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The Best Laptops, Smartphones and Tablets - Editors’ Choice Awards 2018

J. Simon Leitner, 👁 J. Simon Leitner, T. Hinum (translated by Alex Alderson), 01/02/2019

The best that this year has to offer. 2018 is at its end, which makes it the appropriate time for us to take stock of the devices that have graced our offices in the last 12 months. The year has been full of great releases, which we have combined into several handy categories for your reading pleasure. Read on to find out which laptops, smartphones and tablets our editors have been charmed by the most in the last year.

We have reviewed over 400 laptops, smartphones and tablets in 2018, so we have whittled the best down into several categories to save you from trawling through our numerous reviews. We subjected all our test devices to the same standardised tests and our senior editors have shortlisted the top three devices for the following categories:  

  • Best Multimedia Laptop 2018
  • Best Value Multimedia Laptop 2018
  • Best Gaming Laptop 2018
  • Best Value Gaming Laptop 2018
  • Best Office Laptop 2018
  • Best Value Office Laptop 2018
  • Best Subnotebook 2018
  • Best Value Subnotebook 2018
  • Best Smartphone 2018
  • Best Value Smartphone 2018
  • Best Tablet 2018

Only one device per category can win our coveted Editors’ Choice Award, so without further ado…

Best Multimedia Laptop 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
192%06/2018Dell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97WhDell XPS 15 2018 i5 FHD 97Wh
Intel Core i5-8300H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 (Laptop)
8 GB Memory,  SSD
1.9 kg17 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
292%10/2018Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000RGELenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme-20MF000RGE
Intel Core i5-8300H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q
8 GB Memory, 256 GB NVMe
1.7 kg18.4 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
390%07/2018Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)Apple MacBook Pro 15 2018 (2.6 GHz, 560X)
Intel Core i7-8850H
AMD Radeon Pro 560X
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
1.8 kg15.5 mm15.4"2880x1800glossy

and the winner is: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Best Multimedia Laptop 2018: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Best Multimedia Laptop 2018: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The three laptops shortlisted for this category are also the most well-known. While the Dell XPS 15 and the MacBook Pro 15 have been on the market for quite some time, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a comparative newcomer to the party. The Lenovo X1 series, which is akin to the Dell XPS line, is trying to strike a balance between consumer and business customers. We believe that Lenovo has done a fantastic job at this with the ThinkPad X1 Extreme.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme disrupts the established order of multimedia laptops and is even superior in many ways.

Lenovo has incorporated numerous ThinkPad qualities into the X1 Extreme, but the device is more a high-performance multimedia laptop than a classic business workhorse. The X1 Extreme has excellent input devices, a three-year manufacturer's warranty, extensive connectivity and a matte display. The better screen option in our opinion is the 4K version, but the Core i5 variant with a Full HD display has better battery life.

Pricecompare

Best Value Multimedia Laptop: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
185%06/2018Lenovo IdeaPad 720-15IKBLenovo IdeaPad 720-15IKB
Intel Core i5-7200U
AMD Radeon RX 560 (Laptop)
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
2 kg23 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
285%12/2018Acer Nitro 5 AN515-42-R6V0Acer Nitro 5 AN515-42-R6V0
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
AMD Radeon RX 560X (Laptop)
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
2.4 kg27 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
385%11/2018Acer Aspire 5 A515-52G-53PUAcer Aspire 5 A515-52G-53PU
Intel Core i5-8265U
NVIDIA GeForce MX150
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
1.8 kg17.95 mm15.6"1920x1080matte

and the winner is: The Acer Nitro 5 (AMD Ryzen)

Best Value Multimedia Laptop 2018: The Acer Nitro 5 (AMD Ryzen)
Best Value Multimedia Laptop 2018: The Acer Nitro 5 (AMD Ryzen)

AMD’s launch of its Ryzen mobile APUs disrupted the laptop market in a way that we have not seen in a long time. The new Ryzen APUs have the potential to challenge the stranglehold that Intel has over laptop processors, but it remained to be seen whether OEMs would equip Ryzen mobile APUs in devices that would prove attractive to professional users. After all, there are more factors at play in creating a successful laptop than choosing a decent processor. The Acer Nitro 5 is a good example of AMD's return to the laptop market and what its Ryzen mobile APUs can achieve in the right package.

