The best phone 2024: top smartphones in the US right now

The best phone for you will be the phone that does everything you need, whether you want something simple and capable like the Apple iPhone 15, or a feature-packed technology marvel like the Galaxy S24 Ultra, our best phone all around to start 2024. No matter what you need, we've got recommendations for all of the best phones available right now. 

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra is such a supremely powerful, capable device that we had to make it our top pick, but there is still plenty of room for improvement at the top. We're loving the latest iOS 17 software found on the best iPhones, including the iPhone 15 Pro Max, our premium iPhone pick. Samsung has a lot to learn when it comes to software. 

Still, the Galaxy S24 Ultra earns top marks for its amazing battery life, superior performance, and improved durability, and it does so much more than other phones that it's almost a class by itself. It can actually replace a laptop computer, and the S Pen is much more than a simple stylus. 

In 2023, Samsung and Google set a new standard with promises to support the latest flagship phones for seven years of Android OS and security updates. That's a major leap forward, and even beats Apple's traditional five years of support. We'll see if Apple tries to match the Android world, and if other Android phone makers can keep up. 

The best phones you can buy aren't just the most expensive flagship phones, though. You can find great performance and excellent cameras on phones that cost hundreds less, like Google's Pixel 8 Pro and phones from OnePlus. If you don't care as much about cameras, you can even get a cool foldable phone in the Motorola Razr Ultra for less than a new iPhone. 

If you don't find a model that takes your fancy among the below options, check out our brand-specific rankings instead. We’ve reviewed all the latest handsets, and detailed the best Samsung phones, best iPhones, and best Google Pixel phones elsewhere on TechRadar.

Quick List

The best phone in 2024 

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Below, you'll find full write-ups for each of the best phones in our list. We've tested each model extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best overall phone

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra from the back with S Pen mostly withdrawn

(Image credit: Philip Berne / Future)

1. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

The best overall phone

Specifications

Release date: January 2024
Weight: 232g
Dimensions: 162.3 x 79.0 x 8.6mm
OS; Expected Upgrades: Android 14 / One UI 6; 7 years of upgrades
Screen size: 6.8-inch
Resolution: QHD+
CPU: Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 Mobile Platform for Galaxy
RAM: 12GB
Storage: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 200MP (wide) + 12MP (ultra-wide) + 10MP (telephoto with 3x optical zoom) + 50MP (telephoto with 5x optical zoom)
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible performance and features
+
Better cameras than ever before

Reasons to avoid

-
AI features can be useless at worst
-
Big, heavy, and more expensive
Buy it if

You want more than just a smartphone: The Galaxy S24 Ultra gives you more than any other smartphone. It can act as a laptop replacement, a drawing tablet, and an entire camera bag.

You want to feel the future: The Galaxy AI features can sometimes feel magical, especially if you use the language translation and some of the better summary features. There are definitely more AI features to come, so this phone could get better with time. 

Don't buy it if:

You don't need all of that phone: If you don't need everything and more, you can spend less and still get a great phone. It just won't be Ultra.

You prefer elegance and simplicity: The Samsung software is really showing its age, especially against newer and simpler phones like the elegant iPhone 15 Pro running iOS 17, which is sociable and fun, not confusing. 

The bottom line

📱 The Galaxy S24 Ultra takes smartphone features to the extreme. You won't find a more capable, adaptable, and clever device for any price, but that price is mighty steep. If you don't need everything, you can keep reading, but if you want the best phone, the best cameras, and the best overall, the Galaxy S24 Ultra is the phone to beat. ★★★★½

Samsung's Galaxy S24 Ultra takes smartphone features to the extreme, then keeps going. It's a top-performing phone, the best phone you can buy overall in so many ways. It has better battery life and performance than the iPhone, more versatile cameras than any other Android, and it packs features we don't see in smartphones these days, like the Samsung DeX desktop environment. 

Design: The differences between the Galaxy S24 Ultra and last year's phone are subtle but significant. The S24 Ultra is a big slab of phone, now more flat than before, and that makes it easier to see in bright light and easier to use, especially with the S Pen. Unfortunately, it's still a gigantic device, and titanium didn't help Samsung shed weight. 

Display: You won't find a better all-around display on a smartphone than the bright OLED screen on the Galaxy S24 Ultra. You can find a bit brighter, a bit faster, but the anti-glare finish helps in bright light, and Samsung's display is colorful and sharp for every task.

