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, typically 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.
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Note: All prices refer to the full cost of the phone without carrier subsidies or payment plans. This roundup only includes phones that are currently available for purchase.
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.
Chinese smartphone company OnePlus calls its phones “flagship killers,” mainly because it prices its smartphones aggressively compared to larger competitors like Apple, Samsung, and LG. The company’s third-generation smartphone, the OnePlus 3, delivers on that promise more so than ever before. The design feels slimmer and more polished than last year’s model, the battery charges faster, and it now includes NFC for making mobile payments. Plus, it offers decently long battery life and its software is clean and easy to use.
At $400, it’s an excellent and affordable choice for most Android fans. Still, there are two minor drawbacks that should be considered: it doesn’t support expandable storage like some alternatives, and its camera doesn’t take the best photos in low light.
The LG G5 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.
Price: Between roughly $600 and $690 depending on the carrier
The HTC 10 is a solid bet for those seeking a reliable Android phone that looks and feels nice. It’s an especially great choice for audiophiles thanks to its impressive speakers and ability to tune frequencies depending on the listener’s ear. Photography enthusiasts won’t be blown away by the 10, but its camera is adequate enough for those who casually take photos with their phones. The phone performs well overall and its software is clean and simple.
Still, the HTC 10 doesn’t offer any particularly unique features that you won’t be able to find on competing devices, so it might be worth shopping around.
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: Between about $550-$600
The Moto G has become Motorola’s best-selling smartphone, and for good reason. Critics have praised the phone for its relatively fast performance, decent battery life, and water-resistant design, which the Moto G offers for around $200. It’s rare to find a phone that offers a smooth experience at such a low price, but the phone does come with a few setbacks. The biggest two appear to be its lackluster camera and the limited amount of storage and memory in the entry level model, which can only hold 8GB of data.
Most shoppers will want to spend the extra $20 for the 16GB model, or hold out for the 2016 Moto G launching later this summer. The new Moto G4 and Moto G4 Plus will include a fingerprint scanner (Plus model only), a larger and sharper screen that helps the Moto G better compete with pricier rivals, a better camera, and a faster processor.