The 9 Best Samsung Phones to Buy in 2018

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S9

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is the flagship competitor to the iPhone and is the biggest new release for Samsung’s smartphone lineup. Of its differences, the Samsung Galaxy S9 outdoes the iPhone 8 with a bigger 5.8-inch screen and quad HD+ resolution (2960 x 1440) display, 3000 mAh battery, 4GB of RAM, eight-core processor and expandable memory.

Under the hood, the Samsung Galaxy S9 uses Qualcomm’s latest processor combing a quad 2.8GHz and 1.7GHz speed with 4GB (S9) or 6GB (S9 Plus) of RAM and a new LTE modem for faster gigabit downloads, setting a standard for the market. Its speakers use surround sound with Dolby Atmos technology for a high-quality audio feedback. The S9’s cameras have a 12MP AF sensor rear camera with dual aperture mode and a front 8MP AF sensor camera, giving it a slightly better improvement from its previous S8 model. Colors come in midnight black, lilac purple, and coral blue, as well as an upgraded S9 Plus model.

 

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S8

The Galaxy S8 is a sleek curved glass aluminum shelled 64GB memory smartphone with a huge 5.8-inch screen and a quad HD+ super AMOLED display boasting a 2960 x 1440 resolution. The super smartphone has three biometric lock types that allow you to unlock it via fingerprint sensor, facial recognition or through its eye iris scanner, making it one of the most high-tech smartphones on the list.

Unique to the Samsung Galaxy S8 is its compatibility with over 20 audio formats (from high-quality FLAC files to MP3), its dual audio for Bluetooth devices (you can stream to two speakers simultaneously) and its AOD (always on display), so you can pin relevant widgets such as clocks, images and calendars to your lock screen. Its 3000mAh battery may not be its high point (20 hours of talk time, 16 hours of video playback and 44 hours of music listening), but it still shines with 4GB RAM data and an eight-core CPU processor that combines 2.3GHz quad with a 1.7GHz quad for one of the fastest setups for smartphones available. Colors come in midnight black, orchid gray, coral blue and arctic silver, to name a few.

 

Best Budget: Samsung Galaxy J3

Samsung may be best known for its flagship models, but the company also makes some great budget devices like the Galaxy J3. Primarily for use on AT&T, this is a solid performer with all the basics and more. It isn’t a flashy device, but for the price, you don’t expect it to be. What you can expect is a convenient device that’s comfortable to hold, with enough power to get you through your day.  

The five-inch AMOLED display has 720p resolution, perfectly suitable for gaming, watching YouTube videos, streaming TV shows, and reading text. Ultimately, it’s the lower resolution display that actually helps the J3 achieve up to 12 hours of talk time on a single charge. Beneath the display is Samsung’s traditional physical home button and the capacitive buttons are on either side.

Entry-level performance is to be expected and that’s what you get. The device handles multitasking without any stuttering, and its five-megapixel camera is about what you’d expect from a budget device. The photo quality definitely leaves something to be desired, but that’s par for the course in this price range.

Check out our guide to the best budget smartphones you can buy today. 

Best Mid-Range: Samsung Galaxy A8

Sitting somewhere between budget and flagship is Samsung’s Galaxy A8. It’s likely more appropriate to call the A8 an “upper mid-range” smartphone, and its glass and metal body is easily mistaken for a more expensive device. The back is even curved ever so slightly to help provide a more comfortable grip. The edge-to-edge 5.6-inch Super AMOLED Infinity display looks beautiful, with sharp colors and deep contrast. A 16-megapixel camera takes excellent photos in good lighting (and nighttime shots remind you this is still a mid-range device).

Whereas the exterior of the phone screams premium, the specs bring us back to earth. There’s no dedicated button for Bixby like the Galaxy S7 and other more premium models. An Exynos 7885 octa-core processor pairs with 4GB of RAM to deliver performance that is good but not up to flagship standards. The A8 won’t stutter with multiple applications running and games run smoothly, but there’s a slight lag before each app opens.  Finally, its IP68 certification means the device is water resistant up to 30 minutes, even under six feet of water.

