Best phones 2018: The 10 top smartphones you can buy

Here at finder, we review all the major phones released in Australia to compare what they have to offer.
Right now, following our comprehensive review process, we've come to the conclusion that the best value phone you can buy is the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. As 2018's new flagship phones begin to hit Australian shelves, read on to find out which other phones are worth your investment.
alex

Meet the author
Alex Kidman is a multi-award-winning consumer technology journalist and the Tech & Telco Editor at finder.com.au. He's been writing about consumer technology topics for more than two decades.

Info last updated 02 November 2018.

Phones added
This comparison was updated 2 November 2018 to add the iPhone XS, Google Pixel 3, Google Pixel 3XL and Huawei Mate 20.

02 November 2018

Phones added
Apple iPhone XS Max, Google Pixel 3, Google Pixel 3XL and Huawei Mate 20 Pro have been added to the top phones list.

05 October 2018

Phones added
This comparison was updated 2 July 2018 to reflect the arrival of the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact and HTC U12+ smartphones.

2 July 2018

Phones added
This comparison was updated on 31 May 2018 to reflect the arrival of the Huawei P20 Pro and OnePlus 6 smartphones.

31 May 2018

View latest updates

Jacob Smith
Jacob

1. Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

SPECS: Screen: 6.39in | Storage: 128GB | Weight: 189g | Processor: Kirin 980 | Rear cam: Triple 40/20/8MP| Front cam: 24MP | Battery: 4,200mAh | Screen res: 3,120 x 1,440

Huawei's Mate 20 Pro is an astonishing camera phone that's also decked out with the high-power Kirin 980 processor and the best battery on any phone we've tested to date.


2. Samsung Galaxy S9+

SPECS: Screen: 6.2in | Storage: 64GB/256GB | Weight: 189g | Processor: Exynos 9810 | Rear cam: Dual 12MP (f/1.2 & f/2.4) | Front cam: 12MP | Battery: 3,500mAh | Screen res: 2,960 × 1,440

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ provides a quality package of features that has led the pack over most of 2018, especially thanks to its sharp price point. It's still a great option if you're after a premium phone, although we're only a few short months away from when we expect to see the Galaxy S10 emerge.


3. Apple iPhone XS

iPhone XS

SPECS: Screen: 5.8in | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Weight: 177g | Processor: A12 Fusion | Rear cam: Dual 12/12MP | Front cam: 7MP | Battery: 2,659mAh | Screen res: 2,436 x 1,125

The iPhone XS has the same core processor, memory and camera as the iPhone XS Max, but it wraps it in an easier-to-hold body with a high-quality OLED display at a much more appealing price point. It's still a premium price, but not quite as up there as its bigger sibling.


4. Google Pixel 3

Google Pixel 3

SPECS: Screen: 5.5in | Storage: 128GB | Weight: 180g | Processor: Snapdragon 845 | Rear cam: 12.2MP | Front cam: Dual 8MP | Battery: 2,915mAh | Screen res: 2,160 x 1,080

Google's latest premium flagship phone is ultra-portable, aggressively priced and very powerful, thanks to the optimisations built into Android Pie. Its single-camera night sight camera is seriously impressive stuff, and it's the phone to buy if you want a pure Google experience.


5. Apple iPhone XS Max

iPhone XS Max

SPECS: Screen: 6.5in | Storage: 64/256/512GB | Weight: 208g | Processor: A12 Fusion | Rear cam: Dual 12/12MP | Front cam: 7MP | Battery: 3,174mAh | Screen res: 2,688 x 1,242

Apple's latest and greatest handset is an impressive technical achievement, with the power of the A12 Fusion blowing away every other smartphone you can buy, and not by a small margin. It's also equipped with excellent dual cameras and the smooth operation of iOS 12. Balancing against that, however, is the fact that Apple charges a serious premium for the iPhone XS Max, more than any other regular smartphone on sale in Australia today.


6. Samsung Galaxy Note9

Galaxy Note9

SPECS: Screen: 6.4in | Storage: 128/512GB | Weight: 201g | Processor: Octo-Core Exynos 9810 | Rear cam: Dual 12MP | Front cam: 8MP | Battery: 4,000mAh | Screen res: 2,960 x 1,440

Samsung's updated Galaxy Note9 is an impressive phone with superb battery life, an ever-improving S-Pen stylus and a huge display screen. It outscores the Galaxy S9+ at a technical level, and would best it were it not for its price point. If you want the 512GB version – and let's face it, you really do – you'll pay a premium price for the privilege. Still, if you've been a fan of previous Note phones, this is a superb update that should be your next handset.


