Samsung is without a doubt the biggest name in the Android world, and so if you are considering purchasing a new phone, logic dictates you may be looking to pick up a phone made by the Korean giant. But which are the best Samsung phones for your individual needs? While it might be easy to just say “get a Note or the latest Galaxy S”, Samsung’s line-up is actually quite robust with a variety of phones covering prices as low as $150 or as high as $1000.
Even more confusing, some of Samsung’s mid-range and entry line-ups are so similar in specs and design that picking a phone can be a bit confusing. That’s where we come in. In this list, we break down some of the best Samsung phones for the high, mid, and even entry-level options.
Best Samsung phones – all around:
Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus
Following a successful launch of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, Samsung clearly knows what users want in a smartphone. Solid battery life, high-res screens, impressive camera performance and more were all things the company achieved with its previous generation flagships, but the S8 range updated the look with a more modern design.
In this regard, the S9 and S9 Plus are more of a continuation than a renovation. But it should come as no surprise that the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus feature top-of-the-line specifications, impressive new camera technologies, and maximum screen real estate and are the best Samsung phones currently available.
As before, Samsung included a curved screen on both the S9 and S9 Plus, with an increasingly common 18.5:9 aspect ratio that allows for a much more comfortable in-hand feel. Under the hood, these devices come with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor in the US (Samsung’s own in-house Exynos 9810 SoC is used in other parts of the world). The standard 5.8-inch S9 has 4 GB of RAM while the 6.2-inch S9 Plus includes 6 GB of RAM. Both have 64 GB of on-board storage, and both have Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box.
The biggest difference in the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus, compared to both their older models and each other, is in their camera equipment. Both the S9 and S9 Plus have a primary 12 MP rear camera with a Dual Aperture feature that can switch between F/1.5 and F/2.4 modes. The S9 Plus also has a second rear 12 MP sensor and both phones have 8 MP front cameras. Both can also take super slow-mo movies at 960 fps at 720p, and both support Samsung’s new AR Emoji for animated avatars created by the cameras.
All in all, the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus are the two best Samsng phones at the moment, building on the highly successful formula of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus.
- Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus review
- Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus specs
- Top 9 Samsung Galaxy S9 features
- Samsung Galaxy S9 vs Apple iPhone X
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus vs Note 8
- Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus vs Pixel XL 2
- Galaxy S9: New camera features
- Hands-on with the Samsung DeX Pad
- Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus color options compared
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Samsung’s Note line returned in 2017, after the awful launch, and then recall, of the Galaxy Note 7 in 2016. The Galaxy Note 8 still has Samsung’s largest display on its phones at 6.3 inches. It’s big, maybe too big for some people, but at least the company puts that screen to good use. What’s more, the new dual-camera setup on the back performs incredibly well. However, it’s still very expensive, with the unlocked version costing more than the S9 Plus at the moment.
Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus
Want a flagship Samsung experience, but without paying quite as much money? Now that a new flagship is out on the market, that means plenty of deals are starting to pop up. Right now you can get the S8 starting around $725, with the S8 Plus priced around $825.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
While the Galaxy S series is already waterproof and dust resistant these days, if you want even more protection — that’s where the Active series comes in. The Galaxy S8 Active is the latest member of this family, and you can get it unlocked for $850
Best Samsung phones – mid-range
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) and A5 (2017)
The Galaxy A family seems to be the best Samsung phones in its mid-range line, getting way more marketing attention than the C series — at least in the United States. Although the Galaxy A7 and A5 are an obvious step downward from the Galaxy S7 or S8 lines, they could be perfect for you if you are looking for a solid Android experience for below $400.
Essentially the Galaxy A7 and A5 are the same phone, with the former packing a 5.7-inch display while the latter sticks to a more modest 5.2-inch display. Both are packing 1080p super AMOLED panels. Under the hood you’ll find the A7 and A5 are powered by the Samsung Exynos 7 Octa 7880 with 3GB RAM.
Other key specs include 32GB storage with microSD, 16MP front/rear cameras, and a 3600 mAh or 3000 mAh battery respectively. There is at least one big downside though, and that’s the software is still based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow. That’s slightly disappointing, considering these phones were released in January of 2017. Of course a Nougat update shouldn’t be too terribly far off.
Overall, the Galaxy A series is a great substitute to the S line if you are looking to save some hard earned cash.
- 5.2-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, 424ppi (Galaxy A5)
- 5.7-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, 386ppi (Galaxy A7)
- Samsung Exynos 7 Octa 7880
- 3 GB of RAM
- 32 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion
- 16 MP rear and front cameras
- Non-removable 3,000 mAh battery for A5, 3,600 mAh for A7
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow
- 146.1 x 71.4 x 7.9 mm, 155 g (Galaxy A5)
- 156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm, 186 g (Galaxy A7)
Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge
The Galaxy S6 is now two years old, but still remains a solid option for those that gotta have a flagship. Just keep in mind that major software updates are starting to come to a close so if that’s important to you, getting a newer mid-range might actually be the better deal here for most buyers. That said, if you buy the Galaxy S6 used or refurbished — you can get it for way below the $300/$400 mark.
Samsung Galaxy C7 / C7 Pro / C5 Pro
Frankly, the Galaxy C7 family is in many ways better than the A series, offering more RAM and built in storage. That said, the Galaxy A series seems to be more widely available in many markets (including the US). One note, the Pro variant of the C7 isn’t that much different than the slightly older C7 and is about $60 cheaper.
