The smartphone is the centre of the modern world, it's not only essential for communication, it's your entertainment, smart home control devices and your constant companion.

We continually update our best smartphone guide to reflect recent launches and recognise price changes. All of these top phones have been fully reviewed by us - we don't just include stuff we think sounds good.

If you're in the market for a cheap phone, then check out our sub-£400 smartphone and budget phone roundups, and consider a SIM-only deal if you're buying your phone outright.

1. Huawei Mate 20 Pro


 

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Huawei's romp through smartphones continues with the Mate 20 Pro. The previous phone - the Mate 10 - was impressive, but Huawei ratchets up the appeal with a new handset. It has outstanding battery life and offers lots of power, one of the first phones to offer 7nm hardware, along with a new camera system on the rear, making the Huawei P20 Pro now look dated.

Huawei's software has seen a lot of improvement in recent years, moving from intrusive to offering a lot of smart features. Some might prefer the lighter touch from the Pixel or OnePlus, but as a complete package, Huawei is leading the way with the Mate 20 Pro.

2. Apple iPhone XS Max


 

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Apple and quality go hand-in-hand. But while the iPhone XS is a step beyond the iPhone X of 2017, it's the iPhone XS Max which shakes things up. It's expensive, yes, but this is Apple really committing to the bigger phone format. The XS Max provides a big screen experience that surpasses anything the iPhone Plus models did in the past, including great battery life.

Quality of build is apparent, but there's power and speed in abundance, along with battery life and a great camera experience. But this is really a phone about immersion: it's about full screen gaming, it's about browsing without feeling that you need to reach for your iPad. It's about putting it all in your pocket for the best iPhone experience yet - but you will have to pay for it.

3. Samsung Galaxy S9+


 

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Samsung's 2018 phone takes everything that was great about the Samsung Galaxy S8+ and boosts it. There isn't a huge change in design, but this remains one of the best looking phones on the market. That 6.1-inch Infinity Display still rules the roost, as Samsung adds refinement to the display making it brighter and better looking than before.

There's power on tap, making it a great smartphone to tackle daily use, with the convenience of a plenty of choices for biometric unlocking, as well as a fingerprint scanner that's now more conveniently located than it was on the S8+. Samsung also hangs onto the basics - a 3.5mm headphone socket and microSD card slot, all wrapped in an IP68 waterproofed package. The Note 9 offers much the same experience with some enhancement, so it's worth checking the best deals to see which phone best fits your budget.

4. Huawei P20 Pro


 

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Of all the manufacturers who are really shaking things up at the moment, Huawei is right up there. The P20 Pro blew us away at launch - we said "a new camera phone king is born" when we reviewed the phone - with a powerful triple camera system. If you're seeking a genuine flagship then you're looking right at one - although it's now bettered by the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

Criticisms are few and far between: Face Unlock isn't a patch on Apple's Face ID, there's no wireless charging, plus there are minor software quirks - but savvy buyers can snap up this phone over Android rivals and not regret it for one second. This is Huawei's crowning moment - all the near misses of the last few years have resulted in this superb phone - and some of the deals are now staggeringly good.

5. Honor Play


 

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The aggressive stance of Huawei and Honor is obvious: while the flagship P20 Pro blows us away technically, it's incredibly hard to compete with the Honor Play's price point. In this phone Honor packed in the same flagship grade hardware as other models, but this big screen phone is offered at an amazing price.

The Honor Play pitches itself as a gaming phone, but in reality, this is a mid-priced Trojan Horse. It has power, great battery life, a great display and there's a capable dual camera too. Some might not be so taken with the company's EMUI interface running over Android, but at this price, you really can't complain.

6. OnePlus 6T


 

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The second phone from OnePlus in 2018 is an enticing option. It's great value for money and has a build quality that rivals all others on this list, with a great display and lots of power. There's an under-glass fingerprint scanner and options for 6/8GB RAM or 128/256GB storage - as well as a lovely McLaren Edition with 10GB and Warp Charge 30 - for not a lot more money.

The downsides of the OnePlus are no official IP rating, a speaker that's a little lacklustre and a camera that doesn't quite challenge the best. But otherwise, you're getting a fast phone with fast charging, great battery life and optimisation, all with a bloat-free user interface in Oxygen OS.

7. Samsung Galaxy Note 9


 

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The Galaxy Note 9 from Samsung is all about the S Pen. In some ways, that makes this phone uncomfortably close to the Galaxy S9+, in that it looks the same, performs very much the same and offers the same features, but costs more money. It's really the S Pen that makes a difference and it's the S Pen you've got to want. 

What's new is that the S Pen provides control that you don't get in any other smartphone - not just in the case of stylus input, but that it can now be used as a remote control for various functions, from controlling the camera to progressing through presentations. Aside from the S Pen this is a great phone, but as we said - you can get basically the same thing for less in the S9+.

8. Google Pixel 3


 

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The Pixel 3 from Google can never be discounted. Despite some teething troubles, the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL offer the best cameras on the market. It you're looking for a smaller format smartphone, then the Pixel 3 offers all that power without getting too big. It offers pure and clean Android 9 Pie with some Pixel extras and is mercifully free of bloat.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL isn't quite stellar when it comes to battery life, but it does offer wireless charging and waterproofing for a very complete handset. Others offer more functionality out of the box, but there's no beating this camera when it comes to night shooting or portrait mode. It also has great speakers.

9. Apple iPhone XR


 

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While the iPhone XS Max is the better phone technically, Apple's second handset, the iPhone XR is seriously worth consideration. A big part of this comes down to the price. You're still getting Apple quality, you're getting all the speed and power and a great display and about the only loss is the size and the camera on the back.

For the most part you'll get the same quality of images, but you do miss that zoom lens and there's a slight difference in the iP rating. But, the iOS experience is the same and the iPhone XR will likely give you a phone that will be more affordable for very few losses, so is worthy of consideration.

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10. Honor View 20


 

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Honor had a storming 2018 and one of the first devices to land in 2019 is the Honor View 20. It carries a lot of the goodness through from the previous year and while the price is slowly creeping up - compared to the Honor Play for example - this is a breakthrough phone in many ways. The hole-punch front camera is an example of Honor pushing the latest trends.

At the same time there's the feeling that there's a lot more to come from Honor in 2019. While it doesn't leap leap ahead of other devices on the list, this is still an affordable flagship alternative. There are a few downsides, but it's a strong start to a new year from Honor.

11. Sony Xperia XZ3


 

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The Sony Xperia XZ3 is a surprising return to form for Sony Mobile. The message about design seems to have struck home and Sony has given us a phone that's a lot more competitive that some of its recent offerings. Great design, a great display and lots of power all come together here in a package that holds its own against other flagships.

There are some oddities, like the low placement of the fingerprint sensor on the rear of the phone, but there are some treats, like Android Pie out of the box. The camera isn't the most accomplished, but the overall experience is great.