Update, May 2017: Article changed to better reflect a listing of phones costing over $700, rather than under $900. Galaxy S8 moves to the top spot, dropping the Pixel XL one position. The LG V20 and Galaxy S7 edge are replaced on the list.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint See at Best Buy

The Galaxy S8 has futuristic hardware with tiny bezels that give it a big screen in a small body, but inside it still offers everything you want: a high-end processor, lots of storage, an SD card slot, full waterproofing and a top-end camera.

Yes the fingerprint sensor is slightly awkward to use, but the GS8's iris scanner is dramatically improved to make up for it. And it only takes one look at the industry-leading display to start to forgive Samsung's decisions on the back.

Its software can be a little overwhelming to novices, but you can't argue that Samsung continues to pack in hundreds of features to a single phone, making sure there's something in here for everyone's needs. Samsung continues to take this approach of offering more more more with just a few compromises — and it continues to work.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 gives you tons of features in a beautiful body, and is a great choice for a top-dollar smartphone .

One more thing: You can always pay a little extra and get the larger Galaxy S8+ with a bit more screen and battery life.

Why the Galaxy S8 is the best

Samsung's Galaxy S brand carries serious weight in the smartphone world, and the Galaxy S8 continues to both leverage that brand while also offering a fantastic overall smartphone experience that people want today. Once again, Samsung took its core principles of great hardware, a top-end display, waterproofing, solid cameras and mounds of features and updated it all for 2017.

The result is a fresh design that shrinks down the display bezels and really smooths out all of the sharp edges to give you a sleek, thin phone with a really large display that doesn't actually feel that large. The extra-tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio comes in at 5.8-inches across on the Galaxy S8 and 6.2-inches on the Galaxy S8+, and in both cases feels smaller than the numbers would lead you to believe.

The sleek body still packs in top-end specs, starting with that magnificent Super AMOLED display and backing it up with a Snapdragon 835 or Exynos 8895 processor, 4GB of RAM, larger 64GB of storage (plus an SD card slot), a new USB-C port and locking it all down with waterproofing. The batteries are no bigger than last year's models, but battery life hasn't taken any hit. On the other side of the hardware, there's one downside: Samsung moved the fingerprint sensor to an awkward position on the back next to the camera, leaving you with the less-consistent and less-convenient face scanning and iris scanning instead.

Samsung continues to make phones with all of the design and features people are clamoring for.

The camera experience has actually changed more on the front than the back with a new 8MP unit that packs auto focus. But the 12MP rear camera is still no slouch — Samsung has improved its processing to get even more out of this setup, and it remains a competitor for the best overall smartphone camera out there.

The ongoing point of contention when it comes to Samsung phones is the software, and that's the same once again on the Galaxy S8. Samsung continues to put in a massive number of features without removing many from years prior, leaving you with lots of things to get in the way when you're trying to get the basics done. On the other hand, it's hard to find someone who can't get what they need done right out of the box on this phone. It truly is aimed at being relevant to as diverse a set of consumers as possible, and it succeeds on that point.

By putting up with a few of the out-of-the-box quirks and taking some time to set it up how you like it, the Galaxy S8 can do anything you want and get it done at a fast pace while looking great as well.

Best runner-up

Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

See at Verizon See at Google Store

In what is generally a toss-up that comes down to personal preference for many, Google's Pixel XL comes in at the runner-up spot in this top-dollar list. Whereas our other "best phones" lists in various categories start with the smaller and less expensive Pixel, if money's no object we definitely suggest going with the larger Pixel XL.

It'll set you back an extra $120 retail, but the bigger Pixel XL is definitely worth that step up. With all of the same features and hardware quality, you get a nicely sized 5.5-inch display that's really the sweet spot for most people. At the same time, you're getting a 3450mAh battery that's plenty for a day of use — not something that's consistently the case on the smaller Pixel.

You miss out on some advanced features and the hardware lacks extras like waterproofing and wireless charging, but some will find that trade off worth it for the simple, smooth experience of a Pixel XL.

Bottom line: For a clean, fast and simple experience when price is no object, the Pixel XL absolutely fits the bill.

One more thing: Since you're buying the Pixel XL unlocked anyway, consider Google's own carrier, Project Fi.

Best tough phone

Moto Z Force Droid

Moto Z Force Droid

See at Verizon

Moto's Verizon-exclusive Moto Z Force Droid is in an odd place because it ostensibly sits above the standard Moto Z, but has the one restriction of being tied to a single carrier. But if you're on Verizon (or willing to be), it's a really great phone. Yes it's coming around on a year old, but it also still has all of the features that made it great from Day 1.

The Moto Z Force Droid's massive 3500mAh battery gives it plenty of longevity, and you always have the option to pop on a battery Mod to add even more power in a snap. The "Force" part of the equation related to its shatter-proof display, which may be the only feature that matters if you're rough on your phone.

In the end you get really solid performance, typical smooth and useful Moto software and external hardware that's good but won't blow you out of the water the same way Samsung can — a fine trade off for many.

Bottom line: Moto's top-end Z is a great choice for those who may beat up their phone a bit.

One more thing: The Moto Z Force Droid is set to be replaced soon — we can recommend holding on to see what Moto has in store.

Conclusion

If you're looking to spend top dollar on a phone, our top choice remains the Galaxy S8. It's followed closely by Google's top-end Pixel XL, though, and if you need something tougher you can consider the Moto Z Force Droid.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

See at Verizon See at AT&T See at T-Mobile See at Sprint See at Best Buy

The Galaxy S8 has futuristic hardware with tiny bezels that give it a big screen in a small body, but inside it still offers everything you want: a high-end processor, lots of storage, an SD card slot, full waterproofing and a top-end camera.

Yes the fingerprint sensor is slightly awkward to use, but the GS8's iris scanner is dramatically improved to make up for it. And it only takes one look at the industry-leading display to start to forgive Samsung's decisions on the back.

Its software can be a little overwhelming to novices, but you can't argue that Samsung continues to pack in hundreds of features to a single phone, making sure there's something in here for everyone's needs. Samsung continues to take this approach of offering more more more with just a few compromises — and it continues to work.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 gives you tons of features in a beautiful body, and is a great choice for a top-dollar smartphone .

One more thing: You can always pay a little extra and get the larger Galaxy S8+ with a bit more screen and battery life.