SLH Tech Editor –
So maybe you’re coming up on the end of that service plan, or maybe you’re just not happy with your current cell and have been eyeing the newer models with more than a little fomo.
The first thing you should realize is that there is no such thing as THE best phone. Everyone has different needs, price points and brand loyalties. Ultimately no list (including our own here) is going to be the definitive guide for everyone. Our editors have pulled together our favorite new phone choices, based on three basic guidelines:
1 – Operating System – This one can be a deal breaker. Android or iOS? Android constitutes the majority of phone OS in the market today, so if you’re looking for device choices, it’s the way to go. Apple’s iOS on the other hand, has been and still is the darling of developers. Despite the lower market share, iOS still win hands down with the best choices of apps out there. Looking to switch systems? For awhile it was difficult to do, but with consumers demanding more choice, it’s now much easier to move data and contacts. One exception to be aware of is paid apps. While you can move free and paid apps from device to device within the same OS, if you are changing systems you cannot take paid for apps with you.
2 – Contract or Unlocked? – Unlocking phones used to be considered a big no-no but times have changed. The biggest advantage is price. Unlocked phones are almost always less expensive and because you are not locked into a deal you can shop around at any time for a new device or a better plan. Some good unlimited plans out there include Sprint, AT&T Prepaid, Consumer Cellular and Boost Mobile, just to name a few. The details of these plans do require research to ensure you know exactly what you are getting, and you don’t get the advantages that the long term contracts offer, so these are definitely things to consider before making that choice.
3 – Performance – As we said before, this is where the decision becomes truly personal. Love taking high quality pictures? Are you an audiophile? Big time gamer? Hate small screens? Okay with a solid performer as long as you get a good price? Run that list through your head as you consider your next purchase.
After poling the SLH crew over here, these were our top 5 based on what we most looked for in a great phone…
Best Value – OnePlus 6: With a starting price around $529, this phone is amazing value for the quality you get. Glass-encased, thin and light it comes packed with a decent amount of storage and RAM – 64GB and 6GB respectively on the base model. It’s fast processor keeps pace with the more expensive models out there and unlike the previous aluminum back of previous models, the 6 comes with Corning Gorilla Glass 5 on both the back and display. Some downsides of this less expensive model is it lacks expandable storage, wireless charging and water resistance, however for great everyday use you cannot beat the price point.
Shop This Tech : OnePlus 6 $529
Best Camera – Google Pixel 2: While we wait in anticipation for the Pixel 3 (rumored to be out this October) our love of the Pixel 2 camera continues unabated. In a word, it’s superb and surpasses the coveted iPhone cameras with its amazing low-light shooting. With a starter price of $649, it doesn’t have wireless charging (bummer) but its water-resistance allows you to feel confident on that next outdoor adventure without fear of the unexpected downpour or random unfortunate drop in the pool.
Shop This Tech : Google Pixel 2 $649
Best Big Screen – Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Tired of trying to squint your way through Fortnite? Looking to watch a movie on a long road trip? Or maybe you’re on a flight adding those last points to your business prezo but the fellow in front of you just cranked back their seat all the way? This is the phone for you, my friends. With a 6.3”, edge-to-edge screen, the Note 8 offers the largest screen and at a higher resolution than the iPhone X. It has plenty of power to handle your gaming and movie downloading, plus expandable memory options. With the addition of the S Pen, this phone is incredibly business-friendly and might just convince you to leave that tablet at home. Honestly the only thing that might make your eyes water with this phone is the price, at $749.99 for starters, but if you’re looking for great quality, this fellow is worth the price tag.
Shop This Tech : Samsung Galaxy Note 8 $749.99
Best Security – Apple iPhone X: There is no denying this is an amazing phone. Nor can we deny that it comes with an equally impressive price tag at $999.99 for the base model. It’s gorgeous to look at, has an amazing camera, superfast, wireless charging and the impressive iOS 12. But where this really earns its price tag is security. Nothing on the market right now beats the Face ID unlocking system. We put this to the ultimate test by having one of our editor’s give the phone to her twin sister in an effort to see if her sibling could unlock the phone. She could not. Add to that Apple’s approach to “sandboxing” apps (meaning every app running on iPhone runs in its own walled off space, so malware has a very hard time spreading) and its lower market share (studies show less than 3% of hackers target iPhones) and it makes this phone one of the safest out there.
Shop This Tech : Apple iPhone X $999.99
Best Durability – Samsung Galaxy S8 Active: There are several companies who specialize in the niche market of rugged phones. If you’re a contractor, electrician or work in emergency response situations, this is not the review for you. But if you’re an active, on-the-go person who would rather spend more time trail running, mountain biking, free-climbing, etc than wincing every time your phone slips, then we highly recommend the Galaxy S8 Active. With a shatter-resistant screen, military grade body along with water-resistance (up to 5 feet for 30 minutes) and dust resistance to boot, this is an awesome phone. It’s rugged on the outside with all the bells and whistles of a traditional flagship phone on the inside. Great camera, long battery life, fast processing and expandable memory. All that protection doesn’t come cheap, but at $849.99 for the base model, the Galaxy S8 Active is just a bit on the higher end and you get a lot for it.
Shop This Tech : Samsung Galaxy S8 Active $849.99