Best Samsung phones: finding the right Galaxy for you

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Samsung is the biggest name in Android phones, and for good reason, as the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S9 are among the best handsets you can buy.

But the company has made a lot of phones and it’s worth looking beyond the latest flagships, depending on your needs and budget.

So with that in mind here’s a guide to the best Samsung phones available. It covers new and old(er) at a range of price points, along with different screen sizes, specs and features.

1. Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus

The best Samsung phone you can buy

Release date: March 2018 | Weight: 189g | Dimensions: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 / Exynos 9810 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Battery: 3,500mAh | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Great dual-aperture camera
Impressive screen
Pricey
Not all that different to S8 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus is Samsung’s best phone, and also the top ranked handset in our overall best phones list at the time of writing.

It’s big, in fact its 6.2-inch screen would make it very big, were it not for the almost complete absence of bezel and the curved edges, which ensure it’s actually quite manageable in the hand. The screen is one of the best around too – it’s sharp and sports great colors.

The Galaxy S9 Plus also stands out through its dual 12MP cameras, one of which is a dual-aperture one, meaning it can switch between f/1.5 for dark scenes and f/2.4 for everything else.

Other highlights include impressive stereo speakers and a big 3,500mAh battery. There’s flagship power too of course, and all the bells and whistles that tend to go with that, like a stylish metal and glass build, water resistance, wireless charging and various biometric security options, including a fingerprint scanner, an iris scanner and a face scanner.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus review

2. Samsung Galaxy S9

A solid successor to a smartphone classic

Release date: March 2018 | Weight: 163g | Dimensions: 147.7 x 68.7 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Snapdragon 845 / Exynos 9810 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Excellent screen
Very powerful
Very similar to S8
Only has a single lens camera

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is a smaller, cheaper (but still expensive) alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. 

The 5.8-inch screen makes it potentially preferable if you have smaller hands or pockets, and as with the S9 Plus it’s more compact than you might expect, thanks to its slim bezels and curvy screen.

The Samsung Galaxy S9 has many of the same high points as the S9 Plus, including a sharp, vibrant display, a high-end build, plenty of power and various biometric security options.

It’s only got a single-lens camera, but it’s still a very good one, and the battery is smaller, so this is definitely the weaker phone overall, but it’s still one of the more impressive handsets you can buy in 2018.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S9 review

3. Samsung Galaxy Note 8

A beastly phone for stylus fans

Release date: September 2017 | Weight: 195g | Dimensions: 162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 6.3-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2630 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 / Exynos 8895 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | Battery: 3,300mAh | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Impressive camera
Great screen
Weak speaker
Expensive

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is Samsung’s other flagship, designed for those who want a truly massive 6.3-inch screen and a stylus (known as the S-Pen) to help make the most of it.

Other than that, it has much in common with the Galaxy S range, with a similar (and similarly stylish) glass back and metal frame, a QHD curved screen and a dual-lens rear camera.

There’s lots of power too, though it’s using a 2017 chipset rather than a 2018 one, so it’s not quite a match for the S9 range. But then it’s also now a little cheaper than the S9 Plus and still has water resistance, wireless charging and loads of storage.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 8 review

4. Samsung Galaxy S8

Still a top phone

Release date: April 2017 | Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 148.9 x 68.1 x 8mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 / Exynos 8895 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Strong camera
Big and sharp screen
Biometric issues
Bixby isn’t very useful

The Samsung Galaxy S8 was one of the best phones of 2017 and it still ranks high now. In fact, the Samsung Galaxy S9 is only a fairly minor upgrade.

The S8 has a sharp 1440 x 2960 5.8-inch OLED screen, which of course, is curved. It’s got a great design, with a metal frame, a glass back and minimal bezel, it’s got a 12MP camera that outperforms most phones and even now it’s still very powerful.