The AMD-based Acer Nitro 5 can match its Intel-powered competitors on performance and is better value for money too. 

The Nitro 5 combines an AMD Ryzen 7 2700U APU with an AMD Radeon RX 560X GPU, which can outperform equivalent devices equipped with an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU in specific CPU-heavy tasks. Moreover, the RX 560X is comparable to the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050, which OEMs have equipped in numerous multimedia laptops. Acer has complemented these powerful AMD components with an SSD and a decent Full HD matte display. The sub-$700 price tag underlines how good value for money the Nitro 5 is.

Pricecompare

Best Gaming Laptop 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
188%06/2018Asus Chimera G703GIAsus Chimera G703GI
Intel Core i9-8950HK
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 (Laptop)
64 GB Memory, 1431 GB SSD
4.7 kg51 mm17.3"1920x1080matte
288%04/2018Gigabyte Aero 15X v8Gigabyte Aero 15X v8
Intel Core i7-8750H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Max-Q
16 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
2.1 kg18 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
388%09/2018Acer Predator Helios 500 PH517-51-93LSAcer Predator Helios 500 PH517-51-93LS
Intel Core i9-8950HK
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 (Laptop)
32 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
4 kg38.7 mm17.3"3840x2160matte

and the winner is: The ASUS Chimera G703GI

Best Gaming Laptop 2018: ASUS Chimera G703GI
Best Gaming Laptop 2018: ASUS Chimera G703GI

It was a head-to-head race for our award for the best gaming laptop. Our criteria for the award in this category are a device that combines maximum gaming performance in a compact and portable case and comes with a first-class screen. The device must render modern triple-A games in the highest possible frame rates and graphics settings to garner top marks in our reviews. 

The ASUS Chimera G703GI is a classic gaming PC with its 6-core CPU and its GeForce GTX 1080 GPU.

The Chimera G703GI is not the thinnest laptop in its class, but it impressed us with its excellent performance. Additionally, ASUS has equipped the device with Thunderbolt 3 and an SSD RAID. The display has a 144 Hz refresh rate too, which is complemented by Nvidia G-Sync.

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Best Value Gaming Laptop 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
185%01/2019Medion Erazer X6805-MD61085Medion Erazer X6805-MD61085
Intel Core i7-8750H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (Laptop)
16 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
2.5 kg33 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
285%08/2018Dell G7 15-7588Dell G7 15-7588
Intel Core i7-8750H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Max-Q
16 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
2.6 kg24.95 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
384%07/2018Lenovo Legion Y530-15ICHLenovo Legion Y530-15ICH
Intel Core i5-8300H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Laptop)
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
2.3 kg28 mm15.6"1920x1080matte

Best Value Gaming Laptop 2018: The nominees

Best Value Gaming Laptop 2018: The Medion Erazer X6805
Best Value Gaming Laptop 2018: The Medion Erazer X6805

In this category, we are looking for a laptop that combines the best possible performance at the lowest possible price. Two laptops stand out from our shortlist in our opinion. First is the Medion Erazer X6805, which is equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU and an Intel Core i7-8750H 6-core CPU all for 1,399 Euros (£1,249.99, ~$1,602). The Core i5-8300H version is around 100 Euros (~$114) cheaper, but this should not significantly affect gaming performance.

Please note: Medion sells the X6805 in the UK, but the company does not currently sell its devices in Canada or the US.

The Medion Erazer X6805 hits the sweet spot between maximum graphics performance at the lowest possible price.

The Dell G7 and the Lenovo Legion Y530 are the X6805’s two closest competitors, but they both fall short of our winner because of their inferior graphics cards.

The Lenovo Legion Y7000 would have been a contender for this category had it been available in Germany at the time of writing. The device is equipped with the same CPU/GPU combination as the X6805 and achieved the same overall score in our tests, but it does so while costing only around $1,100. Ultimately, the X6805 just edged out its competitors because of its better graphics performance and its higher overall score with respect to the Legion Y530.

