UPDATE: Huawei’s incredible Mate 20 Pro has been added to our list of the best phones in Australia 2018 list – read on to find out more about it and where it placed!
2018 was a stellar year for smartphones, and while 2019 is set to be even better, there’s no denying that last year’s phones are still top notch (literally, in some cases).
Here at TechRadar, we check out almost every phone under the sun, putting the ones that matter through our vigorous testing process to create our in-depth mobile phone reviews.
However, with so many to choose from, we’ve spent hours whittling them down to a top ten, taking into account power, specs, design and value for money. And we’ll always point you in the direction of the latest handsets – after all, nobody wants to be carting around a phone that doesn’t get any updates in a year’s time, right?
Here are our rankings for the best smartphones that are currently available in Australia in 2019.
1. Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The best phone in the world right now
Release date: August 2018 | Weight: 201g | Dimensions: 161.9 x 76.4 x 8.8mm | OS: Android 8 | Screen size: 6.4-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | CPU: Exynos 9810 | RAM: 6GB / 8GB | Storage: 128GB/512GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: Dual 12MP | Front camera: 8MP
Huge storage options
Looks similar to Note 8
On paper, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 doesn’t seem all that different to its predecessor, the Note 8. Look beneath the surface, however, and you’ll find a smartphone that has addressed almost every issue that last year’s model had (although the Bixby button is unfortunately still here, just waiting to be pressed accidentally) to become the best handset that money can buy right now.
Screen & Design: Premium in every sense of the word, the Galaxy Note 9’s design screams sophistication, even when it’s being cheeky (the Ocean Blue colour variant’s striking yellow S Pen can attest to that).
While there was little room for improvement over the Note 8 and Galaxy S9 Plus in the screen department, Samsung has managed to top itself once again by producing a record breaking display for the Note 9 that’s already been named the best of its kind. Its Super AMOLED QHD+ display is exceptionally bright and vibrant, with inky blacks and beautiful curved edges.
Most of all, we love that Samsung’s listened to its customers and has continued to resist current (and arguably misguided) smartphone trends, such as notch cutouts and the abandoning of headphone jacks and microSD slots – we’d much rather it keeps striving to perfect the things that made it the top smartphone brand in the world in the first place.
Performance: Thanks to its large 4,000mAh battery – the largest Samsung has ever placed in a phone – the Note 9 has addressed one of its predecessor’s biggest drawbacks, as despite being one of the biggest phones on the market, the Note 8’s battery was only 3,300mAh. Given the brightness of its display and the power of its internals, the Galaxy Note 9’s longer battery life is more than welcome.
Speaking of its internals, the Note 9 is an absolute powerhouse, with its Exynos 9810 chipset and 6GB of RAM offering snappy performance at all times. The 512GB model is backed by an additional 2GB of RAM (8GB in total), which should allow for even better performance in DeX mode (which no longer requires an additional dock) and for Fortnite to run especially smoothly on the device.
Camera: While the Note 9’s camera is almost identical to that of the Galaxy S9 Plus, that’s no bad thing — users can record super slow motion video (up to 960fps at 720p resolution) and the same variable aperture functionality is available, allowing for the phone’s iris to automatically adjust itself depending on how much light you have access to.
One thing has changed though: thanks to the S Pen’s Bluetooth functionality, you can now use the stylus as a long-range self-timer, allowing you to take selfies while standing several metres away from the phone.
Mini verdict: Though one could argue that most of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9’s improvements are relatively minor, each one has been made in an effort to provide the best possible experience for users.
Add them all up and what you get is a smartphone with the best screen in the world and which also offers the most storage and the best performance of any Android handset. The fact it also doubles as a super portable PC when connected to a monitor or television is also a huge potential bonus. In short, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is the kind of smartphone that all others should be striving to match.