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Top 10 best smartphones for Christmas 2018



6 minute read

Every year, smartphones are the most commonly requested gadget on Christmas wish lists. Of course, getting a new smartphone means a lot in this day and age, so choosing the right one from literally hundreds of options is important. We’re here to help though, so take a look at ten of the best smartphones to give - or receive! - this holiday season. We start from budget phones as cheap as £50, include a bunch of great mid-range options and finish with flagship smartphones all the way up to £1000. Let’s get straight to the Christmas 2018 smartphone recommendations!

1. Nokia 3 Refurbished - £49

Nokia 3 Refurbished

Who says smartphones have to be expensive? This Nokia special was released last year but has seen constant updates to new versions of Android, including a leap from Nougat to Oreo, making it feel like new. The Nokia 3 includes a 5-inch IPS display, a quad-core processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB of storage and 8-megapixel front and rear cameras. This is a refurbished model costing just £49, down from the launch price of £130, making it by far the best smartphone per pound on the market.

Get the Nokia 3 Refurbished from giffgaff

2. Motorola Moto E5 Play - £79

Motorola Moto E5 Play

Here’s another modern smartphone with a clean user interface and an entry-level price tag. The Moto E5 Play sports a big 5.34-inch screen and a healthy 2100mAh battery too, making it quite a practical choice. Again, there are faster phones on the market, but for a brand new smartphone it’s hard to find much better for less than £80.

Get the Motorola Moto E5 Play from giffgaff

3. Nokia 3.1 - £129

Nokia 3.1

The Nokia 3.1 is the upgraded version of the Nokia 3 we saw earlier, with a faster octa-core processor, an improved 13-megapixel rear camera and - most important of all - a larger 5.2-inch screen with a modern tall 18:9 aspect ratio. That gives you more screen real estate without making the phone much larger at all. The Nokia 3.1 also comes with Google’s Android One platform, which guarantees security updates and OS upgrades for two years after launch. Overall, it’s a ton of phone for just over £100.

Get the Nokia 3.1 from giffgaff

4. Motorola Moto G6 - £219

Motorola Moto G6

The original Moto G was a transformative entry-level smartphone, offering incredible value for money. The Moto G series has shifted continually upwards since then, and now holds a low-to-mid-range position in the market. That means you can expect a lot of flagship features - a tall 18:9 aspect ratio screen with a diagonal of 5.7 inches, a dual sensor rear camera, fast charging, a fingerprint reader and so on. The phone comes with a mid-range Snapdragon 450 octa-core processor which performs better than the MediaTek processors you’ll find on budget phones, backed with 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM. All in all, a great mid-range phone that costs far less than equally-equipped competitors.

Get the Motorola Moto G6 from giffgaff

5. OnePlus 5T - £369

OnePlus 5T

The OnePlus 5T was released late last year, so in 2018 you’ll be able to grab it at a much lower price than the £500 it debuted at. Like other OnePlus phones, it comes with flagship-grade specifications out of the box, including a Snapdragon 835 processor, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. In terms of photography, its 16MP and 20MP dual rear cameras were extremely solid in 2017 and remain competitive in 2018. A clean Android operating system, extremely fast wired charging, a fingerprint reader and a gorgeous 6-inch AMOLED 18:9 display complete the picture. This is an insanely good phone for just over £350!

Get the OnePlus 5T from giffgaff

6. OnePlus 6T - £499

OnePlus 6T

OK, here’s where we enter flagship territory. The OnePlus 6T was released just a few months ago and boasts the same features and specifications as flagship phones that are twice the price: a Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage and three 16MP+ cameras divided between the front and rear. It comes with the latest version of Android, 9.0 Pie and should remain updated for months to come. My favourite feature of this phone is its teardrop-shaped camera notch, which allows it to fit in a 6.41-inch display into a seriously compact body. Compared to the massive notches on the iPhone and Mate 20 Pro we’ll see later, it’s an absolute triumph of design.

Get the OnePlus 6T from giffgaff

7. iPhone Xr - £749

 iPhone Xr

The iPhone Xr is perhaps the smartest iPhone you can get today. It retains the excellent 12-megapixel rear camera, blazing-fast A12 Bionic processor and advanced Face ID of the significantly more expensive iPhone Xs, while also giving you the choice of several bold colours instead of the usual silver and gold. The only thing you’re giving up are arguably unimportant - the second rear camera which is only useful for portrait mode and the AMOLED display, with an LCD display used instead. These are sensible cost-cutting measures that make the iPhone Xr the best iPhone, pound for pound, on the market.

Get the iPhone Xr from giffgaff

8. Huawei Mate 20 Pro - £899

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is one of the latest phones to be released, making it a canny choice for Christmas this year. The Mate 20 includes a distinctive Leica camera with three lenses: 40MP, That lets you switch between ultra-wide angle, wide angle and telephoto just by pressing a button, and the results from all three are top notch. It’s also fast, with a bleeding-edge Kirin 980 processor, backed with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Huawei also continue their trend of choosing great colours for their flagship phones, with a cool Twilight colourway that irridesces between blue and purple as you move it in the light - absolutely gorgeous. Huawei might not be as well known as Apple or Samsung, but the phones they’re producing are absolutely worth considering.

Get the Huawei Mate 20 Pro from giffgaff

9. Samsung Galaxy Note 9 - £899

 Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Samsung Note 9 is the obvious pick for the best Android phone right now. It’s got leading specifications, a useful stylus, a modern version of Android packed with features and arguably one of the best smartphone cameras in the business. It’s also worth mentioning that Samsung haven’t removed from this phone: it still has a 3.5mm headphone jack, a Micro SD card slot and a notchless display, so if you aren’t on board with the recent removal of these features, you’ll be comfortable here. Samsung phones are dependably excellent, and the Note 9 is their greatest work yet.

Get the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 from giffgaff

10. iPhone Xs - £999

iPhone Xs

It all comes down to this - the £1000 phone. The iPhone Xs is the finest smartphone that Apple have ever produced, a superlative design with perhaps the best screen found on any smartphone. Face ID makes it easy to log into your phone without lifting a finger, Apple’s legendary camera produces top-notch results, the A12 Bionic processor positively sings and nothing matches the style and class of an iPhone. With regular and Max sizes, plenty of colours to choose from and multiple storage size options, there’s sure to be an iPhone Xs to fit your needs.

Get the iPhone Xs from giffgaff

Wrapping up

Thanks for taking a look at our Christmas 2018 smartphone gift ideas. I hope you found it useful. Thanks again and we’ll see you on the next one!

Written by wsjudd

Will is a gadget fanatic, working from cafes and gadget-infused mega-hovels to turn caffeine into technology articles. Follow him on Twitter @wsjudd and check out his newly redesigned tech review site!