The most anticipated smartphones of 2018

UPDATED: All the announcements and rumours about this year’s must-have handsets

13 March 2018
by Stuff Staff

Last year was a fantastic one for phones. We got skinnier screen bezels than ever, cameras that took better pictures than dedicated compacts, and better-than-all-day battery life.

But we want more, and that’s exactly what we’re getting in 2018. We’re only a couple months into the year, but we’ve already seen a heap of new handsets – including the Samsung Galaxy S9, Sony Xperia XZ2, and a heap of Nokia options.

And there’s only more to come, as Apple, Google, OnePlus, and others ready their next respective big things. Curious what’s coming before 2019 rolls around? Here’s what we know about 2018’s hugest phones, from what’s already been announced to what’s pouring out the rumour mill.


The Samsung Galaxy S9 is here – and as expected, it’s not the most radical departure from last year’s fabulous Galaxy S8. While that might underwhelm some S8 backers looking to upgrade to the latest and greatest, it’s great news for everyone else.

The Galaxy S9 keeps everything that worked well with last year’s phone and then makes some enhancements and improvements. The dazzling screen is a little brighter, the Exynos 9810 chip (or Snapdragon 845 in some territories) is even faster than the last one, and the fingerprint sensor has moved to a much more comfortable location.

And the biggest upgrade comes with the camera: the adjustable aperture automatically switches between f/1.5 and f/2.4 settings, finding the ideal balance between light and detail. Also, the larger Galaxy S9+ packs in a secondary sensor, like the Galaxy Note 8.

What about the Galaxy Note 9, then? We haven’t heard any big rumours about what to expect quite yet, but we imagine it’ll bring in the enhancements from the Galaxy S9, maybe add some more S Pen abilities, and arrive in early autumn.


The iPhone X is Apple’s most beautiful handset to date, and a nicely daring twist after a few years of diminishing returns on the same design – but it’s also incredibly expensive, putting it out of reach of a lot of prospective iPhone buyers.

What will happen in 2018? If one analyst is to be believed, Apple may extend the full-face screen approach – complete with that divisive notch – to the entire line. Ming Chi-Kuo of KGI Securities believes that Apple will launch an updated 5.8in OLED model, an “iPhone X 2” or whatever you want to call it, along with two other models.

One would be a larger model with a towering 6.5in OLED display, and the other would fall right in the middle of the two, purportedly carrying a 6.1in display. The difference is that it would be a lower-resolution LCD screen, with that version acting as the entry-level, slightly cheaper model under the iPhone X 2. That might be the new iPhone 9, essentially.

Confusing? Yeah, just a bit – but it does seem likely that the notch-centric, Face ID-packing design is the way of the future for Apple, and it’ll only be a matter of time before all of its phones scrap the old 16:9/Touch ID approach. Whether that will all happen this year remains to be seen, but we certainly expect some big developments from Apple this autumn. September is usually when we see these things, although the iPhone X didn’t actually release until November last year.


The rumoured Xperia XZ Pro didn’t surface, but Sony did bring the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact to MWC – and they both shift away from the familiar, boxy Sony design we’ve seen on so many phones over the years.

The Xperia XZ2 is Sony’s new core flagship, using a taller 18:9 1080p display that can upconvert standard video to HDR. The phone packs in power thanks to the Snapdragon 845 chip, plus the 19-megapixel back camera seems more promising than most Sony phone cameras. While the design is a bit anonymous in the sea of Android flagships, it’s a nice change of pace for Sony.

Yet we’re actually more intrigued by the smaller XZ2 Compact. The smaller build (with a 5in screen) keeps the perks of the larger model, with the same chip, same HDR ability, and same 19MP back camera. This could be the small phone to buy in 2018, especially at a more appealing entry price.

Both handsets will be available later in March.


Where is the LG G7? Well, LG didn’t show it off officially at MWC, opting to avoid getting caught up in Samsung’s spotlight… but it was reportedly there, behind closed doors. A journalist claims to have seen the phone, and shared photos of the handset marked the “LG G7 Neo.”

