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The Best Phones for 2024


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For most of us, mobile phones are at the center of our universe. The typical feature set of these palm-sized marvels is astounding. It’s your phone, messaging device, web browser, camera, music player, GPS, and more. The phone you choose affects your life in a multitude of ways. That’s why we’re here to help you pick exactly the right one.

We’re a smartphone-dominated nation, with 5G now widely available across much of the land from three major, nationwide wireless carriers (Dish is expanding its 5G network slowly). But some of our choices have constricted a bit: The smartphone OS marketplace is basically down to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. It’s surprisingly difficult to find a really good simple voice phone nowadays.

We’ve reviewed almost every smartphone available for AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless, as well as for many of their sub-brands such as Cricket, Metro, and Visible. But rather than simply choosing the phones with the highest ratings here, we aim to deliver a list of devices that covers every budget and use case. We generally focus on the hottest, newest releases, but you can also find great value in slightly older phones (such as last year’s iPhones and Galaxies), so make sure to shop around. We also include some helpful buying advice below the list that can help you throughout your search.

Since 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. See how we test.

Deeper Dive: Our Top Tested Picks

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

Most Powerful iPhone

Why We Picked It

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is the most iPhone you can get, with the fastest processor, the best screen, the biggest battery, and the most capable cameras. A USB-C Gen 2 port, titanium frame, and versatile Action button are all new for this iteration, as are the powerful A17 Pro processor and 5x optical telephoto camera. If you’re serious about photography and videography, this is the iPhone to get.

Who It’s For

Simply put, this is the best iPhone money can buy. It’s for those who want all the new features and best performance available from an iPhone.


  • Fast, smooth performance
  • Excellent cameras
  • Long battery life
  • Useful Action button
  • USB-C connectivity opens up new features
  • Lighter than previous Pro Max


Operating System iOS 17
CPU Apple A17 Pro
Dimensions 6.29 by 3.02 by 0.32 inches
Screen Size 6.7 inches
Screen Resolution 2,796 by 1,290 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 48MP/12MP/12MP;12MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 20 hours, 15 minutes

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Best for Artists and Note-Takers

Why We Picked It

The Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra offers superb specs including a Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy processor, up to 1TB of storage and 12GB of RAM, and the best camera stack you can get on an Android phone in the US. The built-in S Pen stylus is another significant point in its favor, particularly for artists and note-takers who like to sketch or jot on the run. Let’s not forget Samsung’s powerful productivity software, which lets you multitask with ease.

Who It’s For

If you want 5x telephoto zoom power, a 200MP main camera, good battery life, top performance, and a built-in stylus, the S24 Ultra is the phone for you.


  • Speedy performance
  • Beautiful screen
  • Terrific cameras
  • Useful AI features
  • Comes with S Pen stylus
  • Long support commitment


Operating System Android 14
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy
Dimensions 6.40 by 3.11 by 0.34 Inches
Screen Size 6.8 inches
Screen Resolution 3,120 by 1,440 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 200MP, 12MP, 10MP, 50MP; 12MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 14 hours, 10 minutes

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5

Best Folding Phone

Why We Picked It

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 works out all the major kinks that hindered the outgoing Z Fold 4. The lighter package and more compact body make it appreciably easier to carry around this incredibly powerful machine. Moreover, it finally loses the wedged shape when folded and closes entirely flat. It costs a lot of money, but Samsung justifies it with lots of features, such as advanced multitasking, S Pen stylus support, the latest 5G and Wi-Fi radios, and speedy performance.

Who It’s For

If you are looking for one device to replace your phone, tablet, and maybe even your laptop, the Z Fold 5 is built for you. It’s the top folding phone in the market with good reason.


  • Incredibly versatile
  • Excellent productivity software
  • Beautiful screens
  • Slimmer, lighter design than previous generation


  • Pricey
  • Odd speaker placement


Operating System Android 13
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy
Dimensions 6.10 by 5.11 by 0.24 inches
Screen Size 7.6 inches
Screen Resolution 2,176 by 1,812 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 50MP, 12MP, 10MP; 10MP; 4MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 11 hours, 20 minutes

Google Pixel 8

Best Android Phone for Most People

Why We Picked It

The Pixel 8 offers most of the same features as the Pixel 8 Pro for $300 less. It has a great build and features incredibly powerful, AI-enhanced image and video editing tools like Magic Eraser and Best Take. It also stands out for its unique design and Google Assistant-powered search tools.

