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Best Smartphones 2024: The Best iPhones & Android Phones To Buy Now

Best Smartphones 2024: The Best iPhones & Android Phones To Buy Now

The best mobile phones will take the place of your camera, keep you informed and entertained on the move, and still leave you with enough battery when you get home.

But it’s not easy to find a model that can succeed on all counts. With prices rising and more than ever to choose from, it’s important to spend your money wisely on a phone that will last. 

Read our in-depth guide for advice on choosing the best mobile phone with the top operating system, brand and additional features that you’ll really use.

Discover our pick of the best mobile phone and Sim-only deals, and best iPhone deals for 2024.

Best smartphones 2024

We’ve rounded up some of the very best premium phones you can buy that are great all-rounders. If you want to pay less, scroll down for some excellent options for under £500 and under £300.

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Best smartphones under £500

A cheaper handset won’t just save you money if you’re buying outright, but will also result in a cheaper contract. 

Best Great Value smartphones under £300

We test mobile phones at every price point, and while some inexpensive models are definite Don’t Buys, there are plenty of affordable gems worth considering. Our Great Value handsets score 60% or more in our tests and they’re at least 20% cheaper than the average price for all mobile phones we review. They might not have the very best cameras or displays, but they’re solid performers and often have long battery lives.

Great Value handsets must also have around two years of security support remaining. Regular security updates are important to prevent vulnerabilities in your phone being exploited. Find out more in our mobile phones security guide.

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Should I buy a phone on contract or Sim-free?

It can be tempting to opt for a lower monthly fee rather than pay a lot outright, but this could cost more in the long term. Use our phone contract calculator to find the best way to buy.

What’s the best way to buy a mobile phone?

Buying a phone on contract

Pros: Spreads the costs over time, may offer additional perks and benefits.

Cons: Susceptible to inflation, could end up costing you more, less flexibility on Sim package.

Buying on contract can make even the priciest handsets seem affordable. The key here is to run the numbers to find out how much you’ll be paying compared to the other options below. Aside from potentially costing more, mobile contracts may be susceptible to mobile contract inflation, which could be significant. However, benefits such as perks provided by some mobile providers can be tempting if you’ll use them.

Another thing to look out for is contract length. Many providers now use 36 month contracts for repayment of the handset, plus a two year Sim package. You can choose your own Sim deal for the remaining year at the same or a different provider. Use our mobile phone contract calculator to work out exactly how much you’ll end up paying in these scenarios.

Buying a phone on credit

Pros: Spreads the costs over time, ensures you won’t overpay for a handset (with an interest-free loan), inflation-proof, flexibility on Sim and provider.

Cons: may not get the best price on a handset, must keep up repayments.

Some manufacturers allow you to buy phones on credit, with the best offering interest-free repayments. With Apple you can pay for an iPhone monthly at 0% APR with the option to upgrade before the end of the contract, Samsung offers 0% interest options, as does Giffgaff, both through Klarna. However, it’s less likely you’ll get a good discount on the handset compared to hunting for a deal separately, and you must keep up with repayments. Retailers often offer finance options too, but check carefully as you may have to pay interest.

Buying a phone Sim-free

Pros: No need to worry about paying it off, easier to make savings on a handset, flexibility on Sim and provider.

Cons: High upfront cost.

If you have the money to pay for a handset upfront, it’s often the cheapest option. It also gives you the most flexibility in terms of choosing and switching your Sim plan. Buying a phone outright obviously involves a more significant upfront expense, but you don’t need to spent a lot for a very capable smartphone. Alternatively consider a 0% purchase credit card that won’t charge interest on purchases for an initial period, usually between three and 22 months. You’ll need to keep up with repayments or you’ll be charged the card’s standard APR – typically around 24%.

How much do I need to spend for a good mobile phone?

You could spend over £1,000 on a smartphone, but fortunately we’ve seen excellent models for a fraction of the price.

Expect to spend from around £350 for a Best Buy. It may not have all the bells and whistles of premium competitors, but any phone good enough to be a Best Buy is guaranteed to tick a lot of boxes. We have Great Value models for as little as £200. These might not be as powerful as our Best Buys, but you’re certainly getting a lot for your money including premium displays and long battery lives.

Find out our picks of the best mobile phone and sim-free deals

iOS or Android: which OS is best?

The operating system (OS) is the software that powers your phone. It shapes what the phone interface looks like and what apps it can run, and plays a large part in how easy it is to use. There are two main players to choose from: iOS (Apple iPhones) and Android.


samsung mobile phone

Android is designed by Google and is used by a range of manufacturers, from Samsung and Motorola to OnePlus and Oppo. Android looks and behaves slightly differently depending on the manufacturer, but the basics are essentially the same.

  • Pros Generally easy to use, customisable and provides access to the wide variety of apps and games from the Google Play store. There are also plenty of Android phones to choose from whatever your budget.
  • Cons Security support policies vary dramatically by brand – with some offering just two to three years. Sometimes manufacturers and network providers can be slow to release Android updates to users.

Apple iOS

iPhone 15 and Pro Max

All iPhones use iOS and the experience of using the operating system is broadly similar whichever iPhone you buy. New updates to iOS are released each year, but some older iPhones may be able to run only older versions, which means you’ll miss out on some of the latest features and security patches.