So what’s the deal? Well, it has an iPhone X-like notch, with a full-frame 6in screen aside from the cutout for the camera/sensors, as well as a Snapdragon 845 chip and dual f/1.6 16MP back cameras. We’ll see if this really ends up being the proper G7, but noted leaker Evan Blass certainly thinks it’s legit. We’ll probably see the G7 officially in the next couple of months.

And there’s a properly-announced new phone too – well, kind of new. The LG V30S ThinQ (shown) adds more memory and storage than the original V30, as well as an A.I.-assisted camera app, but otherwise it’s much the same phone as last year’s.


Google took an interesting approach to this year’s phones, with the Pixel 2 sticking to a tried-and-tested 16:9 screen and the larger Pixel 2 XL busting the bezels with an 18:9 aspect ratio. It didn’t necessarily pay off, with the smaller phone looking dated by comparison and the bigger one suffering from a few screen quality issues. They still had the best cameras you’ll find in a phone, though, as well as a pure Android Oreo operating system.

Any sequel will need to address these issues by the time Google reveals them, most likely in early October. We’d like to see skinny bezels on both phones, but with OLED screens made by Samsung rather than LG. With Google’s clever algorithms constantly improving, you can expect the camera image quality to take another leap forward, and both phones should arrive with the first taste of Android P.

Google also bought out long-time collaborator HTC in 2017, so it’ll be interesting to see if it will be allowed to continue launching its own phones. The HTC U11 introduced Edge Sense squeezable sides, something Google then borrowed for the Pixel 2, and it took incredible photos without going down the dual-lens approach everyone else seems to be doing. If the two companies work together closely, the resulting phone could be epic.

Now that the Android 9 P developer preview is out with native support for iPhone X-like camera notches, there’s rampant speculation that the Pixel 3 phones will adopt that approach. Your call on whether that’s a good thing or not…


Huawei typically uses MWC to launch its new flagship, but the company opted to set its own schedule this time around: they’ll reveal the 2018 flagship on 27 March in Paris, and it’ll be called the Huawei P20.

What’s the deal with the P20? Well, like some other Androids on the horizon, leaks suggest that it has a front-screen notch (as shown) – but this one also has a lip on the bottom. The P20 and P20 Pro keep a fingerprint sensor down there, while the smaller P20 Lite sticks it on the back.

And the leaks show the P20 Pro packing three back camera sensors, believe it or not, while the other P20 models have “only” two on the rear. We expect that they’ll use the same Kirin 970 chip as the Mate 10 Pro, and have varying levels of perks and tech based on level and price point. But the leaked renders look super sharp, and that tri-camera system could really turn some heads.

We’ll find out much more on 27 March when Huawei makes everything official.


Nokia promised a big show at MWC, and they sure didn’t disappoint – there was something for everyone in their packed lineup, from a top-end flagship to a banana. Sorry, a feature phone that looks like a banana.

Our favourite of the bunch was the Nokia 7 Plus (shown), an “affordable flagship” says the company. It’s super sleek, with an aluminium frame, dual anodised edges with contrasting colours, and a ceramic paint finish. The 6in 18:9 OLED panel should more than satisfy, and the Snapdragon 660 ought to have enough power to perform admirably. It could be a worthy rival to the OnePlus 5T.

Elsewhere, the Nokia 8 Sirocco is all flagship grunt and gloss, the Nokia 6 (2018) is an attractive lower mid-ranger, and the Nokia 1 is a super-cheap, entry-level Android Go device. Meanwhile, the Nokia 8110 reboot is the aforementioned fruit-like feature phone – cheap and possibly perfect for festivals and getaways. All of these phones release in April.


We’re just a few months out from the OnePlus 5T (shown), but it won’t be long before the OnePlus 6 inevitably launches – and the rumours are already starting to pour out.

The latest? Well, like so many other flagships we’ve heard about, the OnePlus 6 will reportedly have an iPhone X-esque notch at the top, allowing for a full-frame screen aside from the cutout. Expect a 19:9 aspect ratio, and we’re guessing OnePlus won’t budge from its usual 1080p display selection to keep the prices slightly lower than full-bodied flagships.

Otherwise, leaks point to a Snapdragon 845 chip inside and the usual array of annual enhancements. We saw the original OnePlus 5 in late June, so an early summer debut is probably a safe bet for the OnePlus 6 as well.



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