The 13 Best Android Phones to Buy in 2018

Not a fan of the iPhone? These Android phones don't disappoint

The Android market is fiercely competitive. With brands like Google, LG, Samsung, HTC, and Motorola all competing for a share of the pie, it’s no wonder that Android fans are every bit as loyal as Apple fanboys, if not more. But there are a lot of differences between all the smartphones. Do you want the best camera? The best sound/audio? The best value? Here, we’ve compiled a list of the best Android smartphones by category to help make your buying decision even easier.

Best Overall: Pixel 2

The Pixel 2 runs on the Android 8 Oreo OS, and will probably be the smoothest phone to do so because the hardware is designed by Google to work with the software. Speaking of running, the Snapdragon 835 processor is more than quick enough for the phone. Google claims you can charge the battery for 15 minutes and get a full 7 hours of charge, which will be clutch when you’re trying to juice up your phone on your Uber ride. There’s a 12.2 MP camera on the back (complete with a software-forward dual pixel function that tries to recreate that multi-lens feature found on the latest iPhones) and an 8 MP camera on the front, so your video calls to be smooth and crisp.

The phone looks pretty slick and has a unibody aluminum design (that doubles as a way to keep dust and water out of the device), and the five-inch AMOLED screen is the perfect balance between “not too big” and "wow, this thing looks good,” with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. There’s a nicely intuitive squeeze function called Active Edge sensors that calls up Google Assistant with the tightening of your hand and there’s even a proprietary Google Security chip built-in with three years of included security updates. The phone comes in 64GB and 128GB models, and it is a proper answer to the huge iPhone announcements of this year.

Best Phablet: Pixel 2 XL

As we mentioned on the standard Pixel writeup, the Pixel XL does share a lot of features with the standard Pixel 2, but it carves its own brilliant space in the market by sheer use of design and space. The XL also runs on Android 8 with all the smoothness you’d expect a device designed by the same company as the software to. It sports an 835 Snapdragon processor, a beautiful 12.2MP back camera and an 8MP front camera – the former with a dual-pixel tech that gives you depth of field flexibility – and the Active Edge sensor functionality that calls up Google Assistant. You can count on the same level of security with the dedicated chip and three-year software security support, and the aluminum unibody design provides that dust and water protection here, too.

But the key difference on this bad boy is the screen size. The XL shows off with a six-inch P-OLED screen and a resolution to match at 2880 x 1440 pixels. That ratio gives a more cinematic aspect approach at 16:1, making it look just a bit slicker. But, they’ve worked this screen into a much smaller bezel edge, which gives the phone a surprisingly different look than the standard Pixel. This is important because if you’re buying a phone, you want it to look premium and exciting, and the XL here turned our head just a bit more than the standard Pixel, so it’s something to consider when purchasing. You can also rely on a 3,520 mAh battery, which gives you about 1,000 mAh more than the standard Pixel. That’s important to power the larger screen, but it does translate to just a bit more battery life on that back end, so it’s another variable to be aware of.

Best New Release: Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

Boasting a beautiful, 6.2-inch Quad HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity display, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is one of the most attractive smartphones ever made. Capturing photos like a pro is now easier than ever, thanks to a rear 12-megapixel camera and dual apertures at F/2.4 and F/1.5, which lets more light in for every image and video and produces excellent nighttime photographic results (there's even optical image stabilization, so a shaky hand won’t result in a shaky video). Plus, viewing images on the edge-to-edge, 2960 x 1440-pixel display is an immersive experience, with incredible, lively colors.

Running the Galaxy S9 is a Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage that's expandable up to 400GB using a microSD card. The addition of an IP68 rating allows the Galaxy S9 Plus to withstand up to five feet of water for a maximum of 30 minutes without damage. The 3,500mAh battery can last 18 hours on video playback, 25 hours of talk time or 15 hours when you're using the Internet over Wi-Fi.

Best Samsung: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

The phone’s centerpiece is its 6.3-inch screen (device dimensions are 6.4 x 2.94 x 0.34 inches) that offers an impressive quad HD super AMOLED resolution of 2960 x 1440 (factoring out to 521 ppi). The phone can give you that size screen on such a small device precisely because the screen runs basically right up to the edge giving you very small bezels. The front camera gives you 8MP of crispness for eye-catching selfies and the 12MP sensor on the back camera is powered by two lenses: a telephoto and a wide angle for dual lens effects. If you’re shooting video, it will let you capture 4K at up to 30 frames per second and the software is designed to stabilize a shaky hand digitally, which is extra important for those long hyper-lapse videos.