Camera: Samsung has done more work behind the scenes on its Galaxy S24 Ultra cameras than on the spec sheet, and the results pay off with better images in every setting. Portrait and landscape photos are much better, but even zoom shots have been improved, though we do miss that extra 10X zoom.

Performance: If you need the fastest phone, this is the one to buy. In our benchmark tests and real world gaming and photo editing, the Galaxy S24 Ultra was the fastest phone we've ever used, even beating the iPhone 15 Pro, which is a first for Android phones since Apple starting baking its own chipsets. 

Battery life: You can easily use the Galaxy S24 Ultra for two days of normal use, and it lasted through a full day of intense usage with no trouble. The battery hasn't gotten any bigger, Samsung is just better at managing power on this phone than ever before.  

Value for money: The Galaxy S24 Ultra is more expensive than last year, and you don't get a lot more for the money, but what you get is a big deal. Samsung promises seven years of software updates, including major Android OS updates, and that makes this phone a better value than any Samsung Galaxy Ultra to come before. 

Read our full Galaxy S24 Ultra review

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Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra scorecard
AttributesNotesRating
PriceEven more than last year, with fewer deals to find, but you get the best when you pay for it.★★★☆☆
DesignIt looks like last year, but the screen is flat which makes it less reflective, but also sharper. Just as heavy, even with titanium. ★★★★☆
DisplayYou won't find a better display on a smartphone worth buying, and the anti-glare finish really helps outdoors. ★★★★★
CameraBetter camera performance all around, even if the spec sheet looks a bit suspicious. Still the best, most versatile camera system. ★★★★★
PerformancePerformance that can top an iPhone 15 Pro, for the first time in recent memory putting Android ahead of Apple. ★★★★★
Battery lifeBetter power management this year means the Galaxy S24 Ultra has some of the best battery life we've ever seen on a smartphone. ★★★★★

The best phone for most people

iPhone 15 review images

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
The best phone for most people

Specifications

Weight: 171g
Dimensions: 147.6 x 71.6 x 7.80mm
OS: iOS 17
Screen size: 6.1-inch
Resolution: 2556 x 1179
CPU: A16 Bionic
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB
Battery: 3,349mAh (unofficial)
Rear camera: 48MP (wide) +12MP (ultra-wide)
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Dynamic Island retires the notch
+
Smooth design and soft-feel, color-infused rear glass

Reasons to avoid

-
No zoom lens
-
No macro capabilities
Buy it if

You want an affordable iPhone: The iPhone 15 strikes a nice balance between price and cutting-edge features, so you don't feel like you're missing out.

You want a camera upgrade: Between the new 48MP main camera and some excellent portrait photography capabilities, the iPhone 15 offers strong camera specs for the price.

Don't buy it if:

You want a bigger phone: The iPhone 15's 6.1-inch screen might feel cramped if you currently own a Pro Max or Plus.

You want bigger zoom: The 2x optical zoom on offer here doesn't quite compare to 3x optical zoom on the iPhone 14 Pro, iPhone 15 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S23.

The bottom line

📱 If you're not bothered by titanium sides, 120Hz scrolling or high-spec zoom photography, then the standard iPhone 15 offers pretty much everything you could want from a flagship phone, but for significantly less money. ★★★★½

Apple's iPhone 15 marks the most significant step up for a base iPhone in several years, earning its place as the best value phone money can buy today.

Design: The iPhone 15 does what the iPhone 14 did not: it moves the base model forward with a refreshed chassis design, a brand-new (and eye-catching) rear glass panel, and a compatibility-improving USB-C port.

Display: The iPhone 15's 6.1-inch Super XDR OLED display is bright and responsive, however, as on the iPhone 14, its refresh rate is locked to 60Hz. You do get Apple's Dynamic Island this time around, though.

Camera: There are still just two lenses on the back of the iPhone 15, but one of them is vastly improved over the iPhone 14. The 12MP ultrawide is basically the same, but the main camera is now the same 48MP lens that you'll find on the excellent iPhone 14 Pro (and indeed the iPhone 15 Pro).

Performance: The iPhone 15 uses the iPhone 14 Pro's superfast A16 Bionic chipset, which should provide more than enough power for most iPhone owners (for context, the latter was the most powerful handset of 2022).

Battery life: The iPhone 15 is rated for 20 hours of video playback, 80 hours of audio-only, and a 50% recharge in 30 minutes with the optional 20W charger. In our testing, we were able to use the phone casually for a full day. 

Value for money: In recent years, Apple's standard models have felt like minor upgrades that pale in comparison to their respective Pro-level counterparts, but the iPhone 15 bucks that trend by being a genuinely great value product.

