The best cell phones of 2024 have amazing cameras and gorgeous screens

The 5 Best Cell Phones for 2024

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Smartphone shopping can get confusing, especially since there are so many really great options. Whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, our in-house tech experts have compiled this list of our favorites models right now — and there’s something here for everyone, regardless of your budget or the features you’re looking for from a new phone.

To learn more about these and other smartphone options, be sure to check out our coverage of the best Android smartphones and best folding smartphones.

The best smartphones for 2024

The first decision you need to make? Whether you want a phone that runs on iOS or Android. If you want an iPhone, those are not upgradable after purchase, so you’ll need to select a configuration with enough storage. Even though most Android phones have a microSD memory card slot, whichever smartphone model you choose, we recommend one with at least 256GB of internal storage. 

Also consider the screen size and overall design. How easy is the phone to hold in your hand? Do you watch video on your phone, or use it mostly for calls?

Let’s take a look at the five best smartphones you can get right now.

Best iPhone overall: Apple iPhone 15 Pro Max

iPhone 15 Pro Max

Best Buy


Operating system: iOS 17 (or later) | Display size: 6.7 inches | Display type: Super Retina XDR | Processor: Apple A17 Pro | RAM: 8GB | Storage options: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB | Battery: 4,441mAh | Dimensions: 6.29 x 3.02 x 0.32 inches | Weight: 7.81 ounces | Charging options: Wired or wireless (MagSafe) | Stylus: No | Front camera: 12MP | Rear camera: 48MP (Main), 12MP (Ultra-Wide), 12MP (Telephoto) | Water resistant rating: IP68 | Max. screen brightness: 2,000 nits

The iPhone 15 Pro Max is Apple’s flagship smartphone, and it’s full of the latest tech, not to mention the line’s best camera setup yet. You get a beautiful, durable, aerospace-grade titanium casing in your choice of colors. 

New to this version of the iPhone is the action button, which you can assign to perform a specific task, like quickly launching the Camera app or turning on the flashlight. The phone itself is powered using Apple’s own A17 Pro processor, which incorporates a six-core GPU. This means that photos, videos (including TV shows and movies), games and anything else you’re viewing on the Super Retina XDR touchscreen will look fantastic — with vibrant colors and plenty of detail.

We’re huge fans of the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s enhanced camera and how it performs in a wide range of shooting situations, including low light. Be sure to check out our full-length, hands-on review of the iPhone 15 Pro Max for more information on the camera setup and the phone’s other features.

iPhone 15 Pro Max has a USB Type-C port on the bottom. But it also supports wireless charging and MagSafe. Battery life has been improved over the iPhone 14 Pro Max, plus you get access to all of the latest functions incorporated into iOS 17. Like all iPhone models, this one comes with an impressive collection of preinstalled apps, including the new Journal. For anyone who’s already an Apple fan or who’s thinking about switching to an iPhone, the iPhone 15 Pro Max offers the most robust collection of features and functions of all the iPhone models. 

There are plenty of ways to pick up one of these iPhones, and prices vary widely based on configuration and a host of other options. (Buying it outright can cost around $800, but financing or choosing a certain plan can go a long way.) We recommend going through one of the cellular service providers below.


Best Android smartphone overall: Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung


Operating system: Android 14 | Display size: 6.8 inches | Display type: Dynamic OLED 2x | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 for Galaxy | RAM: 12GB | Storage options: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Dimensions: 6.4 x 3.11 x 0.34 inches | Weight: 8.22 ounces | Charging options: Wired or wireless | Stylus: S Pen included | Front camera: 12MP | Rear camera: 200MP Wide-Angle, 12MP Ultra-Wide, 10MP Telephoto, 50MP telephoto | Water resistant rating: IP68 | Max. screen brightness: 2,600 nits

For smartphone users who are fans of Android and need a higher-end phone with plenty of processing power, you can’t go wrong with Samsung’s newest, top-of-the-line Galaxy S24 Ultra.

This phone features a stunning 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x touchscreen display and is one of the few to include a stylus that allows users to handwrite or draw right on the screen.

We’re huge fans of the phone’s main, rear-facing camera, which offers a whopping 200MP resolution. This allows you to capture breathtaking still images or video, while take advantage of the up to 2x and 10x optical zoom, or up to 100x digital zoom that’s offered by this phone’s rear-camera setup.

When it comes to viewing your own video, as well as movies, photos, or any type of animated graphics, you get an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz, along with a peak brightness of 2,600 nits. Thanks to the phone’s titanium housing and IP68 rating, the S24 Ultra is both durable and water resistant. And as you’d expect, for wireless connectivity, it supports 5G, Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3. You also get a choice of seven colors. 

