The new Snapdragon 845 is a major step forward from its predecessor the Snapdragon 835. Our very own Gary Sims recently put the 845 through its paces and found gains all over the place. One of the more exciting improvements was a gain of 20-40 percent in GPU performance. That increase in performance will keep FPS smooth as more demanding games come to the mobile space, like PUBG Mobile and (eventually) Fortnite.
So what are the best Snapdragon 845 phones out there? Good question.
Samsung Galaxy Note 9
The latest phone in the Galaxy Note series has some extremely high-end hardware inside. Even if you get the lowest priced model, you still get a phone with a 6.4-inch display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of onboard storage, a microSD slot for even more storage, and a big 4,000mAh battery that should last you at least a day, or perhaps more, on a full charge. You can even get a model with 8GB of RAM and a massive 512GB of storage.
The S-Pen in the Note 9 has also been revamped, adding Bluetooth LE support. That allows you to use it as a remote controller to open apps, control the camera and more. The Note 9 can also work in a PC desktop mode, thanks to Samsung’s newest version of its DeX technology. You only need to connect the phone to a monitor or TV with a USB-C to HDMI adapter and cable. All of this comes at a cost; you will have to pay $999 to get the 6GB/128GB model and $1,249 for the 8GB/512GB model.
Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
They still sport the same single rear cameras as the Pixel 2, but there are a ton of camera software improvements here. Top Shot mode will take multiple pictures of your subject and recommend the best one. Night Sight will also arrive for the phones soon, which is supposed to bring next-level low-light photography thanks to computational photography. Finally, there’s a mode called Motion Auto Focus that lets the Pixel 3 focus on a subject in a video, no matter how much they move around.
They both have 18:9 screens (well, 18.5:9 for the XL), yet they still look very different from one another. The Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch Full HD+ screen that makes it look like a smaller Pixel 2 XL, while the Pixel 3 XL has a big ol’ notch at the top of its screen. Both phones also come with Qi wireless charging support, no headphone jack (womp womp), and still manage to squeeze in front-facing speakers.
The Pixel 3 could be considered the Android iPhone. But is there anything wrong with that?
- Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL review: The Android iPhone
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- Google Pixel 3 camera shootout
- Google Pixel 3 vs Samsung Galaxy S9
- Google Pixel 3 vs Galaxy Note 9, LG V40, and Huawei P20 Pro
Despite being almost half the price of the competition, the OnePlus 6T is in the running for phone of the year.
The 6T doesn’t provide the ultra-luxurious experience you’ll get with the Galaxy Note 9 or iPhone Xs, but it does provide 90 percent of what those phones offer for about $550. You get the most top-of-the-line specs out there, fantastic build quality, and decent cameras. The OnePlus 6T is also the first smartphone in the U.S. to include an in-display fingerprint sensor.
If you happen to hate notches, the 6T is probably the closest you’ll get to a notch-less display without going the Samsung route. OnePlus included super sexy waterdrop notch on the 6T that makes it looks like Google didn’t even try with the Pixel 3 XL.
If you’re trying to boycott all of the $1,000 phones out there, or just want a solid smartphone that works well, buy the OnePlus 6T. We don’t think you’ll regret it.
- OnePlus 6T review: Fundamentally great
- Best OnePlus 6T cases and accessories
- OnePlus 6T vs Pixel 3 XL, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Galaxy Note 9, and LG V40
- Download the official OnePlus 6T wallpapers here
- OnePlus 6T: Everything you need to know
HTC U12 Plus
HTC’s latest flagship, the U12 Plus (there is no U12, by the way) includes a lot of we loved about the HTC U11 Plus but with a few obvious upgrades. Anyone who has used the HTC U11 or U11 Plus will find the latest flagship very familiar. HTC continues its minimalist Liquid Surface design language, giving us a beautiful glass design with IP68 water resistance. The biggest design change can be found in the buttons. Instead of physical keys, they are now pressure-sensitive. While these buttons may not provide a physical click, they do provide haptic feedback to let you know they’ve been triggered.
