The best mobile phones to buy this Christmas

Telegraph Reporters
The best picks on mobile phones this Christmas - Copyright ©Heathcliff O'Malley , All Rights Reserved, not to be published in any format without p

It's been a year of several major handset releases, from the Samsung Galaxy S8 to the iPhone X, but which device should you buy, and are there any bargain phones out there this Christmas?

We are here to help you choose between Apple's latest some of the superb Android phones to come out this year, alternatively check out our in-depth tech Christmas buying guide for a huge range of gifts for tech-lovers.

Android vs Apple

Android phones have made something of a comeback this year, with great-looking and powerful devices from the likes of Google, Samsung and OnePlus.

Meanwhile, Apple has tried to focus on truly premium devices, capturing headlines with its iPhone X released on November 3. With their handsets you get the elegant design of the iOS operating system, which many users prefer, and the adaptable Apple ecosystem, with the iPhone able to work seamlessly alongside the iPad and Apple Watch.

But with Android phones you get more more options and arguably better value on many mid-range devices. Find a full breakdown of the best Android phones of the last year here.

What should I look for in a smartphone?

Key technical specs you should be looking for in your smartphone include basic choices such as screen size and battery life, and performance indicators such as processing power and storage.

Another factor you might want to consider is the power of the camera, if you want to use your smartphone to replace your digital point and shoot. And the feel of the phone’s operating system will also be important, as several Android phone manufacturers add their own designs to the system - some with positive innovations, others less so.

Screen size: Current sizes range from just under 5 inches to close to 6 inches for screen size, which can be quite large to hold in the hand. The largest handsets may feel a little oversized, but will provide a better experience if you want to enjoy video or apps like Instagram or Snapchat.

Battery life: A device will offer at least all day battery life on mixed use and any phone with significantly more than 24 hours is considered very good. Many manufacturers will judge battery on "talk time", but the phones will actually last days if left on standby.

Storage and memory: Lower spec smartphones will have around 2GB of RAM (the memory space which makes the phone run more quickly), while better models will have closer to 4GB. Cheaper Android phones will probably only have around 32GB of hard drive space for files and photos, although nearly all come with a slot for adding a micro SD card to boost storage space.

Camera: Most smartphones will take great pictures and high-end models compete to offer the best cameras. Megapixels (MP) are not everything, and some top models have even cut down, but they can create shots with greater close-up details. Other features include dual cameras for extra depth and built-in apps to create different types of photo.

The best mobile phones you can buy this Christmas

8. iPhone 7 Plus

The back of the iPhone 7 Plus Credit: AFP

The iPhone 7 Plus remains one of the best phones you can buy, although it lacks some of the latest cutting edge features on the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. With the 7 Plus you get a 5.5-inch screen and a dual lens camera, as well as Apple's latest iOS 11 operating system.

The camera allows greatly-improved zoomed in photos, as well as a new portrait mode that blurs the background of photos while focusing on the subject. Now that the iPhone 8 and iPhone X are available, the iPhone 7 Plus has undergone a price cut, making it an attractive option if you don't mind having technology that is slightly outdated.

Pros: Dual camera, better value than other premium iPhones

Cons: Doesn't have the ultra-fast processor of the iPhone 8

Price: £669

​Buy now

7. Nokia 8

The Nokia 8's slim dual camera

The Nokia 8 is one of the top Android flagships out this year and a welcome return for the Nokia brand to the smartphone market. It's not flashy, but is reasonably priced at £499 and runs on a smooth, clean version of Android. With a 5.3-inch screen it is also comfortable to hold, its rounded edges sitting nicely in the hand.

It has a dual camera on the rear, can achieve depth effect photos and also has its own signature "bothie" feature, which lets users take a front picture and a selfie at the same time.

Our main gripe is a diminutive fingerprint scanner, and the lack of a native Snake app.

Pros: Dual camera, smooth operating system, comfortable to hold

Cons: Small fingerprint scanner. No Snake!

