The best smartphones in 2024 in comparison
When you choose a high-end smartphone, you can usually be sure that you’ll get the best screen, the best performance, or even the best camera. In the last few years, high-end smartphones have grown more and more into luxury devices, be it in terms of design, internal components, or the increasingly higher price.
Speaking of it: The foldable phones, which tend to be high-priced, are becoming more and more popular, which is why we now also list two different categories in the best list: One for the flip phones in the compact form factor and the other for the larger models in the “butterfly” format.
For this buying guide, we have divided smartphones into different categories to accommodate different budgets and types of use. For example, you will not find the latest 200 MP image sensor or the most powerful SoC in a mid-range smartphone. That’s why we have picked out some of the most important features that you should consider when buying a smartphone.
Every year, smartphone manufacturers try to add exciting new features to their models—from cameras to batteries to the form factor itself. Below are a few tips on what you should look out for when buying a smartphone in 2024.
What features do current flagship smartphones offer?
- Form factor: Foldable displays are probably the most exciting development in smartphones in recent years. Thanks to flexible screens, the form factors of the phones themselves are also becoming more flexible. In 2024, you will have the choice between the ultra-compact Galaxy Z Flip 5, the butterfly foldable phone OnePlus Open, or the standard formats from iPhone to Google. You can find a current overview of the foldable smartphones here:
- Cameras: The vast majority of upper-class smartphones offer at least three cameras on the back—for ultra-wide angle, standard wide angle and telephoto. Do not be blinded by the resolutions here: The difference between 12 and 108 megapixels is not as big as the numbers suggest. More important are factors like the sensor size or the image processing algorithms. You can read more about this in the respective smartphone tests or in the following article.
- Batteries: In 2024, the battery life of flagships is no longer really an issue. Even with intensive use, you can get through the day with the vast majority of models. However, the differences are bigger when it comes to charging: While OnePlus charges its smartphones completely with 67 watts in a few minutes, Apple and Samsung are more conservative. More information about batteries and fast charging can be found in the following article.
- Display: First 60, then 90, 120 or 144 hertz: Over the past two years, smartphones have gotten faster and faster displays—and since 2021, finally also the Pro models of the iPhone 13. High refresh rates ensure a smoother display, whether in gaming or in everyday use. However, the high Hertz rates also eat away at the battery, so the manufacturers usually adjust the refresh rates depending on the displayed content. You can read more about screens via the following link.
- Processing power & co.: You hardly have to worry about sufficient performance in a premium smartphone in 2024. All the better phones offer more than enough power for current games—and for everyday use anyway. The same applies to 5G, which is now standard on smartphones. However, you should carefully consider how much memory you need before buying. Expansion options via microSD card are almost non-existent in the upper class.
Want to know more about the different smartphones? In the following paragraphs, we briefly present our favorites and go into the advantages and disadvantages. Because depending on the user type, a different smartphone is the perfect choice.
The king is dead, long live the king—that’s the motto for the best smartphone of the still young year. Last year’s S23 Ultra from Samsung’s flagship series is now being replaced by the Galaxy S24 Ultra. Currently, this is perhaps the best smartphone ever, but in our opinion, it is at least the best smartphone with Android.
Hardly anything has changed on the outside. The design is almost identical, but Samsung now uses titanium for the frame, just like its competitor Apple.
The comparison between the Galaxy S24 Ultra and S23 Ultra doesn’t reveal many other differences at first glance. But don’t let the almost identical spec sheet put you off!
The 6.8-inch LTPO OLED display appears unchanged at first glance but shines even brighter than its predecessor. This top smartphone is now powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and the operating system is the new One UI 6 interface based on Android 14.
The absolute cracker: Samsung promises us a whopping seven years of Android and security updates! Thanks to Galaxy AI, artificial intelligence is supposed to give the Galaxy S24 Ultra an extra boost, but our tester Antoine is not yet completely convinced.
The camera setup also looks almost unchanged, although the telephoto camera with 10x optical zoom has been replaced by a camera with 5x zoom, which now boasts 50 MP.
The battery life is also absolutely convincing, as the benchmark test attests the S24 Ultra an outstanding 19 hours. We’ll keep quiet about the fact that it still only charges at 45 W and that this charger is not included in the box.
If you want to secure this top-of-the-range box, you will have to pay at least 1,449 euros. But for that you also get the best that is currently available in the Android camp.
For us, the “Pro” model of Apple’s current lineup is once again the best iPhone in 2024. The excellent triple camera of the iPhone 14 Pro with the 48 MP camera at the top has been improved in nuances in the iPhone 15 Pro. However, you might notice more significant differences to the predecessor in terms of performance.
The A17 Pro SoC, manufactured in a 3 nm process, will even bring AAA games to your iPhone in the future and promises a true performance boost that androids will only look at with envy.
