As the dog days of summer start to kick in, which means the smartphone release train is slowing down a bit for the next month or so. We've had a few new releases since the June list was created though, and these releases have made their way onto July's list, pushing out a few phones from last month. Whether it's just a few days old, or a few months old, we're going to break down the 10 best phones to buy in 2018 for the month of July based on price, user experience, and overall functionality.
First up is the Nokia 6.1, which compared to the rest of the phones on the list, seems to be the odd man out. It's the least expensive phone on the list, coming in well under $300, yet packs a punch in the performance and looks department. A Snapdragon 630 SoC, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage mark the base model at $269, and a gorgeous metal build with slimmer bezels, a rear-facing fingerprint scanner, and the bloat-free Android One branding make this an incredible choice for anyone looking for a more simple, less expensive experience. This means it's running the latest version of Android, with guaranteed quick updates to Android P shortly after it is finally released. If you're looking for something fast, cheap and well-built, this is the phone for you.
LG G7 ThinQ or LG V35 ThinQ
Following up the fantastic V30 from last Fall, LG has delivered a similar design and build to that phone, all while differentiating itself with one big new feature: the Boombox Speaker. Many phones are moving to stereo speakers, but LG has worked to create a resonating chamber in its phone, creating a speaker that's not only loud but features much better bass than most other phones could ever hope to achieve. A new super-bright display is on the front, and while it does have a notch, it has quickly become the easiest display to see outside, even in bright sunlight. It's also got a new wide-angle camera sensor which has significantly better low-light performance than the sensors used in the V30 or the G6. Unlike last year, this is packing the latest high-end mobile SoC from Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 845, whereas the G6 last year featured an older SoC than competing flagship phones at release. Folks on AT&T in the US will need to opt for the V35 ThinQ instead, which features the same specs as the LG G7 ThinQ, but with the same build and design as the V30.
HTC's latest flagship is the most feature-packed, beautiful flagship they've ever delivered. It sports one of the absolute best cameras in the industry, with incredible video recording quality that can actually focus audio onto a single subject, helping to block out annoying background noise when zooming in. HTC has upgraded its Edge Sense technology with a new double-tap gesture, including a brand new Edge Launcher that makes launching apps faster from anywhere on the phone. Packing in tons of software features and a new button design for its power and volume buttons, which introduce some odd frustration points, but the HTC U12+ is ultimately a fantastic phone that fits in with the best of them in almost every single way.
Huawei P20 Pro
Huawei's P20 Pro is all about the camera, and it's easily the highest quality, most feature-rich photography solution on the smartphone market. Utilizing the industry's first triple-camera system for its rear-facing cameras, Huawei has worked up some software magic that takes a composite image from multiple sensors and creates an image superbly detailed, incredibly well balanced, and full of life in a way that only a large sensor with good optics can. Aside from an incredible camera, Huawei has also designed a phone with the most gorgeous colors ever seen this side of the HTC U12+, and a software experience that's jam-packed to the gills with features. It's also got the incredibly fast and smart Kirin 970 chipset inside, manufactured by Huawei's own Hisilicon, which features an AI-focused secondary Neural Processor, and aides in everything from scene detection in the camera, to speeding up offline speech and photo recognition on the phone.
OnePlus has consistently delivered quality phones for a price tag well under what the competition provides, and while the OnePlus 6 is the company's most expensive phone to date at $529, it's easily the most well-polished phone they've delivered as well. Sporting the smallest bezels of any Android phone that has a notch in its display, the OnePlus 6's all-glass design looks gorgeous, and unlike last year's devices, doesn't look like an iPhone clone from first glance. It's got all the latest in mobile flagship hardware, including a Snapdragon 845 SoC, a whopping 8GB of RAM, 64GB of internal storage, and comes in three svelte colors. There are trade-offs to be had with a price tag that's so significantly lower than the competition though, meaning you'll have to do without fancy stereo speakers, support for technologies like ARCore or Daydream VR, HD playback on many streaming apps like Amazon Prime Video, and IP water and dust resistance to name a few things. Still, if you don't think you'll need these things, you'll be getting the absolute fastest phone on the market, with a camera that's well-rounded in every single way.
