Best phone 2024: Top 10 Apple and Android smartphones

An editor's choice award surrounded by smartphones

This is our definitive run down of the ten best phones you can buy (Image: Apple/Samsung/Google/Asus/OnePlus)

There are an overwhelming number of smartphones to choose from in 2024, from the familiar Apple iPhone lineup to the wonderful world of Android, where there are umpteen different phones vying for your attention on shop shelves and on online stores.

Whether you want a big screen and great battery life or a small phone with a great camera, there are plenty of options to mix and match the features you want at the price you’re willing to pay, particularly given we are all upgrading far less often than we used to. A phone should last for several years.

At, our expert tech editors test all the major smartphones released in the UK and put them through their paces to find out if they are as good as the adverts say they are, or if you’re better off spending your money elsewhere.

In this article, we’ve rounded up the ten best smartphones money can buy, with a nod to those who also would prefer to spend a little less, because ‘best’ doesn’t always equal ‘most expensive’.

Apple and Samsung are here, but you have plenty of other options from OnePlus, to Honor, to Google, or even newcomers such as Nothing and companies you didn’t know made phones, such as Asus. There’s a perfect phone out there for everyone.

Here are the best phones you can buy in the UK in 2024.

1. Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (Image: Samsung)

What we love

  • Great cameras
  • Excellent screen
  • Useful stylus
  • Seven years of software support
  • Clever AI features (that you can ignore)

What we don’t

  • Very expensive

  • Big and heavy
  • Selfie camera could be better
  • Very expensive
  • Big and heavy
  • Selfie camera could be better

Samsung has refined its Ultra over the years to bring you the Galaxy S24 Ultra, the best phone you can buy right now. It stuffs absolutely every feature under the sun into its boxy, premium body, complete with S Pen stylus for drawing and writing in apps tucked away when not in use.

The huge 6.8-inch QHD+ display gets incredibly bright when needed and is pin-sharp, but that’s not a drain on the battery, which keeps this monster phone impressively ticking over into a second day on a single charge. It is marketed for its AI features, which include clever text editing, transcribing, and translation tools, but they are not the main reason this is such a good phone. The battery life, for one, is truly outstanding, easily lasting us two days.

Best of all are the cameras, the most versatile you’ll find on any phone. Four rear lenses (main, two telephotos, and an ultra-wide) mean you can pan, zoom, or get up close and personal with your subjects or landscapes, complete with an amazing optical zoom range and enough pro features for tinkering with your photos afterwards. Add to that seven years of software support and you really can’t go wrong with the S24 Ultra – as long as you can stomach the price.

If you want to spend less, the regular Galaxy S24 and S24 Plus are also excellent.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra review

2. Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max (Image: Apple)

What we love

  • Lighter titanium design

  • Powerhouse A17 Pro chip
  • Excellent cameras
  • USB-C
  • Action Button is helpful

What we don’t

  • Action Button hard to reach
  • Slow charging

The best iPhone is predictably the most expensive one, but at least the 15 Pro Max is a bit lighter in the pocket than the 14 Pro Max thanks to the move to titanium build instead of stainless steel. The sides are curved and it’s a nicer object to hold.

Another great improvement can be found in the cameras, which are the best ever on an iPhone, as you might expect. The battery life is also excellent, and can easily deliver two days if you’re careful with your usage (as I type this at 3pm I am on 76%). Apple’s usual excellent iOS polish is here too, with close to flawless performance thanks to the A17 Pro chip inside.

This power means the phone can run console-level games such as Resident Evil Village, or edit a full 4K video on the go without so much as skipping a beat. The Pro Max also has a 5x telephoto lens, further reach than the regular Pro, meaning this high-end iPhone is the one to go for if you want every top feature Apple offers on its flagship iPhone. Oh, and it has USB-C, finally. The smaller, cheaper iPhone 15 Pro is great but its telephoto is only 3x.

Read our full iPhone 15 Pro Max review

3. Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Google Pixel 8 Pro (Image: Google)

What we love

  • Amazing cameras

  • Big bright sharp display
  • Clever Android software
  • Seven years of software updates
  • All day battery life

Google markets its Pixel 8 Pro on the strength of its AI features, but the phone is good enough without all that. The smarts include things like Best Take, which lets you mix and match faces from several group shots to make sure no one is blinking, to instant translation so you can quickly chat to someone who doesn’t speak your language.

You can also use other powerful tools in Google Photos to edit snaps to be at different times of day, erase unwanted people from the background, and generally perfect your pocket pictures.