Who It’s For

If you enjoy mobile photography or want a pure Google software experience, the Pixel 8 is the Android phone to get. People who don’t upgrade their phones often should appreciate Google’s promised seven years of OS updates, too.


  • Competitively priced
  • Advanced AI features
  • Terrific cameras
  • Compact
  • Excellent build quality


  • Unimpressive battery life
  • No telephoto camera
  • Storage capped at 256GB


Operating System Android 14
CPU Google Tensor G3
Dimensions 5.93 by 2.79 by 0.35 inches
Screen Size 6.2 inches
Screen Resolution 2,400 by 1,080 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 50MP, 12MP; 10.5MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 10 hours, 20 minutes

Samsung Galaxy A15 5G

Best Affordable Android Phone

Why We Picked It

The Samsung Galaxy A15 5G is an excellent value for under $200. Highlights include a large 90Hz screen, a good camera system, and a guarantee of four years’ worth of security updates. It’s not as tough as pricier phones, nor does it perform as well, but you can’t ask for more given the low price.

Who It’s For

If your budget is limited, the Galaxy A15 5G is an excellent choice thanks to its good everyday usability, above-average cameras, and long battery life. Midrange models outgun it, but it’s easily the best Androoid phone under $200.


  • Affordable
  • Long battery life
  • Competent cameras
  • Excellent software upgrade policy


  • No IP rating
  • Plastic build


Operating System Android 14
CPU Mediatek 6835
Dimensions 6.30 by 3.02 by 0.33 inches
Screen Size 6.5 inches
Screen Resolution 2,340 by 1,080 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 50MP, 5MP, 2MP; 13MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 14 hours, 3 minutes

Apple iPhone 15

Best iPhone for Most People

Why We Picked It

The base model iPhone 15 offers everything you want from an iPhone for a lot less money than the Pro version. It has a high-quality build with a waterproof chassis, a brighter screen, faster performance, and better cameras than ever. It also loses the notch of older iPhones in favor of the Dynamic Island and jumps from Apple’s old Lightning connector to the more universal USB-C.

Who It’s For

If you don’t need bleeding-edge hardware or the largest screen, the standard iPhone 15 won’t let you down and will save you money at the same time.


  • Good size and weight
  • Solid performance
  • Capable cameras
  • USB-C port
  • Dynamic Island


  • No always-on display
  • No telephoto camera
  • Shorter battery life than other iPhones


Operating System iOS 17
CPU Apple A16 Bionic
Dimensions 5.81 by 2.81 by 0.31 inches
Screen Size 6.1 inches
Screen Resolution 2,556 by 1,179 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 48MP / 12MP / 12MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 16 hours, 15 minutes

Motorola Razr+

Best Flip Phone

Why We Picked It

The Motorola Razr+ is a high-quality foldable that bends in half at the waist rather than down the spine. It’s pocketable, powerful, fun, and stylish. The capable external display means you can use it without opening the screen much of the time and even take selfies using the main camera.

Who It’s For

The Razr+ is for people bored with modern slab-style smartphones and want to change things up for something new. It’s a breath of fresh air in a market oversaturated with sameness.


  • Excellent display quality
  • Highly functional external screen
  • Portable, stylish design


  • Unimpressive IP rating
  • Dated processor


Operating System Android 13
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1
Dimensions 6.73 by 2.91 by 0.28 inches
Screen Size 6.9 inches
Screen Resolution 2,640 by 1,080 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 12MP, 13MP; 32MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 14 hours

OnePlus 12

Best Alternative to Google and Samsung

Why We Picked It

If you want a top Android phone that’s not from Google or Samsung, the OnePlus 12 is an excellent option. This $799 flagship meets the Pixels and Galaxies spec for spec with an outstanding display, solid battery life, and capable cameras. OnePlus also promises software updates for years to come.