This latest edition of the phone is loaded with new features and functions. The Circle to Search feature lets you draw a circle around anything on the screen. Within seconds, you’ll learn all about whatever it is you’ve circled. This feature uses advanced AI and works in conjunction with Google. Also, for the first time, the phone offers real-time language translation during phone calls and texts. The Note Assist feature can whip up a text summary of a recording or document. Record a meeting, lecture or conversation and have the phone compose an easy-to-review, bulleted list of key points.


Best budget iPhone: Apple iPhone SE (3rd Generation)

iPhone SE (3rd Generation)

Best Buy


Operating system: iOS 17 (or later) | Display size: 4.7 inches | Display type: Retina HD | Processor: Apple A15 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage options: 64GB, 128GB, 256GB | Battery: 2,018mAh | Dimensions: 5.54 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches | Weight: 5.09 ounces | Charging options: Wired or wireless | Stylus: No | Front camera: 7MP | Rear camera: 12MP | Water resistant rating: IP67 | Max. screen brightness: 650 nits

Maybe you don’t need all the bells and whistles of an iPhone 15 Pro Max. No problem. Apple offers this less expensive iPhone SE (3rd Generation). This is a smaller phone with a less powerful processor, but it runs the same iOS 17 (or later) version of Apple’s operating system as every other current iPhone model. It also comes with the same collection of pre-installed apps and access to nearly 2 million apps on the App Store.

The iPhone SE is water-resistant, offers a 4.7-inch touchscreen, and can easily handle all of the basic tasks people need from a smartphone — audio and video calls, texts and email. Web surfing, viewing photos, and streaming music or podcasts is also no problem for this phone. 

The cameras offer lower resolution than what you’d find in other current iPhones, but you’ll still take decent photos and videos using the iPhone SE. For the average user, we recommend at least 128GB of internal storage, but if you plan to store a lot of content, the 256GB version is definitely the way to go. 

The iPhone SE (3rd Generation) is the ideal starter iPhone for a child (age 10 and up), or older adult who wants an affordable and compact version of the iPhone. It’s price starts at just $429 (but often goes on sale for less). There are plenty of ways to pick up one of these iPhones, but we recommend going through one of the cellular service providers below.


Best budget Android smartphone: OnePlus Nord N30 5G

OnePlus Nord N30 5G

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Operating system: OxygenOS (based on Android 13) | Display size: 6.72 inches | Display type: LCD | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 695 5G (CPU), Adreno 619 (GPU) | RAM: 8GB | Storage options: 128GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Dimensions: 6.52 x 2.99 x 0.33 inches | Weight: 2.88 ounces | Charging options: Wired or wireless | Stylus: No | Front camera: 16MP | Rear camera: 108MP (Main), 2MP (Depth-Assist), 2MP (Macro) | Water resistant rating: Not waterproof | Max. screen brightness: 680 nits

The great thing about Android smartphones is that you don’t need to spend top dollar for impressive features. For just $250, you can snag the OnePlus Nord N30 5G smartphone. It can do just about anything more expensive Android phones can do, including shooting impressive photos and videos using the 108MP rear-facing main camera. 

The 6.72-inch touchscreen with a 120Hz refresh rate is the ideal size for most people, and the 5,000mAh battery will keep the phone running all day and well into the night. To keep things simple, only one color option and configuration is available. It comes in chromatic gray and is equipped with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. 

The OnePlus Nord N30 5G offers a really great tech for the buck. But if you need even more power for your money, we recommend the new OnePlus 12R. It’s powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and offers a 6.78-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s also about half the price of competing smartphones. 


Best folding smartphone: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

Samsung


Operating system: Android | Display size: 3.4-inch (Front), 6.7-inch (Main) | Display type: Super AMOLED (Front), Dynamic AMOLED 2x Infinity Flex FHD+ (Main) | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | RAM: 8GB | Storage options: 256GB, 512GB | Battery: 3,700mAh | Dimensions: 3.35 x 2.83 x 0.27 inches | Weight: 6.6 ounces | Charging options: Wired or wireless | Stylus: No | Front camera: 10MP | Rear camera: 12MP (Wide), 12MP (Ultra-Wide) | Water resistant rating: IPX9 | Max. screen brightness: 1,750 nits

Folding displays have grown extremely popular. They offer the same cutting-edge capabilities and large displays as regular smartphones, but they fold into a compact size that easily fits in a pocket.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 has both an outer display (3.4 inches) and a 6.7-inch main display (when it’s open and unfolded). The main Super AMOLED display offers an adaptive refresh rate up to 120Hz and a maximum brightness of 1,750 nits, so the display showcases bright and vivid content in virtually any lighting situation.