The HTC U12 Plus offers the latest Qualcomm processor, the Snapdragon 845. The handset offers 6GB RAM and either 64 or 128GB of internal storage, with microSD expansion. There’s also a big 6-inch Super LCD 6 panel with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,140. The battery on the HTC U12 Plus is a bit smaller, going down to 3,500mAh. BoomSound is back for great audio support but there’s no headphone jack for the U12 Plus
The HTC U12 Plus comes in both translucent blue and ceramic black colors for $799. This base model comes with 64GB of storage. The beefier 128GB model comes in just translucent blue, and is priced at $849.
Samsung Galaxy S9/S9 Plus
Depending on where you are in the world the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus may have a Snapdragon 845. Those in North & Latin Americas, China, Japan will get the Snapdragon 845 because of all the CDMA patents Qualcomm has.
Those looking to buy the phone elsewhere, like in Europe, South Korea, or India, will find Samsung LSI’s Exynos 9810 SoC inside. Generally, benchmarks show the 845 is the one you want. It’s faster in both CPU and GPU benchmarks, with better energy efficiency as well. The Exynos line is slowly catching up to the Snapdragon line, which is encouraging for Samsung, but still a way behind.
The S9 with the 845 leads all benchmarks. It’s the one you’ll want to spend your money on if you’re going for the top of the line.
LG G7 ThinQ/G7 Plus ThinQ
The LG G7 ThinQ offers LG flagship specs, boasting the Snapdragon 845, 4 or 6GB of RAM, expandable memory, great new audio features, and an all-around better camera over the G6. Our LG G7 review pointed out that LG deserves more attention for their high-quality phones, but wanted more battery life and wasn’t sure about some of the notch gimmicks, but the phone was no slouch. LG G7 pricing is a little hard to figure out depending on where you live, but the phone will retail in South Korea for 899,800 won (~$833), while the G7 ThinQ Plus will cost 973,500 won (~$900), and T-Mobile just release that they’ll sell it for $750 outright. The phone is coming to most of the carriers so there may be some further deals to explore there if you’re keen.
Sony Xperia XZ2, XZ2 Compact and XZ2 Premium
Sony didn’t mess about with its latest devices when they dropped at MWC 2018. The Sony Xperia XZ2 and smaller Xperia XZ2 Compact both come with the Snapdragon 845. With a fresh water-inspired design, 4GB of RAM, expandable memory on top of 64GB of internal storage, and an 18:9 screen, it’s a top-end phone. XZ2 will be available to those in the U.S. as soon as April. We haven’t had a chance for a full review yet, but our initial XZ2 hands-on was positive for Sony fans.
There’s also a new Xperia XZ2 Premium heading to market, offering a dual-camera setup for the first time from Sony, along with a Bokeh mode.
Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S
The Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 flagship was given an iterative improvement in March, upgrading the Mix 2S with a Snapdragon 845 and a major camera update. Our review of the Mi Mix 2S praised its rear camera sensors. The major limitation of the Xiaomi line is availability — you can only get it in China and other parts of Asia for the price of3,299 yuan (~$520), which is a very reasonable price for this phone.
Asus ZenFone 5Z
Asus caught some flack when it unveiled the first in a series of Android phones with a notch. Despite that, the 6.2-inch Asus ZenFone 5Z is packed with value, with a Snapdragon 845, 6GB RAM, 64GB of storage, dual-SIM support, and a 3,300 mAh battery. It’s priced at $499, which sets this up as a solid competitor for companies like OnePlus and Honor. The Asus ZenFone 5Z is available now, unlocked, via Amazon.
Xiaomi Black Shark Gaming Phone
Black Shark is a Xiaomi company which announced a brand-new gaming-focused phone, complete with a joystick controller attachment. It’s a 6-inch device with a 2.5D, 2160 x 1080 resolution display, the Snapdragon 845 chipset, up to 8GB of RAM, and up to 128GB storage. Unfortunately, this phone is only available in China, where the price is about $479 for the version with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of storage, while the $559 version includes 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage.
