The end of 2018 may be in sight (wait, wasn’t it just May?!), but some of the most exciting phone launches of the year are still to come. Apple’s 2018 iPhones came weeks ago. CNET was first to report that the OnePlus 6T in fall will be the brand’s first phone to sell through a US carrier (it’s T-Mobile).

2018 has already brought us Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus in March, and its Galaxy Note 9 in August. The OnePlus 6 wowed us once again with its high value specs at a midrange price, and Motorola’s Moto G6 and Moto G6 Play have cornered the bargain market (sadly, not the inexpensive Moto E5 Plus).

But despite the great phones you can buy today, my advice for high-end buyers is to wait, especially if you’re undecided. Hold off a month or two when all the year’s phones are launched and when the holiday promotions begin. You’ll have the most phones to choose from, and some competitive pricing among carriers and retailers who want your business badly.

 

When you are ready to get serious and plonk down the cash, know what you care about most. Is it battery life, the camera, making a statement to your colleagues and friends? How much are you willing to spent all-in — including all your cases and dongles? Do you need to be on the cutting edge of features and performance, or is value more important? How long do you want to hold on to your phone: a year, or three? Can you afford to wait for a deal, or do you need to buy a new phone now?

For most people, price is the most important factor of all, and in general, cost lines up with performance. Expensive handsets will have the “best” features, fastest processors and the most advanced cameras. You’ll be able to do more on them, and brag to your friends.

Midrange devices are value plays that pack in pretty good features with a slight trade-off in speed, camera tools and nice-to-have extras that most people can live without. If you can happily spend your days without a curved screen or wireless charging, phones in this range will suit you fine.

Finally, low-cost phones are great options for people watching their budgets, first-time phone users and those looking for a secondary or backup device.

Luckily, mobile tech has gotten so good, even budget buys can get you usable photos and satisfying performance. After all, they run on the same Android or iOS backbone as the more expensive models. These phones will fly through the basics, and maybe add a perk or two along the way.

iPhone, Galaxy, OnePlusiPhone, Galaxy, OnePlusiPhone, Galaxy, OnePlus

 

When Androids and iPhones sell each year

Right now we’re nearing the end of the yearly cycle. After a busy summer, we transition into fall, when phonemakers tend to save their most impressive devices for the big holiday push. After that, things will quiet down until the first phones for 2019 see the light of day in January, February and March (for the CES and MWCtrade shows).

 

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