Best overall

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

Samsung Galaxy Note 8

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From dual cameras and a Wacom-powered stylus to water resistance, wireless charging, a massive curved display and even a headphone jack, the Galaxy Note 8 packs just about everything you could possibly ask for in a modern flagship. At 1200 nits, its display is one of the brightest on the market, and it's hard to beat the combination of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 835 chipset and a whopping 6GB of RAM.

Bottom line: The Galaxy Note 8 is simply the best device Samsung has ever built. At least, until the Galaxy S9 shows its face.

One more thing: Depending on where you buy it from, the Galaxy Note 8 nears $1000 outright. For all its compelling features, a thousand dollars is hard to swallow for any phone.

Why the Galaxy Note 8 is the best

Samsung packed everything and the kitchen sink into the Galaxy Note 8.

For the absolute biggest and best that Samsung has to offer, you go with a Galaxy Note 8. It's the only way you can get an S Pen and the suite of software that makes it so powerful, but it's also the only Samsung phone available with its new dual camera setup. Those dual cameras let you zoom in on subjects with less resolution loss, and combine for a "Live Focus" effect that selectively blurs the background to mimic a DSLR's shallow depth of field. The main camera on its own remains unchanged from the Galaxy S8, however, which is disappointing to some who want to see an improvement but is a rock-solid shooter we're all familiar with at this point.

Aside from those two features, though, the Note 8 is near-identical to the Galaxy S8+. It has all of the same specs, save for a bump to 6GB of RAM and a drop to 3300mAh battery. It also has the same overall design and build, with a screen that's just 0.1-inches larger and a body that's only minimally bigger in each direction. For that reason, if you don't need the S Pen or are drawn in by the cameras, you'd be smart to consider saving some money and getting a Galaxy S8+ instead.

Best small phone

Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung Galaxy S8

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The Galaxy S8 is just another example of why Samsung remains one of the top performers in smartphones. It features one of the best smartphone displays with a vibrant color palette and fantastic brightness. It's equipped with a stellar 12MP camera with manual shooting abilities, as well as a 3000mAh battery that will last you through the day. Samsung also continues to bundle in the "extras" you won't always find on other devices, like a water resistant chassis, wireless charging and a microSD expansion slot.

Bottom line: With the way Samsung has aggressively marketed and cut the price of the Galaxy S8 over time, it's no surprise this phone is on just about everyone's list in the top-end smartphone market. It does just about everything you want.

One more thing: Like every other Samsung phone released in 2017, the S8's fingerprint sensor is a bit hard to reach — luckily iris recognition works pretty well in all but the brightest environments.

Best mid-sized phone

Samsung Galaxy S8+

Galaxy S8 Plus

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Need something bigger? The Galaxy S8+ has all the same innards as its smaller counterpart, but it builds on that foundation with a larger 6.2-inch display and 3500mAh battery to accompany it. It also comes packed with all the same goodies, including water resistance, an expansion slot, USB Type-C fast charging, wireless charging, and the ability to pay with either Samsung Pay or Android Pay.

Bottom line: If the Galaxy S8 is too small for your liking, and you don't care about the S Pen or dual cameras, the S8+ is your best bet. It's cheaper than the Galaxy Note 8 and offers a nearly identical experience.

One more thing: This is still a really big phone — we certainly recommend holding both it and the standard Galaxy S8 before making a buying decision on which one works for your hands.

Best durable phone

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Samsung Galaxy S8 Actve

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The Galaxy S8 Active offers an identical core experience to the Galaxy S8, down to every little feature like wireless charging and specific hardware components. At the same time, the entire outside of the phone is considerably thicker, wider, taller and heavier than the Galaxy S8, with a flat screen and no glass on the back. It also has a plastic-like coating on the screen to make it shatter-resistant, which is great for those who need it but a slight detriment to the rest of us as it picks up casual scratches much easier.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S8 Active isn't a better overall phone than the standard Galaxy S8, but it sure is a great "rugged" choice considering the competition.

One more thing: All of that extra size let Samsung put an extra 1000mAh of battery capacity in, totaling 4000mAh, so you really don't have to worry about battery life on the Galaxy S8 Active.

Best for less

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

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The Galaxy S7 may now be considered to some as old news, but you'll save a considerable amount of money picking this one over its latest successor. It's considerably smaller when you compare it to the Galaxy S8, and aside from the "Active" models it's the last modern Samsung flagship with a flat screen. But it has a whole host of other modern features, like IP68 water resistance, Samsung Pay, an SD card slot, and what we'd still consider a very capable 12-megapixel rear camera.

Bottom line: If small and affordable is what you're going for, and you don't mind the impending end-of-life status of software updates after the next major release, the Galaxy S7 remains a good deal.

One more thing: Keep in mind that the Galaxy S7 comes from the era of Micro-USB ports … you may need to have a different cable if you've already started to upgrade the rest of your setup to USB-C.

Update, November 2017: The list was brought up to date with the addition of the Note 8 and Galaxy S8 Active, as well as the removal of the Note 7 and Galaxy S7 edge, for simplicity's sake.