Pricecompare

Best Office Laptop 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
192%09/2018Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G6-20KG0025UKLenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G6-20KG0025UK
Intel Core i5-8350U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
1.1 kg15 mm14"1920x1080matte
291%05/2018HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EAHP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Intel Core i7-8550U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
32 GB Memory, 1024 GB SSD
1.5 kg17.9 mm14"1920x1080matte
391%02/2018Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 512 GB NVMe
1.4 kg18.45 mm14"2560x1440matte

and the winner is: The Lenovo ThinkPad T480s

Best Office Laptop 2018: The Lenovo ThinkPad T480s
Best Office Laptop 2018: The Lenovo ThinkPad T480s

Choosing a winner from the three nominees in this category proved a difficult one for our editors. Moreover, there are plenty of other excellent business laptops that just fell short of our top three. The differences between devices are usually in the details, so we would recommend taking a closer look at our reviews to find the most suitable device for your needs.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T480s is a fantastic business device that is priced competitively.

Surprisingly, our award winner for the Best Office Laptop 2018 is not the device that scored the highest in our tests, but the one that is part of the chasing pack. Overall, the ThinkPad T480s offers a rounder package than our other nominees, despite having a larger footprint. The X1 Carbon is a worthy rival too, but the ThinkPad T480s has better battery life and is cheaper than its more premium sibling.

Pricecompare

Best Value Office Laptop 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
188%03/2018Lenovo ThinkPad E480-20KNCTO1WWLenovo ThinkPad E480-20KNCTO1WW
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
4 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
1.8 kg19.9 mm14"1920x1080matte
287%03/2018Lenovo ThinkPad E580-20KSCTO1WWLenovo ThinkPad E580-20KSCTO1WW
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
1.9 kg19.95 mm15.6"1920x1080matte
386%03/2018Dell Latitude 5590Dell Latitude 5590
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 128 GB SSD
2 kg20.6 mm15.6"1920x1080matte

and the winner is: The Lenovo ThinkPad E480

Best Value Office Laptop 2018: The Lenovo ThinkPad E480
Best Value Office Laptop 2018: The Lenovo ThinkPad E480

Our criteria for this category are the same as the former, except that all nominees must cost less than 800 Euros (~$916). Please note: Our price comparison plug-in may state that our three nominees cost over 1,000 Euros (~$1,500), but a manual search on a few comparison sites reveals that they currently cost under 800 Euros. 

The Lenovo E480 is a versatile office laptop that is excellent value for money.

The ThinkPad E480 broadly convinced us in our tests and scored highly as a result, despite some cost-cutting to keep the price down. The 14-inch form factor is great for a portable machine, while the E480 has excellent input devices, a decent matte display with a good contrast ratio and long battery life. The device generally operates quietly too, which is a bonus.

Pricecompare

Best Subnotebook 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
191%07/2018Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Intel Core i5-8259U
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655
8 GB Memory
1.4 kg14.9 mm13.3"2560x1600glossy
290%02/2018Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
Intel Core i7-8550U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
16 GB Memory, 512 GB NVMe
1.1 kg15.95 mm14"2560x1440glossy
390%03/2018Lenovo ThinkPad X280-20KES01S00Lenovo ThinkPad X280-20KES01S00
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 512 GB NVMe
1.1 kg17.4 mm12.5"1920x1080matte

and the winner is: The Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018

Best Subnotebook 2018: The Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018
Best Subnotebook 2018: The Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018

The nominees in this category are three popular subnotebooks. Again, deciding a winner out of the three was anything but easy. Ultimately, we chose the highest-scoring laptop of the three, which is the Touchbar variant of the MacBook Pro 13.

The MacBook Pro 13 is an almost perfect package for the mobile office worker.

The MacBook Pro 13 not only impressed our editors but it is also a staple at IT events and press conferences. The laptop is light, mobile, quiet and it is powerful enough for most people. Apple has also equipped its MacBook Pro 13 with a high-quality display and impressive input devices that have comparatively few weaknesses.