Price: £499

Buy now

6. iPhone SE

Apple's iPhone SE in gold Credit: Shutterstock

The iPhone SE pushes against the trend for "bigger is better" in handsets, and it is now one of the cheapest Apple phones you can find deals for. The good news for consumers is that this 4-inch screen, iOS 11 handset punches well above its weight.

It has a 12MP camera on the back and starts out at 32GB of storage, although this can be upgraded to 128GB. It's available now for just £299, which is a bargain for an Apple device when you consider the inflated prices of this year's top handsets.

Pros:The best 4-inch phone around, iOS 11 capable, very affordable

Cons: Too small for some, camera is dated

Price: £299

Buy now

5. Google Pixel 2

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Credit: Google

Google has unveiled its new Pixel 2 smartphone, putting artificial intelligence first with its Google Assistant smart aide. It also has one of the best cameras on a smartphone and comes with Android O, Google's new operating system.

It does, however, do away with a headphone jack, joining Apple's iPhone 7 and 8 in removing the staple feature. It features "active edge" sides, which can be pressed to activate Google Assistant, and was launched alongside a whole host of other Google hardware, including headphones that can translate languages in real time.

Pros: Latest Android operating system, powerful camera, built for AI

Cons: Design not to everyone's taste, no headphone jack

Price: £629 for 64GB

Buy now

4. iPhone X

The new iPhone X Credit: Apple

OK, obviously the iPhone X is one of the most expensive handsets around, starting at £999, but it is also one of the fastest, most powerful devices money can buy. It has an all-screen front and dual 12 MP cameras, made for employing augmented reality technology, which imposes virtual animations over the real world.

It also has a unique look and feel, meaning you will be the envy of your friends if you can buy one (remember: it's pronounced "iPhone Ten" rather than "X"). The phone removes Touch ID, instead relying on facial identification software to unlock the system.

Pros: Incredibly fast, unique design

Cons: Face ID sees removal of Touch ID

Price: £999

Buy now

3. OnePlus 5 T

OnePlus 5T

The OnePlus 5 T is one of our favourite smartphones this year, bringing incredible flagship specs with a wickedly fast Snapdragon processor to a mid-priced phone. This upgraded on the old OnePlus 5 brings a bigger, 6-inch screen that fills almost the entire front of the phone. It comes with a powerful dual camera that can take beautiful, clear snaps with its 20MP shooter.

Pros: Great value, solid camera, fast performance

Cons: Limited extra storage

Price: From £449

​Buy now

2. iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

iPhone 8 and 8 Plus

The iPhone 8 is Apple's latest standard iPhone release, excluding its premium iPhone X. The iPhone 8 comes with wireless charging and a significantly enhanced processor, one of the fastest ever installed on a mobile phone. It's available in a standard size with a 4.7-inch screen and in a larger 5.5-inch version.

The iPhone 8 is an upgrade in lots of little ways on the iPhone 7, making it enough of an upgrade if you are planning on buying a new device. If you want to keep a fingerprint scanner and boast all the improvements in speed on the iPhone, then the 8 is the way to go.

Pros: Significantly improved camera, faster, glass design

Cons: More expensive, wireless charging ecosystem needs to improve

Price: From £699

Buy now

1. Samsung Galaxy S8

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Credit: Getty

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is a beautiful device. It has an all round Edge Display, which means the phone screen slides seamlessly to the sides of the product. It also has a headphone jack, unlike its main rivals from Apple. It is water and dust resistant and features 64GB of internal storage.

It's arguably the best phone this year for the price, while several contract deals for the S8 now look reasonable next to the luxury price tag afforded to the top of the range iPhones. With a gorgeous screen, fast performance, powerful camera and a five star review from us, it's probably our favourite Android devices this year.

Pros: Incredible performance, screen quality, beautiful design

Cons: Highly breakable, lack of Bixby voice control

Price: £579

Buy now

Black Friday products disclaimer

For more Christmas features and gift guides, see www.telegraph.co.uk/christmas.