Best overall: Samsung Galaxy S9+

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The Galaxy S9+ shares the same design fundamentals as last years Galaxy S8+, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The design is still one of the most evocative around, and the dual curved screen is a standout.

Talking about the display, Samsung leads the industry with its AMOLED panels, and the one on the Galaxy S9+ is brighter and more vivid when seen against last year's device. Simply put, it is the best display you can get on a phone today.

Then there's the camera, which has variable aperture — a first in the smartphone segment. The S9+ also gets a secondary camera that offers 2x optical zoom, allowing you to zoom in on objects without losing out on the quality.

The S9+ also comes with 6GB of RAM as standard, and you can pick up a storage option with as much as 256GB of internal storage. Overall, the S9+ offers meaningful upgrades from last year's flagship — particularly in the camera department.

Bottom line: If you want the most feature-rich phone available today, look no further than the Galaxy S9+.

One more thing: The dual-SIM variant of the Galaxy S9+ is powered by the Exynos 9810, Samsung's latest 10nm chipset.

Why the Galaxy S9+ is the best

I'll get this out of the way before we start: the Snapdragon 845-powered Galaxy S9+ variant that's officially sold in the U.S. comes with a single SIM card slot. So if you're looking for a dual-SIM version, you'll have to pick up the international model powered by Samsung's Exynos 9810.

The international version doesn't have warranty in the U.S., and it's for this reason I usually recommend a OnePlus device. However, the OnePlus 5T is no longer up for sale, and there's no mention of when the OnePlus 6 will be unveiled. Once we have more information on that front, I'll update this post.

Coming back to the Galaxy S9+, the international version is just as good as the model sold in the U.S. If anything, it's slightly faster thanks to the new 2.7GHz M3 cores. The downside is that the battery life isn't as good. In fact, it's marginally worse than that of the Galaxy S8+.

That said, you should still be able to get a day's worth of usage out of the battery in most usage scenarios.

Where the Galaxy S9+ has a distinct edge over other flagships is the display — Samsung's Super AMOLED panels are the best in the business, and that's immediately evident as soon as you start using the S9+.

The 6.2-inch QHD+ panel is also HDR10 compatible, and there's a video enhance mode in the settings that makes colors pop, particularly while viewing multimedia content on the device.

The Galaxy S9+ has the same foundation as the S8+, but there's a new dual camera at the back.

The camera is the main area of focus for Samsung with the Galaxy S9+ — the phone comes with dual 12MP imaging sensors. What's particularly interesting is that the S9 series is the first with a variable aperture camera, with the lens able to shift form f/1.5 to f/2.4. That makes a tangible difference when taking photos, particularly in low-light conditions.

What that means is that the Galaxy S9+ is just as good as the Pixel 2, if not better. Samsung also nails the basics, with the S9+ offering a 3.5mm jack, a pair of decent AKG earbuds in the box, and IP68 dust and water resistance. You also get wireless charging, and Samsung Pay continues to be the best mobile payments service around.

As for dual-SIM usage, both SIM card slots in the Galaxy S9+ offer 4G connectivity, and Samsung lets you manage the settings for each SIM card — allowing you to select a default SIM for calls, texts, and data.

Runner-up pick: Huawei Mate 10 Pro

See at Best Buy

The Mate 10 Pro is Huawei's latest battery monster. Featuring a 4000mAh battery, the phone manages to deliver two days' worth of battery life without breaking a sweat.

The phone also comes with Huawei's fast charging tech, so when you do need to top up, you'll be able to go charge up to 60% in just 30 minutes.

The phone offers a 6.0-inch FHD+ 18:9 panel, and comes with Huawei's latest Kirin 970 chipset with AI capabilities. The AI features allow the camera to select the optimal shooting mode automatically, and Huawei has mentioned that it will unlock additional capabilities in the coming months.

Other specs include up to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, Wi-Fi ac, USB-C Gen 3.1, and an 8MP front shooter. Round the back, the phone has dual 12MP + 20MP cameras with Leica optics.

On the software front, the phone offers EMUI 8.0 on top of Android 8.0 Oreo. EMUI has come a long way over the course of the last year, and it isn't a drawback anymore.

Bottom line: The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is an all-rounder that offers two-day battery life.

One more thing: Huawei's carrier deals have been waylaid, so you'll have to pick up the phone unlocked.

Best for $500: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

See at Gearbest

The Mi Mix 2 is a particularly great phone as it comes with global LTE bands. It isn't the first Xiaomi phone to do so, but it has a gorgeous design backed by a 5.99-inch screen with minimal bezels on three sides.

The phone is just as evocative from the back, thanks to the ceramic finish. Under the hood, you'll find a Snapdragon 835, along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.

The 12MP camera is one of the best available in this category, and the phone is slated to pick up the Oreo update shortly. The Oreo-based MIUI 9.5 build offers a slew of bug fixes, and generally makes the ROM feel much more cohesive.

Bottom line: The Mi Mix 2 is still one of the best phones in the $500 segment.

One more thing: You'll have to buy the Mi Mix 2 from a reseller, but it's worth the hassle.

Best budget option: Honor 7X

See at Honor

Retailing for just $199, the Honor 7X gets a lot of the basics right. The phone has a 5.93-inch FHD+ display with thin bezels, Kirin 659 chipset, 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, microSD slot, 16MP + 2MP cameras at the back, 8MP front shooter, and a 3340mAh battery.

You also get a dual-SIM card tray, but LTE connectivity is limited to the first SIM card — the second SIM automatically switches to 2G.

There really isn't a whole lot that's wrong with the Honor 7X, and the fact that the phone has picked up the Oreo update is an added bonus.

Bottom line: If you're looking for a budget phone that offers great value for money, the Honor 7X is a great choice.

One more thing: The Honor 7X is a GSM-only device, so you won't be able to use it on Verizon or Sprint.

Conclusion

The Galaxy S9+ may not have a revolutionary new design, but there's nothing wrong with that. The phone is still one of the best-looking devices around, and the upgrades to the camera make it the best phone available today.

Best overall: Samsung Galaxy S9+

See at Amazon

The Galaxy S9+ shares the same design fundamentals as last years Galaxy S8+, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The design is still one of the most evocative around, and the dual curved screen is a standout.

Talking about the display, Samsung leads the industry with its AMOLED panels, and the one on the Galaxy S9+ is brighter and more vivid when seen against last year's device. Simply put, it is the best display you can get on a phone today.

Then there's the camera, which has variable aperture — a first in the smartphone segment. The S9+ also gets a secondary camera that offers 2x optical zoom, allowing you to zoom in on objects without losing out on the quality.

The S9+ also comes with 6GB of RAM as standard, and you can pick up a storage option with as much as 256GB of internal storage. Overall, the S9+ offers meaningful upgrades from last year's flagship — particularly in the camera department.

Bottom line: If you want the most feature-rich phone available today, look no further than the Galaxy S9+.

One more thing: The dual-SIM variant of the Galaxy S9+ is powered by the Exynos 9810, Samsung's latest 10nm chipset.

Updated April 2018 with the Galaxy S9+ as the best overall pick, the Mate 10 Pro as the alternate option, and the Mi Mix 2 as the best $500 option.