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Best smartphone 2024: Prime Day deals on our favourite handsets

Rear of Google Pixel 8 Pro in hand against bookcase background

The best Android and Apple smartphones to buy this year, as tested and reviewed by us

As the cost of living keeps rising, choosing the right smartphone – and not paying more than you need to – is more important than ever. Happily, in 2024 you can get nippy performance, impressive battery life and a fantastic camera without having to spend a fortune.

We’ve painstakingly assessed and reviewed all the best smartphones on the market, putting each one through the most comprehensive testing process in the UK. We’re constantly updating entries for this list – last year alone, we tested around 50 new handsets – so you can be sure that our recommendations are informed and up to date.

You can read more about our rigorous testing process below, or jump straight to our buying guide, which covers all of the main features to keep in mind when choosing your new smartphone. Otherwise, read on to see our picks of the best phones from Samsung, Apple, Google and more.

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Want to learn more? Jump to the buying guide

Amazon Prime Day deal – Google Pixel 8

Google’s flagship smartphone, which we awarded five stars and a Recommended award in our review, has received the Prime Day deals treatment, now going for just £489 – down from an average of £606.

View deal at Amazon

Amazon Prime Day deal – Google Pixel 8 Pro

Fancy something flashier? The high-end Google Pixel 8 Pro has also been discounted in the Prime Day sales. You can pick one up for just £616, which is a saving of £304 compared to average price.

View deal at Amazon

Best smartphone: At a glance

Best smartphoneSamsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (~£1249)Check price at Amazon
Best budget smartphoneMotorola Moto G54 5G (~£179)Check price at Amazon
Best Apple smartphoneiPhone 15 Pro (~£999)Check price at Amazon
Best smartphone cameraGoogle Pixel 8 (~£699)Check price at Amazon

How we test smartphones

We thoroughly test every phone that comes into our labs, with a number of benchmarking methods. We typically start with CPU and GPU processing, using the Geekbench 5 and GFXBench applications found in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store; these provide us with a set of standardised scores which we use to compare rival handsets.

Each phone’s screen is then tested using DisplayCAL software and a display colorimeter. This gives us a precise reading of the screen’s maximum brightness and contrast, and how good it is at reproducing colours; again, we use this to objectively identify which phones have the best displays.

Next up is battery life. Here we use our in-house video rundown test, which displays a looped video with flight mode enabled and the screen set to a standard brightness of 170cd/m2 – and times how long it takes the battery to go from full to shutdown.

Finally, each phone’s cameras are put to the test in a variety of shooting scenarios, including scenic shots, low-light and indoor photography, plus rapid video panning in a range of modes.

READ NEXT: Best budget smartphones

The best smartphones you can buy in 2024

1. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra: Best smartphone overall

Price when reviewed: £1,249 | Check price at AmazonSamsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review - Phone face up on a book

Great for… exceptional telephoto cameras and unrivalled battery life
Not so great for… shoppers on a budget

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra gets almost everything right. Yes, it’s very expensive, but for the price you get unparalleled performance with blistering speeds from the new Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy processor. The S24 Ultra also has the best battery life that we’ve measured on any smartphone to date.

All of that power comes encased in a sturdy and wonderfully tactile titanium frame, which feels as sturdy as any iPhone. And Samsung’s latest generation of phones debuts Galaxy AI, which adds smart features such as generative fill for rotated images, frame interpolation for video, and circle to search. For more details on Galaxy AI, read our full review (linked below); in summary, we found the convenience and efficacy of features on offer to be very impressive.

Top it all off with a robust camera suite that surpassed our already high expectations, a bright and beautiful QHD+ display and a new S Pen stylus and there’s no doubt about it – if you have the money, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is the best smartphone you can buy right now.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 3.39GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy; Screen: 6.8in, 3,120 x 1,440; Camera: 200MP, 50MP (5x zoom), 10MP (3x zoom), 12MP (wide); Storage: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB; Operating system: Android 14

samsung galaxy s24 upright with home screen on a wooden surface

Also consider: Samsung Galaxy S24

If you’re not looking to spend an Ultra-sized sum, the regular Galaxy S24 is a formidable alternative, with a much lesser impact on your wallet – we’re talking a huge £450 saving.

It’s also significantly smaller than the S24 Ultra, with a 6.2in display, so it’s better suited to tinier hands and skinnier trouser pockets. It gets all the same Galaxy AI features as its bigger sibling, and its 50MP main camera managed to capture some truly excellent images in our tests. A brilliant flagship phone for the frugal.

Check price at Samsung

2. Motorola Moto G54 5G: Best budget buy

Price when reviewed: £179 | Check price at AmazonMotorola Moto G54 5G sitting face up on a desk, clock and apps showing on homescreen

Great for… impressive performance and striking display
Not so great for… long-term support and night photography

Motorola makes some excellent budget phones, and the Moto G54 5G might just be its best yet. The display is particularly impressive, hitting a level of colour accuracy and contrast in our testing that’s unusual in this price range. Performance punches well above its weight too, with CPU scores rivalling handsets that cost a lot more.