Many features are accessible even when the phone is folded. The phone itself is powered using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. Choose between 256GB or 512GB for internal storage. 

While the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is not for power users, it definitely offers the functions an average person needs to get the most out of their smartphone — communication, productivity, entertainment, health and fitness. The phone comes in eight colors. But what most people seem to love most about this phone is that, when it’s folded, it measures just 3.35 x 2.83 x 0.59 inches. When opened, it measures 6.5 x 2.83 x 0.27 inches. It weighs a mere 6.6 ounces. 

Honorable mention: Absolutely flipping for the Razr+

Motorola Razr+

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If you like the form factor and overall design of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, but want a lower cost option, check out the Motorola Razr+. You can easily find this phone on sale for around $700. It works with all major U.S. carriers, since it can be purchased as an unlocked phone.

When folded, the outside 3.6-inch pOLED touchscreen display still lets you do plenty of basic functions; see incoming messages or caller ID information without having to open the phone. When open, however, you get access to a large and vibrant 6.9-inch pOLED touchscreen.

This phone runs the latest version of Android and comes with 256GB of internal storage. While the camera system is not as robust as the Galaxy Z Flip 5, you do get a 32MP front-facing camera, along with both a 12MP (main) and 13MP (ultra-wide) rear-facing camera. Thanks to the Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 processor, you can expect really good overall performance and speed from this phone that folds up to easily fit in a pocket.


What’s the best smartphone right now?

Here are five things to consider before making your smartphone purchase:

  • Operating system: All iPhones run using Apple’s iOS operating system. The current version is iOS 17. Android smartphones run using Google’s Android OS. However, the make and model of the phone you choose will determine which version of Android it runs. The current version is Android 14. It’s usually best to pick a phone that uses the same OS as the rest of your tech — laptops, smart speakers and more.
  • Display size and type: The display size dictates the size of the smartphone and how much content you can see. The display type, refresh rate, and maximum brightness also impact how you see text, graphics, animation, photos, video and more.
  • Internal storage: Most smartphones give you a choice about how much internal storage (in gigabytes) the phone will have. For the average person, 128GB or 256GB is plenty, but for power users, 512GB or 1TB is better. While the internal storage of iPhones cannot be upgraded after purchase, many Android phones have a built in microSD memory card slot that allows you to increase storage with a memory card.
  • Camera: All smartphones have a front and several rear-facing cameras. The higher the resolution of these cameras (measured in megapixels), the better. A main rear-facing camera of at least 48MP will allow you to shoot really good-quality content.
  • Battery life: The battery’s capacity (measured in milliamp hours or mAh) will determine how long a phone and work between charges. But how you use the smartphone will affect its battery life. The higher the battery’s capacity, the longer it will last.

Should you finance or buy a new smartphone?

When you buy a new phone, you can often buy it outright, or finance it over 24 to 36 months (with 0% interest). If you have an older phone to trade in, you can get credit for that phone and apply that to your purchase. Look for a trade-in offer that gives you instant credit, not credits on your phone bill over time.

Ideally, you want to purchase an unlocked version of a phone outright, so you can activate it with almost any cellular provider, and then trade it in or upgrade the phone whenever you like. If you finance the smartphone through a provider, the phone may be locked, so it can only be used with that provider. And the length of your financing term will affect when you can upgrade to a new model. 

Apple and many U.S. cellular providers allow you to pay a bit extra and to let you upgrade your phone annually. The AT&T Wireless version is called AT&T Installment Plan with NextUp. You’re basically renting your phone and will never own it. The monthly financing fee for your phone is separate from the cost of service. Meanwhile, if you’re willing to switch your cellular provider, most will offer financial incentives and help you buy your way out of a contract.

Some smartphone manufacturers, like Samsung, often offer their own incentives. If you buy a new smartphone from a cellular provider, shop around for the best deal and most generous trade-in offers. Start deal shopping on the websites for AT&T Wireless, Verizon and T-Mobile. Throughout the year, you can also find deals on the latest smartphones at Amazon, Walmart or Best Buy.

If you’re interested in switching phone carriers, check out our money-saving advice on how to do it smartly.


Whether you need to know about the very best laptop computers, the latest TVsTV soundbarsdesktop computerssmartphonestabletshome projectors, or any other types of tech, we’re constantly expanding and updating our coverage to offer the most informative, timely and accurate shopping advice.


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