2018 saw hundreds of new phone releases and was a great year for smartphones. We've seen huge advancements in the camera and performance, new design languages for several leading companies and of course, lots of new features that will become the norm for flagship smartphones.
From all the devices released this year, we created a shortlist of our top picks, but we wanted to hear what you thought the best phone of the year was. We've counted the results, and the winner is...
AC Reader's Choice Phone of the Year 2018
An all-around excellent phone with power and finesse.
Samsung has created the ultimate all-in-one smartphone, combining the best features across the market with a few that are unique to just the Galaxy Note 9. It has the best display on any phone, excellent high-end specs, great battery life and a wishlist of features that includes a headphone jack, wireless charging, stereo speakers and the S-Pen stylus. The dual cameras are fast and take excellent photos with a simple interface. Ultimately, the Galaxy Note 9 is the phone for everybody.
Why the Galaxy Note 9 won Reader's Choice Phone of the Year 2018
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It's nice when we all agree, isn't it? Between the AC team and all of you who voted, the Galaxy Note 9 wins our Reader's Choice award, as well as AC's coveted Best Android Smartphone of 2018 award! It's easy to see why — the Galaxy Note 9 has everything for everyone.
While others in the market have trended towards removing certain hardware features like the headphone jack, Samsung has resisted the urge and as a result, the Galaxy Note 9 has all the hardware and software features you could ask for. Samsung combines excellent hardware including a stunning display and top-notch internals with a large battery and a software experience that's one of the most polished on the market.
Granted the Galaxy Note 9 doesn't excel in one particular area — while companies like Google have nailed the camera in the Pixel 3 and Huawei have cornered battery life and recharging speeds with the Mate 20 Pro — the Note 9 offers the best of all worlds. Yes, it's not quite up there with the Pixel 3 for cameras, yet the cameras on the Note 9 are the best at open quickly, capture quickly and are consistent regardless of what they're capturing. The S-Pen and all it offers, including acting as a Bluetooth camera shutter button, is just the icing on the cake.
The Note 9 is the complete smartphone and while you do pay a premium for it, it's not much compared to other devices. The additional premium is certainly justified and it's one of the reasons 23% of you voted for it as your phone of the year!
The best camera and the best software on a smartphone.
Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL? The differences are minimal, and whichever you buy, you'll get the best software experience and the best Android camera of the year. The Pixel 3 is a large improvement over its predecessor and fixes many of the complaints we had last year. It's not quite the complete experience but the results were close, with the Pixel 3 just under 19% of the vote!
Flagship features, for hundreds of dollars less.
The OnePlus 6T isn't the best smartphone on the market, but it does one thing incredibly well: it offers the premium flagship experience that you'll find at $1,000 for several hundred dollars less. The starting price is almost half of the Galaxy Note 9, yet it offers super fast performance, is available through T-Mobile and has an excellent all-round package. It's not the best overall, but it definitely offers the best value for money of any flagship device.
Over 4,300 readers voted for their favorite devices and this is how the final results stand (rounded to two decimal places, the overall total % is slightly over 100% due to the rounding):
|Phone||% of votes|
|Galaxy Note 9||23.67%|
|Google Pixel 3||18.75%|
|Huawei Mate 20 Pro||16.37%|
|Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro||3.50%|
We also had an awesome giveaway running alongside our contest, where one lucky winner would get whichever phone you voted as the phone of the year. The winner of a brand new Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is...
Blake S. from San Antonio, Texas
Congratulations Blake, we'll be in touch!
It's unsurprising the Galaxy Note 9 won the reader's choice award, but what is surprising is how close the top four actually were. 77% of the votes were for one of the top four devices, which are easily the best four devices launched this year. The close running of this contest is similar to all of these devices; the results are close but one phone usually leads slightly. More importantly, any one of these four phones would make an excellent smartphone, and be one that you can rely on!
Check out our full Best of 2018 Award winners to find out which of these devices won other awards!
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Nirave Gondhia has been writing about the mobile industry for over a decade and began his career selling and fixing phones in the UK. He's used every flagship smartphone over the past five years and carries at least two phones at all times - currently, he's using the iPhone 11 Pro, [Samsung Galaxy Fold and Motorola RAZR. Say hi to him on Twitter at @nirave.