Best Android phones 2018: From flagship killers to brilliant budget Android smartphones

Android is the world’s most popular smartphone platform. If you’re not shackled to an iPhone – or one of the few still using a BlackBerry device – it’s the obvious choice.

And the range of Android phones out there is enormous. That means you’re sure to find something to suit you perfectly – as long as you know what you’re looking for.

Here’s our buying guide to Android phones, with advice on choosing the perfect handset for you and our pick of the absolute best Android smartphones out there in 2018.

READ NEXT: The best smartphones in 2018

How to buy the right Android phone for you

When it comes to picking a new smartphone, there’s a multitude of features to consider. While aesthetics are important, you should certainly pay attention to features and performance. Most flagship phones (which tend to cost upwards of £600) will be more than satisfactory in all areas, but cheaper devices may come with various compromises. You can boil the key considerations down to five key questions.

What’s the best smartphone display for me?

A high-resolution display is nice, but on a device this size you probably won’t notice any difference between a 1080p screen or a 1440p one – and 4K is completely pointless. What’s much more important is contrast and colour reproduction. 

AMOLED displays always look fantastic, with perfect contrast and excellent sRGB coverage. Budget phones tend to opt for standard IPS LCD screens, usually at around 1080p or 720p, but that’s still fine if you don’t plan to do a lot of photo editing or movie watching on your device.

READ NEXT: The best budget phones out there right now

How much storage do I need?

You’ll need space to store your apps, and you might want to keep photos and music on the device too. That’s less of an issue than it used to be, though, as apps like  Google Photos and Google Music mean your personal media can live in the cloud. Internal storage sizes tend to start at the 32GB mark on flagships and around 16GB on budget devices; many handsets let you use a microSD card to cheaply expand this.

What’s the best version of Android?

These phones are all Android devices, but they can look and feel quite different. Some manufacturers –  notably Huawei, LG and Samsung – put their own customised “skin” on top of the OS, while the likes of Google and OnePlus use stock Android to deliver a clean and crisp experience for its users. They’ll all run the same apps though, so it’s mostly a case of personal preference.

What’s the best smartphone camera?

A decent camera is a great feature – it means you can always capture the moment without having carry around a dedicated camera, and share your snaps in a few taps. Most flagships have excellent built-in cameras, but this certainly isn’t something you can take for granted in a mid-range or budget phone. If photo quality matters to you, make sure you investigate the camera before investing.

What is the best smartphone for battery life?

Smartphone battery life has improved over the years, but we’re still living in a world where a charge may only just get you through the day. Bigger phones tend to have better longevity, though – since they can pack in bigger batteries – and some budget phones also have impressive stamina for their size and price. Do your research and, as a general rule, go for the highest-capacity battery you can find.

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The best Android phones you can buy in 2018

1. Google Pixel 2: Hands down the best phone camera

Price: £629 | Buy it now from Carphone Warehouse

Google’s own-brand Android smartphone – now in its second generation – is a great showcase for the platform. In most regards it’s on par with other companies’ flagships; what sets it apart is the camera, which is simply in a class of its own. Although it has just a single lens, it’s capable of capturing absolutely stunning photos that put other cameras to shame.

You can also opt for the larger (though more expensive) Pixel 2 XL which comes with the same fantastic camera and a 2,560 x 1,440-pixel screen.

Read our full review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 2.45GHz Snapdragon 835; Screen: 5in 1,920 x 1,080; Camera: 12.2 megapixel; Storage: 64/128GB; Operating system: Android 8

2. Samsung Galaxy S8: The near-perfect all-rounder

Price: £679 | Buy it now from the Smartphone Company

The Galaxy S8 is, hands down, the best high-end smartphone on the market today. It looks gorgeous, with its curved screen, huge display and sumptuous glass back – and while the camera isn’t quite a match for the Pixel 2’s, it’s still a superb snapper, capable of taking sharp, vibrant photos in all conditions. As we’ve come to expect from Samsung, the Galaxy S8 also boasts a brilliant, high-resolution display with perfect contrast and dazzling colour accuracy, so it’s a joy to use whatever you’re doing.

Read our full review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 2.3GHz Samsung Exynos 8895; Screen: 5.8in 2,560 x 1,440; Camera: 12 megapixel; Storage: 64GB; Operating system: Android 7

3. OnePlus 5T: Best mid-price Android phone

Price: £449 | Buy it now from Laptops Direct

OnePlus’ mission is to produce phones that rival the best on the market, at significantly lower prices. The OnePlus 5T undeniably hits that goal: it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s  incredibly slick for the price, with a gorgeous 6in edge-to-edge AMOLED display, the latest Snapdragon 835 processor and a solid dual-camera setup for impressive low-light photography.

Read our full review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 2.45GHz Snapdragon 835; Screen: 6in 2,160 x 1,080; Camera: 20 megapixel, 16 megapixel; Storage: 64/128GB; Operating system: Android 7.1

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4. Xperia XZ1 Compact: Ideal for fans of smaller screens

Price: £500 | Buy it now from The Smartphone Company

Smartphones seem to be getting bigger and bigger; if you’re not a fan of that trend, Sony’s 4.6in Xperia XZ1 Compact is perfect for you. It’s loaded with all the same flagship features and specs as the larger Xperia XZ1, but in a more pocket-friendly format. For anyone seeking the undiluted Android experience in a smaller frame, this is the one to go for.

Read our full review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 2.45GHz Snapdragon 835; Screen: 4.6in 1,280 x 720; Camera: 19 megapixel; Storage: 32GB; Operating system: Android 8

5. Samsung Galaxy J5: The best budget smartphone

Price: £240 | Buy it now from The Smartphone Company

Compared to high-end phones like the Pixel 2 and Samsung’s own Galaxy S8, the J5 is terrifically affordable. Nothing about it feels cheap, though: it offers a monstrous battery life, a dazzling Super AMOLED display and performance that’s on par with far pricier models. It’s proof that you don’t have to spend monstrous amounts of money to get a decent smartphone.

Read our full review for more details

Key specs – Processor: 1.6GHz Exynos 7870; Screen: 5.2in 1,280 x 720; Camera: 13 megapixel; Storage: 16GB; Operating system: Android 7

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