Right now, following our comprehensive review process, we've come to the conclusion that the best phone you can buy is the Samsung Galaxy S9+.
As 2018's new flagship phones begin to hit Australian shelves, read on to find out what other phones are worth your investment.
Meet the team
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 05 October, 2018.
- Phones added
- Apple's iPhone XS Max has been added to the top phones list.
05 October 2018
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+ has seen plenty of competitors this year with impressive features, but its feature set, price point and performance still give it the overall edge in the premium smartphone race.
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: 2688 x 1242
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 Apple iPhone XS Max, more than any other regular smartphone on sale in Australia today.
SPECS: Screen: 6.1in | Storage: 128GB | Weight: 180g | Processor: Kirin 970 | Rear cam: 3 Lens (40MP+20MP+8MP) | Front cam: 24MP | Battery: 4,000mAh | Screen res: 2,240 × 1,080
Chinese manufacturer Huawei was an early driver of the dual-lens camera arrays that are common today, but the P20 Pro takes smartphone photography to a whole new level thanks to its triple lens array, with a 40MP, a 20MP and a 8MP lens all combining to create some of the best photos a phone has ever captured. The Huawei P20 Pro is less expensive than the Galaxy S9+, but the lack of expandable storage is a downside. Still, if you want a bargain premium phone with an exceptional camera, this is the phone to buy.
Huawei P20 Pro
Huawei's superb camera phone
With the best camera in any smartphone today, the Huawei P20 Pro combines top-notch photography with cutting edge style.
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 be our number one phone 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.
SPECS: Screen: 5.5in | Storage: 64GB/256GB | Weight: 202g | Processor: Apple A11 Bionic | Rear cam: Dual 12MP | Front cam: 7MP | Battery: 2,691mAh | Screen res: 1,980 × 1,080
The iPhone 8 Plus is one of last year's handsets, so what's it doing here? Simply put, with the advent of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, the iPhone 8 Plus has slid into the value segment of mobile phones nicely. The power of the A11 Fusion and great battery life of the 8 Plus make it a serious contender even a year after its debut, and it's now coming to market at even better prices than before. The iPhone XR is due imminently though, so the iPhone 8 Plus' time in our best phones list might be coming to a close soon.
SPECS: Screen: 5in | Storage: 64GB | Weight: 168g | Processor: Snapdragon 845 | Rear cam: 19MP | Front cam: 5MP | Battery: 2,870mAh | Screen res: 2160 x 1080
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, this is the one to buy.
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.
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: 2880 x 1440
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, however, so you're out of luck if you want a contract option.
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.
SPECS: Screen: 6in | Storage: 64/128GB | Weight: 175g | Processor: Snapdragon 835 | Rear cam: 12.2MP | Front cam: 8MP | Battery: 3,520mAh | Screen res: 2880 x 1440
Google reinvented its smartphone offering last year with the Pixel, and while it was a pure form of Android and introduced a real focus on the Google digital assistant, it's the second generation that has refined the device to one capable of truly trouncing high-end devices from both Apple and Samsung (although not all models, as you can see above). With an incredible camera loaded with machine learning, this is a powerful companion for anyone who lives and breathes Google's services.
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: 2280 x 1080
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 outright you'll get a device that performs exceptionally well at a significantly lower price than a flagship Samsung phone.
OnePlus' budget premium handset
Why pay more for premium features when OnePlus will give them to you for far less? Buy yours today!
SPECS: Screen: 5.8in | Storage: 64/256GB | Weight: 174g | Processor: Apple A11 Bionic | Rear cam: Dual 12MP | Front cam: 7MP | Battery: 2,716mAh | Screen res: 2436 x 1125
Strictly speaking, the iPhone X is off the market, thanks to Apple pulling it in favour of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. That just means you can't walk into an Apple store and buy one, though, with many telcos still offering it on contract terms. It's still a very good handset, and the first take on Apple's new TouchID-free experience that will be the design for every iPhone for the next couple of years. If you can get the iPhone X at the right contract or outright price, it's a phone that will keep you happy for a number of years to come.
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.
We've passed the halfway point of 2018, 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 launch 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.
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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 the 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.The Apple iPhone has far less RAM than the 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.|
|Mega pixels||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.|