Who It’s For

This is the phone for flagship seekers who want more individuality from their handset. OnePlus has a design language all its own and thoughtful software tweaks that set its phones apart from other Android devices.


  • Bright, crisp display
  • Excellent battery life
  • Rapid wired and wireless charging
  • Powerful processor


  • Lacks mmWave 5G
  • Not as waterproof as competing phones
  • No special AI features


Operating System Android 14
CPU Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3
Dimensions 6.47 by 2.98 by 0.36 inches
Screen Size 6.82 inches
Screen Resolution 3,168 by 1,440 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 64MP, 50MP, 48MP; 32MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 18 hours, 10 minutes

Learn More

OnePlus 12 Review

Nokia 2780 Flip

Best Voice Phone

Why We Picked It

We haven’t forgotten about the humble feature phone: The affordable Nokia 2780 Flip prioritizes communication over everything else. It offers Wi-Fi, an FM radio, and a serviceable 5MP camera.

Who It’s For

Anyone who doesn’t need or want a smartphone or anyone who needs or wants a cheap monthly service plan should check out the Nokia 2780 Flip.


  • Good call quality
  • Wi-Fi connectivity
  • FM radio
  • Affordable


  • Operating system is a bit clunky
  • Group texting could be better
  • Several key apps are missing
  • Middling battery life


Operating System KaiOS
CPU Qualcomm 215 Mobile Platform
Dimensions 4.33 by 2.28 by 0.77 inches
Screen Size 2.7 inches
Screen Resolution 320 by 240 pixels
Camera Resolution (Rear; Front-Facing) 5MP
Battery Life (As Tested) 3 hours, 24 minutes (LTE talk time)

Buying Guide: The Best Phones for 2024

PCMag Logo The Best Phones of the Year

Which Cell Phone Carrier Has the Best Coverage?

Despite all the recent hardware and mobile software innovations, choosing a wireless service provider remains the most important decision. No matter what device you buy, it’s a paperweight unless you have reliable wireless coverage. You should choose a carrier that offers fair prices and provides the best coverage in your area.

If you’re interested in performance and you live in a metro area, pay the most attention to where the major carriers have “mid-band” 5G (also called C-band) and use phones that support that technology.

UScellular is available only in about half the country. It has a reputation for good customer service, but we haven’t been able to test it because its service is not available near where our staffers live.

The newest national carrier is Dish. We tested its network early on, but the carrier now says coverage is available for roughly 70% of the US population.

Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8 (Credit: Eric Zeman)

There are also plenty of virtual operators that use the big three networks for service but offer lower monthly rates, cheaper international calls, or other benefits. They’re typically better for less intensive users, and most don’t have family plans.

Mint Mobile (on T-Mobile’s network), Consumer Cellular (on AT&T’s), and Spectrum Mobile (on Verizon’s) all got higher ratings in our Readers’ Choice survey than the companies that host their service.

AT&T owns Cricket, T-Mobile owns Metro by T-Mobile, Verizon owns Visible, and Google owns Google Fi. Verizon now also owns Net10, Page Plus, Simple Mobile, Straight Talk, Total Wireless, and Tracfone. We spotlight some of our favorite virtual operators in our roundup of the best cheap phone plans. We also have a story on the best cheap phones.

Do You Need a 5G Phone?

5G arrived in 2019, and most new smartphones now support some form of it. Though 5G has yet to change everything, it is still well on its way.

If you’re on T-Mobile, you should use a mid-band 5G-compatible phone. That’s an easy choice—all T-Mobile 5G phones are mid-band-compatible now.

PCMag Logo What Is 5G?

AT&T has a strong 4G network and has made big strides in deploying its C-band network. It has been studiously installing a new form of mid-band called 3.45GHz, but you need at least an iPhone 14, a Samsung Galaxy S23, a fifth-generation Samsung Galaxy foldable, or a Pixel 7 to take advantage of it.