The phone’s companion is the S pen, which is sort of like a stylus on steroids. You can use it like a normal stylus with cool software integrations like sketching and smart notes (hence the phone’s name), but it also offers programmable buttons and some hover functionality that gives you some really cool app integrations, as well as a super intuitive smart menu function. As far as the software, it runs the latest Android OS on a super powerful Octa-core processor that combines both quad 2.35 GHz and quad 1.9 GHz models at 64-bit for absurdly quick operation. There’s 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage with expandability up to 256GB via the microSD slot. And with a bigger phone comes a bigger battery, and the 3300 mAh battery is sure to last you through any “ugh, I forgot to charge!” moments.

Take a peek at some of the other best Samsung phones​ you can buy.

Best for Photos: LG V30

Front and center is the V30’s insanely detailed 16MP rear camera (that’s more MP than many standalone digital cameras). The front-facing cam offers 5MP, so it’s no slouch either, but the main camera is going to give you some serious Instagram edge. It obviously shoots in full 4K HD, and they’ve even packed in more than a dozen cinema-quality effects to pump up the backend product. They’ve even put a ton of thought into the audio, as they’ve packed in some pro-quality mics and even a 32-bit digital-to-analog converter that gives you studio quality sound right on the device.

Powering all of this is the V30’s quad 2.45 GHz Snapdragon processor with 4GB of RAM, so there’s plenty of computational headroom. There’s a six-inch, QHD OLED FullVision Display that will basically beg you to use the phone with its 2880 x 1440 pixel resolution. It supports HDR10 technology for optimized image exposure, and you can get the phone in either the 64GB standard edition or the 128GB plus model.

The whole package is 5.97 x 2.97 x 0.29 inches, so it won’t take up a ton of precious pocket or backpack real estate. It’s constructed beautifully with near destruction-proof Anodized Metal sides and a Gorilla Glass 5 front and back. You wake the phone via one button on the back that doubles as your unlock fingerprint sensor. And they’ve even included a pretty unique heat pipe system the collects and funnels high temps away from the processor to help optimize performance further.

Check out our other reviews of the best LG phones​ available on the market today.

Runner-Up, Best Samsung: Samsung Galaxy S8

There’s a new monarch that rules over Android country, and its name is the Samsung Galaxy S8. With a top-tier display, powerful performance and the latest version of Android, it’s the envy of the kingdom.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Samsung Galaxy S8 is its stunning 5.8-inch quad HD screen, which is bezel-less and takes up almost all the room on the front of the phone. You’ll next notice that it’s super speedy, thanks to its octa-core (2.3GHz quad + 1.7GHz quad) 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM. Other big-ticket features include an eight-megapixel front-facing camera for selfies, a 12-megapixel back camera, 4K video recording and a microSD card slot for adding more storage on the fly. The phone comes in the following five colors: midnight black, orchid gray, coral blue, arctic silver and maple gold.

The only potential hang up for the Galaxy S8 is its 3,000 mAh battery, which lasts about a day on a charge. This will work for most people, but if you use your phone heavily throughout the day, it’d be smart to invest in a great portable phone battery charger too.

Best 2017 Phablet: Galaxy S8 Plus

When it comes best Android phablets (the largest phones you can buy), it’s a tossup between the Google Pixel XL and the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. Frankly, we love them both.

As for raw features, the Galaxy S8 Plus isn’t too far from our Best Overall pick, the standard Galaxy S8. This means the S8 Plus offers fast performance with an octa-core 64-bit processor and 4GB of RAM, while also including must-have features such as a front-facing eight-megapixel camera and a 12-megapixel camera on the back.

What sets the S8 Plus apart is its larger screen size and larger battery. The screen is a beautiful 6.2-inch bezel-less wonder with the display taking up most the S8 Plus’s front side. As for the battery, it offers 3,500mAh of power, which will last most people more than a day on a single charge. And if for some reason it doesn’t, this phone has fast wireless charging.

Best 2016 Release: Samsung Galaxy S7 (Unlocked)

Launched in early 2016, the Samsung Galaxy S7 is the the crème de la crème of Android smartphones. It is the primary competitor of Apple’s latest iPhone, the 6S, and if budget is not an issue, it is the best Android smartphone you can find.

The S7’s major selling points have nothing to do with individual components or features—like a high-megapixel camera or long-lasting battery (though it certainly has both). The S7 is more an exercise in balance. It’s a jack of all trades, capable of delivering performance, reliability and longevity on par with that of the iPhone. In short, it packs a whole lot of tech into a super sleek, super slim package. The 3000 mAh battery allows up to nine hours of continuous use; the 12-megapixel main camera promises solid image resolution; and the 2.2 GHz Snapdragon 820 CPU provides a solid foundation for gaming, browsing, sharing, texting, listening and every other smartphone activity. It also features a super sharp 5.1-inch AMOLED screen, a water-repellent coating and a MicroSD slot. There’s no standout feature with the S7, but you’re even harder pressed to find a drawback. This phone on is an international version and will work with T-Mobile and AT&T. Verizon customers can find the phone here.

