The most anticipated smartphones of 2018

UPDATED: All the announcements and rumours about this year's must-have handsets
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Last year was a fantastic one for phones. We got skinnier screen bezels than ever, cameras that took better pictures than dedicated compacts, and better-than-all-day battery life.

But we want more, and that's exactly what we're getting in 2018. We're only a couple months into the year, but we've already seen a heap of new handsets – including the Samsung Galaxy S9, Sony Xperia XZ2, and a heap of Nokia options.

And there's only more to come, as Apple, Google, OnePlus, and others ready their next respective big things. Curious what's coming before 2019 rolls around? Here's what we know about 2018's hugest phones, from what's already been announced to what's pouring out the rumour mill.

Additional words by Tom Morgan

Samsung: Galaxy S9, Note 9

The Samsung Galaxy S9 is here – and as expected, it's not the most radical departure from last year's fabulous Galaxy S8. While that might underwhelm some S8 backers looking to upgrade to the latest and greatest, it's great news for everyone else.

The Galaxy S9 keeps everything that worked well with last year's phone and then makes some enhancements and improvements. The dazzling screen is a little brighter, the Exynos 9810 chip (or Snapdragon 845 in some territories) is even faster than the last one, and the fingerprint sensor has moved to a much more comfortable location.

And the biggest upgrade comes with the camera: the adjustable aperture automatically switches between f/1.5 and f/2.4 settings, finding the ideal balance between light and detail. Also, the larger Galaxy S9+ packs in a secondary sensor, like the Galaxy Note 8.

What about the Galaxy Note 9, then? We haven't heard any big rumours about what to expect quite yet, but we imagine it'll bring in the enhancements from the Galaxy S9, maybe add some more S Pen abilities, and arrive in early autumn.

Apple: iPhone 9, iPhone X 2?

The iPhone X is Apple's most beautiful handset to date, and a nicely daring twist after a few years of diminishing returns on the same design – but it's also incredibly expensive, putting it out of reach of a lot of prospective iPhone buyers.

What will happen in 2018? If one analyst is to be believed, Apple may extend the full-face screen approach – complete with that divisive notch – to the entire line. Ming Chi-Kuo of KGI Securities believes that Apple will launch an updated 5.8in OLED model, an "iPhone X 2" or whatever you want to call it, along with two other models.

One would be a larger model with a towering 6.5in OLED display, and the other would fall right in the middle of the two, purportedly carrying a 6.1in display. The difference is that it would be a lower-resolution LCD screen, with that version acting as the entry-level, slightly cheaper model under the iPhone X 2. That might be the new iPhone 9, essentially.

Confusing? Yeah, just a bit – but it does seem likely that the notch-centric, Face ID-packing design is the way of the future for Apple, and it'll only be a matter of time before all of its phones scrap the old 16:9/Touch ID approach. Whether that will all happen this year remains to be seen, but we certainly expect some big developments from Apple this autumn. September is usually when we see these things, although the iPhone X didn't actually release until November last year.

Sony: Xperia XZ2 + XZ2 Compact

The rumoured Xperia XZ Pro didn't surface, but Sony did bring the Xperia XZ2 and XZ2 Compact to MWC – and they both shift away from the familiar, boxy Sony design we've seen on so many phones over the years.

The Xperia XZ2 is Sony's new core flagship, using a taller 18:9 1080p display that can upconvert standard video to HDR. The phone packs in power thanks to the Snapdragon 845 chip, plus the 19-megapixel back camera seems more promising than most Sony phone cameras. While the design is a bit anonymous in the sea of Android flagships, it's a nice change of pace for Sony.

Yet we're actually more intrigued by the smaller XZ2 Compact. The smaller build (with a 5in screen) keeps the perks of the larger model, with the same chip, same HDR ability, and same 19MP back camera. This could be the small phone to buy in 2018, especially at a more appealing £549 entry price.

Both handsets will be available later in March.

LG: V30 ThingQ, G7?

Where is the LG G7? Well, LG didn't show it off officially at MWC, opting to avoid getting caught up in Samsung's spotlight… but it was reportedly there, behind closed doors. A journalist claims to have seen the phone, and shared photos of the handset marked the "LG G7 Neo."

So what's the deal? Well, it has an iPhone X-like notch, with a full-frame 6in screen aside from the cutout for the camera/sensors, as well as a Snapdragon 845 chip and dual f/1.6 16MP back cameras. We'll see if this really ends up being the proper G7, but noted leaker Evan Blass certainly thinks it's legit. We'll probably see the G7 officially in the next couple of months.

And there's a properly-announced new phone too – well, kind of new. The LG V30S ThinQ (shown) adds more memory and storage than the original V30, as well as an A.I.-assisted camera app, but otherwise it's much the same phone as last year's.