid build quality, water protected


  • Huge bezels
  • No headphone jack
  • No microSD expansion memory slot

The Google Pixel 2 has finally broken cover, and the new Google phone is all about refinements and improvements.There is one thing that the Pixel 2 is not: a “bezel-less” phone. Quite the opposite, it’s got a big and prominent chin and forehead where two front-firing speakers are located for better sound quality. Under the hood, it rocks the Snapdragon 835 system chip, a market improvement from the Snapdragon 821 of last year.

The back of the Pixel 2 retains the glass accent around the camera, but makes it smaller. What is lacking here is a secondary rear camera, but the main one is improved over what was widely seen as one of the best cameras in the original Pixel. Also, it does support Portrait Mode. Turns out, it was possible even with one camera. Sadly, Google has removed the headphone jack in the Pixel 2, a feature the company touted as an advantage just last year with the original Pixel. On a more positive note: the new Pixel 2 is finally water protected with an IP67 rating, identical to Apple’s iPhone 8.

Sony Xperia XZ1

Price: $600 for 64GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018


  • Vapid user interface
  • Pricey

The Xperia XZ1 is another gradual update in the Xperia series: more refinements, better styling, slightly improved performance and camera. Slightly is the keyword here. But if you like clear Android builds and Sony’s brand and styling, the new XZ1 is its best and it comes with cool and novel 3D scanning functionality as well.

A large phone with a great camera (phablets):

Samsung Galaxy Note 8 or Galaxy S8+

Prices: $930 for Note8, $825 for S8+

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018


  • Beautiful, stylish design
  • Immersive, bezel-less display with gorgeous colors
  • Base model has plentiful 64 GB of storage + microSD support
  • Water proof! Fast charge and wireless charge support
  • Fastest on Android, Snapdragon 835 system chip
  • USB-C, finally
  • Bixby assistant


  • TouchWiz icons look a bit ugly
  • Good (but not great) battery life
  • No dual camera system
  • Body is a fingerprint magnet

The Note 8 is one of the best Samsung phones out there: it’s got the S Pen for added functionality and a secondary camera for portraits and that camera supports stabilization too. But it’s not much different from the S8+ apart from that, it even has a smaller battery because of that S Pen. 

The Samsung Galaxy S8+ is the bigger of the two S8 siblings. Unlike Apple’s devices, though, we have no huge differences here except for the larger screen and the bigger battery. The S8+ is the same beautiful, full-screen phone that display an outstanding level of craftsmanship. It also features a bezel-less, 6.2″ display with a 18.5:9 aspect ratio (it’s taller than a regular display) that looks gorgeous. The fingerprint is now on the back alongside the camera. The S8+ comes with a new interface and the brand new context-aware Bixby assistant.

Apple iPhone 8 Plus

Price: $800 for 64GB, $950 for 256GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018


  • Secondary tele camera, Portrait Lighting
  • Improved photo quality with Pixel-like auto HDR
  • Glass back, wireless charging
  • Super fast Apple A11 chip
  • Louder dual speakers! Water-proof!
  • Great for gamers, games arrive first on iOS


  • Physically larger than most its 5.5″ rivals, huge screen bezel
  • No 3.5mm headset jack
  • Pricey
  • Closed ecosystem

If you can deal with its size, the iPhone 8 Plus is the better iPhone. It has bigger battery and longer battery life, and it features dual cameras with Portrait Mode and Portrait Lighting that give you more options for better pictures, and it has more RAM. The fast Apple A11 Bionic chip is a small revolution in processing power on a mobile device as well.

But it’s also costlier: the base model costs $800, while the 256GB one that we recommend carries a whopping $950 price tag. And the design remains decidedly outdated when compared to modern phones with almost no bezel. In contrast, the iPhone 8 Plus still feels huge and uncomfortable to carry in a pocket.

Google Pixel 2 XL

Prices: $850 for 64GB, $950 for 128GB

Pixel 2 XL on the right


  • Premium bezel-less design, solid build quality
  • Latest stock Android Nougat
  • One of the best cameras with great dynamic range
  • Feature-rich Google Assistant
  • Water-protected


  • No headphone jack
  • Not cheap
  • No microSD expansion memory slot

Google’s larger phone, the Pixel 2 XL, is a beautifully crafted device with a “bezel-less” design (but it has more bezel than other similar phones), the latest Android software and hardware, and aspirations to have the best camera ever on a phone.

The hidden highlight of the Pixel XL, however, is without a doubt the stock Android experience with the promise for timely updates in the future and the smooth performance.

LG V30

Price: $800

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

LG’s best phone so far, the V30 features a stylish glass and metal styling, an edge-to-edge screen with no annoying notch or any other interruption, and a dual camera system with a super wide-angle camera unlike any other phone.

