Our best smartphone round-up includes only the very best mobile phones right now. If you're looking for a new phone then it's in this list somewhere.
2016 was a good, though not quite great year for phones. We failed to see huge gains in battery life and the headphone jack made an unnecessary disappearance, but we did see the addition of improved virtual reality support and some exceptional cameras.
Samsung lead the way with its Galaxy S7, which we voted as ‘Phone of the Year’, while Google came in close second with the Pixel. Google’s departure from the Nexus line did see a price jump, but its fantastic camera and unbeatable software made it a winner.
Related: MWC 2017 – What to expect?
Apple didn’t have the best 2016, but with the 10th anniversary of the iconic iPhone coming in 2017 we’re expecting big things. The iPhone 7 struggled to make it through the day, the iPhone 7 Plus is still too big considering its screen size and while the cameras are still excellent, iOS 10 has plenty of annoying quirks.
So, what can we expect for 2017? Well, it has already started. HTC has unveiled the glass U Ultra and U Play and we’re just weeks away from Mobile World Congress. This Barcelona based show will likely see the LG G6, Samsung Galaxy S8 and possibly the Huawei P10 and we’re excited for them all.
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Not sure where to start in your quest for a new phone? Whether you're seasoned buyer or are looking to buy your first smartphone, here are a few pointers to help you get started.
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While flagships seem to be getting more expensive by the year, laying your hands on a good smartphone is actually cheaper than ever. By all means splash the cash on a show-stopper like the iPhone 6S or LG G4 if you want to, but bear in mind that some crackers like the the 4G-enabled Motorola Moto E (2015) cost a fraction of the price and are brilliant phones in their own right.
It's also worth considering last year's top phones. The LG G4 and S6 now available for much less and are better than many new mid-range phones.
Related: Best Cheap Mobile Phones
Large-screened mobiles are very much in demand these days, with even Apple embracing phablet fever. Phones measuring in at 5.5 inches and above can be considered as such, and are usually blessed with excellent displays that are great for watching videos and playing games on.
Anything between 4.5 and 5.1 inches is more practical for fingers and pockets, while still good for browsing the web, gaming and more. 4-inch smartphones, meanwhile, are ideal for children and users who aren’t fussed about games and videos. If you're unsure what's best for then a 5-inch is a good size for most people.
You might consider extra features to be like the sprinkles on top of a cake, but they’re far more important than that. Things like microSD card slots, NFC, fingerprint scanners and water-resistance can dramatically affect the overall user experience of a smartphone.
Of all those, fingerprint scanners and NFC are quickly becoming must-have features. Not only does the former add extra security to your phone, the two combined open up the potential for contactless payments. Believe us when we say paying with your phone using your fingerprint is very cool.
The smartphone world is notoriously divisive, with Apple-worshipping ‘fanboys’ on one end of the spectrum and Android-obsessed ‘phandroids’ on the other. The smaller Windows Phone OS has similarly militant supporters who don’t yet have a collective name, and you should ignore all of them.
We’ve explained the main advantages and disadvantages of each of the three main mobile operating systems below.
The Android operating system offers a better balance of variety and affordability than its rivals, due to the sheer diversity of Android smartphone manufacturers. There's a phone to suit any desire or budget and even the flagship ones are often much cheaper than iPhone rivals.
In Google Play, Android has the largest selection of apps and games too, but there’s a lot of rubbish mixed in with the good stuff. Overall, it’s a great operating system and it’s certainly the best option if you’d rather not spend big money on a shiny new smartphone.
Related: Best Android Phones
iPhones are some of the most expensive smartphones you can buy, and the last-generation iPhone 6 will still set you back a fair amount SIM-free. However, design is always on-point, the apps are great and they're very easy to use.
Apple’s App Store isn’t quite as populated as Google Play, but its restrictions are tighter, meaning that the overall quality of iOS games and apps is higher than what you’ll find on Android.
It’s also a great option if you own other Apple gadgets, like MacBooks and iPads, as the tightly integrated services make life easy.