Best Overall

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Galaxy Note 8

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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 for battery life

Huawei Mate 9

Huawei Mate 9

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Huawei has made great progress over the past year, and its latest flagship, the Mate 9, stands out as the best big phone for buyers outside the United States. That's largely thanks to Huawei's much improved EMUI 5 software experience, based on Android Nougat. But the Mate 9 also benefits from a massive 5.9-inch 1080p screen in a body the same size as the Nexus 6P.

Beyond its size and software, the Mate 9 nails the fundamentals of a great Android experience, with quick performance, an ample 64GB of storage as standard, plus microSD expansion, and a capable dual camera setup. Unlike LG, 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. The result is a camera setup that often goes toe-to-toe with the best out there, and can produce some interesting creative effects thanks to its second sensor.

Bottom line: Huawei's much-improved software — together with great build quality, performance and dependable cameras — makes for a fantastic big-screened experience.

One more thing: The Huawei Mate 9 isn't currently available through any U.S. carriers — instead you'll have to buy the unlocked version, which works on T-Mobile and AT&T (and their MVNOs), as well as just about every global LTE network.

Best for less

LG V30

LG V30

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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

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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 September, 2017: Galaxy Note 8 is the new king of large phones, with the LG V30 coming in as an excellent, less expensive option for late 2017.