Xiaomi Pocophone F1
The Xiaomi Pocophone F1 may be the biggest value ever for a smartphone. It has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor inside, along with a 5.99-inch Full HD+ display, and a large 4,000mAh battery. You can get this phone with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage in India for the price of just 21,000 rupees, or about $300. Yes, $300 with a phone with the current leader in mobile processors. You can also get the phone in other memory and storage configurations, all the way up to 8GB of RAM and 512GB of storage for a still outstanding price of 30,000 rupees (~$430) in India. The Xiaomi Pocophone F1 will be sold in Asia, parts of Europe, the Middle East and parts of South America, but there are unfortunately no plans to sell it in the US.
Oppo Find X
The Oppo Find X is the current winner for a phone with the best body-to-screen ratio (93 percent( with its large 6.42-inch display. It has very little bezel space, thanks to the fact that both the front and rear cameras are hidden inside the phone, and rise up from the top when needed via a mechanical sliding part. In addition to the Snapdragon 845, the Oppo Find X has 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. It’s available now in India for the price of ₹59,990 ($875). A special Lamborghini branded addition for the phone, with 512GB of RAM and support for Oppo’s SuperVOOC fast charging battery tech, will launch in Europe for the price of 1,699 euros. The phone won’t be launched in the US.
Here’s another phone with a high body-to-screen ratio. The Vivo Nex has a massive 6.59-inch Super AMOLED panel that takes up 91.24 percent of the front display. The front-facing camera pops up when needed for selfie pictures on top of the phone. In addition, this phone has an in-display fingerprint sensor, and the display also doubles as the phone’s external audio source, replacing the standard speaker. All of this, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, is available now in China, and also in India for ₹44,990 ($652). Once again, there are no plans to release the Vivo Nex in the US.
Razer Phone 2
Razer got started as a hardcore gaming accessory and hardware company for PCs and consoles. It started this current gaming smartphone trend in 2017 with the launch of the first Razer Phone. Now the company has just launched its successor, the Razer Phone 2, which by all accounts improves on the original in nearly every way.
Like the first Razer Phone, the Razer Phone 2 has 8GB of RAM and a big 5.7-inch display with a 120Ghz refresh rate. Combined with Ultra Motion, which syncs up the phone’s GPU with the high refresh rate, these features allow games made for the phone to have silky smooth framerates with little to no lag or screen tearing. In addition, the screen on the Razer Phone 2 is 50 percent brighter than the first Razer Phone.
Besides the display features, the Razer Phone 2 also has a big 4,000mAh battery and supports wireless charging. It also has the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, loud twin front speakers with Dolby Atmos support, and more. Software improvements like Game Booster let owners set customized performance setups for each game. The cameras in the Razer Phone 2 are highly improved compared to the original, and the phone incorporates the company’s Chroma LED lighting in the back for the Razer logo.
You can purchase it now from Razer unlocked for $799.99. Razer also announced the Raiji Mobile game controller, made specifically for the Razer Phone 2, although it works with any Android phone. It will go on sale later this year.
- Razer Phone 2 review
- Razer Phone 2 announced: More style, more power
- Razer Phone 2 specs: Familiar, but better in all the ways that matter
- All the current games that support the 120Hz Razer Phone 2 display
- Razer Phone 2 vs Razer Phone: Specs comparison
- Razer Phone 2 vs the competition
- The Razer Raiju Mobile lets you play Android games with actual buttons
Asus ROG Phone
After hinting for months, Asus announced its entry into the gaming smartphone market in June with the ROG Phone. Asus wisely used its well known Republic of Gamers (ROG) PC brand for the phone, and it already looks like the most feature-rich device for this market niche yet.