Pricecompare

Best Value Subnotebook 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelWeightHeightSizeResolutionScreenBest Price
185%12/2018Asus VivoBook S13 S330UA-EY034TAsus VivoBook S13 S330UA-EY034T
Intel Core i7-8550U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 512 GB SSD
1.2 kg17.9 mm13.3"1920x1080matte
285%03/2018Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air 13.3 2018Xiaomi Mi Notebook Air 13.3 2018
Intel Core i5-8250U
NVIDIA GeForce MX150
8 GB Memory, 256 GB SSD
1.3 kg14.8 mm13.3"1920x1080glossy
384%06/2018Acer Swift 5 SF514-52T-59HYAcer Swift 5 SF514-52T-59HY
Intel Core i5-8250U
Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 GB Memory, 256 GB NVMe
930 g15 mm14"1920x1080glossy

and the winner is: The ASUS VivoBook S13

Best Value Subnotebook 2018: The ASUS VivoBook S13
Best Value Subnotebook 2018: The ASUS VivoBook S13

Admittedly, we would recommend spending between 1,200 and 1,500 Euros (~$1,374/$1718) on a first-rate subnotebook, but that price range is beyond what we would consider “value” pricing. We have put together our top 10 favourite subnotebooks in a separate article though, which includes more-expensive devices like the XPS 13 9370 and the ThinkPad X280 among others.

We set a price limit of 1,000 Euros (~$1,144) for nominees in this category, but please be aware that there are some hardware compromises associated with subnotebooks at this price. Xiaomi still only equips its Mi Air 13.3 with a US keyboard layout, for example, despite the fact that the company now sells in Germany. The Honor Magicbook would have been a worthy contender to the crown too, but we did not consider it for our shortlist because it is only available at the time of writing as a Chinese import. 

The ASUS VivoBook S13 is, when correctly configured, a highly mobile and affordable subnotebook.

In our opinion, the VivoBook S13 ultimately finished ahead in what we would consider to be crucial categories for a successful subnotebook, albeit it has some shortcomings too. The device has a matte display, weighs around 1.2 kg and has excellent battery life and it has excellent performance, which all combine to create a well-rounded package. By contrast, the Mi Air has shorter battery life and a glossy display. Moreover, the Acer weighs only 930 g but has considerably shorter runtimes than the VivoBook S13

Pricecompare

Best Smartphone 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionOSBest Price
192%02/2019Huawei Mate 20 ProHuawei Mate 20 Pro
HiSilicon Kirin 980
ARM Mali-G76 MP10
6 GB Memory, 128 GB UFS 2.1
8.6 mm189 g6.3"3120x1440Android 9.0 Pie
290%10/2018Apple iPhone XRApple iPhone XR
Apple A12 Bionic
Apple A12 Bionic GPU
3 GB Memory, 128 GB NVMe
8.3 mm194 g6.1"1792x828Apple iOS 12
388%11/2018Asus ROG PhoneAsus ROG Phone
Qualcomm Snapdragon 845
Qualcomm Adreno 630
8 GB Memory, 512 GB UFS 2.1
8.3 mm212 g6"2160x1080Android 8.1 Oreo

and the winner is: The Huawei Mate 20 Pro

Best Smartphone 2018: The Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Best Smartphone 2018: The Huawei Mate 20 Pro

There have been plenty of great smartphones released this year, but our shortlist contains devices that offer something a bit different than the rest. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro includes everything but the kitchen sink, while the iPhone XR is the cheapest and best value for money new iPhone. Lastly, we have the ASUS ROG Phone, a gaming smartphone that sets itself from the rest of the chasing pack with its host of accessories and special features. 

The Mate 20 Pro gets practically everything right; it is just a shame that Huawei does not sell the device in the US.