The camera works well in good lighting conditions, producing natural-looking images with a good tonal balance and plenty of detail – but it can struggle a little in low light. We were also disappointed to note that Motorola hasn’t committed to future OS updates beyond Android 14, so you shouldn’t expect to get any major new features after this year’s release.

Even so, the Moto G54 5G is a great deal. It has one of the best displays of any budget smartphone, strong performance and a solid main camera – for a ridiculously affordable price.

Read our full Motorola Moto G54 5G review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 2.2GHz MediaTek Dimensity 7020; Screen: 6.5in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 50MP, 2MP (macro); Storage: 256GB; Operating system: Android 13

3. Google Pixel 8: Best phone for pixel-perfect photos

Price when reviewed: £699 | Check price at Amazon

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Front of black Google Pixel 8 held in hand against bookcase

Great for… tremendous camera capabilities and extensive software support
Not so great for… long-range shots

Google’s eighth-generation Pixel phone is an Android tour de force. It undercuts rivals on price, yet easily surpasses them when it comes to photographic performance. In our test shoots its dual cameras convincingly beat the competition in terms of clarity, detail and colour reproduction. The only downside is the lack of an optical zoom – for that you’ll need the Pixel 8 Pro (see below).

Even outside of photography, the Pixel provides a slick experience: in our opinion, there’s no better showcase of the latest Android 14 operating system, and Pixel phones are usually the first to get new OS and software enhancements as they become available. Whether you’re a keen snapper or simply after the very best that Android can offer, the Pixel 8 won’t disappoint.

Read our full Google Pixel 8 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 3GHz Google Tensor G3; Screen: 6.2in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 50MP, 12MP ultrawide; Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 14

Also consider: Google Pixel 8 Pro

If you like to get closer to your photographic subjects, we can also strongly recommend the Pixel 8’s big brother. For an extra £299 the Pixel 8 Pro adds a 48MP 5x telephoto lens, enabling you to capture incredible detail even from a distance.

The Pixel 8 Pro also has a bigger 6.7in screen with a commensurately higher resolution (2,992 x 1,344) – but everything else is the same, so if you aren’t fussed about the extra zoom and bigger screen, we’d still recommend going for the regular Pixel 8.

Check price at Amazon

4. OnePlus 11: Best-value premium phone

Price when reviewed: £685 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… striking portraits and strong battery life
Not so great for… weatherproofing and zoom photography

If flashy features like 100x zoom and 200-megapixel cameras don’t impress you much, the OnePlus 11 is well worth a look. With a focus on the fundamentals, the OnePlus 11 may be lacking in the thrill factor, but it more than makes up for that in value.

Performance is terrific across the board; the OnePlus 11’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor helps it keep pace with phones that cost hundreds more, and in our tests we found the battery lasted for over 28 hours. The big standout is the Hasselblad-branded camera suite, which includes a new portrait module. Our test images came out crisp and clear, with lifelike skin tones, strong lines around the focal subject and a buttery smooth bokeh effect in the background.

There are a couple of compromises; while the portrait camera is great, there’s no optical zoom, and we found that the autofocus didn’t always hit the mark first time. Even so, the OnePlus 11 is a superb phone that feels a lot more expensive than it is.

Read our full OnePlus 11 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 3.2GHz Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 2; Screen: 6.7in, 3,216 x 1,440; Camera: 50MP, 48MP (ultrawide), 32MP (portrait); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 13

5. Apple iPhone 15 Pro: Best iPhone

Price when reviewed: £999 | Check price at AmazonBest smartphone - iPhone 15 Pro in hand

Great for… blisteringly fast performance and gorgeous design
Not so great for… stylish colour options

The Apple iPhone 15 Pro doesn’t bring much that we haven’t seen in previous iPhone models – but that’s no problem when the baseline was so high to begin with. The 6.1in OLED display is as beautiful as ever, and it’s paired here with a new titanium frame that feels both premium and rugged in the hand.

The new A17 Pro chipset is blisteringly fast: in our CPU tests it outpaced the fastest iPhones from previous generations, as well the standard iPhone 15. Battery life is some of the best Apple has ever managed, and thanks to the new USB Type-C port you can top up your charge more quickly than ever.

We do have a few minor gripes. For one, the available finishes are all rather restrained and sober – why can’t a “Pro” phone also be fun? The camera hardware is also basically the same as on last year’s iPhone 14 Pro, but photos still look fantastic, and now you get the versatility of the new action button. In all, the Apple iPhone 15 Pro is a subtle but positive improvement on an already terrific formula.

