Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Galaxy Note 8

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

Forget last year's missteps — the Samsung Galaxy Note line is back in style. This year's Note takes everything we loved about the Galaxy S8 Plus and adds even more display real estate, an impressive new dual-camera rig, boasting 2X telephoto with optical image stabilization, and new features for the S Pen stylus, including animated written messages.

Samsung's best-in-class display gets even better with new capabilities including a 1200-nit daylight mode. And the Note's performance is supercharged thanks to 6GB of RAM as standard, and software enhancements in Samsung Experience 8.5.

You of course get Samsung's trademark S Pen stylus, which is smarter than ever in the seventh-generation Note. But the biggest reason to invest in one of the priciest Android phones on the market might be the Note 8's new dual camera setup. The main camera mirrors the excellent performance of the GS8, while the secondary shooter captures zoomed in shots with greater detail than any Android phone, thanks to its 12-megapixel resolution and optical stabilization.

Bottom line: The Galaxy Note 8 boasts a fearsome price tag, but it's easily the best handset in this category. Between the display, performance, cameras, and productivity features, there's no better big-screened phone

One more thing: The Note 8's fingerprint scanner is in kind of an awkward place — not unlike the Galaxy S8. And in addition, the face unlock and iris scanning features can be temperamental.

Why the Galaxy Note 8 is the best

Simply put, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the best at almost everything it does.

Samsung's latest big-screened handset steps out from the shadow of the Note 7, excelling across the board and building on the success of the Galaxy S8 line. The huge 6.3-inch SuperAMOLED display looks fantastic, with the best daylight visibility we've seen in a phone and bright, vibrant colors. And the phone itself is beautiful, with a symmetrical design that shows off its epic display.

What's more, the Note 8 has everything you could ask for in a high-end handset with a top-tier dual camera array, software that's differentiated but not overbearing, and speedy performance.


Best alternative

Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

See at Verizon See at Best Buy See at Google Store

The larger of Google's two second-generation Pixel phones brings a tall 18:9 display with slimmer bezels, a big battery, an excellent camera, and the best software experience on any Android phone. There's a curved "3D glass" front, a unqiue painted metal exterior, along with water- and dust-resistance capabilities and 64GB of storage as standard — big, necessary upgrades from the older Pixels.

You'll of course get Android Oreo out of the box, with the promise of swift updates to future versions of the OS, along with some excellent software customizations from Google. Google Lens will tell you what' in your photos, and "Now Playing" can identify songs in the background without using mobile data. And to top it off, Google's second-generation Pixel camera excels across the board, with legendary low-light and high-contrast capabilities. While the display isn't the best out there, it's still decent, and the rest of the phone is absolutely top-tier.

Bottom line: Despite some concerns around the screen, the Google Pixel 2 XL is a phenomenal smartphone with awesome software, and the best camera out there.

One more thing: We have to pick one overall winner, but the Pixel 2 XL is about equal with the Note 8, on balance. It just depends what your priorities are.



Best for battery life

Huawei Mate 10 / Mate 10 Pro

Huawei Mate 10 series

See at Amazon

Chinese manufacturer Huawei continues to go from strength to strength, and the latest Mate 10 phones — in particular the Mate 10 Pro — stand out as great overall devices with particular focus on battery life. Both Mate 10s are fast, run Huawei's Android Oreo-based EMUI 8 software, and run the new Kirin 970 chip, which comes with cutting-edge AI hardware for added future-proofing.

Beyond its size and software, the Mate 10 series nails the fundamentals of a great Android experience, with quick performance and between 64 and 128GB of storage as standard, plus microSD expansion on the regular Mate 10, and one of the best dual camera setups we've seen. Unlike Huawei combines two cameras with the same focal length, but with one OIS (optical image stabilization) 12MP camera capturing colors, and the other, a 20MP monochrome sensor, picking up fine detail, behind super-bright f/1.6 lenses. The result is a camera setup that goes toe-to-toe with the Google Pixel 2 in many situations.

Bottom line: Huawei has nailed the camera experience this time around, and that, combined with the Mate line's historic strength in battery life, make for a great device.

One more thing: We're still waiting for the Mate 10 series to launch properly, though Amazon pre-orders for the regular model are available, and a European launch for the Pro is immiment.

