Best smartphones 2016

Of course, the most important factor in buying a new device is making sure you have the best smartphone for you. The best for your budget, the features you need, the size that feels right and platform that suits you best.

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The Huawei-built Nexus 6P launched alongside the more affordable LG-built Nexus 5X. It has a full metal body and although the design perhaps doesn’t challenge the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, it made Nexus about desirability as well as affordability.

There’s plenty of power, a 5.5-inch display that’s full of detail and pop, a incredibly fast fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C and a camera that’s capable of some great shots in all conditions. This is a wonderful pure Android handset that undercuts many Android flagships with its £449 price tag.

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The Apple S might have been succeeded by the iPhone 7, but it’s still a great iPhone, especially at its slightly reduced starting price of £499. It doesn’t offer waterproofing like the latest model, but it delivers a slick, fast experience and its 12-megapixel rear camera continues to produce some excellent results.

The iPhone 6S also introduced 3D Touch, Apple’s version of a pressure sensitive display that is also found on the newer model. It’s not unique, but the depth to which Apple has empowered this new feature stands it aside. It might not be the flagship iPhone anymore, but the iPhone 6S still offers the premium Apple experience.

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Fulfilling the requirements of those looking for a smaller iPhone, the iPhone SE is about as budget as Apple gets. Starting at £359, the iPhone SE punches into the mid-range, but the only thing mid-range about this phone is the display size.

The iPhone SE has all the power of the S, giving you speed and power that smaller phones often fail to give you. It’s a full-bore iPhone experience that’s pared with an excellent camera experience, offering the consistency you expect from Apple. For those after the Apple experience without the hole in their pocket, the iPhone SE is an excellent choice.

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The OnePlus 3 is one of the best smartphones on the market this year, especially at its £329 price point. As with its predecessors, the OnePlus 3 offers incredible value for money. It has many of the same features and specifications as smartphones twice its price and there is a lot to be said for that.

The all-metal finish is sleek and sturdy, making it feel like a genuinely premium device and the display is fantastic too, even if it isn’t Quad HD resolution. The company may have shied away from the “flagship killer” branding this year, but the OnePlus 3 lays down the marker for what you can get for just over £300.

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The HTC 10 addresses many of the criticisms of the HTC One M9, focusing on the things that matter in a smartphone, and ditching many of the distractions. The HTC 10 is built to the high quality standard you expect from HTC, and it’s a handset that solid and serious.

The 5.2-inch display packs a Quad HD resolution, power comes from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset and 4GB of RAM, while there is OIS on both the front and back cameras. The result is power, performance, great design and camera performance, held together with fuss-free software that’s slick, fast and free from bloat.

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The Apple iPhone 7 Plus offers more new features to the iPhone party than its smaller sibling, but they come with a price, which is why this device sits a little lower down our list. Like the smaller device, the design sees refinement rather than overhaul, with Apple removing the headphone jack, hiding the antenna bars and adding waterproofing.

It’s a worthy upgrade from the iPhone 6 Plus or iPhone 6S Plus, with excellent and improved camera capabilities, along with power and battery performance. The iPhone 7 Plus is big and heavy, as the range always has been, but it is incredibly well-built, capable and well-rounded. It’s just well expensive too with a starting price of £719.

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The Samsung Galaxy S7 takes what the SGS6 started and refines it. It tweaks the design slightly, adds IP68 water and dust protection and brings the microSD card back. Internally, there’s plenty of power for a slick performance from the Exynos or Qualcomm chipset and 4GB of RAM, alongside a wonderfully vibrant Quad HD AMOLED display.

A wide range of functionality is offered through Samsung’s TouchWiz beautifully optimised reworking of Android, while improved battery performance and a consistent and dependable camera give you the recipe for one of the most compelling smartphones on the market.

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The Apple iPhone 7 doesn’t offer the overhaul in design that we are used to getting every two years, but there are enough developments to keep fans happy. The new flagship iPhone is more refined, offering the removal of the headphone jack in favour of stereo speakers, along with better hidden antennas and waterproofing.

It offers subtle changes to the iPhone 6S, such as a new Home button and glossy or matte black finish options, along with faster and slicker performance, as you would expect. Ultimately, the iPhone 7 is the company’s best iPhone yet, as Tim Cook claimed, but the best is only slightly better than the iPhone 6S, which is why we’ve kept the older model in this list too.

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Google comes out all guns blazing with two new phones, the Pixel and the larger Pixel XL. Both devices offer the same specs, performance and experience with one difference: screen size. The regular Pixel has a 5-inch Full HD display, while the Pixel XL has a larger 5.5-inch Quad HD display.

Launching with a number of exclusive features, but otherwise a clean version of Android, the Pixel phones have a solid build and a fast and smooth experience. The cameras are superb and the battery life is good, leading to a premium Android experience. The price is a little high, however, and they lack microSD or waterproofing. They even have a 3.5mm headphone jack.

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The flat SGS7 handset is certainly one of the most appealing devices out there, but the S7 edge pips it to the post, taking pole position as the most desirable handset around. The  edge fuses power with performance, offering a 5.5-inch display with a Quad HD resolution and plenty of punch, but differentiating itself with those curved edges.

The build quality matches the best of the handsets out there and the addition of a microSD card slot makes this handset all the more practical, while the bigger size over the SGS7 gives more space for battery. It’s slick and fast and every inch the flagship experience, topped-off with a slick fingerprint scanner and a camera to deliver the whole smartphone package.

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