Best Phones 2017: Top Smartphone Reviews & Buying Advice

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Samsung’s Galaxy S8 sits at the top of our list of the best phones for 2017, but do the recently released iPhone 8, iPhone X and soon-to-arrive Google Pixel 2 have the potential to topple it? We’ll be adding these reviews to our round-up in due course.

You can also see our hand-picked Best Phone Deals.

Your buying guide for the best phones in 2017

When choosing a phone you probably have a mixture of these factors on your list: build quality and design, ease of use, features, performance and value. 

Generally speaking a flagship phone will cost between £500- and £600 but can be close to £800 in 2017 (we’re talking starting price), or between £40- and £50 per month if you buy a phone on a contract.

We think buying a phone outright is the best value, but you’ll obviously need a SIM to go in it. If you don’t already have one, check out our best SIM-only deals.

If the latest phones are too expensive, consider and older-generation phone. For example, we still think the Samsung Galaxy S6 is better value than many of the phones in this chart because it’s now available under £400 SIM-free.

For this reason we move all older-generation smartphones to our best mid-range phones chart. Phones like the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge will move into that chart when they are £400 and under – currently the LG G5 sits atop of that list.

Should you buy a phone running Android, iOS or Windows?

There’s more than one mobile phone operating system, but really only two worth talking about: Android and iOS. Windows phones account for around one percent of all phones sold, so it makes more sense to go with Android or an iPhone.

The vast majority of phones today run Android; Nougat is the latest version. While Apple’s iOS platform has a much lower market share, developers always release their apps on iOS so it has one of the best app stores you’ll find.

If you have an Android phone or and iPhone and want to move to the other type of phone, it’s fairly easy move your contacts and other data from one to the other. What you can’t move is paid-for apps, so keep this in mind if you’re considering a change of platform.

Why you should buy an unlocked phone

An unlocked phone is one which is not tied to any particular mobile operator, such as Vodafone or EE. Buying unlocked usually means buying the phone outright without a SIM.

The most important point is that an unlocked phone is almost always a better deal than buying a phone on contract.

The only real exception to this are Apple’s iPhones – because of their traditional popularity, operators do often subsidise the cost of buying an iPhone in order to lock you into a lucrative long-term deal.

Generally speaking, however, if you can afford the upfront cost of the handset, you will pay less over the life of your phone by buying unlocked. 

More importantly, you are not locked in. If you want a new handset at any time, you can buy one without having to up-purchase your way out of a contract, or commit to another two years. 

SIM-free vs unlocked

One thing to be sure of when purchasing an unlocked or ‘SIM-free’ phone is that not all SIM-free handsets are unlocked.

The excellent Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 is a classic example of this. It is SIM-free, but if you want to use it for any network other than Vodafone you have to first use it for a month with a Vodafone SIM, and then pay £20 to get it unlocked.

EE’s own branded phones are similar. In both cases it may well still be better to buy network branded phones and go through the pain of getting them unlocked, than to buy on contract.

The right SIM

One other thing to consider is the size and shape of the SIM required for your phone. Make sure you get a nano-SIM if a nano-SIM is what your phone requires.

If you get that wrong it is easily solvable – every network will gladly send over a different-sized SIM. SIM cards tend to come in all three sizes – you simply pop out the one you need.

But that’s assuming you are getting a new SIM, and if you’re looking for a SIM-free phone or unlocked phone you probably already have one.

You can buy adaptors that let you fit a Nano-SIM or Micro-SIM in a Micro-SIM or full-size SIM slot for a very small charge.

More important is to make sure that if you want 4G you get a 4G-enabled phone and SIM.

Best phone 2016

Looking for phones like the Galaxy Note 8, iPhone 8 Plus and Pixel XL? Well we’ve got a separate chart especially for larger devices, aka phablets, so you can see them ranked here.

Best phones 2017 UK – best phone reviews

1. Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

2. LG G6

LG G6

3. Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

4. OnePlus 5

OnePlus 5

5. Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

6. HTC U11

HTC U11

7. iPhone 8

iPhone 8

8. Google Pixel

Google Pixel

9. Xiaomi Mi6

Xiaomi Mi6

10. Moto Z2 Play

Moto Z2 Play

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