Are these the best flagship phones of 2018?

Our tech expert rates 6 flagship phones from Apple, Oppo, Huawei and Samsung based on everyday use.

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Finding the best mobile phone for you can be difficult and confusing; let us take some of that stress away.

It’s been a big year for phones, with all the major manufacturers serving up excellent new models. However, while all these phones are good, they each have something they do better than the others. This makes it tough to choose between them.

While our testing tells you how phones perform in a standardised lab, they don’t always reflect what it’s like using them every day. I’ve tried six flagship phones in the wild and compared them head-to-head on aspects not captured by our tests. I then rated them in an Olympic-style system, awarding gold, silver and bronze in each category.

The Apple iPhone XS, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Oppo Find X and Samsung Note 9 were all released recently. The other phones are the Samsung Galaxy S9 and the Huawei P20 Pro, released earlier in the year.

The winners

Gold: Huawei P20 Pro

Silver: Apple iPhone XS

Bronze: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Phone Price ($) Camera Face Selfie Software Battery
Apple iPhone XS (256GB) 2,399 4= 1 1 1 6
Huawei P20 Pro 1,127 1 2 5= 2= 3
Huawei Mate 20 Pro 1,499 2 4 5= 2= 1=
Oppo Find X 1,499 3 3 4 4 5
Samsung Note 9 1,699 4= 5 2= 5= 1=
Samsung Galaxy S9 1,399 4= 6 2= 5= 4


Features compared

Price

Possibly the biggest factor when deciding to buy a phone. Flagship phones will typically set you back upwards of $1500, with the iPhone well above $2000. The exceptions are the P20 Pro (less than half the price of the Apple) and Galaxy S9.

Unlock

All these phones use a face-unlock system (all but two have a fingerprint back-up). From haircuts, to glasses, to shaving, the appearance of our faces changes all the time so face unlock needs to work in all conditions.

Apple’s was the best, rarely having an issue. Surprisingly, Huawei’s cheaper P20 Pro was better than its Mate 20 Pro, which didn’t recognise me when I tied my hair back.

Camera and selfie

I need a camera that works quickly and takes great photos of whatever I point it at – food, scenery, my cat – in any lighting conditions. The Huawei phones, with three rearlens setups, worked the best. They use vibrant colours and AI enhancements to make their photos pop.

However, they sucked at taking selfies. In comparison, I found the iPhone’s front-facing camera and portrait mode created excellent images.

Software

Software needs to be easy to use and intuitive. As such, Apple’s software is still the best and as slick as ever. The Android systems are good but all incorporate some form of assistant or other software that gets in the way and can make doing certain tasks clunky.

Battery

Battery life is where the big Android phones step up in day-to-day use. Even when playing games, using Bluetooth devices and doing other battery-draining tasks, I was able to use the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and Samsung Note 9 for two days in a row without charging. The iPhone often needed a small boost to get through the day.

Exterior

Annoyingly, all these phones have slippery exteriors. There would occasionally be a clatter after a phone’s vibrating notification (or simply gravity) caused it to slide off an uneven surface. Perhaps this is why the Huawei and Oppo phones come with a clear rubber case.


By Hadyn Green
Technology Writer




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