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The Wrap – The best phones of 2018

It’s the end of a big year of phones, and we’re delving into the best of the best. Android or iPhone, which phone will take the best phone place? We’ll talk to Finder’s Alex Kidman and WhistleOut’s Alex Choros to help us decide.


For the last few days of 2018, you’re tuned into The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup, and you may not realise it, but one of the things we love talking about is phones. There are loads, and it can be hard to pick through the ranges and find one that’s right for you.

That was no more true than this year, which saw some amazing devices, with much of the emphasis in 2018 on big screens and big cameras. In fact, if you wanted both, there’s a good chance you’d have seen a big price, too.

But it wasn’t always the case, and if you wanted something excellent without the spend, you had options. We liked Oppo’s R15 Pro, but it wasn’t necessarily the best value overall, with a lot happening from Nokia.

Alex Kidman: I’d like to say the Nokia 7.1 because that was the best mid-range, mid-value phone, but Nokia put out a lot of these phones this year, and the best value phone I think overall would probably be the Nokia 2.1, their Android Go phone, really nice, low-cost device, well designed, well built, only does the basics of course, but then you’re not paying very much for it.

That’s Finder’s Alex Kidman, and he’s joined by WhistleOut’s Alex Choros, who listed a Nokia with his best value options, as well as something else.

Alex Choros: In terms of best value. I really like the Nokia 6.1 It’s just a great $400 phone running pure Android. And the Moto E5 was also another highlight this year which really surprised me by just how much $229 buys you.

We also liked the Moto E5 because of its battery life. We didn’t see any phone that matched it, achieving a staggering three days of life.

But as nice as three days is, there were compromises, and if you wanted the best of the best, you needed to look elsewhere. Fortunately, the journalists we spoke to were pretty much agreed on what 2018’s best phones were:

Alex Kidman: The phone that spent the most time in my pocket would have been a Galaxy S9+. Still a great handset, and Samsung did some really smart stuff there at an appreciatively good price for a premium phone. Later in the year, though, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro: great phone, great camera, great battery life. Huawei really knocked it out of the park with that device.

We’re in agreement with Finder’s Alex, and we’re not the only ones. WhistleOut’s Alex said much the same.

Alex Choros: For me, my favourite phone of the year is a bit of a two way tie between the iPhone XR and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. The iPhone XR’s a great iPhone with the longest battery life of any iPhone, and about 70 percent of the price of an iPhone XS, which is pretty great. It does feel like a bit of a compromise sometimes, but still, it’s a comparatively affordable modern iPhone. And as for the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, it’s just a phone that does it all. It has a massive battery, an amazing camera, a bunch of cool new tech… You know, Huawei’s done something special this time around.

For those who haven’t seen it, Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro delivers a bit of a knock-out punch in terms of features. While Huawei may have seen its fair share of controversies this year, the phone is exceptional, boasting great performance, an excellent screen, up to two days of battery life, wireless charging, water resistance, and one of the best camera systems of any all year.

And the iPhone XR made an impact, because it achieves the balance that Apple hasn’t really hit in its other phones. It’s the iPhone for everybody this year, especially since the other iPhones cost so much. It’s enough of the 2018 iPhones you’d want without feeling your purse strings pinched.

In fact, cost is one of the things we’re hoping doesn’t become a trend, because phones were expensive enough this year.

Alex Choros: One thing I’m hoping next year brings is some restraint in how manufacturers price their smartphones. That might be unlikely with the advent of foldable phones and 5G, but I really would like to see smartphone prices come back down rather than keep rising up.

Now that mobile makers know how much they can get away with, it’s almost definitely a foregone conclusion that it will stay this way. But that could open the doors to low-cost options from players like Oppo, Nokia, and Huawei.

You can also expect 5G to become big next year, as well as foldable phones, but you might want to keep those expectations low.

Alex Kidman: Well obviously the big thing is foldable phones, and let’s be honest here, the first foldable phones are probably going to be rubbish, but I’m still keen to see what can be done with the form-factor, and where that technology can take not only phones, but laptops, tablets, all the kinds of devices that we use.

Fortunately none of this is very far away and is just around the corner. There’s obviously a lot to look forward to, and it won’t be long until you can see it for yourself. The new year is almost here.

For now, you’ve been listening to The Wrap, Australia’s fastest technology roundup. The Wrap appears every Friday at Podcast One and Apple Podcasts, and we’ll be back in 2019 for more technology heard in five minutes. Until then, have a great week, a safe new year, and we’ll see you next time on The Wrap. Take care.

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