So, you want to buy a new phone? If you're looking for the best smartphone of 2016, you've come to the right place. We will guide you through the hottest mobile phones of the year to save you time when you go to your local phone shop.
We continually update this best smartphones feature to reflect recent launches, recognise price changes, and ensure 2016's latest devices appear alongside the best of 2015 (and before, if applicable). All the listed devices have been fully reviewed by us.
Our best smartphones list covers all operating systems, all sizes, and prices, so you'll be armed with everything you need to consider when choosing to buy your next device.
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.
Be sure to let us know what you think is the best smartphone in the comments below.
18. Motorola Moto E (2015)
The Moto E is Motorola's play for the budget end of the market, with a price tag of £109 seeing it even cheaper than the Moto G. It might not have the fastest processor in the world, but this rarely affects daily use.
Principal to the Moto E is a great design - which now includes interchangeable "Bands" for a lick of colour, a good display, excellent battery life and microSD support for expanding the internal storage. Compared to the original 2014 model, the 2015 Moto E also adds a front-facing camera, a smoother Android experience, as well as all-important 4G connectivity for fast internet browsing.
Despite its low price point and slightly bulky build, the Moto E has glimpses of premium about it. It's a brilliant handset for just over the £100 mark and the budget handset to beat.
Buy the Motorola Moto E 2015 for the best Android experience on a budget.
FULL REVIEW: Motorola Moto E (2015) review
17. HTC One A9
The HTC One A9 might be best known for its closeness to the iPhone 6 in design, but there's a lot about this phone to love. It runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow, with a stripped down version of HTC Sense, resulting in a lovely overall experience, full of refinement.
The design is great, it feels lovely in the hand and surprisingly, the performance is very good for a handset that has mid-range hardware.
The AMOLED display is great and there's an improved camera that beats that of the M9, although it still struggles in low light conditions. There is also an excellent fingerprint scanner.
However, the HTC One A9 is expensive for a device at this level, priced over £400. You might get a premium body, but it's still a mid-ranger at heart and that's reflected in performance in some areas.
If you want something that's well built and a decent size, then it's definitely worth considering.
FULL REVIEW: HTC One A9 review
16. HTC One M9+
Many will say that HTC stumbled with the One M9, choosing refinement in design over dealing with the biggest problem it faced: camera performance. No sooner had the One M9 hit the shelves, HTC launched a bigger device, with better specs in Asia, announcing wider availability of the HTC One M9+ a few months later.
The HTC One M9+ is a better device than the flagship M9 in many ways. It has a large 5.2-inch display that's not only better quality, it's a higher resolution too. It offers a fingerprint scanner on the front that's fast to unlock it and it also doesn't get quite as hot as the regular M9.
But HTC doesn't really address the camera issue with the HTC One M9+. Using the same 20-megapixel sensor on the rear, it has the same problems as the regular M9, being poor in low light, and struggling to match the quality of rival cameras, even in good light. It also offers Duo Camera functionality, but it feels like a short-lived novelty, rather than something that makes a pursuasive case for itself.
Ultimately, the HTC One M9+ is the device to pick for the latest HTC experience, but even in this enhanced model, it struggles against flagship rivals. Although we'd recommend this phone over the regular M9, which is expensive at £579, the M9+ is a little hard to come by.
FULL REVIEW: HTC One M9+ review
15. Honor 7
Honor is a sub-brand of Huawei, looking to shake things up with impressive specs paired up with competitive prices. What the Honor 7 really does is cram in a lot of the technology you'll find in the Huawei Mate S, also featured in this list. It doesn't have the premium sheen that the Mate S offers, but you do get a lot for your money.
At £250, you get a great 5.2-inch display, a good quality of build, a fingerprint scanner on the rear that's fast and packed with extra features, as well as a camera that's a good performer too.
Combine that with plenty of power and you're faced with a phone that offers plenty. The customisation of Android is a little heavy and is bettered with a little unpicking, but if you're looking to escape the mainstream familiarity that many devices offer, then Honor is worth a look.
Buy the Honor 7 to get performance at a budget price.
FULL REVIEW: Honor 7 review: Brilliance on a budget
14. Sony Xperia Z5
The Sony Xperia Z5 is a fully-fledged flagship update, wiping away the Xperia Z3+ that was released a few months previously as something of a stop gap.
The Xperia Z5 brings Sony up-to-date in terms of hardware, but really pushes changes in the camera, with a new 23-megapixel sensor. It's a good performer too, but is hampered by slow software, making the experience a little lacklustre.
