Best of Android 2018 banner.

As 2018 winds down, we wanted to take stock of all the amazing smartphones released in the past 12 months by honoring the best of the bunch in our annual Best of Android series. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be releasing articles discussing our winners in detail.

For our awards this year, we used a completely new structure to find the best of the best. We wanted to hand out awards to devices that truly earned it with observable advantages. That couldn’t just come from test results and rankings — we needed to get hands on. We redesigned our Best of Android awards process to achieve this from the ground up, applying our math skills to reward good phones, and minimizing outlier measurements that could throw things off.

We also brought in the ultimate authority on Android phones: you.

Best smartphone of 2018 | Best smartphone innovation of 2018Best display 2018Best audio 2018 | Best battery 2018 | Best performance 2018 | Best camera 2018 | Reader’s choice 2018Best gaming smartphone 2018Best value phones 2018

The test bench becomes a leading lab

Though it’s a little less visible this time around, our testing is now far more serious. We drew help from our friends in the industry to ramp this up, including display experts SpectraCal, digital imaging pros Imatest, the brains behind Geekbench (Primate Labs), and our colleagues at SoundGuys to run each phone through a super-deep performance gantlet. We’ve moved from a test bench to a lab that can even detect fraudulent benchmark performance you won’t get in the real world.

This year's crop of devices is exciting in ways that only the Android ecosystem can be.

We nearly tripled our candidates from last year, with a full 30 being tested. We had actually hoped to test more, but some models simply weren’t available. Others were disqualified if their replacements were released, or if they’re at the end of their retail lives.

Best of Android 2018: The candidates

If your eyes glazed over a bit, don’t worry: many of those phones are designed for a certain niche. Each awards article will only deal with the handsets that truly excel in each category, which typically is about 5-7 models. If a phone was released and we couldn’t get it in for testing, it was entered into our Reader’s Choice bracket to do combat on equal footing.

A graphic showing the bracket competition for Android Authority's Reader's Choice award.
24 phones enter, one remains after a month of head-to-head competition.
24 phones enter, one remains after a month of head-to-head competition.

These are the award categories we considered:

We sincerely hope you enjoy our Best of Android content, and would love to hear back from you to figure out what we can improve next year. We didn’t have time to discuss every data point, but we left no stone unturned in our quest to provide you with the information you need.

All that we do is for our readers, and we hope to help you make the best decisions on your smartphone journey.