7. Google Pixel 3XL

Google Pixel 3XL

SPECS: Screen: 6.3in | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Weight: 184g | Processor: Snapdragon 845 | Rear cam: 12.2MP | Front cam: Dual 8MP | Battery: 3,430mAh | Screen res: 1,440 x 2,960

The bigger brother of the Pixel 3 is worth considering if you're a fan of bigger phones. It's got the same clean Google interface, first access to new Google OS updates and some very nifty camera tricks despite only rocking a single rear lens.


8. Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

SPECS: Screen: 5in | Storage: 64GB | Weight: 168g | Processor: Snapdragon 845 | Rear cam: 19MP | Front cam: 5MP | Battery: 2,870mAh | Screen res: 2,160 x 1,080

Sony's Xperia XZ2 Compact manages the ultra-rare trick of offering up premium components in a smaller sized handset. Often if you prefer smaller phones you've got to put up with sub-standard performance, but this simply isn't the case for the Xperia XZ2 Compact, which outdoes even its bigger sibling, the Xperia XZ2. If you want a small powerful phone, you don't have a huge range of choices, but the Xperia XZ2 Compact is a quality option.

Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact

Sony's compact marvel

If you want a premium phone without having to lug around a huge handset, the Xperia XZ2 Compact is the phone you should buy.

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9. HTC U12+

HTC U12 Plus

SPECS: Screen: 6in | Storage: 128GB | Weight: 175g | Processor: Snapdragon 835 | Rear cam: Dual 12MP f/1.75 + 16MP telephoto | Front cam: Dual 8MP | Battery: 3,500mAh | Screen res: 2,880 x 1,440

Many wrote HTC off after it sold off a lot of its IP – as well as its developers – to Google in 2017. The Taiwanese manufacturer was simply biding its time before delivering the exceptional HTC U12+, a beautifully designed handset with one of the best dual lens cameras we've ever tested, as well as an expanded "Edge Sense" squeezable sides feature. The HTC U12+ is only available outright in Australia, so you're out of luck if you want a contract option.

HTC U12+

HTC's impressive squeezy phone

The HTC U12+ brings a great camera, updated Edge Sense and Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845 together to produce a stunning handset.

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10. OnePlus 6

OnePlus 6

SPECS: Screen: 6.3in | Storage: 64/128/256GB | Weight: 177g | Processor: Snapdragon 845 | Rear cam: Dual 16MP+12MP | Front cam: 16MP | Battery: 3,300mAh | Screen res: 2,280 x 1,080

OnePlus may not have the same kind of brand recognition in Australia as Apple or Samsung, but the manufacturer has the ability to create particularly good smartphones that punch above their price. The OnePlus 6 can't be picked up on a contract, but if you do purchase it outright you'll get a device that performs exceptionally well at a significantly lower price than a flagship Samsung phone.

OnePlus 6

OnePlus's budget premium handset

Why pay more for premium features when OnePlus will give them to you for far less? Buy yours today!

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Why you should compare the best mobile phones in Australia

Ever since Steve Jobs took to the stage in 2007 and unveiled the very first iPhone to the world, the smartphone has become one of the most important tech devices you will ever own. Today's smartphones manage our very existence, connecting us with friends and family and keeping us informed throughout our day-to-day lives.

The sheer impact of the smartphone on today's society makes deciding which smartphone to purchase all the more important. These products can be expensive and are often purchased with a two-year contract, meaning you have to live with your choice for an extended period of time.

To make matters harder, there are many great mobile devices to choose from, with major technology manufacturers from around the world all producing excellent-quality devices. We're here to help you choose.

2017 was a step-change for phones. While 2016 saw devices that massively increased efficiency and power, it was also marred by the explosive Galaxy Note 7 recall. 2017 also saw Apple's impressive return after they managed to create a series of phones that outperform Android devices on both performance and battery life.

2018 is all but done for premium phone launches, and what we've seen so far has been a bumper crop of smartphones from all manufacturers. Cameras are a key battleground, with some amazing results from what are, after all, very small smartphone sensors. Even ordinary photographers can get some astonishing shots with today's very best flagship phones.

Here at finder.com.au, we've reviewed all of the flagship smartphones that have launched in Australia, putting them through their paces to see which is best. We've argued long and hard to create this list of 2018's best smartphones, which we update constantly.