There is plenty of power, as well as the water resistance that Sony is known for, although the design is pretty similar to the previous devices in the Xperia Z family and hasn't seen much change. By current standards, as a flagship, the design isn't quite as premium as you'll find elsewhere.
This is a handset packed full of tech, as well as plenty of customisation from Sony. But in a world where less is starting to feel like more, this update is overshadowed by more exciting rivals, with Sony's software being the biggest bugbear. That can be improved with app substitution, but as it is, the Z5 feels like it needs plenty of updating before it matches the upper echelons.
FULL REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z5 review
13. Motorola Moto G (third-gen)
The original Moto G was a brilliant device when it first launched in 2013, taking many by surprise. It has been updated no less than five times since it first arrived and while we weren't massive fans of model three and four, the fifth version of this handset is a winner.
The design has been redefined and despite still being a little on the chunky side, the third-generation of Moto G is lovely. Water resistance has been added, as has Moto Maker, which means this device can be customised more than the majority on this list.
The third-gen Moto G has a good battery life, an improved camera over its predecessors and an almost raw Android experience with some great software enhancements. The specs aren't as impressive as some others in this feature, but this phone isn't about numbers, it's all about the experience. And as affordable experiences go at £159, it's a true return to the top.
Buy the Moto G (third-gen) because you want a good smartphone experience at a more than reasonable price.
FULL REVIEW: Motorola Moto G (third-gen)
12. BlackBerry Priv
BlackBerry returns to form with the Priv, it's first Android handset. It's the first time for a long time that BlackBerry has been including in the list of best smartphones, but this is a serious handset worthy of serious consideration, whether you're a BlackBerry fan or and Android fan.
It is a slider handset with a huge 5.4-inch display, offering all the benefits of the lastest Android devices, with a physical keyboard that BlackBerry users will find familiar.
It's blessed with BlackBerry Hub and a range of BlackBerry shortcuts and features lifted from BB handsets and reinvented for Android. The result is an innovative handset that offers some charming twists, like the pop-up widgets and battery charging indicator, which both show software nouse from BlackBerry.
It's not the fastest handset around, the camera isn't the best and it lacks a fingerprint scanner, while demanding top-draw prices for its wares at £559. However, BlackBerry continues to update the software, so some of those early complaints will likely be wiped out.
Choose the BlackBerry Priv because you want a physical keyboard and a device that's very apt at messaging.
FULL REVIEW: BlackBerry Priv review
11. Motorola Moto X Play
The Moto X has doubled up, offering two very different handsets in its latest guise. The Moto X Style is the bigger, more powerful and more expensive handset, leaving the Moto X Style to slip in at a lower price point, but also takes prize as the better handset.
The Moto X Play's attaction comes from the huge battery that Motorola has stuffed inside, meaning it offers some of the best endurance you'll find in an Android handset. Yes, this is the phone to pick if you want it to last not just through the day, but through the night and the following day too.
It's a mid-range handset, offering Motorola's Moto Maker customisation, but it isn't the most powerful handset around. That aids the stellar battery life, but it's easy to accuse the Moto X Play of not being hugely exciting, and it lacks a fingerprint scanner, which is the biggest negative. The camera isn't great in low light either, but is a step ahead of previous generation Moto cameras in normal conditions.
It's pretty much free of bloatware, however, so if you're after a clean Android experience, with Moto's customisation and great battery life, this could be the phone for you.
FULL REVIEW: Motorola Moto X Play review
10. Huawei Mate S
The Huawei Mate S is the best Huawei device we've seen so far, with a design and build that challenges the best devices out there.
There are some points on the spec sheet that will see the Mate S pale in comparison with flagship superphones however. There's a 5.5-inch display sitting at 1920 x 1080 pixels, hardly the sharpest around, but it has a trick up its sleeve - it's pressure sensitive on the top luxury model.
This brings some individuality to this device - you can remove the Android navigation buttons in favour of hard presses for example - but it doesn't go to the depths of innovation that Apple has with 3D Touch.
Even opting for the Mate S models that lack the pressure sensitive display gives you a great smartphone experience however. There's plenty of power, the option for microSD expansion, cameras that perform very well, and a battery that while lower in capacity than some, will get you through the day.
Huawei's EMUI software skin sitting over Android takes the shine off things in some areas, but with a tweak and a swap of stock apps, you'll have a very nice big screen experience that's a third cheaper than big brand rivals. You can expect to pay from £469.
FULL REVIEW: Huawei Mate S review
9. LG G4
If you're in the market for a big phone then the LG G4 could be your ideal match. From the optional leather finish, to excellent camera performance, this 5.5-inch phone-meets-phablet has plenty going for it. It might not have the most powerful flagship processor inside, but that doesn't mean it isn't every bit the flagship phone. Quite the contrary.
