The past year was an important one for smartphone makers. With the handset market saturated with devices from manufacturers around the world, the major smartphone companies had to step up to prove their gadgets were worth the investment.
That included rolling out improved designs, better cameras, and boatloads of performance. These five phones did all of that and more. These are the best smartphones of 2018.
Apple iPhone XR
All the power of the iPhone XS for less
Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone XR gives you practically everything offered in the company’s XS and XS Max without the price tag. The XR features the same processor as the XS and XS Max, the same wide-angle lens rear camera, Apple’s Face ID facial recognition technology and, to top it off, is available in an array of color options.
The key differences between the XR and the XS and XS Max are the fact that the XR uses an LCD display, rather than the more vibrant OLED screens found on the XS and XS Max, and that the XR lacks a telephoto lens. That lens affords the XS and XS Max a 2X optical zoom, which ensures your photo doesn’t turn out pixelated and blurry when you zoom in on a subject.
Still, with a starting price of $749, the XR significantly undercuts the base XS and XS Max, which start at $999 and $1,099, respectively. The XR is easily the best iPhone for the money.
Google Pixel 3
Price: Pixel 3: $799; Pixel 3 XL $899
Takes incredible low-light photos
Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are the ultimate Android smartphones. Sure, there are other Android phones on this list, but the Pixel 3 is exactly what Google believes a smartphone should be. And a whole heck of a lot of that includes the company’s Google Assistant. The AI-powered voice assistant is spread across the Pixel 3, which makes for a more convenient experience for you, and gives Google access to information about how people are using the software, ensuring it improves over time.
The 5.5-inch Pixel 3 is a relatively plain-looking device with its rectangular body and display, while the 6.3-inch Pixel 3 XL features a more modern look complete with a notch at the top of the screen that houses the phone’s front cameras. That larger display will cost you, though. The base Pixel 3 costs $799, while the XL comes in at $899.
Outside of their sizes, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are virtually identical. And that includes their spectacular cameras. At launch the Pixel 3’s single-lens rear camera was already on a par with the iPhone’s camera. But when Google released its Night Sight software upgrade for the Pixel 3, the camera leapfrogged every other smartphone on the market. Night Sight can take photos in low-light settings that look so good, it’s almost as if they were shot during the day. It’s an incredible feat that competitors are surely working to counter at this very moment.
Apple iPhone XS Max