Best for less

LG V30

LG V30

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

LG has successfully built on the G6 with its best big-screened phone to date, the V30. The V30 takes the design of its G-series forerunner and smoothes out the angles, with curved Gorilla Glass 5 front and back, polished aluminum on the sides, and plenty of power lurking within. It's also LG's first flagship phone in more than two years with an OLED screen, and while it's not quite as spectacular as the Note 8's Super AMOLED, LG's latest display is great in its own right.,

On the inside, you get a standard loadout of high-end smartphone specs: Snapdragon 835, 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage (or 128GB if you get the V30+). But as with most LG phones over the past year or so, the biggest reason to choose the V30 might be its camera capabilities. The main shooter is a 16-megapixel unit with a new, super-bright f/1.6 lens, with OIS. And that's paired with a brighter wide-angle camera with f/1.9 aperture, so you can capture dramatic 120-degree views even in low light.

LG has also built out new cinematic video shooting features in the new Cine LOG recording mode, which is great for videographers wanting to edit footage from the phone in Final Cut or Adobe Premiere.

Bottom line: The V30 is a great overall package. If you want many of the top features of the Note 8 without breaking the bank, LG's latest is well worth a look.

One more thing: No more weird regional variations! All V30s come with LG's famed Quad DAC for high-quality wired audio, as well as wireless charging and IP68 water resistance.

Best 'Almost a Note 8' phone

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Galaxy S8 Plus

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

Samsung delivers a great big-screened Android experience in the larger of the two Galaxy S8 models. The new 18.5:9 aspect ratio, combined with a 6.2-inch display size (6.1 inches excluding the rounded corners) makes the Galaxy S8+ big, but not impossible to hold. And the extra height of that beautiful Quad HD+ SuperAMOLED panel means you'll fit more on screen, too.

The design work Samsung started in 2016 can be seen coming to fruition in the GS8+, with an almost completely symmetrical metal and glass chassis that complements the big screen. And Samsung nails the fundamentals of the smartphone experience too, with fast performance and a great camera, improved from the GS7 thanks to new processing tricks. On the software side, Samsung's UI feels more polished and mature than ever, with a new sci-fi aesthetic that's slick and unique but not overbearing.

Bottom line: It's expensive for sure, but the Samsung Galaxy S8+ easily one of the best phablets out there.

One more thing: The Galaxy S8+'s fingerprint scanner is in kind of an awkward place, around the back and next to the camera lens. But at least you've got face unlock and iris scanning to fall back on.

Conclusion

If you want the best Android has to offer in a big-screened phone, look no further than the Samsung Galaxy Note 8. The size of Samsung's 6.3-incher is both a strength and a weakness — thanks to the extra-tall 18.5:9 aspect ratio, this is a very tall phone. But if that's what you're after, Samsung does a great job of showcasing an enormous, bright display and backing up a great physical design with good-looking software and unique software tricks, the S Pen and a fantastic dual camera setup.

Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Galaxy Note 8

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

Forget last year's missteps — the Samsung Galaxy Note line is back in style. This year's Note takes everything we loved about the Galaxy S8 Plus and adds even more display real estate, an impressive new dual-camera rig, boasting 2X telephoto with optical image stabilization, and new features for the S Pen stylus, including animated written messages.

Samsung's best-in-class display gets even better with new capabilities including a 1200-nit daylight mode. And the Note's performance is supercharged thanks to 6GB of RAM as standard, and software enhancements in Samsung Experience 8.5.

You of course get Samsung's trademark S Pen stylus, which is smarter than ever in the seventh-generation Note. But the biggest reason to invest in one of the priciest Android phones on the market might be the Note 8's new dual camera setup. The main camera mirrors the excellent performance of the GS8, while the secondary shooter captures zoomed in shots with greater detail than any Android phone, thanks to its 12-megapixel resolution and optical stabilization.

Bottom line: The Galaxy Note 8 boasts a fearsome price tag, but it's easily the best handset in this category. Between the display, performance, cameras, and productivity features, there's no better big-screened phone

One more thing: The Note 8's fingerprint scanner is in kind of an awkward place — not unlike the Galaxy S8. And in addition, the face unlock and iris scanning features can be temperamental.

Updated November 2017: We've added the Pixel 2 XL and Huawei Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro to our lineup!