Best Battery and Value: Moto Z Play

Want a phone that can hold a charge for most of the work week? Well lucky for you, the Moto Z Play has arrived, with a fast-charging 3,510mAh battery in tow. The phone lasts over 4 days on normal usage, and can be recharged via the USB-C connector in less than an hour.

In addition to the massive battery, this is the mid-range entry in Motorola’s customizable Moto Z series. Like its cousins, the Moto Z Play can be equipped with any number of snap-on customizations that do everything from boost sound quality to add 10x optical zoom.

But even if you eschew the accessories, the Z Play boasts an excellent build for the price point. It has a large 5.5-inch display with a serviceable 403 pixel density and HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. The 2GHZ octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor and 3GB RAM deliver an enjoyable browsing experience, while the 32GB storage can be supplemented by a microSD slot.

Best for Gaming: Razer

Unveiled as the best gaming phone ever made, the Razer phone is everything Android gaming fans wanted, but never knew they could have. As the first Android smartphone with UltraMotion technology, the phone has a 120Hz refresh rate on the Quad HD 5.7-inch (1440 x 2560) display. Powered by a Snapdragon 835 processor and a mind-boggling 8GB of RAM, the Razer is optimized to perform superbly.

Fortunately, there’s more than just under-the-hood performance to brag about as a 4,000mAh battery helps the phone last morning till night. In addition, a 12-megapixel camera offers superb photography for when you finally look up from the display and see the world around you. The Razer's audio shines using Dolby ATMOS technology, which offers a cinematic-like experience whether you’re playing Candy Crunch or battling for the Need for Speed racing crown.

Best Budget: Motorola Moto G4 (Unlocked)

There’s value, and then there’s budget. What’s the difference? Well, value implies the best bang for your buck, while budget suggests price is the overriding factor in the purchase decision. If you find yourself in the latter camp, the Motorola Moto G4 is the smartphone for you. This is a bare bones mobile device for people who want a smartphone but are limited by a sub-$300 budget. Its specs are middling: Snapdragon 617 processor (1.5 GHz); 5.5-inch, 1,280 x 720 display; 3000 mAh display; 2 GB RAM; 16 GB of storage space (expandable up to 32 or 64 GB. The 13-megapixel camera is a step up from its predecessors, and is actually pretty decent for the price poin. What’s important here is the price. For its cost, there really isn’t much competition.

Check out our other reviews of the best Motorola phones  available on the market today.

Runner-Up, Best for Photos: LG G5 (Unlocked)

The LG G5 is unique among competitors in that it features a semi-modular build. This allows you to slide out the bottom of the device and switch in various accessories and components. The most compelling of these modules is the battery, a factor which may intrigue smartphone users who are tired of their batteries croaking before their phones. You can also add USB accessories like a camera grip or digital-to-analog converter. The modular capabilities are somewhat limited, so don’t expect your smartphone experience to be completely revolutionized. However, this very feature allows for something quite unexpected: an awesome, highly versatile camera. It’s actually two cameras in one: The main, rear camera features both a 16-megapixel sensor with a 78-degree lens and an eight-megapixel sensor with a 135-degree, wide-angle lens. Even the front-facing camera is above average at eight megapixels. Add in the camera grip enabled by the modular design and you have a fairly novel camera experience for the world of smartphones.

Best Audio/Sound: HTC 10 (Unlocked)

The HTC 10 could compete with the likes of all the major Android flagship phones—the Galaxy S7, Nexus 6P, G5—but it has one standout feature that gives it an edge when it comes to audio and sound quality. Unlike pretty much every other device on the market, the HTC 10 features a front-facing tweeter and a subwoofer that doubles as the speakerphone along the base of the phone. This allows the phone to blast sound for a whole audience—and at a decent quality that’s not too shabby in the bass department. It’s the first Android phone to officially support Apple AirPlay, the WiFi protocol used by most wireless speakers. But it’s not just a portable speaker; the HTC 10 features fast performance and a solid design, to boot. With the Snapdragon 810 processor at 2.2 GHz, 5.2-inch display and 3,000 mAh battery capable of lasting up to seven hours, it’s every bit as good as its competitors in most areas. The 12- and five-megapixel rear and front-facing cameras are nothing to write home about, but it’s also nothing to complain about.

Check out our guide to the best HTC phones you can buy today. 


At Lifewire, our Expert writers are committed to researching and writing thoughtful and editorially independent reviews of the best products for your life and your family. If you like what we do, you can support us through our chosen links, which earn us a commission. Learn more about our review process.