Samsung is locked in a seemingly never ending battle with tech rivals Apple to produce the best flagship smartphone. Some might argue that they’re winning, if not on every front then at least in terms of value for money. Unlike their Californian rivals, Samsung has flooded the market with a series of Galaxy phone models which span a healthy price range, from the dirty cheap Galaxy J5 to the extra large Galaxy S9 Plus.
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Which one you choose will depend on a range of factors. Budget is probably the primary component when making this decision, but you’ll also want to weigh up things like screen size, image quality, battery life, and camera specs – among other things. You may notice that we have placed the Galaxy S9 lower down on this list than the Galaxy S8. This is not because it is a worse phone – on the contrary, it is objectively superior – but because it represents poor value for money in comparison to its predecessor.
Have a read of our rundown so that you can make the most informed choice when purchasing your next Samsung smartphone. Along with each phone summary, you’ll also find links to the full reviews, should you wish to learn about the phone in greater detail.
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Best Samsung smartphone 2018
1. Samsung Galaxy S8
Price: £438 | Buy now from Amazon
The superb Galaxy S8 pips its S9 siblings to the post and for one reason: it’s much, much better value for money. The Galaxy S9 is inarguably the better phone, the best in 2018 in fact, but the improvements are too incremental to recommend it over the Galaxy S8 when it costs at least £300 more. In our benchmark tests the Galaxy S8 actually out-performed the S9 in battery life, squeezing out 16 hours of video playback – 2.5 hours longer than the S9. Its hardware, such as the Exynos processor and the front and rear cameras, aren’t as good as the S9 – but they certainly aren’t bad. The 12-megapixel rear camera is outstanding, and the same goes for the sumptuous 1,440 x 2,560 resolution 5.8in display.
Samsung Galaxy S8: Who is it for?
Anyone who wants a cutting-edge smartphone without cutting into their savings. The Samsung Galaxy S8 was the peak of smartphone technology back in 2017, but it’s still an excellent smartphone in 2018. The Galaxy S8 is still a champion of Android phones, with the specs of a modern flagship at a wallet-pleasing price. One word of warning – the S8 was ranked as the ‘most breakable phone’ ever made, so you’re going to want to get yourself a nice sturdy case.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S8 review for more details
2. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
Price: £870 | Buy now from Amazon
You probably expected this phone to top out the list. Sorry about that, but at just under £900 it’s hard to recommend this phone as a best buy, no matter how good it is. And rest assured, it is good. In our full review, we easily called it “the best smartphone that has ever been made”. It is certainly the one to beat; the f/1.5 wide-angle camera with 2X zoom lens is a trailblazer for low light smartphone photography, while its upgraded Exynos 9810 processor makes it the fastest Android handset we’ve seen thus far. The exterior design hasn’t changed much from last year’s, but there’s no need to meddle with perfection.
Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus: Who is it for?
If you want the very best smartphone there is, then this is your go to handset in 2018. It’s easy to make the argument that the S9 is too expensive, and there’s also not enough separating the S9 Plus from the S9 to warrant an extra £130. 0.4in of screen increase, an extra rear camera, double the storage – that about covers it. But, again, if you want the best: this is it.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review for more details
3. Samsung Galaxy S9
Price: £740 | Buy now from Amazon
Compared to the Galaxy S9 Plus, the Galaxy S9 almost looks like good value. No phone really is worth this much though, and as such we won’t be recommending it as a top pick until it is reduced to a more reasonable price. In terms of improvements over last year’s model, the S9 has a better camera and faster processor. It’s a speed demon, but so is the S9 Plus, while the latter also has dual rear cameras which make for more impressive, detail-rich photographs. With its 5.8in Super AMOLED screen, gorgeous design, and formidable graphics and CPU performance, it’s hard not to love this phone. If only its price loved us back.
Samsung Galaxy S9: Who is it for?
The Galaxy S9 is for you if you’re searching for 2018’s premier Android phone, and you want it right now. Wait a while, though, and you may be able to pick up this exceptional handset for considerably less.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 review for more details
4. Samsung Galaxy J5
Price: £143 | Buy now from Amazon
In 2018, one of 2017’s finest budget smartphones still reigns supreme. If ever there was an argument for the redundancy of the flagship smartphone, the Galaxy J5 is it. It looks the part and performs the part, too, with outstanding speeds and a battery life that beats the S8 by two hours in our video playback benchmark tests. It even stands up to the competition with its 13-megapixel f/1.7 aperture camera, an area in which many budget and mid-range phones fall down. The amount of tech Samsung managed to cram into this handset is mind-boggling, especially given its amazingly low price tag. At the time of release it was £240 – good value, though almost a hundred more than its predecessor – but this has since dropped to a meagre £150.
Samsung Galaxy J5: Who is it for?
Anyone on a budget – or, frankly, anyone at all. Aside from the camera quality and the processor, the Galaxy J5 looks and behaves like a phone you’ve paid double, or even three, times as much for. The price gap between the J5 and the Galaxy S8 – also released in 2017 – is massive and, for most people, the J5 should meet your requirements just fine.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 review for more details
5. Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Price: £575 | Buy now from Amazon
Our primary complaint – there were very few – about the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was its whopping £870 price tag. Since the phone’s 2017 release things have cooled off a little, however, and you can now buy a Note 8 for £300 less. With a practically bezel-free 6.3in Super AMOLED screen, triple camera, and superb CPU and graphics performance, it’s a beautiful yet formidable monolith of a handset. The only real let down is the battery life, which is considerably less than the Galaxy S8 Plus. However, its top of the line internal components, impressive camera setup, and neat S Pen features make it one of 2018’s top flagship phones.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Who is it for?
People who want big, beautiful, bezel-less screens, high-quality photographs and stunning screen resolution. Its beastly Octa-core 2.3GHz Exynos 889 processor, combined with its screen size and image quality, make it the ultimate handset for Android gamers too.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review for more details
Want some alternative Android options?
Although we have selected a range of Samsung phones to suit all budgets, it could be that none of them quite suit you. Perhaps you have a grudge against Samsung because it sponsors a rival football team. In any case, we feel obliged to present you with some alternative options for a great smartphone in 2018. Firstly, there’s our list of the best budget handsets in 2018 – like the J5, many of them are simply outdated models that used to cost a lot more.
Nokia is another solid contender for your hard earned cash in 2018. It may not be as big a name as it once was, but it’s still cranking out some top-notch smartphones. Most recently there’s the OnePlus 6, too; a solid flagship handset that’s far cheaper than its iPhone, Samsung, and Huawei rivals. Speaking of Huawei, we’d also recommend taking a look at our review of their latest premier model, the P20 Pro – with triple camera action, it’s a tough one to beat. Or perhaps you’re waiting it out to see what Samsung does next, in which case you should read the Galaxy Note 9 preview over on our sister website, Alphr.
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