Latest Mobile Phones news


Glossary: Key smartphone terms to consider

Display AMOLED displays don’t need a backlight, screen pixels are actually turned off to produce blacks, which can save energy. Super AMOLED has improved visibility in direct sunlight. LCD displays use a backlight, which reduces contrast. An IPS LCD display has truer colour reproduction and looks better when you view the screen at an angle.
OS This is the operating system. The Apple iOS works seamlessly with the App Store for a dynamic and engaging mobile phone experience. Android is an open source platform created by Google, meaning anyone can play around with it. All the phones on our list use the Android OS except the Apple iPhones.
RAM RAM is your phone’s short-term memory. When you use an app, instead of writing data to your phone’s internal storage or SD card (long-term memory), the data is stored in the device’s RAM so it can be recalled quickly and easily when it’s needed. The more RAM the better. Apple's iPhones have far less RAM than Android smartphones. When the RAM reaches capacity on an Android phone, RAM is recycled through a memory heavy process called garbage collection. Apple does it differently and is able to run just as smoothly with half the RAM of most Android mobile phones.
Megapixels MP is short for megapixels and is generally accepted as a guide for image quality. More megapixels doesn’t mean a better-looking photo. Megapixels are about the maximum size of the image in relation to image quality. The more megapixels, the larger you can blow up your picture without it becoming distorted.
Sensor size Too many megapixels for a small image sensor will ruin the image quality.

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12 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    AnayaSeptember 19, 2017

    Hi

    I am looking at buying a new mobile phone. I am currently using a Note 5. I am just wondering if you could help me find a phone with good battery life and good camera also a decent screen size (phablet type). I had a look at S8, but it appeared too narrow. Note 8 is really expensive and I can’t justify spending that much money. Ideally I am looking at buying something within $1000.00 range.

    Could you please help me find a phone?

    Cheers,
    Anaya

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanSeptember 19, 2017

      Hello Anaya,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      Currently we don’t have dedicated page for phablets, but if you’re looking for long-battery life handsets and good camera ones, then we have those on a plan. In case you’d like to buy it outright, you can visit the respective stores of the providers offering them.

      Alternatively, if reading multiple tabs is of no concern then you can use our finder search result page regarding different phablet reviews.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  2. Default Gravatar
    BobJune 29, 2017

    I want to buy a mobile phone 3G or 4G? All I have seen is you have to swipe a finger across and as I shake it, will not work as I’m over 80.

    I want a simple one like a 2G phone I do not use text only used to dial out and receive phone call only. I do not have much money and with the 2g I have a Vodafone 365 day deal pay $20 per year.

    What can I buy?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanJune 29, 2017

      Hi Bob!

      It sounds to me that you only need a basic phone or also known as a “feature” phone. :)

      Please check this page that we have for feature phones available. You may stay on 3G handsets since you mostly use it for calls and texts.

      Take note this is only a handset, you need to buy a 3G or 4G compatible sim to use your new phone.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  3. Default Gravatar
    JeffJune 12, 2017

    After a new one, intending to choose LG or HTC, was wondering what happened to Sony XZ or Z5 ?? Only asking as my old Z1 had an excellent camera, and curious if the new ones are any good.
    Thanks
    Jeff

    • Default Gravatar
      DanielleJune 13, 2017

      Hi Jeff

      Thank you for contacting finder.com.au. We are a comparison website and general information service, we’re more than happy to offer general advice.

      For a review of the Sony XZ you may refer to this page. And for a review of the Sony Z5, you may click here.

      I hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Danielle

  4. Default Gravatar
    JohnMay 7, 2017

    Is there any news about a possible release of huawei mate 9 pro in Australia. If so when?

    • finder Customer Care
      LouMay 8, 2017Staff

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your question.

      Huawei currently sells the Mate 9 outright in a dual SIM configuration through Harvey Norman and JB Hi-Fi for $999. If you prefer a phone on contract, the single SIM variant is offered by both Vodafone and Optus on 24 month contract terms. You can check this page for more information on the phone plans.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  5. Default Gravatar
    BarratoneApril 28, 2017

    Do you know if any of the mobile services in Australia will be picking up the new Android Nokia’s this year, before Christmas hopefully??

    • finder Customer Care
      LouMay 1, 2017Staff

      Hi Barratone,

      Thanks for your question.

      We don’t have information yet as to which mobile service provider will include Android Nokia in their plan. But there are some speculations. You may want to check this news article for more information.

      Cheers,
      Anndy

  6. Default Gravatar
    KafeAugust 26, 2015

    What is the best mobile phone with the largest ram and expandable memory at a cheap price with excellent features and apps

    • finder Customer Care
      BrodieAugust 27, 2015Staff

      Hi Kafe,

      The new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge boasts a massive 4GB of RAM. However, the latest Galaxy handsets (including the S6 Edge) do not offer expandable memory. I’d recommend either waiting to see what the Sony Xperia Z5 offers or settling for a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which has 3GB of RAM and expandable memory up to 128GB.

      Thanks,

      Brodie

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