The Pixel’s screen is one of the best on any smartphone with very good viewing angles, vibrant colours and incredible brightness that you’ll really notice. Build quality is also the best ever from a Google phone, with a matt glass back that feels incredibly premium. Google also offers seven years of software updates – an industry best – so if you can keep the phone running it’ll last you longer than any other. If you want a smaller, cheaper version, you can get the Pixel 8.

Read our full Google Pixel 8 Pro review

4. OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12

OnePlus 12 (Image: OnePlus)

What we love

  • Slim premium design
  • Strong main camera
  • Very good performance
  • Incredible fast charging
  • Five years of software support

What we don’t

  • Telephoto camera isn’t great
  • Not fully waterproof

It’s pricier than previous OnePlus phones but the OnePlus 12 is the company’s best yet, and justifies its price tag (which, don’t forget, is £400 less than the Galaxy S24 Ultra and cheaper than the iPhone 15 Pro and Google Pixel 8 Pro). Available in plain old black or a standout marble green finish, the 12 packs in superb cameras, excellent battery life with incredibly fast wired charging from dead to full in 27 minutes, and highly customisable software.

There’s also wireless charging compatibility and an excellent triple camera array that will produce superb photos. OnePlus has teamed up with legendary camera brand Hasselblad to tune the snaps you take, and it shows, plus a special X-Pan mode lets you shoot in widescreen format like on older film cameras – it’s great.

Compared to the Galaxy S24 Ultra and Pixel 8 Pro you only get five years of software support from launch instead of seven, but if you want a phone with a curved screen, great design, and top performance, the OnePlus 12 will cost you less than those two competing handsets.

Read our full OnePlus 12 review

5. Apple iPhone 15

Apple iPhone 15

Apple iPhone 15 (Image: Apple)

What we love

  • Speedy A16 Bionic chipset
  • Clever Dynamic Island notch
  • Solid camera improvements
  • USB-C
  • Same price as iPhone 14 was

What we don’t

  • 60Hz display
  • File transfers via USB-C slower than 15 Pro
  • Android phones still charge faster

For every Pro iPhone there’s a non-Pro iPhone, but the regular iPhone 15 is better than it has any right to be. It has gained the Dynamic Island, matt glass back, and lovely curved design of the more expensive iPhone 15 Pro, to the point at which most people will barely be able to tell the difference. If that’s you, then you should spend less and get this one.

The main camera is outstanding, as is battery life, with only the 60Hz refresh rate on the display letting the phone down (every other phone on this list has 90Hz or 120Hz smooth scrolling). Otherwise the software is identical, and should still be getting updates at the end of the decade if Apple keeps up its good work.

It also now charges via USB-C, so if you have an older iPhone you’ll need to get used to not using your Lightning cables. But if you have an iPhone 12 or earlier and want to upgrade, or fancy a change from Android, the iPhone 15 should be the go-to choice for most people – only true tech-heads need to spend more on the iPhone 15 Pro for the higher refresh rate screen and telephoto camera. Opt for the iPhone 15 Plus if you want a bigger screen and better battery life.

Read our full iPhone 15 review

6. Xiaomi 14 Ultra

Xiaomi 14 Ultra

Xiaomi 14 Ultra (Image: Xiaomi)

What we love

  • Incredible quad-camera system
  • One-inch main camera sensor
  • Variable aperture main lens
  • Excellent performance
  • Did we mention the cameras?

What we don’t

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Frustrating software
  • No eSIM compatibility
  • It’s £1,299

You might not have heard of Xiaomi but this smartphone is one of the best you can buy if camera quality is your number one consideration.. This is the best camera system on any phone we’ve ever tested at – the main sensor, which has a variable aperture that you can adjust like a DSLR, produces some truly stunning images. It’s hard to believe they came out of a phone, they’re that good.

Four cameras overall on the back make it very versatile, and the sizable camera bump proves mobile photography is the reason to buy the 14 Ultra. It’s a camera with a phone attached and you won’t be disappointed. You also get super fast charging with a charger in the box, excellent all day battery life, a lovely bright, sharp display, a fingerprint-free vegan leather back, and great performance for everything including mobile gaming.

Xiaomi’s HyperOS software is a downside, as the company changes a lot of the look and feel of Android for no good reason, and the phone is very heavy thanks to all the camera tech and metal build. It’s also £1,299 and one of the priciest phones out there – but for photo quality it can’t be beaten.