Best Value: Samsung Galaxy S7

When it was first released, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 was a flagship device full of bells and whistles. The newer models are even more advanced, but the S7 shows no signs of aging even at two years old. At 5.1 inches, its 2560 x 1440 resolution display is small compared to today’s smartphones, but the intersection of Super AMOLED and QHD resolution gives you sharp images with vibrant colors. 

Inside the device is a Snapdragon 820 processor that’s tied to 4GB of RAM. That was once Qualcomm’s premier processor and its performance backed it up. Apps open almost instantly while even the most demanding mobile games don’t skip a beat. The rear of the device has a 12-megapixel DualPixel camera that captures outstanding shots. And when you consider the fast wireless charging, 32GB of built-in storage, and water-resistant frame, this device still holds its own. All totaled, it’s a great value.  

Best for Durability: Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

What happens when you combine the flagship Galaxy S8 with a more durable design? You get the Galaxy S8 Active, a device that can stand up to rigorous use. This phone features a top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835 processor and 4GB of RAM, plus 64GB of internal storage and a microSD slot for expandable memory.

The Active also has a shatter-resistant screen that can handle drops up to five feet and a high-strength aluminum frame that’s military-grade rated. An IP68 rating adds water resistance up to five feet of water for up to 30 minutes. Dust and sand don’t stand a chance either. On top of its durability, this phone also has a 4000mAh battery for all-day use and wireless charging capabilities. Throw in the same gorgeous display and cameras as the traditional Galaxy S8 and this is an easy winner for durability.

Best Basic: Samsung Galaxy J2 Pro

If all you need is the bare minimum in a smartphone, look to the Samsung Galaxy J2 Pro. This budget-friendly smartphone has a five-inch Super AMOLED display. For the price, the 960 x 540 resolution display still offers accurate and sharp colors, well within expectations for this price bracket. The Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor has plenty of power for day-to-day app use, but will probably struggle to keep up with any kind of complex gaming or multitasking.

The eight-megapixel rear camera is another budget feature — none of Samsung’s vaunted AI from its flagship models is included, meaning you’ll have to deal with lower-quality photos and limited editing options on the phone itself. A five-megapixel camera sits above the display for selfie shots and video calling. Luckily, you do get a sizable 2660 mAh battery for all-day use. Samsung even boasts that the battery is good enough for up to 60 straight hours of music playback. 

Want to take a look at some other options? See our guide to the best basic cell phones.

Best Display: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

 

If you’re looking for the best display Samsung has to offer, the easy answer is the Galaxy Note 9. To be clear, this device is far more than its display — it’s actually one of the best devices Samsung has ever produced. The highlight is its 6.4-inch Super AMOLED screen that produces 2960 x 1440 resolution with some of the most accurate colors for any flagship device. Plus, that extra space gives you more than enough room to run two applications at once. The Note 9 also comes with the S Pen, Samsung’s integrated stylus, and it has never been more useful. Capable of acting as a shutter button for the 12-megapixel rear camera, the S Pen can be used to write and draw on the screen. 

Keeping all of this activity powered is a massive 4000mAh battery which is likely to last all day for most users. Stereo speakers make watching video on the large display absolutely awesome. Last but not least is an IP68 rating for water and dust resistance. 

Runner-Up, Best Display: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Like a mini-movie theater in the palm of your hands, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 provides one of the biggest and most gorgeous screen displays for a smartphone ever. The huge 6.3-inch curved display is a dual edge super AMOLED quad HD+ (2960 x 1440 pixels) screen.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 — as its name suggests — is perfect for taking notes on, and includes an S Pen stylus used for the phone’s multiple applications such as Samsung Notes and screenwriting. The large smartphone has an accommodating CPU system with a powerful 6GB of RAM and octa-core system (4 x 2.3GHz and 4 x 1.7GHz) for blazing fast speeds when using apps or exploring the Internet. Such a precious instrument is fortified with an IP68-rating for water and dust resistance, so you don’t need to be overly protective. It comes with a 90-day warranty. Colors come in midnight black, deep sea blue, orchid gray and maple gold.

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