Sony Xperia XZ2
Sony's latest flagship is the first phone on our list that looks truly different from the competition out there, and it's all thanks to Sony's new Ambient Flow design language. Sporting a taller 18:9 display with smaller bezels, yet still giving users front-facing stereo speakers, Sony's new design language is as gorgeous as it is practical. A new curved back features a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner, situated nearly at the mid-point of the back, and this curve functions as a way to provide a more ergonomic design for the phone. It's also got the best battery life of any flagship released so far in 2018, a killer camera, and an ultra-fast experience that's matched only by the OnePlus 6. That new camera sports 4K HDR10 video recording, full-HD 1080P slow motion recording at 960FPS, as well as a number of other advanced features through Sony's own line of exclusive camera sensors for the Xperia smartphone line. Like the OnePlus 6, the Xperia XZ2 can also run the Android P Beta out of the box without any configuration, thanks to Sony's participation in Project Treble, and puts the XZ2 on the cutting-edge of software releases.
Brand new to the list is the BlackBerry KEY2, the follow-up to last year's successful mid-range phone. This time around BlackBerry has stepped up its game in every way, from a massive spec boost to a redesigned keyboard, along with tons of new features to get excited about. It's not targeted toward media-consumption-heavy consumers, as the 4.5-inch 3:2 aspect ratio screen is a bit awkward to watch lots of widescreen content on. It is, however, very much targeted towards folks who are looking for a faster, more convenient way to get a lot of things done at once, and this multi-tasking powerhouse not only features 6GB of RAM, but also a physical keyboard that can act as a way to quickly launch up to 52 of your most used apps and actions with the press of a single button. It's the best multi-tasking experience in the land, and it's also the most secure Android phone out there, offering ways to not only control your privacy and lock down content, but also gives an easy way to find out what apps accessed data like location or contacts in a succinct timeline fashion. It's an incredible experience that's more than worth taking a look at, and it's quickly rocketing BlackBerry back to the top of the smartphone game.
Google Pixel 2 XL
This wouldn't be a best of Android list without at least one of Google's own phones, and the Google Pixel 2 XL represents the absolute best Google has to offer right now. While the Pixel series is a bit barebones in its features, it's generally among the fastest, most stable, and most consistent experiences on any platform, mobile or otherwise. The Pixel 2 XL is Google's "pure" vision for Android, and as such you'll always find the most bleeding-edge version of Android, but we've also seen that monthly updates can cause a bit of headache in terms of bugs. Still this is one of the absolute best cameras on the market, and quite possibly the most consistenly high-quality camera on any smartphone, including incredible photography imagery, ultra-stable 4K video recording, and a general look and feel that's simple, easy to use, and just plain enjoyable.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
As the king of Android, Samsung consistently outdoes itself when it comes to introducing valuable new features and quality hardware design. The Galaxy Note family has always been on the cutting edge of experimental features and hardware design, and while the hardware design isn't quite as radical as it used to be, that has more to do with the industry catching up to the Note, not the other way around. The Galaxy Note 8 fixes the big issues of its predecessors and brings about the most feature-rich experience you'll find on any smartphone, bar none. The S-Pen gives it abilities that no other phone on the market can match, and while it's not for everybody, folks who use the S-Pen will find themselves wondering what they did without one. With everything that the Samsung Experience adds to the stock Android exprience, it's any wonder the Galaxy note, with its big 6.3-inch screen and gorgeous minimal bezels, has stuck around on this best-of-Android list since its release last Fall.
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+
Just as it's no surprise to see the Galaxy Note 8 make the list once again, Samsung's Galaxy S9 and S9+ offer the most feature-rich, user-centric experiences out there. With services like Samsung Pay, exclusive Galaxy Store content, an immense library of themes, huge number of available accessories, and a general boatload of other features available, it's almost impossible not to recommend the either sized Galaxy S9 out of sheer possibilities. A beatiful design that's nearly identical to last year's Galaxy S8 includes bumped up specs and a new dual-camera system on the larger S9+, as well as a brand new dual-aperture lens for each size. If you want the best overall Android phone on the market that will appeal to the widest range of consumers, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+.