If you’re in one of Verizon’s C-band areas, upgrading to a C-band-compatible 5G phone is a good move. Otherwise, Verizon’s “nationwide” 5G is only slightly faster than LTE, and you don’t need to concern yourself with it too much. You can find more 5G recommendations on our list of the best 5G phones.

Should You Get an Unlocked Phone?

Carriers have moved to increasingly more confusing service and pricing plans, so the value of unlocked phones has risen accordingly.

Unlocked phones are those you buy from a third-party store or directly from the manufacturer; they aren’t tied to a specific carrier. Usually, you can use them with AT&T or T-Mobile. But some popular unlocked phones work on all three major carriers, including Verizon. For the most flexibility, look for a recent Apple iPhone, Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S or Z flagship, or Motorola phone. If you use a low-cost MVNO service, make sure your unlocked phone works on its network; we’ve received several emails stating that some MVNOs don’t support phones that should work on their networks.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max back view

Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max (Credit: Eric Zeman)

In the past, unlocked 4G phones typically worked on all the major carriers, but 5G phones are different. Apple, Google, and Samsung’s 5G phones work on every major US carrier, but many other brands either have limited band support or are only certified for specific carriers. AT&T customers should take extra caution before buying an unlocked 5G phone because the carrier has not yet certified many of the phones its network theoretically supports.

What Is the Best Smartphone?

As more people become accustomed to instant email, web, music, and messaging access at all times of the day, regardless of where they are, smartphones have become almost indispensable. But that doesn’t mean everyone wants the same mobile experience. Sometimes, a platform’s user interface or app selection speaks to you, and that’s all there is to it. With that in mind, and at the risk of attracting flames, let’s break it down as well as we can for those who aren’t so fully vested.

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra (Credit: Eric Zeman )

There’s actually less diversity in smartphone platforms and designs than ever. Android and iOS are the two remaining major smartphone platforms, both in US sales and in the availability of third-party apps. The iPhone has the best app store and the best media features. But Apple’s tightly controlled ecosystem can feel stifling to some, and iOS isn’t easy to customize or modify. There’s far more variety among Android handsets, and Android’s open-source nature makes it a tweaker’s dream. But it also means fragmented third-party app compatibility, occasional bugs, carrier bloatware you can’t remove, and less consistent OS updates.

Strictly interested in Android? Head over to our roundup of the best Android phones. Baffled by the variety of iPhones? Here’s how to decide which iPhone to buy. And if you want to document the world around you with your phone, we’ve rounded up the best camera phones, too.  

Recommended by Our Editors

What Is the Best Feature Phone?

Some people still use simpler phones, even though the number of choices is steadily dwindling. The top reasons to consider these models are their lower price, ease of use, and often cheaper associated service plans (because mobile data often isn’t a factor). There are some great deals for voice-only plans on virtual carriers such as TracFone and Consumer Cellular.

Unlike smartphones, feature phones are a matter of “what you see is what you get.” They don’t receive software upgrades or run thousands of additional apps. Wireless network coverage is always the biggest factor, but individual phones can vary in reception, earpiece quality, transmission quality through the microphone, and sidetone (the echo of your voice that helps prevent you from yelling at the other person on the line). A phone with middling to poor reception quality can be almost impossible to use in a marginal coverage area. In contrast, one with excellent reception can make the best of the little signal that’s available. Another point to consider: Some phones have much louder speakerphones than others.

For more, see our picks for the best phones for seniors. We also have a roundup of the best phones for kids.

What’s the Best Time to Buy a New Phone?

The best time to buy a new phone is when you need one. If your phone took a header into the pool or met its demise on the pavement, get whatever is available that best meets your needs. But if you’re watching your budget or riding the cutting edge, a little knowledge and planning can keep you from buying a phone that’s about to be discounted or replaced with something newer and cooler.

For instance, Apple released the iPhone 15 models in September, as it has done in the past. Google’s new Pixels came out in October. And Samsung stuck with its usual schedule of Galaxy S devices in January and Galaxy Z folding phones in the summer.

Note that we update this story every time we review a new phone worth a spot on the list, so it changes often. Be sure to check back soon for our latest recommendations.

Dave LeClair and Sascha Segan contributed to this story.




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