Its position in our top phones list reflects these qualities, but the one thing holding it back from greater success is battery life. Despite squeezing a brighter Quad HD screen and new processor into the mix, the 3000mAh battery is too much an echo of the earlier G3, delivering performance a little below par. On the upside the battery is removable so you can easily swap it for a reserve.
However, it is both bigger and thicker than many other flagship devices on the market by some distance. It is, however, great value for money at £419.
Buy the LG G4 for a great camera experience in a large-screen phone.
FULL REVIEW: LG G4 review
8. Huawei Mate 8
Huawei's handsets are getting stronger and stronger. Not only has brand awareness been boosted by the Nexus 6P, but sensible refinement has resulted in a recent batch of very usable handsets, a sub-premium prices. That's the case with the Mate 8, a 6-inch handset, a snip at £429.
But this isn't only about price, because you get a lot of phone for your money. The design reflects Huawei's skills we've seen in other devices, with a high quality metal body and an excellent fingerprint scanner on the rear, fused with internal hardware that delivers plenty of performance and some of the best battery life you'll find. This is a device for the power user, make no mistake.
It's not all perfect though. Huawei continues to do its own thing with EMUI and while there's a lot of functionality added, there's a general reworking of the style, swapping of apps that's a less useful than stock Android and other niggles that let the side down. The less is more manta applies, and Huawei seem to be ignoring that.
Specs fans might be disappointed to find only a full HD display and at this size more pixels could be used to better effect, but then that's in some way reflected in the price. A great, big phone, and a great performer.
FULL REVIEW: Huawei Mate 8 review
7. Nexus 5X
The cheaper of the two new Nexus devices, the Nexus 5X replaces the successful Nexus 5, presenting a device that's more affordable at £339. It takes some hits on the spec sheet compared to the Nexus 6P too, but that fits with the price point, slotting this device into a sub-flagship position.
The biggest change and differentiator from flagship devices is the build, with the LG-made device having a plastic body. It feels solid enough, but it's lacking the premium feel that many of the top devices offer.
There is, however, great performance from the unsullied Android 6.0 Marshmallow software that it launches with and although it's not the greatest machine for gaming or multimedia, as a daily communicator, this the Nexus 5X offers fuss-free efficiency.
There's an excellent fingerprint scanner on the rear that's lightning fast, as well as the latest USB Type-C connection on the bottom. This isn't the most powerful phone, but it has plenty to offer for the price.
FULL REVIEW: Nexus 5X review
6. Apple iPhone 6S Plus
Apple's larger model has had a chance to find its feet, updated in the iPhone 6S Plus to mirror the updates brought to the regular iPhone 6S. That brings you the advantage of a 3D Touch display, with more methods of interaction, a faster Touch ID experience, backed by faster hardware.
If you're looking for a larger iPhone, then the 6S Plus is where you need to look. Some might say that by the time you reach 5.5-inches, the Full HD display isn't as sharp as some rivals. That's the case with the 6S too, but here there's the slight feeling that Apple isn't offering more features through that large display, as you might find in a Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+, for example.
You do get a new camera experience, however, and this model also sports optical image stabilisation, along with new 4K video capture and Live Photos, making for one of the slickest camera experiences around.
But in the process of updating the 6 Plus to the 6S Plus, this larger than life iPhone has piled on an extra 20g in weight. It's pushing the scales a little, and could be too weighty for some. It's also expensive at £619.
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPhone 6S Plus review
5. Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ takes one of 2015's most innovative models and expands it. Swelling the edge+ up to 5.7-inches over the original 5.1, it's a leap forward in screen size, even if much of the specification remains the same. For many, with the absence of the Note 5, it's the S6 edge+ that takes all the glory in the big screen stakes.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 family offers some of the best camera performance around and that's repeated on the S6 edge+, combined with a great fingerprint scanner and some innovative features in those curved display edges.
Some might say that the curves are a little under ultilised and in reality, the S6 edge+ doesn't have quite the feature set as the Note Edge that it replaces, or the Note 5 that it sits alongside. That's a bitter pill to swallow considering that this handset is one of the most expensive devices on the market, at £629.
It's a showpiece, that's for sure, but in the battle of the big devices, Samsung's own Note will edge it out in terms of functionality - if it's on sale in your country.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ review
4. OnePlus 2
OnePlus has been shaking things up in the smartphone world. The Chinese company might not have the high street profile that Samsung or Apple do, but in the underworld of smartphone geekery, OnePlus is overload.