The Mate 20 Pro not only achieved an excellent 92% overall rating in our tests, but it also left a lasting impression with our editors. The device has many strengths, including its high-quality 6.3-inch OLED display, its excellent triple camera and its powerful SoC. What’s more, the device is IP68-certified, has impressive Wi-Fi and GPS modules and it supports extremely fast quick charging. In short, the Mate 20 Pro currently offers a first-class package that is well ahead of the competition in the eyes of our senior editors.

Pricecompare

Best Value Smartphone 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionOSBest Price
191%04/2018Samsung Galaxy S9Samsung Galaxy S9
Samsung Exynos 9810
ARM Mali-G72 MP18
4 GB Memory, 64 GB UFS 2.1
8.5 mm163 g5.8"2960x1440Android 8.0 Oreo
289%05/2018Honor 10Honor 10
HiSilicon Kirin 970
ARM Mali-G72 MP12
4 GB Memory, 128 GB UFS 2.1
7.7 mm153 g5.84"2280x1080Android 8.1 Oreo
386%07/2018BQ Aquaris X2BQ Aquaris X2
Qualcomm Snapdragon 636
Qualcomm Adreno 509
4 GB Memory, 32 GB eMMC
8.3 mm163 g5.65"2160x1080Android 8.1 Oreo

and the winner is: The Samsung Galaxy S9

Best Value Smartphone 2018: The Samsung Galaxy S9
Best Value Smartphone 2018: The Samsung Galaxy S9

Deciding the winner of the previous category took countless intense discussions but awarding our Editors’ Choice Award for the best value smartphone proved even trickier. The inclusion of the Samsung Galaxy S9 may appear odd to some people, but it has dropped sharply in price since its release in early 2018. We included the Honor 10 and the BQ Aquaris X2 on our shortlist too as they are both well-equipped devices that are great value for money.

The Moto G6 Plus, Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) and the Xiaomi Mi 8 are worthy contenders too. However, they are not as good value for money as those on our shortlist, in our opinion.

The Galaxy S9 is still a premier device in Samsung’s portfolio, which become even better value for money following hefty price cuts.

The Galaxy S9 is the best-equipped and most-powerful device of those on our shortlist. It launched at a whopping 849 Euros (~$971), but prices have now fallen below 500 Euros (~ US$572). The device is not free from weaknesses, but it has now become the best value smartphone that one could currently buy.

Pricecompare

Best Tablet 2018: The nominees

Pos.RatingDateImageModelHeightWeightSizeResolutionOSBest Price
190%04/2018Apple iPad 6 2018Apple iPad 6 2018
Apple A10 Fusion
Apple A10 Fusion GPU / PowerVR
2 GB Memory, 32 GB NVMe
7.5 mm469 g9.7"2048x1536Apple iOS 11
290%11/2018Samsung Galaxy Tab S4Samsung Galaxy Tab S4
Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (8998)
Qualcomm Adreno 540
4 GB Memory, 64 GB UFS 2.1
7 mm482 g10.5"2560x1600Android 8.1 Oreo
388%04/2018Huawei MediaPad M5 10.8Huawei MediaPad M5 10.8
HiSilicon Kirin 960s
ARM Mali-G71 MP8
4 GB Memory, 32 GB eMMC
7.3 mm498 g10.8"2560x1600Android 8.0 Oreo

and the winner is: The Apple iPad 6 (2018)

Best Tablet 2018: The Apple iPad 6 (2018)
Best Tablet 2018: The Apple iPad 6 (2018)

Looking at our tablet charts reveals that the new Apple iPad Pro 11 and 12.9 are almost unchallenged at the top. However, both devices are ridiculously expensive, and Apple markets its Pro tablets as a workstation or laptop replacements rather than tablets. Hence, we did not consider either device for our Editors’ Choice Award and instead focussed our attention on tablets that are marketed as such. 

The Apple iPad 6 subtly improves on an already great platform and is a stellar tablet.

The iPad 6 is a well-balanced package that will last for years thanks to its high-quality apps and its ongoing updates. Samsung and Huawei have created excellent tablets for those who prefer using Android though.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > The Best Laptops, Smartphones and Tablets - Editors’ Choice Awards 2018
J. Simon Leitner, 2019-01- 2 (Update: 2019-01- 8)