Read our full iPhone 15 review

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iPhone 15 scorecard
AttributesNotesRating
PriceApple is finally giving you more for you money.★★★★☆
DesignThe curved edges and smooth, color-infused glass make this a most modern iPhone.★★★★☆
DisplayLosing the notch and gaining the dynamic Island is a net poisitive, as is the lovely and now brighter screen.★★★★☆
CameraA big main camera leap is paired with some truly impressive computational photography.★★★★☆
PerformanceIt's hard to ask for more than the A16 Bionic, unless you need the very best of the best.★★★★☆
Battery lifeDecidedly battery life.★★★★☆

The best iPhone

iPhone 15 Pro Max

(Image credit: Future / Lance Ulanoff)
The best iPhone

Specifications

Release date: September 2023
Weight: 221g
Dimensions: 159.9 x 76.7 x 8.25mm
OS: iOS 17
Screen size: 6.7 inches
Resolution: 2796 x 1290 pixels
CPU: A17 Pro
RAM: 8GB (unofficial)
Storage: 256GB/512GB/1TB
Battery: 4,422mAh (unofficial)
Rear camera: 48MP (wide) + 12MP (ultra-wide) + 12MP (telephoto with 5x optical zoom)
Front camera: 12MP

Reasons to buy

+
Gorgeous albeit subtle redesign
+
Excellent photography

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier baseline (but more storage)
-
Charging should be faster
Buy it if

You want the biggest and best iPhone: The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the most technologically advanced iPhone Apple has ever made, period.

You want the most powerful phone: Apple's A17 Pro chipset is more powerful than anything else on the market, so much so that you're able to play console-quality games on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

You want a versatile camera system: In addition to its 5x optical zoom capabilities, the iPhone 15 Pro Max features the smartest portrait photography tech around.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want the best mobile zoom camera: The addition of 5x optical zoom on the iPhone 15 Pro Max is welcome, but the 5x camera on the Galaxy S23 is arguably better.

You need fast charging: The iPhone 15 Pro Max offers reassuringly-solid battery life and functionally-fine charging, but rivals from every angle offer much faster speeds.

The bottom line

📱 When it comes to iPhones, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the best of the best. But you'll have to pay handsomely for the privilege of owning one, and Samsung's similarly priced Galaxy S24 Ultra has slightly better cameras. ★★★★½

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is indisputably the best iPhone money can buy right now, so for Apple fans with a bottomless supply of cash, this is the top choice. The smaller iPhone 15 Pro is also an exceptional handset that's worth considering if you prefer its more practical 6.1-inch size, but since the larger iPhone 15 Pro Max offers a 5x periscope zoom lens, the latter phone is the objectively superior device.

Design: As with its smaller sibling, the iPhone 15 Pro boasts a gorgeous titanium design that can withstand unwelcome drops more effectively than its predecessor. The addition of a USB-C port and configurable Action button makes this a more versatile device, too.

Display: The iPhone 15 Pro Max packs an excellent 6.7-inch Super XDR OLED screen (with ProMotion), which is unchanged from the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Camera: In addition to that aforementioned 5x periscope zoom lens – which marks the first of its kind on an iPhone – the iPhone 15 Pro Max boasts a 48MP quad-pixel main lens and a 12MP ultra-wide lens, making it the most capable and versatile iPhone yet for mobile photographers.

Performance: Apple's all-new A17 Pro chipset delivers mobile gaming performance that's comparable to some high-end PCs (yes, really). Along with the iPhone 15 Pro, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is the most powerful phone on the market.

Battery life: The iPhone 15 Pro Max managed 28 hours of mixed-use in our testing, with the phone recharging to 50% in just over 30 minutes. That's pretty good going for a phone of this size and power, but others charge faster.

Value for money: As with the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, the iPhone 15 Pro Max is an exceptionally expensive handset that can never truly be considered good value for money. That said, you're still getting a whole lot of phone for the price.

Read our full iPhone 15 Pro Max review

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iPhone 15 Pro Max scorecard
AttributesNotesRating
PriceMore expensive, but you do get more storage for your money.★★★☆☆
DesignThe combination of a titanium body and new smoother curves is an aesthetic and ergonomic win.★★★★☆
DisplayThe screen in bigger (though not higher resolution) and looks better than ever.★★★★★
CameraThis is the best collection of cameras we've ever used on an iPhone.★★★★★
PerformanceThe A17 Pro makes console gaming a reality in an iPhone.★★★★★
Battery lifeAll-day battery life but still waiting for fast charging.★★★★☆