We all covet those little rectangles in our pockets. Smartphones play a massive part in our day-to-day lives, but buying the perfect smartphone for you can be an arduous task. But don’t fret – we’re here to help you buy the best smartphone that’s perfect for you. Here are the best smartphones you can pick up in 2017.
Now, we’ve painstakingly put every smartphone to the test, with the best coverage in the UK, so we can help you make the buying decision that’s right for you. We update this list regularly – so our best smartphone 2017 roundup is always kept up to date, so be sure to check back often as and when new phones hit the shops.
There’s also a helpful smartphone buying guide on the second page of this article, where you will find all the details you need to know when buying your perfect smartphone. Be it display quality, battery life and performance, we cover all the basics.
But before that, have a read of our definitive list of the top ten smartphones you can buy in 2017.
The best smartphones to buy for just £75 in 2018
1. Samsung Galaxy S8: The definitive Android smartphone
Price when reviewed: £679
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is the best Android phone you can buy right now. Period. For starters – it’s the best-looking phone we’ve ever seen, with those gorgeous curves and that all display front catching gazes. Likewise, camera quality goes near unrivalled, while performance is similarly best in its class. This’ll be a phone that’ll last you for the years to come. Get the S8 if you’re after a proper smartphone investment.
Now, the sticking point lies in the S8’s sky-high asking price. It’s not cheap at £679, and it’s bigger brother is even more expensive – with the S8 Plus setting you back at least £779 for an extra 0.4in of screen real estate, and a slightly bigger battery. Regardless – the regular Galaxy S8 is a sheer marvel of a phone, and rightly earns the crown of best smartphone you can buy in 2018.
Samsung S8 64GB SIM-Free Smartphone
Key specs – Processor: 2.3GHz Samsung Exynos 8895; Screen: 5.8in 2,560 x 1,440; Camera: 12-megapixel; Storage: 64GB; Operating system: Android 7.0
2. OnePlus 5T: The best mid-range option
Price when reviewed: £449
Again, the OnePlus 5T is the definitive flagship killer. Launching just a few months after its non-T branded counterpart, the 5T offers up some much-needed, if subtle, improvements over its predecessor.
In keeping the same cost as the original OnePlus 5, the firm has managed to plonk a 6in edge-to-edge AMOLED screen on the front, just like with Samsung’s Galaxy S8. It still has the most up-to-date Qualcomm processor running things from the inside, the Snapdragon 835, and a new dual-camera with low-light photography at its core.
It’s still a bargain, despite this year’s price bump, and OnePlus has created one of the most well-rounded devices on the market in 2017. It’s as fast as those flagships that’ll cost you twice as much, and its beautiful new look makes it an absolute stunner. Get the OnePlus 5 if you’re a little wary of forking over piles of cash for the latest and greatest. The OnePlus 5 will serve you well for the years to come.
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
3. Google Pixel 2: Pixel perfect
Price when reviewed: £629
Google’s pair of second-generation Pixel phones are both excellent in their own right, but it’s the camera that really sets these Android smartphones apart from the competition. Its 12.2-megapixel sensor on its rear is superior to the camera on the iPhone 8, Samsung Galaxy S8, and last year’s efforts, and it’s capable of taking some truly stunning pictures. It doesn’t have an extra lens like the Note 8 or , but if you’re an avid photography fan, then the Pixel 2 certainly won’t disappoint.
The Pixel 2 is also as fast as every other Snapdragon 835-equipped handset, and has an excellent battery life. The only real sticking point is the price. Starting at £629 for the 64GB variant (with contracts for both starting at around £50 per month, on top of a hefty upfront fee), the Pixel 2 is a very tricky sell, despite its greatness.
And just to be clear: we’re recommending the regular-sized Pixel 2 over its plus-sized XL alternative. Why? Well, the 2XL is stuck with an atrociously bad display when it comes to viewing angles. Tilt the phone a bit to the left or right, and the screen produces this awful blue-tinge, rendering it almost unreadable. The screen also flickers when the auto-brightness mode is engaged which, for a 2018 flagship, is inexcusable.
Buy Google Pixel 2 from Carphone Warehouse
Key specs – Processor: 2.45GHz Snapdragon 835; Screen: 5in 1,920 x 1,080; Camera: 12.2-megapixel; Storage: 64/128GB; Operating system: Android 8.0
4. Apple iPhone 8 Plus: Bigger is better
Price when reviewed: £800
The iPhone 8 and its Plus-sized counterpart are the most expensive iPhones yet, but it’s the Plus that makes this list due to its dual 12-megapixel camera. The normal iPhone 8 doesn’t have a dual sensor, and thus misses out on the Plus’ 2x optical zoom feature. It also has better battery life than its little brother, making it more reliable over the course of the day.
Elsewhere, Apple’s made several improvements to the phone’s speed and overall build quality, but it’s not quite as big a leap forward as you might expect from a next-generation smartphone. The iPhone 8 Plus is still the best iPhone ever made, but iPhone 7 Plus owners should probably hang on to their handsets for a little while longer before they upgrade.
But wait – why not the iPhone X? Well, as much as it probably is the best phone 2017 has to offer, we’re never going to recommend a smartphone at such high a price. After all, this is a helpful buying guide, and I’d never encourage anyone to hand over four figures for the latest smartphone, no matter how great it actually is. To quote or review:
“The iPhone X is many things: it’s Apple’s best ever phone, it has an unbelievably good display, but there’s no way I could recommend it to someone when there’s a phone that’s just as good, if not better in some ways, and will cost you nearly half as much. Sorry Apple, but that’s just the way it is. Enough said.
Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core Apple A11 Bionic; Screen: 5.5in 1,920 x 1,080; Camera: Dual 12-megapixel; Storage: 64GB/256GB; Operating system: iOS 11Smartphone To Rival Apple
5. Moto G4 2016: An excellent budget snapper
Price when reviewed: £169
Step aside, budget smartphones, you’ve just been made obsolete by the brand-new Moto G4 2016. If you thought the third-generation Moto G was a great smartphone, then prepare to get your socks blown off by the Moto G4, which packs in even more power for just £10 more than the original launch price of the third-gen model. It’s truly astonishing what Motorola’s managed to achieve with the G4, with specs rivalling that of several smartphones that are twice as expensive.
With an octa-core 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 chip at its disposal, it’s faster than anything else in its price range, and its 3,000mAh battery also gives it buckets of stamina. Provided you’re not put off by the size, the Moto G4 is an absolute masterpiece and a more-than-worthy upgrade over the third-generation Moto G.
Key specs – Processor: 1.5GHz Snapdragon 617; Screen: 5.5in 1,920 x 1,080; Camera: 13-megapixel; Storage: 16/32GB; Operating system: Android 6.0.1
6. Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact: Size doesn’t matter
Price when reviewed: £500
Sony’s Xperia XZ1 Compact successfully proves that a 4.6in smartphone has some relevance in 2017. With displays getting bigger, phones getting larger and trouser pockets bulging, small-screened phones are likely to be a relic of the past, but not here.
Despite its palm-friendly size, the XZ1 Compact is packed with the same flagship internals as its plus-sized competitors, with a Snapdragon 835 and an excellent 19-megapixel rear camera. Sony certainly didn’t scrimp on performance, and its dinky display is one of the more colour accurate screens we’ve seen so far. For just £500, the XZ1 Compact is generously priced, just don’t use the 3D image scanning feature, it’s naff.
Key specs – Processor: 2.45GHz Snapdragon 835; Screen: 4.6in 1,280 x 720; Camera: 19-megapixel; Storage: 32GB; Operating system: Android 8.0
7. Motorola Moto Z2 Play: The modular wonderphone returns
Price when reviewed: £379
The Moto Z2 Play is an incredible smartphone for £379. It faces strong competition from the slightly more expensive OnePlus 5, but the Moto Z2 Play has a couple of fancy party tricks to make it stand out. Chief among these is its modular design.
Unlike the LG G5, the Moto Z2 Play’s extra attachments can simply snap onto the back of the phone, allowing you to slap on a speaker, optical zoom, battery pack or miniature projector as and when you please. It’s a brilliant bit of design, and the so-called Moto Mods themselves are infinitely superior to those you can buy for the G5.
The Moto Z2 Play’s real boon, however, is its stonking battery life. Lasting almost 20 hours in our continuous video-playback test, this is one of the best battery-life scores I’ve ever seen, even outstripping Samsung’s colossal Note 7 (when it wasn’t exploding). If you want a smartphone that can go the distance without breaking the bank, the Moto Z2 Play is the smartphone for you.
Key specs – Processor: 2.2GHz Snapdragon 626; Screen: 5.5in 1,920 x 1,080; Camera: 12-megapixel; Storage: 64GB; Operating system: Android 7.1.1
8. Meizu Pro 7 Plus: A smartphone beauty
Price when reviewed: £488
Chances are you aren’t too familiar with Meizu, but that’s no excuse to overlook its latest smartphone – the Meizu Pro 7 Plus. Whereas yearly smartphone upgrades don’t tend to bring anything new to the table, the Pro 7 Plus offers up a neat little party trick. You see, the Meizu Pro 7 Plus has two screens: one on the front and a smaller one at the rear, perfect for effortlessly lining up your Instagram-worthy selfie shots. If you’re a frequent snapper, this is the smartphone for you.
But that’s not all the Meizu Pro 7 Plus has going for it. There’s also a pair of 12-megapixel cameras at the back – which work in tandem to create some top-quality shots – powered by a 2.6GHz deca-core MediaTek MT6799 processor, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. Meizu’s latest is just as capable as its flagship alternatives, despite its lower asking price.
The only issue is managing to chase one down in the UK. You won’t find it on Amazon and the high-street retailers such as Carphone Warehouse won’t stock it either. You’ll have to rely on third-party grey import resellers for this one, and the prices can be a little inconsistent. Regardless, the Meizu Pro 7 Plus tends to circle around £488 and at that price, makes it one of the best, and most intriguing, smartphones you can buy in 2018.
9. Samsung Galaxy J5: A flagship beater
Price when reviewed: £240
This year’s Samsung Galaxy J5 is, again, a top-notch budget smartphone. It has a monstrous battery life – better than almost any other – complete with a dazzling Super AMOLED display and performance that’s on par with most other handsets. For a phone that costs just over £200 SIM-free, that is no easy feat. You no longer have to spend monstrous amounts of cash for your frequent smartphone upgrade.
It improves on almost every aspect from the original too, with a much better camera in low-light, a decent performance bump and a design that more than befits its asking price. The only issue is the £90 price hike from last years, but given we’ve seen improvements across the board, that’s an easy price to pay for one of the best smartphones 2018 has to offer.
Key specs – Processor: 1.6GHz Exynos 7870; Screen: 5.2in 1,280 x 720; Camera: 13-megapixel; Storage: 16GB; Operating system: Android 7.0
10. Vodafone Smart Prime 7: Affordable yet elegant
Price when reviewed: £75
Most handsets under £100 are pretty awful, but the £75 Vodafone Smart Prime 7 shows other cut-price smartphones how it’s done. While the second-generation Moto E is still my favourite current sub-£100 smartphone, the Smart Prime 7 comes a very close second. It not only looks great, but its 5in, 1,280 x 720 display is arguably even better than the slightly more upmarket third-gen Moto G. It’s not the fastest smartphone in the world, but it’s still got plenty of oomph for everyday tasks.
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