  • Pros Easy to use and quick to learn, even if you haven’t used a smartphone before. It provides access to the well-stocked Apple app store – where apps are vetted before being released.
  • Cons Apple iPhones are expensive, though you can find good deals on older handsets and in the second-hand market.

Read our guide on Apple iPhones vs Samsung Galaxy for more.

We collect reliability data on all the big brand smartphones so you have all the very best advice before you buy. Read our guide to the most reliable mobile phone brands for more.

Choose a mobile phone brand with good update support

One important consideration for any phone purchase is how long it’ll received important security updates from the manufacturer. We estimate the ‘lifetime’ of a smartphone – the average time we’d expect one to last before it breaks down or deteriorates significantly – is 5.6 years. This is based on robust analysis of recent product surveys and is a conservative estimate, so we’re confident that the genuine average is above this value.

We asked popular mobile phone brands how long they’d support devices with updates after launch, and as you can see, too many are still falling short of this measure. 

  • Samsung announced in 2019 that all new Samsung phones will be supported for at least four years, and in 2022 it announced support for five years for select devices.
  • Google supports phones for three to seven years. It announced the Pixel 6 and later would receive a minimum five years, and from the Pixel 8 this extends to seven years of support. It states when each device will lose security support on its website.
  • Fairphone has an update policy of approximately five to eight years.
  • OnePlus supports phones for three to five years. Its Nord devices get three years of security updates, flagship phones from 8 Series get four years and all phones launched from 2023 get five years of security updates.
  • Xiaomi phones that are new get at least three years of security support, with certain premium devices getting four or five years.
  • Oppo phones that are new get at least three years of security support, with select device getting five years, like the Find N2 Flip and X5 Pro.
  • Nokia supports C series phones for two years, and G and X series phones for three years.
  • Motorola supports phones with security updates in its Edge and Razr Families for four years from launch. The G Family gets a minimum of three years and it’s two years of support for phones in its E Family. Motorola states when each device will lose security support on its website.
  • Honor phones released since the brand’s separation from Huawei have a two year security update process.

Some other popular brands do not have clear minimum update policies. For example, Apple does not have a strict policy, but typically update iPhones for a minimum of six years. Sony stated that it only aims to supports phones for two or three years, with no guaranteed support period.

While you may not be at immediate risk if you’re using a device that’s unsupported, it’s obviously desirable to buy and use a device that you know will receive update support for a good period of time. These policies aren’t always easy to work out for individual phones, and you need to remember that support durations start from when the phone is released, not when you buy it. 

Head to our guide to mobile phone security to check how long your mobile phone will remain supported.

Do I need an antivirus app for a mobile phone?

Mobile antivirus can help protect you against phishing scams, where criminals trick you into clicking a dodgy link and revealing your personal details on a fake website. In our tests, we checked the effectiveness of free and paid-for mobile antivirus apps against the built-in security that comes with Apple and Android phones, and found many to be significantly more effective.

Read out guide to the best mobile antivirus software for more. 

Should I buy a second-hand mobile phone?

One way to get a good discount on a phone is to buy second-hand, or a refurbished model – which is usually a phone that has been used but restored to ‘as new’ condition, or graded to a certain level of quality. 

Read our reviews of mobile phones now only available on the second-hand market. We don’t award Best Buys or Great Value to phones now only available second-hand because the performance of a second-hand or refurbished phone might differ from buying a new one that we test in our reviews.

The second hand phone market is a popular one, but you do need to be careful what you buy. Read more in our guide to buying a second-hand or refurbished mobile phone.

Where to buy a mobile phone

When buying a mobile phone, make sure you’re handing your money over to a reputable seller. Check the retailer’s returns policy and pay attention to customer feedback and reviews. For more details on shopping online safely and arranging refunds for faulty products, see our advice on shopping online

Mobile Phones Direct, Argos and Carphone Warehouse are some of the most searched-for mobile phone retailers at the time of writing. We’ve included links to these retailers handpicked because of their stock availability, best value price or warranty options. 

  • Mobile Phones Direct – from Sim-free and Sim-only to pay monthly or refurbished, mobile phones direct (part of the AO family) stocks hundreds of phones that are delivered using free next day delivery direct from UK manufacturers. It offers deals with 18 different brands including Apple, Samsung, Huawei and Google with one of three network options; Vodaphone, O2 and Three. 
  • Argos – sells a mixture of Sim-free and Pay as you Go mobile phones. Prices start at less than £20 for basic models and go up to around £1,300. Argos offers same day in-store collection at selected Sainsbury’s stores and you can even bump up your nectar points when you shop there. 
  • Carphone Warehouse – specialist mobile phone retailer that stocks lots of different phones from a range of network providers. You can opt for Sim-only or a monthly contract and you can even trade in your old phone when you upgrade. Carphone Warehouse promises to price match if you find a cheaper deal elsewhere and they offer free home or in-store delivery. 
  • –part of Carphone Warehouse, it’s always worth checking this site as well, especially if you’re looking to buy on contract. They often have good deals on handsets, though make sure you’ve added up all extras – including upfront costs. Look for the total price paid, rather than getting seduced by price per month.

If you’re upgrading a phone, don’t leave the old one gathering dust in a drawer. How to recycle your mobile phone explains how to get money for an old handset, and erase your data securely.

The article was first published here

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