It’s also water-resistant, supports wireless charging and has a fingerprint scanner, a face scanner and an iris scanner – though the latter two don’t work as well as on the Galaxy S9 and the former is in a more annoying position. Still, they’re small complaints about what’s otherwise a minor classic in the smartphone world.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S8 review

5. Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

A great big-screen option

Release date: April 2017 | Weight: 173g | Dimensions: 159.5 x 73.4 x 8.1mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 / Exynos 8895 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3,500mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Huge screen
Big battery
Only has a single lens camera
Flawed biometrics

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is a big-screen alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S8, but it’s not just the 6.2-inch display that’s bigger, the 3,500mAh battery is too.

Otherwise this is a very similar phone, with many of the same pros and cons. You get a sharp display with great contrast and colors, a powerful – if now slightly dated – chipset, a 12MP single lens camera that excels in most lighting, and more biometric options than you’ll know what to do with.

It’s also cheaper than the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus or Galaxy Note 8, making the Galaxy S8 Plus a slightly more affordable big-screen option – though it lacks the dual-lens cameras of those phones.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus review

6. Samsung Galaxy S7

This once flagship is still a strong upper mid-ranger

Release date: March 2016 | Weight: 152g | Dimensions: 142.4 x 69.6 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5.1-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 / Exynos 8890 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great compact screen
Good camera
Only 32GB of internal storage
Aging innards

The Samsung Galaxy S7 was one of the best phones of 2016, which means it’s still very decent now, especially given that the price has dropped a lot since launch.

But it could appeal not just to those on a budget, but also those who want a fairly compact phone, as its 5.1-inch screen is small by modern standards. It’s as good as you’d expect from Samsung though, thanks to its use of Super AMOLED and its QHD resolution, though unlike most Galaxy S handsets from the last couple of years this one’s screen is flat.

The Galaxy S7 also has a water-resistant build and a highly capable 12MP camera, plus specs that were once top-end and still hold their own in the mid-range.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S7 review

7. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The best smartphone of 2016 is still a great buy

Release date: March 2016 | Weight: 157g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 / Exynos 8890 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3,600mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Sharp, curvy screen
Big battery
Slight plastic feel
Only 32GB of storage

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a bigger, curvier alternative to the Samsung Galaxy S7. The larger 5.5-inch screen is the same resolution (and therefore slightly less sharp) but still super crisp and vibrant, while the curves ensure the design is more modern.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge also has a big 3,600mAh battery, making it one of the longer lasting Samsung phones you’ll find, and it has the same great camera as the standard Galaxy S7.

Its chipset is getting on a bit, but still stands up to similarly priced phones, and there’s only 32GB of built-in storage, but you do also get a microSD card slot, so even the bad that points aren’t that bad.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review

8. Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017)

A mid-range marvel

Release date: January 2017 | Weight: 157g | Dimensions: 146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: Exynos 7880 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 16MP

Good battery life
Potent OLED screen
No camera OIS
Mediocre chipset

The Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) was launched as a mid-range alternative to the Galaxy S range, and it holds up well, thanks largely to its 1080p AMOLED screen capable of punchy colors.

The Galaxy A5 is also packing mid-range power and a quality metal and glass build that’s quite similar to that of the Samsung Galaxy S7.

Battery life is far better than you might expect too, with the phone comfortably lasting well over a day, but the 16MP camera is a bit of a step down in quality from the S7 range.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) review

9. Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Flagship looks at a much lower price

Release date: January 2017 | Weight: 138g | Dimensions: 135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 720 x 1280 | CPU: Exynos 7870 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 2,350mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

Two-day battery life
High-end looks
Camera yields mixed results
Just 16GB of storage

The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) looks far higher end than it is, thanks to its metal frame and glass back. It’s even water and dust-resistant. Yet this phone has a price that’s barely even mid-range.

Take a look at the specs and the low cost becomes easier to explain, as there’s just 2GB of RAM, a mid-range chipset and a 720p screen, but that’s still solid for the money, especially as it’s a compact 4.7-inch display – so those pixels go further than on a big screen.

And despite its small cell size you can actually get around two days of life from the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) with moderate use, which is something few phones can match.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review