Read our full iPhone 15 Pro review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 3.78GHz Apple A17 Pro; Screen: 6.1in, 2,556 x 1,179; Camera: 48MP, 12MP (3x zoom), 12MP (wide); Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB, 1TB; Operating system: Apple iOS 17

Best Black Friday iPhone deals - iPhone 15 on a chair

Also consider: Apple iPhone 15

Though less powerful than the Pro model, the Apple iPhone 15 is the best “entry-level” iPhone we’ve seen in a long time. It’s cheaper than the iPhone 14 was at launch, yet comes with an improved main camera, a faster processor and the Dynamic Island notch that was previously exclusive to Pro models.

Battery life takes a bit of a dip, and you don’t get some of the high-end camera features that appear on the 15 Pro and Pro Max, but it’s a more affordable phone that’s still well worth considering.

Check price at John Lewis

6. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Best folding phone

Price when reviewed: £1,049 | Check price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 in the hand, half folded Great for… refined design and improved performance
Not so great for… high-end photography

Folding phones may still feel a little niche, but the Galaxy Z Flip 5 deserves anybody’s consideration. The big fold-out screen transforms the phone experience, and Samsung has built in peace-of-mind features such as IPX8-rated waterproofing, a hard-wearing “Armor Aluminium” frame and a massive cover display. Inside, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 keeps things running smoothly – in our testing this provided a huge processing boost over last year’s model – and the main display looks great with a 120Hz refresh rate.

Best of all, the Flip 5 is the cheapest folding phone on the market right now. It’s priced similarly to high-end regular phones, but feels much fresher and more versatile; if you’ve ever been curious about jumping aboard the folding bandwagon, there’s never been a better time.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 3.36GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2; Screen: 6.7in, 2,640 x 1,080 (cover: 3.4in, 748 x 720); Camera: 12MP, 12MP (wide); Storage: 256GB, 512GB; Operating system: Android 13

7. Nokia C21 Plus: Best dirt-cheap smartphone

Price when reviewed: £110 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… smartphone features at an almost pocket-money price
Not so great for… battery life and fast charging

The Nokia C21 Plus proves that you shouldn’t judge a phone by how much – or, in this case, how little – it costs. Nokia C21 Plus does almost everything any other smartphone can do, for a tenth of the price of many high-end phones.

Naturally, there are a few compromises. In our testing we found performance was fine rather than great, and battery life was mediocre, running down in just over 13 hours. Recharging is slow too, via the old-school micro-USB connector.

Even so, the fact that you can get a fully functional phone, capable of running all the standard Google apps – plus whatever you might want to download from the Play Store – for barely more than a hundred pounds is frankly incredible. If your budget is limited, you can’t do better than the Nokia C21 Plus.

Read our full Nokia C21 Plus review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Quad-core 1.6GHz Unisoc SC9863A; Screen: 6.52in, 1,600 x 720; Camera: 13MP, 2MP (depth); Storage: 32GB; Operating system: Android 11 Go

8. OnePlus Nord 2T 5G: Simply superb value

Price when reviewed: £409 | Check price at Amazon

Great for… performance and battery life
Not so great for… portraits and 4K video

The Nord 2T 5G counts as a “mid-price” phone, but it’s a distinctly upmarket device. The MediaTek Dimensity 1300 processor delivers some of the fastest speeds you can get at this price, and in our tests the battery life extended to almost a full day. In practice it’ll easily see you into a second day of moderate use – and when it runs out, the 80W fast charge feature can get you back to a full charge in under 30 minutes.

The display meanwhile is a beautiful AMOLED panel, with essentially perfect contrast and a slick 90Hz refresh rate. We didn’t find the portrait mode to be as great as on pricier phones, and 4K video recording is held back by the lack of image stabilisation – but these are minor niggles when you consider just how much the OnePlus Nord 2T has to offer.

Read our full OnePlus Nord 2T 5G review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 3GHz MediaTek Dimensity 1300; Screen: 6.43in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 50MP, 8MP (ultrawide) 2MP (depth); Storage: 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: Android 12

9. Xiaomi 13: Best compact phone

Price when reviewed: £849 | Check price at Mi

Great for… powerful performance with an outstanding display
Not so great for… battery life and a clean Android experience

High-end smartphones often come with large screens and bulky frames, but the Xiaomi 13 is more comfortably pocket-sized. At just 72 x 8 x 153mm (WDH) it’s one of the most compact “flagship” phones we’ve reviewed in recent years.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything cut-down about the experience. The phone boasts a terrific 6.36in AMOLED display, and we found overall performance was top-notch, courtesy of a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip. It also brings some big improvements over the previous model, including the addition of IP68 waterproofing and a 3.2x optical zoom camera. If compact phones are your style, there’s absolutely nothing better.

