CES and MWC have passed with new phones now arriving in the hands of 2018 buyers. There is likely to be more new phones announced in the coming months, but it’s time to take a look at the best available right now.
I struggled mightily with which of the top four to put in the number one spot, but gave the nod to a phone that has it all and doesn’t compromise by leaving out a single feature. I still often find my main SIM in the number two phone, but couldn’t justify making any other number one selection at this time.
1. SAMSUNG GALAXY S9/S9 PLUS
Samsung recently announced the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus with devices arriving in the hands of buyers this week. It’s an evolution in the Galaxy S line, but one that leads as close to perfection as you can expect for a smartphone today.
CNET: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review (8.8/10)
Samsung’s Infinity Display continues to take the top spot with every new release, trumping the Apple iPhone X that lived in that spot for a few months. There is 6GB of RAM, the fastest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 mobile processor, a rear dual aperture camera, another one with super slow motion support (S9 Plus only), the ability to add inexpensive microSD cards, improved Bixby assitant and a hardware button dedicated to its use, Samsung Pay payment technology, wireless and fast charging, IP68 dust and water resistance, a USB Type-C standard port, and traditional 3.5mm headset jack. It also launches with Android 8.0 Oreo. There is nothing missing from the Galaxy S9 Plus and it deserves the top spot.
There are a few experiences in my usage that convinced me to place the S9 Plus above the iPhone X, including the RF performance of the S9 Plus. It holds a connection longer, with faster speeds, than the iPhone X on T-Mobile in the same area. The S9 Plus also has a newer Qualcomm modem than the iPhone X and also supports T-Mobile’s 600 MHz spectrum. For work, it is tough to beat the Galaxy S9 Plus.
The Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are available now at prices starting at $720 (S9) and $840 (S9 Plus). T-Mobile and Samsung have the best prices with other carriers adding additional premiums on top of the MSRP. If you buy an unlocked one from Samsung it will not contain carrier bloatware and is priced lower than most US carriers too. Compared to the $1,000+ iPhone X, the S9 and S9 Plus are reasonably priced.
I awarded the S9 Plus a 9.7/10 rating in my full review, but could almost be convinced it is 9.9. Jason Cipriani is evaluating the slightly smaller Galaxy S9 so we should see his review on ZDNet soon too.
2. APPLE IPHONE X
The Apple iPhone X is now in the hands of buyers and available in stores. It is the highest price mass market phone to launch with a starting price of $999 for 64GB and $1,149 for 256GB, but it seems the majority of people are buying it on a payment plan so that the cost is spread out over time and not as shocking as a lump sum price.
CNET: iPhone X review (8.9/10)
The iPhone X is powered by the new A11 bionic chip and M11 motion coprocessor so it flies with iOS 11. It has an IP67 dust and water resistant rating. Glass is now used on the back to support wireless charging. The front facing camera is 7 megapixels and labeled TrueDepth so you can take portrait selfies.
The iPhone X is the most advanced iPhone to date and offers some new experiences with the front display. This includes extensive gesture support and new ways to access functions on the iPhone. It offers a big screen experience in a rather compact package when compared to other large screen smartphones.
3. SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 8
The Galaxy Note 8 was in the top spot for a couple of months because it was the most advanced smartphone on the market and it arguably could still be placed in that top spot. The Galaxy S9 Plus offers a few improvements, but no S Pen, and the iPhone X is also a very compelling smartphone.
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