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Best Android phones of 2016

Update: New best for battery

Authored by: Scott Adam Gordon — 1 week ago

It's time to buy a new phone and you need to know where to place your cash. What are your criteria? Do you want the latest and greatest phone on the market? Are you looking for something small and sleek? Or do you just want the device which offers the best value? Below are our picks for the best Android phones in the world today, recently updated with a new battery behemoth.

AndroidPIT galaxy s7 vs galaxy s7 edge 8
These are the best phones on Android. / © ANDROIDPIT

The absolute best: Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

Why oh why has the latest Galaxy S flagship claimed our number one spot again? Look, it's not that we want it to be this way, it just is this way.

The Galaxy S7 delivers in so many categories. It combines looks and performance like no other smartphone currently does. And the big three, the triangle of vital criteria – camera, display and battery – are all of the highest standard.  

For the first time in a number of years, we have struggled to find serious faults in a Galaxy S phone and, of all the devices that we have seen come through the office doors, it’s the phone which most of AndroidPIT have the least trouble recommending. No matter what your needs, the S7 will please.

AndroidPIT Samsung galaxy s7 REVIEW 1
The Galaxy S7 combines old and new to become Samsung's best handset yet. / © ANDROIDPIT

We know it's a little naughty to have two devices occupying the first spot, but they are too similar to divide: how could we recommend one and leave the other off the list? If you want a bigger display and battery, the S7 Edge has the goods. If you want something smaller and wish to save fifty bucks, our recommendation goes to the S7 standard.

This is the current standing, however: the Xiaomi Mi 5 and LG G5 have not been released yet. Once we’ve produced full reviews for those, we may need to revisit this list.

AndroidPIT Samsung galaxy s7 edge review
The Galaxy S7 Edge: Samsung's new curved display flagship. / © ANDROIDPIT
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge – silver – (unlocked)
$754.99
Amazon.com
Samsung Galaxy S7 – silver – (unlocked)
$634.00
Amazon.com

Best price/performance ratio: Honor 7

When it comes to the price/performance ratio, things get interesting. If you can afford to pay close to a grand for a phone, it's easy to get an incredible device, but what if you have a lower price point in mind? How do you make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck?

You weigh up the benefits and features of a phone against its price and make a judgment call on what gets you the best performance and features for the lowest figure, with the fewest compromises.

Honor 7 0
The Honor 7 feels a lot more expensive than it is. And we love that. / © ANDROIDPIT
Huawei Honor 7 (unlocked) - Black
$479.00
Amazon

We've been blessed with several low-cost devices this year that have been really impressive performers, but none more so than the Honor 7. Despite being in the sub-US400 price range, this thing looks like a US$700 flagship. Huawei, the parent company behind Honor, knows how to put together a nice-looking phone at any price point.

But the Honor 7 is more than just a pretty face. It also delivers solid performance and a bunch of premium features, including a fingerprint scanner, an all-metal build, excellent battery life and a front-facing camera with an LED flash – a rarity on smartphones in any price bracket. Add to this a great 20 MP main camera, and you can see why this phone is such good value.

honor 7 product shoots 5
The Honor 7 shoves plenty of high-end features into an affordable package. / © ANDROIDPIT

Best for battery life: Huawei Mate 8

The almost perfect phablet, as we called it in our review, the Mate 8 truly excels in the battery department. Squeezing in 4,000 mAh, it's one of the largest available on an Android smartphone, and it shows through its heady endurance.

In our tests, we found the battery to last a day and a half under intensive use, meaning that two days off one charge is comfortably within range for the moderate user. Coupled with Marshmallow's Doze feature, the Huawei Mate 8 is built to last. For the moderate-to-minor smartphone user, you could be looking at a two-and-a-half-day survival stretch. Pair it with some of our battery-saving tips, and it's simply unparalleled.

AndroidPIT huawei mate 8 screen new
The Huawei Mate 8 packs a 4,000-mAh battery, which can last up to two-and-a-half days.. / © ANDROIDPIT

Best for photography: Sony Xperia Z5

According to you, the readers, as well as us here at AndroidPIT, the Xperia Z5 provides the best camera available on any Android device. Lightning fast autofocus, 23 megapixels, rock steady image stabilization and superb definition combine to make it an incomparable phone for photography.

The only downside is that the device is extremely difficult to get a hold of in the US. If you can find one, get it, but otherwise, consider the LG G4, Samsung Galaxy S6 or Moto X Pure Edition, which all pack fantastic cameras. They're just not quite up there with Sony's offering.

review xperia z5 PT traseira
The Sony Xperia Z5 offers the best bang for your buck when it comes to photography. / © ANDROIDPIT
Best price: Sony Xperia Z5 (unlocked) - Black
$564.35
Amazon

Best under US$400: OnePlus 2

The sub-$400 price bracket is hotly contested, and in 2015 it's included more awesome phones than in any other year. As flagships have gotten more expensive, mid-range phones have stepped up in terms of quality and features, but haven't adopted the higher prices that go with them.

The OnePlus 2 represents a flagship experience at half the price of most current flagships. Sure, you will miss out on NFC, fast-charging and wireless charging, but that's about all the OnePlus 2 lacks.

