From iPhones to Androids, these are our top 10 picks
Many of us spend more time with our smartphones than we do with other people. The average American checks his or her phone 46 times per day, according to research from Deloitte.
Smartphones are also quite an investment, typucally costing anywhere between $350 and $700. So when shopping for a new device, it’s important to make the right choice. Which smartphone is right for you? Here’s a look at 10 of our favorites on the market right now.
Note: All prices refer to the full cost of the phone without carrier subsidies or payment plans.
For many people, Apple’s iPhone embodies the best mix of design, usability, and processing power. Apple’s most recent flagships are no different: both phones come with a high-quality cameras, internals that provide speedy performance, and clean software in a compact frame. Apple’s latest iPhones, the 6s and 6s Plus, also boast a pressure-sensitive screen. That means owners can apply a deeper touch to access certain shortcuts and preview content.
While the iPhone 6s starts at $649, many shoppers will find themselves splurging for more expensive options with more storage space. The lowest tier might be fine for those who primarily use their phones for browsing the Web and store photos in the cloud, but it won’t suffice for anyone with even a modest-sized music and media library.
Price: $649 for iPhone 6s, $749 for iPhone 6s Plus
The Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge are Samsung’s best smartphones yet. Looks aside, the company’s newest pair of phones both come with a compelling mix of features, including a refined camera that can shoot better photos in low light, great battery life, a water-resistant design, and a beautiful screen.
The Edge model comes with a 5.5-inch display that’s slightly curved on one side, unlike the 5.1-inch standard Galaxy S7. What’s particularly impressive about this, though, is that Samsung was able to squeeze a phablet-sized screen into a phone that only feels slightly larger than its sibling, giving those who want more screen space an option that doesn’t feel uncomfortable to use with one hand. The Galaxy S7’s biggest downside is that its glossy metal and glass design picks up fingerprints very easily, meaning you’ll have to clean it often or cope with a smudged phone.
Price: Around $700 for the Galaxy S7 and about $800 for the Galaxy S7 Edge depending on the carrier
Samsung popularized large-screen phones in the U.S. with its Galaxy Note line about five years ago. Its most recent model is still among the best big phones you can buy. The Galaxy Note 5, with its eye-catching 5.7-inch screen, long battery life, and fluid stylus support, is a great choice for those with productivity in mind.
The Note 5 can save hand-written notes penned with its stylus even when the screen is off, allowing owners to jot things down almost instantly. In terms of design and performance, the Note 5 is a step up from its predecessors. It doesn’t have a removable battery or expandable storage, though, which could be a deal-breaker for some Android diehards.
Price: Around $700 depending on carrier
Google’s Nexus phones provide the cleanest and smoothest Android experience, and they’re priced competitively compared to most flagship phones. The Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X run on stock Android, which means they won’t come with the additional apps and widgets that phone manufacturers and carriers usually load to advertise their services. Since they fall under Google’s brand, Nexus phones are also typically the first smartphones to get the newest version of Android as soon as it launches.
The larger-screened Nexus 6P comes with a metal design that feels slimmer compared to last year’s Nexus 6, while its smaller-screened sibling feels like an upgraded version of the Nexus 5. The two devices are very similar other than their design, but the Nexus 6P packs a little extra horsepower and a higher-resolution screen. The two phones come with a USB-C port, which means you won’t be able to use your existing Android chargers to power them up.
Price: $349 for the Nexus 5X, $499 for the Nexus 6P
The iPhone SE is designed for Apple fans that want something smaller and cheaper than what Apple usually has to offer. It looks almost identical to the iPhone 5s, but acts more like an iPhone 6s on the inside. It has the same processor and camera as Apple’s latest flagship packed into a compact 4-inch device. The SE is also about $250 cheaper than the iPhone 6s, making it a bargain compared to Apple’s other options. It launches on March 31.
Chinese smartphone company OnePlus calls its phones “flagship killers,” mainly because it prices its smartphones very aggressively compared to larger competitors like Apple, Samsung, and LG. The company’s OnePlus 2 is a worthy sequel to its popular One phone: it offers a sturdier yet slim design, a fingerprint sensor, a 13-megapixel camera that can shoot 4K video, and a clean interface for less than $400.
It comes with a USB-C port rather than a micro-USB port like most Android phones, which some critics have pointed out as a downside.
Th G5, which will launch in early April, looks and feels completely different than LG’s previous flagship phones. This time the South Korean tech giant opted for a more premium metal design, a stark contrast from the leather and plastic back panels that debuted on last year’s G4.
Despite this new build, you can still swap out the G5’s battery by popping off the bottom of the phone. This removable base also allows the G5 to attach to certain LG accessories, like a camera grip. The G5 stands out from its competitors in another way: it has two rear cameras, one with a standard lens and another with a wide-angle lens. One potential drawback with the G5 could be bloatware. As with many Android phones, LG’s devices tend to come preloaded with unnecessary apps.
Motorola’s Moto X Pure is an affordable, big-screened phone that can be customized to your liking. Motorola’s Moto Maker program, which has been around since 2013, allows you to choose back panels in different colors and textures as well as metal accents that match.
Some of Motorola’s software additions are helpful, too. Moto Display, for instance, automatically wakes up the phone’s screen with new notifications. And it runs on a clean version of Android with no bloatware. A few critics, however, have dinged it for having mediocre battery life.
The Lumia 950 is intended to be more than just a smartphone — Microsoft is hoping you’ll use it as a PC, too. It’s powered by the mobile version of Windows 10 and supports a feature called Continuum. This means you can plug the phone into a keyboard and monitor via a special accessory and have it act like a fully functional Windows PC.
The phone also comes with a 20-megapixel camera and a sharp 5.2-inch display. If you’re going for the Lumia 950, though, you’ll have to keep in mind that its app selection may be fairly limited compared to that of the iPhone and Android, a downside shared by all Windows phones.
Price: Around $600
The Droid Turbo 2 is made for those who can’t seem to hold on to their phone. The phone’s display is virtually shatter-proof, thanks to a technology that Motorola calls “Shatter Shield.” Engadget even tested the phone’s durability by running it over with a car and said the Turbo 2 survived, although that’s not to say it came away completely undamaged.
The Turbo 2 isn’t the most attractive phone, and it’s only available through Verizon in the U.S. But it’s safe to say you won’t have to live with a cracked screen. Motorola also claims the phone can last for two days on a single charge. That may be an overstatement, but reviews have said it offers generally good battery life.