The V30 is a phone that will make the most demanding techies happy: it has a high-quality audio output to make your expensive headphones pump out sound to their maximum, and it has manual video recording capabilities that will make enthusiast videographers happy. But it’s also a good phone for just any other person in need of a phone. The interface is a bit strange and clunky, and photo quality is not quite the best, but overall the V30 is easy to recommend.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Price: $800

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a big phone with an edge-to-edge screen and a big battery.

It has a stylish glass design with a distinct accent around the camera, it features a great camera and it has a very peculiar, custom Huawei interface. It performs well, but takes some getting used to.


Price: $650

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

The HTC U11 might have a worthless ‘Squeeze’ gimmick as its most advertized feature, but it’s the outstanding camera, fast performance and good battery life that make it worth a look.

It’s the no-flares flagship of 2017, a phone that still has bezels and that is larger than the taller and narrower “bezel-less” phones around, but that still performs admirably well.

Best $400-$500 flagship: the new category

Check:  Apple apologises for slowing older iPhones down

Essential Phone

Price: $500 for 128GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

The Essential Phone is the newest competitor on the flagship block and it brings a lot of innovation: a beautiful, exclusive ceramic body with a meticulous fit and finish, a clean Android experience with the promise for timely updates and the latest Snapdragon 835 processor. It’s also got a dual camera setup with a color + monochrome cameras that don’t seem to deliver as great results as one would expect, but updates are promised to fix that. The Essential Phone has also got a curious magnetic attachment port that supports a 360-degree camera at the moment, but has the potential of being a hub for a growing ecosystem of accessories in the future.

OnePlus 5T

Price: $500 for 64GB, $560 for 128GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

The OnePlus 5T is a new flagship-grade phone offered for a great price. It looks very similar to the company’s previous phone, the OnePlus 5, but also brings innovation in one key area: it has a larger, 6″ edge-to-edge screen. For all else, it features a nearly identical metal body with a nice, ergonomic curve, it features some improvements to the camera performance, and it has its fingerprint scanner on the back now. You also get a new identification option: Face Unlock, which is impressively fast, but not as secure as 3D face scanning systems. The 5T is also one of the fastest-charging phones ever, with support for Dash Charge.


Price: $500 for 32GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018


  • Solid design, pocketable size
  • Excellent camera, useful wide-angle option
  • Very fast recharging capability


  • Battery life is good, but not great
  • A bit on the pricey side

The LG G6 marks a new era for LG: less experiments with crazy designs and a focus back on the essentials of great design and performance. The new G6 is not a revolutionary phone, but it still has the extremely cool bezel-less screen with a new, taller 2:1 format. It has also improved its already very good cameras: now you have two 13-megapixel shooter for the dual camera system on the back, so there is no abrupt switch in the camera when you zoom in and out. LG has also improved battery with the G6 to good (but it’s still not great), and coupled with nice software experience, the LG G6 is one of the best options for a new phone out there.

Huawei P10

Price: €400 for 64GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

The Huawei P10 is a beautifully designed, stylish phone for a price much lower than most other flagships, yet with a similar level of performance and a very good camera. The bad news is that it will not be sold in the United States (at least initially), but it will be in all other parts of the world.

Under the hood roars Huawei’s own Kirin 960 system chip, which is indeed a powerful creation, and Huawei has improved the dual camera system. The idea is to be able to blur the background to images, a nice effect, but not quite as accurate as the Portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus. Still, it’s nice to have and you get a secondary, black-and-white camera that gives you a different perspective to images.

Moto X4

Price: $400 for 32GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

The new Moto X4 is a stylish dual camera phone with a mid-range price of $400. It’s also available on Google’s Project Fi, the affordable US carriers, as an Android One device with clean Android build and the promise for timely updates.

And it’s a great phone on its own: with a good-looking design and an LG-like secondary wide-angle camera that allows fitting more in the frame.

Price: $500 for 64GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

If you want the phone with the best battery life in this list, the Moto Z Play is certainly that. With its economical Snapdragon 625 chip and specs that are not too demanding, this is the true 2-day battery phone and that is quite the gamechanger. Apart from that, it is just a good and thin phone. It is not particularly elegant with those huge magnetic connections, but you can add some neat Moto Mods to spice its looks, or at least use as easily exchangeable covers. The Z Play has also got a solid camera that is able to shoot 4K video and it has been updated to Android 7.0 Nougat.

Honor 9 and Honor 8

Price: $400 | Review

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018


  • Competitive price
  • Good-looking design, solid build quality
  • Fast and responsive fingerprint reader
  • Excellent battery life


  • Interface feels a bit strange and takes some getting used to

The Honor brand is new to the U.S. market, but after the successful and affordable Honor 5X, some phone enthusiasts have already set a curious eye on it.

