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.
20. Sony Xperia Z5
The Xperia Z5 is Sony's 2015 flagship and the last model of the Z series, replaced by the X series in February 2016. When it launched, it pushed changes in the camera, offering a new 23-megapixel sensor that is now seen in the newer Xperia X models. It's a good performer, but it is hampered by slow software, making the experience a little lacklustre.
There is plenty of power in the Z5, the water resistance that Sony is known for and it's a handset packed full of tech, as well as plenty of customisation from Sony. The design isn't quite as premium as you'll find elsewhere however, meaning the Xperia Z5 is overshadowed by more exciting rivals, and Sony's software is the biggest bugbear.
FULL REVIEW: Sony Xperia Z5 review
19. BlackBerry Priv
BlackBerry's Priv was the company's first Android handset and it is a serious handset worthy of serious consideration, whether you're a BlackBerry fan or an Android fan. The slider handset with its huge 5.4-inch display, offers all the benefits of the latest 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 reinvented for Android. It's not the fastest handset around, the camera isn't the best and it lacks a fingerprint scanner, but it is an innovative handset that offers some charming twists. The Priv is also now available for £399 compared to its £549 launch price.
FULL REVIEW: BlackBerry Priv review
18. Motorola Moto X Play
The Moto X Play's attraction comes from the huge battery, 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 or exciting handset around. You miss out on a fingerprint scanner and the camera isn't great in low light either but for those of you after a clean Android experience, Moto's customisation and a great battery life, this could be the phone for you.
FULL REVIEW: Motorola Moto X Play review
17. Huawei Mate S
The Huawei Mate S has a design and build that challenges the greatest devices out there. The 5.5-inch Full HD display isn't the sharpest around, but it's pressure sensitive on the top luxury model and that brings some individuality to this device.
Even opting for the Mate S models that lack the pressure sensitive display gives you a great smartphone experience though. There's plenty of power, microSD expansion, great performing cameras, and a battery that will get you through the day. Huawei's EMUI software skin isn't brilliant, but a little tweaking and you'll have a very nice big screen experience that's a third cheaper than big brand rivals.
FULL REVIEW: Huawei Mate S review
16. Nexus 5X
The cheaper of the two 2015 Nexus devices, the Nexus 5X, is the more affordable at £299. It takes some hits on the spec sheet compared to the Nexus 6P, but that fits with the price point, slotting this device into a sub-flagship position.
It feels solid enough, despite its plastic body, and although it lacks the premium feel that many of the top devices offer, it offers great performance from the unsullied Android software. There's an excellent rear fingerprint scanner, 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
15. LG G5
The LG G5 offers a module-based design that allows for additional accessory units which can be added for new features and operation. The dual-camera is something special, the Quad HD screen looks the part, and with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB RAM and QuickCharge 3.0 to boot, there's all the power you could need.
The metal body looks and feels plastic though and while it's great there is a fingerprint sensor on board, it's a little small and not as foolproof as some competitors despite its clever rear positioning. The LG G5 is there for innovation and point of difference, but it may not be the smartphone for everyone.
FULL REVIEW: LG G5 review
14. Huawei Mate 8
Huawei's 6-inch Mate 8 isn't just about its good £429 price point, it's about getting a lot of phone for your money. It delivers a high quality metal body and an excellent fingerprint scanner on the rear, fused with internal hardware that offers plenty of performance and some of the best battery life you'll find.
It's not all perfect though. Huawei EMUI skin is less useful than stock Android, while the Full HD resolution at this size is questionable. That's in some way reflected in the price though and ultimately, the Mate 8 is a great, big phone, and a great performer.
FULL REVIEW: Huawei Mate 8 review
13. Motorola Moto G4
Motorola's Moto G4 is the fourth generation of the popular Moto G and it's bigger and bolder than the original. A 5.5-inch display is seen this time round, and it's a little more expensive too, starting at £169, but you still get a lot of bang for your buck.
The Moto G4 might not be as fast as the flagships on this list, but its octa-core processor and graphics are capable of handling most tasks and battery life is good. The Moto G4 is the king of the budget handsets and although there is the option of the G4 Plus with its improved camera and fingerprint sensor, the Moto G4 is a phone that shouldn't be ignored.
FULL REVIEW: Motorola Moto G4 review
12. Honor 8
For a mid-level device, the Honor 8 lays down some solid specification benchmarks for its £370 price. As a day-to-day phone, the design and ability of this mid-ranger are considerable. It's an upgrade over the previous model that will give plenty of competitors a run for their money.
The battery life could be better, the processor performance lags a little at times and it doesn't offer the perfect graphics for gaming. That said, there is plenty of merit in the Honor 8, and its biggest problem isn't actually itself, but the competition it is up against, such as the OnePlus 3 that is £40 less.
FULL REVIEW: Honor 8 review
11. Huawei P9
The Huawei P9 is a step above and beyond last year's P8. It has cleaner software, ample power, decent cameras, the best fingerprint scanner on the market, and a variety of features that successfully place it in among the flagship runnings.
There's still some questionable software additions though, the cameras are over-reaching in terms of software and the battery life still isn't that great. The P9 delivers solid innings, but its €599 starting price puts it very close to its competition and the P9 lacks those design nuances that set the flagship contenders apart.
FULL REVIEW: Huawei P9 review
10. Nexus 6P
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.
FULL REVIEW: Nexus 6P review
9. Apple iPhone 6S
The Apple iPhone 6S 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.
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPhone 6S review
8. Apple iPhone SE
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 iPhone 6S, 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.
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPhone SE review
7. OnePlus 3
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.
FULL REVIEW: OnePlus 3 review
6. HTC 10
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.
FULL REVIEW: HTC 10 review
5. Apple iPhone 7 Plus
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.
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPhone 7 Plus review
4. Samsung Galaxy S7
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.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S7 review
3. Apple iPhone 7
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.
FULL REVIEW: Apple iPhone 7 review
2. Google Pixel
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.
1. Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
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 Samsung Galaxy S7 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.
FULL REVIEW: Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review