Read our full Xiaomi 13 review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Octa-core 3.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2; Screen: 6.36in, 2,400 x 1,080; Camera: 50MP, 10MP (zoom), 12MP (wide) Storage: 256GB Operating system: Android 13

Check price at Mi

10. iPhone SE 3 (2022): Best-value iPhone

Price when reviewed: £379 | Check price at John Lewis

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Great for… performance, camera and high-quality iOS apps
Not so great for… battery life and display quality

With the iPhone SE 3 (2022), you’re getting a heck of a lot of smartphone for not much money. It might look like a bit of a relic – it’s basically the same design as the 2017 iPhone 8 – but it’s unarguably Apple’s best-value handset yet. Why? Well, it’s all about what’s inside: the iPhone SE 3 (2022) uses the A15 Bionic chipset, the same very powerful processor used by the pricier iPhone 13.

That means you can expect superbly snappy performance in all the latest high-end apps and games you might want to download from the App Store. Likewise, the single 12MP camera might seem unassuming, but it goes toe-to-toe with the iPhone 13 in terms of sheer detail capture, with especially impressive low-light performance.

The only fly in the ointment is that the iPhone SE 3’s battery performed quite poorly in our tests. However, if you’re not sold on a big-screened handset, then the iPhone SE 3 (2022) remains a worthy choice: even though it’s the cheapest iPhone, it’s still mightily impressive.

Read our full iPhone SE 3 (2022) review for more details

Key specs – Processor: Hexa-core 3.23GHz Apple A13 Bionic; Screen: 4.7in, 1,334 x 750; Camera: 12MP; Storage: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB; Operating system: iOS 15

Check price at John Lewis

How to choose the best smartphone for you

Picking the right smartphone can be tricky, with dozens of different models to sort through at different price points. What’s more, pricing can vary considerably with special deals and contract offers. Here’s everything you need to know about buying your perfect smartphone, as well as what you need to know about choosing a contract.

Should I buy a smartphone on contract or SIM-free?

If you have the money up front then buying an unlocked, SIM-free phone is usually your best option. You can use it with any mobile provider you like, and trade in or sell the phone whenever you want to upgrade.

Buying SIM-free normally works out cheaper than a fixed-term contract too – although that’s not always the case. If you’re tempted by a contract, take a few minutes to work out the total cost of the phone and service over the contract period. Some contract deals are rip-offs, but others can be a competitive way to spread the cost of your new handset.

Which smartphone operating system do I need?

There are two smartphone operating systems to choose from: Apple’s iOS platform and Google’s Android OS. iOS runs only on iPhones, and is a big part of what makes them so popular: it’s slick, well supported and easy to use, although not very customisable.

Android has a much wider reach than iOS, running on the majority of smartphones on the market. However, there are a few different versions out there: look for a phone running Android 12 or higher, as older releases are outdated. What’s more, manufacturers often customise their own versions of Android, so the user experience differs between handsets – if you’re interested in a particular phone, it’s a good idea to try it out for yourself before you buy.

READ NEXT: Best Android smartphones

What should I look for in a smartphone display?

The touchscreen is the primary way you interact with your phone, so its size and quality are very important. A big display helps make text easy to read and lets you fit lots of content on the screen at once – but it also makes for a bigger, heavier phone.

Pixel density, measured in pixels per inch (ppi), is another factor. This determines how clear and sharp text will appear on a screen – a smaller number of pixels stretched across a huge screen will lead to jagged edges. The underlying display technology can also make a visible difference to the overall appearance: IPS panels are often the brightest, but AMOLED typically has bolder contrast and richer colours.

What about performance and battery life?

The clock speed of a phone’s processor (measured in GHz) gives an indication of how fast the CPU runs, but not all CPUs are created equal: check the benchmark scores in our reviews to see which phones are really the fastest. You don’t necessarily need the fastest phone on the market, but a more powerful processor ensures that the operating system will feel fluid and responsive, and that the phone won’t stutter when running demanding apps and games.

Battery life is another important consideration. Generally speaking, the bigger the phone’s battery capacity (measured in watt-hours or milliamp-hours), the longer it’s likely to last on a single charge. Again, though, the raw figures don’t tell the whole story, as some phones burn through power faster than others. Our standard comparative battery tests provide an indication of which phones last longest; the actual battery life you see will depend very much on how long you spend using the phone and which apps you use.

READ NEXT: Best phone battery life

How much smartphone storage do I need?

Built-in storage is handy for keeping instant-access copies of photos and videos, and it’s a must for installing apps. Some phones start at 64GB, but if you like to load up on games and productivity tools, or shoot lots of high-resolution video, the internal storage will fill up quickly. We recommend most people go up to at least 128GB; a few Android phones have a microSD slot so you can expand the storage beyond what’s built in, but this is quite rare nowadays.

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