The Asus ROG Phone has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chipset inside, but with a clock speed boost to 2.96Ghz (the normal speed for the processor is 2.8Ghz). It has a 6-inch AMOLED 2,160 x 1,080 display with a 90Hz refresh rate. While that’s higher than the normal 60Hz rate on most phones, it doesn’t match the 120Hz rate on the older Razer Phone. It’s being sold with 8GB of RAM, either 128GB or 512GB of onboard storage and a 4,000mAh battery. Look for a dual 12MP and 8MP rear camera setup on this gaming phone, along with an 8MP front-facing camera and dual speakers on the front.
Read Next: Hands on with the Asus ROG
The phone has some interesting gaming features. It has three AirTrigger ultrasonic touch sensors to serve as shoulder triggers when holding the phone in landscape. In addition to its USB Type-C port on the bottom, the Asus ROG phone has an extra USB Type-C port on the side, so you can connect the phone up to an optional WiGig gaming dock. Finally, there’s an X Mode, activated by squeezing the sides of the ROG Phone, to increase the hardware performance of the phone.
Along with the ROG Phone, Asus plans to sell a number of optional accessories made just for this device. The previously mentioned WiGig dock can connect the phone to an external display, or a mouse and keyboard to play games or do other things like on a PC. The AeroActive Cooler will keep the phone nice and cool during long gaming sessions. Asus will also sell a third-party controller for the phone made by GameVice to add analog sticks, shoulder buttons, and other keys on each side of the ROG Phone.
Finally, Asus will sell the TwinView handheld dock, adding a secondary display to let you either play a game with more screen or launch a second app to chat with friends while playing a game. The TwinView will also come with its own 6,000mAh battery.
The Asus ROG Phone in its 128GB version is for sale now on Amazon, and also via Microsoft’s online store, priced at $899. The 512GB version will go on sale in November for $1,099. The phone will ship with the AeroActive Cooler accessory for free. The other accessories will go on sale later this year.
Sony Xperia XZ3
The Sony Xperia XZ3 is a classic example of Sony’s commitment to offering a phone with all the latest features. The phone launched in early October with Android 9 Pie installed, making it the first phone with Pie out of the box, even ahead of Google’s Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. The Xperia XZ3 has a 6-inch Quad HD OLED display with an 18:9 screen ratio and smaller bezels, at least compared to older Xperia phones.
Inside, it has the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, along with 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of onboard storage. It just has one rear camera sensor, but with a solid 19MP camera it should be an excellent snapper for most folks. It even includes a super slow-mo feature for video clips in 1080p resolution. There’s also a 13MP front-facing camera on board. You can double tap the edges of the phone’s screen to launch a feature called SideSense. Basically, it shows you a small app drawer with the apps that the phone’s machine learning believes you will want to use the most, which can be a handy feature.
All of this comes in a pretty expensive package. The Sony Xperia XZ3 costs $899.99 on Amazon, with your choice of three colors (black, forest green, and white silver). Keep in mind the phone will only work on GSM wireless carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile.
LG V40 ThinQ
The V40 is LG’s latest and greatest smartphone from the OEM. Its biggest feature is the triple camera setup on the back with a standard 12MP lens, a 16MP wide-angle lens, and a 12MP telephoto lens. The flagship also sports two cameras on the front, allowing you to add the bokeh effect to selfies.
In addition to being camera-focused, the device was also designed for music lovers. Not only does it have a headphone jack, which is slowly becoming a thing of the past, it also has a 32-bit Hi-Fi Quad DAC for improved audio quality.
The V40 is a large device, sporting a 6.4-inch QHD+ display with a notch. Like many other 2018 flagships, it packs a Snapdragon 845 and 6GB of RAM under the hood. The battery comes in at 3,300mAh, making it quite a bit smaller than the ones of the Galaxy Note 9 and Huawei P20 Pro — both have a 4,000mAh battery. The phone is up for pre-order in the U.S. and will set you back $950.