That's due in many parts to the great value proposition that OnePlus presents. There are few other places where you'll get this grade of hardware for this price, undercutting the likes of budget darlings Huawei in many cases.
In 2015's model, the OnePlus 2 presents great build quality at a price that many will find surprisingly cheap, along with slick performance from OxygenOS, its customised Android interface, and great battery life.
There are shortcomings, like the lack of NFC and specifications that don't quite rival the best out there. The OnePlus 2 isn't so much the flagship killer, but it decimates the mid-range and sub-premium bracket.
OnePlus has also dropped the invite system so it is simple to buy. At £239, it's money well spent.
FULL REVIEW: OnePlus 2 review
3. Nexus 6P
The Nexus 6P was launched alongside the Nexus 5X, a premium counterpoint to it's more affordable LG-built rival. The Nexus 6P is manufactured by Huawei, the first time this Chinese company has been involved with the Nexus programme. It's also the most accomplished Nexus handset to date and for many will be the default choice for Android superphone.
It has a full metal body and although the design perhaps doesn't challenge the interest in the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S6 edge, it's certainly something that will appeal to those looking for that premium sheen. Nexus is no longer just about affordability, now it's about desirability too.
There's plenty of power in this 5.5-inch device and a display that's full of detail and pop, dripping in vibrancy with deep inky blacks. The fingerprint scanner on the rear is incredibly fast too, and there's USB Type-C on the bottom for simple connection to your charger.
There's a camera that's capable of some great shots in all conditions, with the hardware outperforming the software in this instance. The HDR mode (auto) is a little slow, even if it gets great results.
This is a pure Android handset, debuting Android 6.0 Marshmallow and again makes a case for how consumer friendly this software is without all the additions you'll get elsewhere. Priced at £449, it undercuts most flagships. It might lack a few flourishes and additions, but it's a wonderful Android handset.
FULL REVIEW: Nexus 6P review
2. Apple iPhone 6S
The iPhone 6S takes a strong design and supercharges Apple's smartphone. The iPhone 6S might be an "incremental" model, with no changes to the exterior design, but under the skin there's a lot that's new in the iPhone 6S.
A natural starting point is the display. Although it isn't the highest resolution handset out there, Apple has introduced pressure sensitivity to the new iPhone and called it 3D Touch. It's not unique, but the depth to which Apple has empowered this new feature stands it aside. Being able to trigger alternative actions, peek into apps and then pop them open, changes navigation around the phone.
This is a more powerful handset than previously, so things are slicker and faster, but there's also been a refresh to the camera, the first update in a long time. A new 12-megapixel sensor powers proceedings, with new features, including 4K video capture. You can now take Live Photos, bringing movement to stills, as well as an improved selfie experience, with the display firing as a flash.
The result is an iPhone in which it looks like not much has changed, but in reality, it has. It's a better, faster, more engaging experience than it was the last time around. It is, however, still one of the most expensive smartphones around at £539, and although it offers a premium experience, some will see that the iPhone is behind the curve in some areas, such as display resolution.
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPhone 6S review
1. Samsung Galaxy S6/Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
Samsung needed change and the Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 edge was the result. The standard S6 is the more affordable of the pair, but the S6 edge takes the win for great looks: it's a phone that will turn heads with its dual-edge display.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 ditches Samsung's tired design for a body that's more interested in quality. There's no more plastic, instead you have a slick body, comprising a metal frame which sandwiches Gorilla Glass both front and back.
There's a fantastic display on the front. The Super AMOLED panel gives deep blacks and plenty of colour vibrancy, only really marred by not creating the cleanest whites around. It offers a super-sharp Quad HD resolution, although it's questionable whether this brings any real benefits in daily use - the same criticism we have of all other handsets with this resolution, but found here condensed into a 5.1-inch display. The S6 edge benefits from additional information down the sides.
Both are slick and fast, with heaps of power from the Exynos octa-core chipset and 3GB of RAM. They also support both common standards of wireless charging, which should be of interest as the battery is no longer replaceable and the battery life is a little on the short side. There's also no microSD card slot on either due to the fixed body design.
However, the performance from the 16-megapixel rear camera is one of the most consistent and impressive from any smartphone you'll find. The experience is wrapped in a TouchWiz interface that's slicker, cleaner, and less intrusive than ever before. Then there's the fingerprint scanner that works just as well as it does on the iPhone. In short, these are Samsung's best phones ever.
You should buy the Samsung Galaxy S6 for the best Android experience of 2015, made more attractive by falling prices. It's now £479. The Samsung Galaxy S6 edge comes in at £549, if you want a little more flair, and all the excitement.