Samsung Galaxy S8/S8+
We’ve officially arrived at our beautiful, bezel-less future, and the Galaxy S8 is a near-perfect example of what constitutes as innovative smartphone design. This device has all the trimmings of a one-of-a-kind style, and it helps set the aesthetic tone for smartphones to come. The good news, too, is that despite the Galaxy S8’s slimmer, all-display design, there’s still a headphone jack.
Inside, the Galaxy S8 sports the latest processor and enough RAM to fuel you through marathon gaming sessions. You can choose between the 5.8-inch Galaxy S8 with a 3000mAh battery or 6.2-inch Galaxy S8+ with a 3500mAh battery.
Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 is still the best Android phone for most people, with some of the best specs and cameras on the market.
One more thing: Though beautiful, the curved glass design is very fragile — you’re going to want to use a case with either of these phones.
Why the Galaxy S8 is the best
With the Galaxy S8, Samsung packs everything and the kitchen sink.
No matter which size you pick, it’s hard to go wrong with the Galaxy S8. It packs the latest and greatest specifications, including the powerful Snapdragon 835 processor, and covers every base from wireless charging to Bluetooth 5.0 and yes — even a headphone jack. The Galaxy S8 also has one of the best displays around, with a lovely new 18.5:9 aspect ratio.
The Galaxy S8’s 12MP camera also takes stellar photos, and its 8MP front camera is wide enough for even the biggest group selfies. The phone also has access to Samsung Pay, which works at more terminals than any other mobile payment solution.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
If the standard Galaxy S8 and S8+ don’t do it for you in terms of size and capability, you should reach for the Galaxy Note 8. You get a little bit of extra screen and a bump to 6GB of RAM inside to augment all of the same great specs and features of the smaller phones. Plus, you get a unique dual camera setup that can take the same great shots as the GS8 but with the addition of a telephoto lens and “Live Focus” portrait shots.
Then of course you also have the S Pen stylus, which unlocks productivity and artistic angles you simply can’t get in any other phone. At over $900 you pay for the privilege, but you also know you’re getting Samsung’s biggest and best phone.
Bottom line: With its larger screen and S Pen, the Galaxy Note 8 is Samsung’s most powerful phone yet.
One more thing: Like the smaller S8 and S8+, the Galaxy Note 8 has an awkwardly placed fingerprint sensor that may frustrate some users.
Best for video
It took a while, but LG’s new flagship is out and it’s great. The LG V30 takes many design cues from the Galaxy S8+, but that’s not a bad thing — you get a thin and classy metal-and-glass build that has a nice balance to it. Inside you get top-end specs, and around back is LG’s great dual camera setup with a wide-angle shooter continues to stand out.
Within the camera software, the V30 features some of the most robust controls ever featured on a phone. On-the-go videographers will appreciate useful tools such as manual focus, focus peaking, directional audio, LUTs, and LOG video.
Bottom line: There’s simply no better phone for mobile filmmaking than the LG V30.
One more thing: LG’s software can be an acquired taste, but it doesn’t offer any steeper of a learning curve than the Samsung phones listed here.
Most durable phone
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
The Galaxy S8 Active offers the complete GS8 experience in terms of specs, power, software and camera, but it does so with a hefty outer shell and a shatter-resistant flat display. That means it can take a beating, and hold up to more than a standard Galaxy S8 in a bulky case. It also gets a huge bump in battery capacity to go with it.
The GS8 Active is more expensive than the standard version — in fact, more expensive than the Galaxy S8+ sometimes — but if you’re someone who needs to have the extra robustness without losing out on features or power, it may be worth the extra money.
Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 Active is a more durable, longer-lasting version of the S8 proper.
One more thing: The coating used on the shatter-resistant display is more susceptible to scratching than standard Gorilla Glass panels.