AndroidPIT OnePlus 2 back cover sandstone black 2
Put the hype aside and the OnePlus is a really great phone. / © ANDROIDPIT
OnePLus 2 16GB - Black
$465.00
Amazon

It's one of the most hyped phones of all time, and that naturally comes with a little backlash when the phone is actually released. But the reality is that the OnePlus 2 is a very accomplished phone that hits almost all the targets it set out to hit. The invite system will stop taking new reservations on October 22, so if you're interested in a OnePlus 2 you need to act fast.

Best under US$250: Moto G (2015)

If we drop down to the next price bracket – the sub-US$250 range – we still have a very impressive group of phones to choose from. Even at a third of the price of many flagship devices, you can still get a lot of great features and hardware. But it's the Moto G (2015)'s impressive combination of price, features and update speed that gets it to the top of our list.

The Asus ZenFone 2 and Huawei P8 Lite are close runners-up in this category, but the near stock Android interface and super fast update speeds of the Moto line gives the third generation Moto G the edge it needs to creep ahead (the P8 Lite is only just getting Lollipop whereas the Moto G is about to get Marshmallow).

Moto G 2015 hero 1
With some of the fastest Android updates in the game, the Moto G (2015) is a compelling buy. / © ANDROIDPIT
Moto G 8GB (unlocked) - Black
$177.21
Amazon

Best small handset: Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Not everyone likes a 5.5-inch phone in their pocket. For some, a sub 5-inch display diagonal is the ideal size. The only problem is that pickings are pretty slim. Most Android phones with a display diagonal of less than five inches are pretty hopeless. Even Samsung and HTC seem to have given up on that particular niche.

Fortunately, Sony offers the Xperia Z5 Compact. The company took a different approach to the small phone concept – where other manufacturers watered down their flagship specs for their mini devices, Sony simply put flagship components into a smaller body. It's proven to be a winning formula and the Z5 Compact is worthy of our 'best small handset' title.

ANDROIDPIT best XPERIA Z5 COMPACT 2
For a phone that actually fits in your hand, you can't go past the Xperia Z5 Compact. / © ANDROIDPIT
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact (unlocked) - Black
$506.00
Amazon

What is your pick for best Android phone of 2015? Let us know in the comments.

Originally from the UK, Scott graduated in Popular Music Studies at Newcastle University and attributes most of his success there to his beloved Samsung Galaxy S2. A dedicated Android fan, Scott has never owned an Apple device, of any kind, and doesn't see this changing anytime soon.

189 comments

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  • Is the camera performance exactly the same on the Z5 and the Z5 Compact?

  • RedMi Note 3 32Gb gold version should be in the list!!

  • xiaomi mi5 and redmi note 3 are missing in the list

  • Got to agree with you that the Z5 has the best camera! although a lot would disagree! daytime photos on my Z5 are fantastic and night shots which the phone comes in for a lot of criticism with some tweaking are just as good as anything. But have to say the phone itself is the best I've ever had.

  • Nexus 6p

  • For god's sake. How can you actually just use the 2015 list with just the galaxy s7 added? Seriously.....horrible editorial team

  • How many people have bought Sony Xperia Z5 ?

    • tariq 1 week ago Link to comment

      i used a z5 compact and own a z3 compact. Z3 compact feels much better! And way better price

  • Mark 1 week ago Link to comment

    To make the best of the best phones list. I think a phone need to have durability. So it can be dropped several times without being destroyed and water resistant . Also sustainability so it can last for years. You need to be able upgrade memory via Micro SD, and be able to replace a failing battery easily. The S7 lacks the durability with it's all glass design and only part of the sustainability with Micro SD support. I think the Note 4 is still the best phone Samsung has produced for those reasons. LG is on the verge of taking the title away. The LG V-11 due out later this year my take the crown away form the Note 4 if they add the IP 68 rating to it.

  • storm 1 week ago Link to comment

    I really don't understand your love of the OnePlus 2. I was sadly disappointed in it.

  • When is lollipop 5.1 available for Vodafone prime ultra 6??

  • I know the note 4 is not new but I'm interested in what others think of it? I've tried other phones but I always end up going back to my trusty note 4

    • I have a Note 4 almost two years ago. It's an excellent device that has everything I need and everything a device must have: excellent camera, brilliant screen, wonderful performance and a long etc.
      This phone has too much development, in this moment I'm running a Note 5 port ROM, without words.
      Also battery life is great, despite it's big screen, Samsung do an excellent battery management (in my opinion).
      Few devices can beat Note 4, for me, a device made to last.

  • Alex W. 1 month ago Link to comment

    And I also think the Mi5 deserves a spot on the list. The top version if it's not better at least comes close to the S7- not so glossy and sparkling like a mirror and has got great camera stabilization. And the low end version is definitely best in under 400USD range.

  • Alex W. 1 month ago Link to comment

    But doesn't the Z3 Compact have better battery life than the Z3?

  • They all look terrible. "Why don't we make a good looking phone guys, without a massive dumb button on the front" "pfft silly, what's the point in that?"

  • Enrico 1 month ago Link to comment

    I have Motorola Moto g 2nd gen and I already have android marshmallow.

  • S7 is hardly an upgrade to my Note 5. Pass.

  • rick 1 month ago Link to comment

    its all through away garbage. In 2-3 yrs, all these phones will be garbage. Like disposable lighters. Who cares!

  • OBVIOUSLY, The S7 will be the best. No surprise there.

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