Apart from the fact that you can look forward to groundbreaking performance and strong cameras, two things in particular stand out for us in the iPhone 15 Pro: First, there is the USB Type-C port, which has also found its way into the iPhones starting this year. However, keep in mind that the port complies with the USB 3.2 standard, but Apple nastily only includes a USB 2.0 cable.
The Pixel series has also been updated recently, which is reflected in our best list. Let’s start with the cold shower: While you could buy the brand-new Pixel 7 Pro for $899 last year, you will now fork out at least $999. That is still an acceptable price in the flagship league.
The excellent camera of the predecessor has been further improved in terms of hardware as well as software/AI. The triple cam still consists of a 50 MP main camera and a 48 MP telephoto camera. However, instead of the ultra-wide-angle shooter with 12 MP, there is now one with 48 MP as well. And guess what? The Google Pixel 8 Pro won our latest camera blind test.
The LTPO OLED display is convincing again this year, although the resolution of the 6.7-inch screen has dropped very minimally to 2,992 x 1,344 pixels. The Tensor SoC has been updated to the latest G3 generation and offers more performance than last year, but it cannot compete with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 to be honest.
However, there are big points for the software support. Google secures the title for the longest software support by assuring us of system and security updates for a full seven years. In plain language, this means that even Android 21 will still get this device.
Don’t necessarily want a pricey flagship and looking for a budget smartphone that still lets you do everything you want? Then the Pixel 7a is precisely the right choice for you! The best smartphone under $500 in 2024 has no mercy on the competition and offers a pretty strong spec sheet and a very pleasant user experience.
It has a 6.1-inch OLED display, a Tensor-G2 SoC, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for the latest games and apps, an impressive 64MP dual camera, and a 4,385-watt battery that can be recharged at 18 watts. The Pixel 7a also has a compact size, good performance, best-in-class photo quality, and wireless charging.
Although the charging speed does not exactly speak for the smartphone and Google does not include the charger, the Pixel 7a is undoubtedly the best mid-range smartphone you can currently buy.
The OnePlus Open has already secured a spot on our list of the best foldable phones, taking the lead as the go-to device for this year. Given its prowess, it’s no surprise to find it on our 2024 top smartphones list as well.
Foldable phones are becoming increasingly popular, aren’t they? We’ve transitioned from viewing them as mere futuristic novelties to practical daily drivers. However, it’s essential to note that not every foldable meets user expectations. Some might be too pricey, while others might present minor setbacks.
However, the OnePlus seems to have nailed it. The phone boasts an appealing design, superior functionality, and here’s the best bit: it’s more “affordable” compared to its rivals. Though it’s initially priced at $1,699, OnePlus Store offers an enticing trade-in deal, potentially lowering the cost to $1,499.
Shifting our focus to its features, the OnePlus Open bears some resemblance to the Galaxy Z Fold 5 (review) in design but stands out with its unique charm. When it comes to charging? It’s like a race car, always leading the pack. Its multitasking capabilities, especially the innovative ‘Recent fold’ and OnePlus Canvas, redefine productivity.
Photography enthusiasts will be thrilled with its Hasselblad 48 MP camera—a real game-changer. While some may think it’s just clever marketing that has us singing its praises, our team has had hands-on experience, and the verdict? We’re thoroughly impressed. In short, if a foldable is on your wishlist this year, the OnePlus Open is a top contender. It’s feature-rich, and an absolute pleasure to use.
It is becoming apparent that the flip form factor is maturing into the more popular foldable design. Therefore, we will also include these “flip phones” in their own category in our list of the best devices from now on. The first champion here is also a Samsung foldable with the Galaxy Z Flip 5.
However, we have discussed this internally for a while because Motorola has also sent a strong little horse into the flip race with the Moto Razr 40 Ultra (review). You are welcome to write us in the comments which of the two models you find stronger.
But now to the Galaxy Z Flip 5: While very little has changed in the Fold sibling, the new Flip 5 is happy about a significantly larger outer display. It has now grown from 1.9 inches to 3.4 inches and is thus much more functional.
This might not sound like a big improvement at first, but it turns out to be a real game changer in everyday use. You do not even have to open the smartphone for many processes now. By the way, Samsung has also improved the hinge in this model.
The Flip again has a Snapdragon heart in the form of the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy and delivers flagship performance. The camera also performs above average, although the entire camera setup lacks a bit of versatility. Once again, two 12 MP cameras plus a 10 MP selfie cam are used.
Samsung also has room for improvement in terms of battery: The 3,700 mAh block does last for a day with average use. However, there is again no charger in the box, once more, the battery cannot charge very fast (plan for about one and a half hours per charge), and the battery runtime is not really convincing compared with other models.
What do you think of this list, and which upcoming smartphone are you looking forward to the most?
This article was updated in February 2024 with a new Editor’s Choice. Existing comments have been kept.