Best Samsung phones – cheap
Samsung Galaxy J7 / J7 Prime / J7 V
When it comes to the best Samsung phones that are also affordable, the J7 family is pretty easy to recommend. Each of these models have slightly different designs and specs, though they certainly aren’t worlds apart. The J7 and J7 Prime are both powered by an Exynos 7870 processor, while the J7 V trades in the Exynos chip for a Snapdragon 625. You get 3GB RAM with the Prime model, and 2GB for the other two. It’s also worth noting the Prime and standard J7 have better 13MP shooters, instead of an 8MP main camera.
Turning to the display, while all three have 5.5-inch sizes, the technology and resolutions differ. The Prime has an LCD display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920, meanwhile the J7 and J7 V offer 720 x 1280 resolutions, with Super AMOLED and TFT technologies respectively. The majority of the other specs remain the same across the board, including 16GB storage with microSD and 3,300 mAh batteries. That said, the Prime’s battery is the only one that isn’t removable.
Pricing for the J7 is set at $200 (or $160 via Boost Mobile), with the Verizon only J7 V set at $240. If you are interested in the Prime’s higher resolution and higher RAM count, you’ll pay around $50 more than the standard Galaxy J7.
Editor’s note: The Galaxy J7 Prime known as the Galaxy On NXT in India and other select markets. This variant offers the same looks and core specs, but with double the internal storage for roughly the same price.
- 5.5-inch Super AMOLED display with 720 x 1280 resolution (Galaxy J7)
- 5.5-inch LCD display with 1080 x 1920 resolution (Galaxy J7 Prime)
- 5.5-inch TFT display with 720 x 1280 resolution (Galaxy J7 V)
- Samsung Exynos 7870 or Snapdragon 625, depending on market
- 2 GB of RAM for J7 and J7 V, 3GB for Prime
- 16 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion up to 256 GB
- 13MP main camera for J7 and J7 Prime, 8MP main cam for J7 V
- 5MP selfie cam for J7 and J7 V, 8MP selfie cam for J7 Prime
- 3,300 mAh battery
- Android 7.0 Nougat for J7 V, Android 6.0 Marshmallow for J7 and J7 Prime
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
If you are looking for a smaller handset, the Galaxy A3 could be perfect, thanks to its compact 4.7-inch display. The rest of the specs are on par with the J7 family as well, though it does offer a smaller 2350 mAh battery. Keep in mind that this phone isn’t officially available in the US, though you can find the international version pretty easily at places like Amazon — just make sure the bands support your particular carrier.
Samsung Galaxy C5
While the C7 and C7 Pro are essentially the same phone with just minor changes, the gap between the C5 and the C5 Pro is actually a bit larger. That said, it’s still a good phone if you’re on a tight budget. Core specs include a 5.2-inch Super AMOLED display (1080p), a Snapdragon 617, 4GB RAM, and 32 or 64GB storage. On the camera front you get a 16MP main cam and 8MP front shooter. The phone offers a non-removable 2,600 mAh battery and runs on Android 6.0-based software.
Best entry-level Samsung phone:
Samsung Galaxy J3 (2017) and its variants
While the Galaxy J7 and the honorable mentions listed above are the best Samsung phones that are also cheap, what if you are looking for the bare minimum? You simply want a phone that can do the basics relatively well. Whether you are looking for a secondary phone, a phone for a student, or just have a really thin budget — Samsung still has an option for you.
Okay, so the Galaxy J3 isn’t going to blow your socks off. Don’t let that fool you, it’s still a pretty great handset, especially considering it costs around $150. Unfortunately, Samsung’s budget-friendly headsets can be a massively confusing, especially since it seems that Samsung and its carrier partners have renamed the same phone like a hundred times. Even worse AT&T GoPhone has the Samsung Galaxy Express Prime 2 for $130, while AT&T (postpaid) has the J3 (2017) for $180 — and yet they are, as far as we can tell from specs and design, the EXACT same device.
The confusion continues as the AT&T J3 (2017) and Prime 2 are powered by an Exynos 7570, while the J3 V, J3 Emerge, and other 2017 J3 variants are typically powered by either a Snapdragon 410 or 425. Aside from the processor, all the models are roughly the same, and all have just 1.5GB RAM. If you are planning on getting this phone, don’t pay more than $150 for it. Sprint’s Emerge, for example, is $235 — which means it’s only like a few dollars cheaper than the more powerful Samsung Galaxy J7 V.
The low amount of RAM is easily the biggest weakness for this phone, though for users with modest needs, it should still get the job done well enough. Other specs include a 5-inch 1280 x 720 display, 16GB storage with microSD for expansion, a 5MP rear cam, 2MP front cam, a 2,600 mAh battery, and Android 7.0 Nougat powered software for the AT&T variant. It is worth noting, that if you are picking up another variant other than the AT&T version, there’s a good chance your phone might still have Marshmallow-based software.
Again, while the hardware specs are nowhere near those of the Galaxy S8 series, Galaxy A family, or even the J7, the price tag might be right for someone looking for an entry-level handset that comes from one of the world’s most popular handset makers.
- 5-inch 720 x 1280, 294ppi (TFT for most variants)
- Exynos 7570 (AT&T version)
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 8917 or Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 8916 (most other variants)
- 1.5 GB of RAM
- 16 GB of on-board storage, microSD expansion
- 5 MP rear camera, 2 MP front camera
- Removable 2,600 mAh battery
- Android 6.0 Marshmallow or 7.0 Nougat
- Roughly 139.7 x 69.9 x 8.9, dimensions and weight may vary slightly based on model
Best Samsung phones – Conclusion
And that’s all folks. Agree with our best Samsung phones picks? Any major Samsung handset we didn’t mention that you feel should have made the best Samsung phones list? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.