Best Android Phone Without a Notch
The Samsung Galaxy S9+ builds on years of Samsung's excellence. It starts with a gorgeously sculpted metal-and-glass waterproof body sporting dual speakers, a headphone jack and an SD card slot. Inside are the latest and greatest specs, plus a standout pair of cameras on the back and the best display on the market around front.
Who should buy this phone
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Samsung designs its phones to be appealing to the widest possible audience, and that makes the Galaxy S9+ a great device for just about anyone. It has a big and beautiful display that's quite simply the best in the industry, but with very small bezels and curved edges, it fits into a relatively compact size without resorting to dumb-looking notches..
Internally, it has all of the latest specs to handle any app or task you need. It also has a pair of cameras on the back that are in the mix as the best available today. Samsung has also kept around crowd-pleasing features like wireless charging, waterproofing, an SD card slot and a headphone jack. Really, the Galaxy S9+ does a great job at being all things to all people.
Best of all, if you don't care for the larger size of the Galaxy S9+ for whatever reason, you can simply buy the smaller and less expensive Galaxy S9 instead and get the same core experience with only a few changes.
Is it a good time to buy this phone?
Yes. The Samsung Galaxy S9+ launched the first week of March 2018, and the Galaxy S9+'s successor will not be unveiled until March 2019. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 was unveiled in August — and we'll get to it in just a minute — but for its price tag and its abundance of features, the S9+ is still the better buy for a notchless phone.
The Galaxy S9+ proves that notches are stupid
Outside of the work Samsung has done in making the Infinity Display a perfect answer for why we don't need notches in our phones to make them feel bigger, the Galaxy S9+ is a beautiful, well-made phone. Even with its powerful specs, the phone can last through the day and charges quickly through USB-C or wireless power. The headphone jack exists, but also delivers quality audio even if your headphones aren't the best. This is a fantastic all-around phone, something that can be picked up by truly anyone and enjoyed.
But ultimately it does come down to the display. More important than the decision to keep the forehead and chin, Samsung's displays are among the highest quality in a phone you can buy today. The panel on the Galaxy S9 gets brighter than any other phone, the colors are vibrant, and the included Blue Filter mode makes it a lot more eye-friendly when using it at night. When you put all of this together, the Galaxy S9 becomes an obvious top choice for just about everyone.
The camera is all-new this generation, with a sensor that does fantastic processing to remove noise and sharpen fine detail even in poor lighting. It's aided by a dual-aperture lens to get the best combination of light and detail in different shots, and is paired with a secondary telephoto lens for zoom and portrait mode shooting. Whether you shoot in auto or mess around in manual mode, you can get great shots in just about any scene.
You don't get the clean and simple software experience of phones like the Google Pixel 2 XL or OnePlus 6, which may take some extra customization and tweaking on your part, but the Galaxy S9+ is far less polarizing overall because it just has so many features to appeal to everyone. When you take it all together, it's a complete package.
Alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy S9+
The Galaxy S9+ has mass appeal, but it isn't for everyone. There are several other awesome picks out there depending on your specific needs.
Pixel 2 XL
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
The Pixel 2 XL doesn't have a fantastic screen or headphone jack like the Galaxy S9+ does, but the camera on Google's flagship is every bit as good as Samsung. You also get three years of guaranteed software updates — which provides excellent peace of mind — to great software that many consider more consistent and uncluttered than Samsung's.
Where most manufacturers have opted to move phone speakers from the front of the phone to the bottom, Google's Pixel phones exist as one of the few left where you can get quality audio pointed right at your face when you're listening to music or watching a video. The trade-off for this design choice, obviously, is that you have speakers on the front of your phone instead of that all-display experience. While it will soon be possible to hide sensors under the display, you can't really do the same with speakers.
Now that it's almost a year old — the Google Pixel 3 XL will be unveiled in early October and will very likely have a notch — you shouldn't consider the 2 XL at full retail. But Google, Verizon and other retailers sometimes have it on discount now that we're coming up on the new model's debut.
Galaxy Note 9
The Galaxy Note 9 is easily the best Note phone Samsung has ever made, and for once it's actually better than the latest Galaxy S phone in every way. The battery has jumped up to 4000mAh, which gives you effortless all-day battery life, and the rest of the experience is the same as what the Galaxy S9+ offers.
That means you get top-end specs, a great camera, an industry-leading display and so much more. And the Note has an S Pen, which remains unmatched in the smartphone world. The problem is its $1000+ price tag, which is a tough pill to swallow when you can get almost the same experience for about $200 less with the Galaxy S9+. That makes this an "upgrade" and not the standard recommendation.
Both the Moto G6 and the G6 Plus are cut from the same cloth, but because they are so similar, the G6 Plus is only sold in markets the Moto X4 isn't available. Yes, it's confusing, but that's fine: all you need to know is that you'll probably be happy with whichever model you like.
There are many phones on the market today free of the scourge of notch. From the Galaxy S9+ to the Pixel 2 XL to the Note 9 and Moto G6, there's a notch-free phone for everyone. Does it matter whether your phone has a notch? Well, that's up to you to decide. It matters to some people, and that's all that matters to us.
Updated September 2018: The Galaxy S9+ continues to be our top pick with a top-notch display that has no notch! When money's no object, the biggest, best notchless phone to get is the Note 9. The Pixel 2 XL remains, but only when it can be found on a discount as its successor is arriving soon.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Russell Holly is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He lives for the shiniest new thing, and loves explaining its potential to improve your life. Whatever you do, don't tell his spouse about the drawer full of tech under the bed.
Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he's writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there's a correlation.
Ara Wagoner is overjoyed to have joined the Android Central team full-time after four years of freelance contributions to the site. Yes, her holster is for a phone not a gun. When she's not building new Android themes and poking Google Assistant with a stick, you can find her gutting pumpkins to brine and bake pumpkin seeds. If you see her without headphones, RUN.
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