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iPhone alternatives: The Android phones you should consider instead of the iPhone

iPhones are wonderful, but they are also expensive. Here are alternatives for every current iOS device

The iPhone is a wonderful device and has been ever since the first one launched back in 2007. But 11 years ago, an iPhone cost £269, whereas now the cheapest one on Apple’s store will set you back £449 – and that’s for a phone more than two years old. The base iPhone Xs will set you back £999 – or an increase of 271% in just over a decade. And that assumes you’re happy with 64GB of storage…

For many, now is the time to look for iPhone alternatives. In 2019, that means Android, but that move needn’t be as painful as it sounds. As it’s much more customisable than iOS, you can make Android feel just like you’re using an iPhone with a little patience. Better still, you unquestionably get more bang for your buck.
Here are our favourite iPhone alternatives

iPhone Xs alternatives – Samsung Galaxy S9 / S9 Plus

Apple’s main iPhone – the Xs – starts at £999. For that, you get a 5.8in device with 64GB of internal memory. For our money, the Samsung Galaxy S9 (RRP: £739) or Galaxy S9 Plus (RRP: £869) is a better buy – especially as both have come down in price. The former can be had for around £500, making it quite the bargain.
Yes, the iPhone Xs proved faster in our benchmarks, but the truth is that you really won’t notice the difference in day-to-day use, especially as its screen is capped at 60fps by its 60Hz refresh rate. And everywhere else, Samsung is either drawing or pulling ahead. The S9’s screen is the best in the business, its camera is slightly better and, crucially, you can expand the internal storage with a microSD card, so you don’t need to splash out more for a pricier model if you’re worried by capacity.

The S9 Plus hasn’t reduced in price as much as the regular model, but offers a dual-camera array for 2x optical zoom and a larger screen for those with bigger fingers. Both are excellent buys – and they both have 3.5mm audio jacks, unlike any iPhone since the 6s.

iPhone Xs Max alternatives – Samsung Galaxy Note 9 / Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The iPhone Xs Max is basically just a bigger version of the iPhone Xs, packing a 6.5in display, a larger battery and the same 64GB storage in its cheapest £1,099 configuration. Its other innards are, to all intents and purposes, identical.
That means that for iPhone Xs Max alternatives, we’re looking at big phones (phablets as they used to be known), expensive handsets or both.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 fits firmly into the “both” category, as it’s 6.4in in size, and starts at £899 for the 128GB model. It goes up to an iPhone Xs Max-matching £1,099 for the 512GB version – but as it allows you to add a microSD card of up to 512GB in size, you can save a fair bit of money opting for the smaller version and dropping in your own card. Like the S9 above, it has the best-in-class screen, a superb camera and an included S Pen for doodling and note-taking. It’s a brilliant phone and it keeps the headphone jack too.

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro is the new kid on the block, arriving at the tail end of 2018. It has the same £899 price tag, 128GB storage and a very similar 6.39in screen size. It doesn’t have a stylus, but takes the best photos around with its triple-camera array and is the first non-Apple phone to launch with a 7nm processor. One word of warning, though: although the memory can be expanded, it can’t be done with common or garden microSD cards. You’ll be looking for the rarer and more expensive nano memory cards, which is a bit of an unfortunate choice, but hey ho.

iPhone XR alternatives – OnePlus 6T / Pocophone F1

The iPhone XR is now the budget option in 2018’s iOS lineup. It also starts at £749, which is a pretty funny idea of budget in anybody’s book.
Still, it comes with the same processor as the iPhone Xs and Xs Max, meaning performance wise, it’s also top-notch. That means that the Android alternatives here need equally top tech, and my two picks deliver in spades.
The OnePlus 6T needs no introduction. OnePlus has been making flagship-quality phones at low(er) prices for years, and the OnePlus 6T is the best yet, packing Qualcomm’s latest Snapdragon 845 processor (the same one you’ll find in pretty much every other Android flagship of 2018) with either 6 or 8GB of RAM. There’s no microSD slot, so you’ll need to pay extra upfront if you need more than 128GB of internal space, but a 256GB model comes in at £579, which keeps things affordable. There’s also no headphone jack (boo), but it does have a fancy in-screen fingerprint reader, which is quite the party trick.

If you want to push the price even further down, then look no further than the Pocophone F1. It’s the new sub-brand from Chinese giants Xiaomi, and it manages to push the same Snapdragon 845 processor into an incredible £330 package. You even get expandable storage and a microSD slot, although it does lack NFC (so no contactless payments) and any kind of dust/water resistance for the price.

iPhone SE alternatives – Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact / Google Pixel 2

The iPhone SE is a bit long in the tooth now, having the same internals as the 6s – a three-year-old handset. But its 4in profile is something people are keen to hold onto as phones grow ever larger.
The bad news is that it’s very hard to find a sub-5in smartphone nowadays, and you may consider the 4.7in iPhone 8 your best bet… which is an odd recommendation in an article entitled “iPhone alternatives”, but there we are.
Here are some Android alternatives I’d pick all the same. First of all, there’s the Sony Xperia XZ2 Compact. “Compact” in this case means only slightly smaller than the original Samsung Galaxy Note (5.3in), but fashions have clearly changed from the days when that seemed like an impractically large phone. The XZ2 Compact packs the Snapdragon 845 processor, has expandable storage and sells for a not-unreasonable £529. If that sounds too big, you could look at the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact, which is 4.6in, but it obviously has slightly weaker internals, being a generation older.

Our other pick is the 5in Google Pixel 2. Funnily enough, this has the same processor as the XZ1, but being a Google phone enjoys a smoother, less bloated version of Android and guaranteed updates first. No expandable storage, but one of the best cameras around, even going into its second year.

iPhone 8 and X alternatives – Take your pick

I’m bundling these together as “last year’s flagships”: people who want to save a few quid by getting last year’s phones for a saving. The good news is that if you’re prepared to switch to Android, the savings on last year’s hardware are even more pronounced.
Phones that run the Snapdragon 835 processor are still plenty fast enough to feel like a decent upgrade, and they seriously undercut the latest 845-toting sets in terms of price. We’ve already mentioned the Pixel 2 and Xperia XZ1 Compact, but you could also consider the Nokia 8 Sirocco, the LG G6, the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, the OnePlus 5T or the HTC U11. The Samsung Galaxy S8 doesn’t use this chip in Europe, but offers identical performance, too. Basically, look at our best Android phones page, and then step back a generation.
Shop around, and you can easily undercut the £599 Apple wants for the iPhone 8.

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