The new Honor 8 is the brand’s new and more refined phone, and the latest one to join the “$400 flagship” battle arena. And it does so with a heavy bang: an extremely stylish phone made out of glass and with an innovative dual rear-cam system that allows creating a fake bokeh-like effect, the Honor 8 is a compact 5.2″ phone with the fast, but not fastest Kirin 950 system chip.

If you want something super compact:

Apple iPhone SE

Price: $350 for 32 GB | $450 for 128 GB

Apple iPhone SE


  • Design feels dated, at least – not exciting
  • Loudspeaker lacks depth

Big phones are just not everyone’s cup of tea (at least not yet), and that’s why there is still a market for extremely compact devices that you can easily use with a single hand. 

The iPhone SE is one of the best such phones you can get at the moment: in fact, it’s the only phone of such small sizes. It stands out not just with its size: even among Android compacts, it offers the fastest performance with a great and consistently reliable 12-megapixel camera that can capture 4K video and supports the fun Live Photos.

On top of that, the small iPhone SE features better battery life than even the iPhone 6s and 6: its smaller screen size and newer silicon allow for more effective use of battery. Add to that the affordable (at least in the US) price, and you have quite the appealing small phone.

Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact

Price: $540 for 32GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018


  • Very compact for the screen size
  • Screen has high brightness
  • Very good camera
  • Good battery life


  • Questionable, all-plastic design
  • A bit too thick

The most notable alternative to the iPhone SE in the compact phone market is the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact.

The phone features a 4.6-inch display in a very compact body (but it’s not an edge-to-edge screen). 

For those on a budget:

Price: $240 for 32GB storage, 3GB RAM ; $300 for 64GB storage, 4GB RAM

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

  • Very affordable price
  • Clean and fast build of Android
  • Very good performance
  • Fast and decent camera
  • Good battery life


  • Plastic design elements are a bit on the cheap side

The new Moto G5S Plus brings back the Moto G series to where it first started: an amazing value-for-the-money proposition. At under $300, this phone is great value: it ships with a clean and well-performing version of Android, it’s got very good performance, a decent camera and above average battery life. The G5S also features a sturdy metal design that feels reassuringly solid.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

Price: €330 for 32GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

The new Galaxy A5 (2017) is more than just the sum of its parts: it’s a beautiful, stylish, compact phone that features water-protection, a rarity in affordable phones of this class. It also just runs well on Samsung’s new TouchWiz interface, it has got a rock solid battery life that could go to as much as two days, and it features cameras that do great in daylight. It’s biggest drawback is the poor video stabilization that makes all of your footage look as if it was recorded during an earthquake, but if you do not care too much about that, the A5 (2017) is a great phone. Remember that the Samsung A series are not officially sold in the United States.

Xiaomi Mi A1

Price: €230 for 64GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018

The Xiaomi Mi A1 is the company’s first Android One phone. That means it is free of clutter, runs fast and will get updates faster than most other Xiaomi phones. Great news!

Also, we love that it has the Snapdragon 625 on board, as the chip is very frugal and allows for some great battery life figures. The dual camera system on the back is also a luxury in this price segment, so we’re glad the A1 has it.

Something exotic:

Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

Price: €500 for 128GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018


  • Crazy screen-to-body ratio
  • Ceramic back, stylish look
  • Fast performance


  • Pricey
  • No bezel design also means it’s easier to crack the screen if you drop the phone
  • Only available in Asia

Xiaomi is a company that has been growing quickly in China, but that does not sell its phones in the United States or Europe officially. And that’s a pity.

Its Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 is an actually impressive bezel-less flagship phone that is an evolution of what was the first “bezel-less” phone on the market: the original Mi Mix. But it is much more usable now: it has a narrower aspect ratio that makes the phone more comfortable for single hand use, and it has even less bezel than before. The phone features a well-crafted body and the company’s feature-rich MIUI as well.

Xiaomi Mi 6

Price: €450 for 64GB

Best smartphones you can buy right now: January 2018


  • Affordable price for top-grade hardware
  • Beautiful design
  • Interesting new dual camera


  • Lacks bezel-less design implementation
  • Only available in Asia

The Mi 6 is one of the top offerings by Chinese company Xiaomi. It builds up on the successful formula: top-notch hardware for an affordable price. The Xiaomi Mi 6 is also an improvement over the previously released Mi 5: it features a much more solid design, it’s got a brand new dual-camera system with a secondary telephoto lens, and it’s got a longer battery life. All of that comes at a price of less than $500, which is certainly impressive.

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