Read our full Xiaomi 14 Ultra review

7. Nothing Phone 2a

Nothing Phone 2a

Nothing Phone 2a (Image: Nothing)

What we love

  • Delightful software

  • Very well priced
  • Lightweight build

What we don’t

  • Cameras are just OK

  • Haptics feel cheap
  • Only three years of software updates

Nothing is a UK tech start up and this is its third, and cheapest, phone to date. It’s also the best one – for just £319 it is excellent value with eye-catching design, functional lights on the back, a good screen, solid battery life, and thoughtful Android software.

The camera is nothing to write home about, but it’s solid for the price. The Phone 2a is best as a minimalist’s phone, one to buy, set up, and use as a tool. That’s how we felt best using it, and it could help you use your phone less. This is in part down to Nothing’s software that you can set to look monochrome so those colourful apps don’t draw you in.

It’s also rare to see an always-on display at this price, but you can set your screen time, weather, and other useful information widgets to appear there, reducing the need to pick up your phone. It has a low powered processor, but this also means battery life is great. Along with the Pixel 7a, this is the mid-range phone to go for in 2024.

Read our full Nothing Phone 2a review

8. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (Image: Samsung)

What we love

  • Stunning folding deign
  • New cover screen
  • All day battery
  • Fully waterproof

What we don’t

  • Cameras aren’t top tier
  • Fiddly fingerprint scanner

If you’re bored of always upgrading your phone to another black rectangle and you’d rather your phone looked like it was from the future then this is the one for you. Folding phones have been around for a few years, but the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is one of the best yet, nailing the balance between design and function.

Also calling on the nostalgia you might have for the flip phones of the 2000s, this premium handset folds out to be the size of a regular modern smartphone but then flips shut to half the size to stow easily in a small pocket or bag. If you want to glance at the time and your notifications, the lid has a 3.4-inch cover screen, which can even run full apps if you want it to. But keeping it shut might make you pick up your phone less, which can only be a good thing.

When it’s open, the phone has excellent dual cameras for those all-important social media snaps, plus the battery life is good enough to keep you going all day away from the charger. With premium design and a guaranteed five years of software support, this is a great choice for something a bit different – and Samsung offers excellent UK support in case of defects, which are something to consider when it comes to folding screens.

Read our full Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 review

9. Google Pixel 7a

Google Pixel 7a

Google Pixel 7a (Image: Google)

What we love

  • Big features, small price
  • Great camera
  • Tensor G2 processor
  • Wireless charging

What we don’t

  • It does feel a bit cheap
  • Battery could be better

The Google Pixel 7a is incredible value at £449, and you can probably find it cheaper than that if you shop around. Using it makes us wonder why you should spend extra on the more expensive phones in this list (i.e. all of them) as the 7a performs admirably in all areas.

It has one of the best – if not the best – camera for still images, with the sharp, contrast-heavy look Pixel phones have become known for, with an ultra-wide angle camera thrown in too. The screen is a good size and is the first with a high refresh rate on a Pixel A-series phone, similarly as it’s the first with wireless charging.

It has the capable Google Tensor G2 chipset and Pixel-exclusive features such as Call Screen and Hold For Me, great automate dealing with spam calls and hold machines respectively. And because it’s a Pixel, you’ll get Android feature updates quicker than any other Android phone on the market, including Samsung.

Read our full Google Pixel 7a review

10. Honor Magic 6 Pro

Honor Magic 6 Pro

Honor Magic 6 Pro (Image: Honor)

What we don’t

  • Software needs work
  • AI features are half baked
  • No fast charger included

Perhaps an outsider’s pick, nevertheless we have a lot of time for the Honor Magic 6 Pro with its unique design, excellent screen, and surprisingly capable camera set up. If you don’t want to have the same phone as your mates this is a great pick. It took everything from 2023’s Magic 5 Pro and improved it, with better design, cameras, and software.

Honor rose out of the ashes of former Android favourite Huawei, and still pumps out several phones a year. The Magic 6 Pro is a great all-rounder with a great 50MP camera lens and an excellent 180MP zoom, along with top level performance thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip and a boatload of RAM. The screen is very impressive, and one of the most curved you can buy, if that’s your sort of thing.

We find the software skin a little acquired a taste – this is practically Huawei software by a different name – as it changes a lot of stock Android and tends to try and act or look like iOS in several instances. There’s also some AI smarts thrown in but you can largely ignore them if you want. For the most part, the Magic 6 Pro is an outstanding phone that will help you stand out from the Apple and Samsung crowd.

Read our full Honor Magic 6 Pro review


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