This is it: our selection of this year’s best smartphones!

After dozens of reviews on our website and YouTube channel, coming up with this list was by no means easy.

We debated for hours on what we believe are the absolute best handsets released in 2016. Each of us have our GadgetMatch just like you, so all nominations were valid.

Let’s get down to it.

OnePlus 3

Must we say more? With a price that undercuts every other flagship out there and specs that continue to shine, we can affirm that this is truly OnePlus’ flagship killer.

And it’s not just the price and features that we fell in love with. The way it was designed — from the sleek metal build to the squeaky clean Android interface — instantly won us over.

Sure, the updated OnePlus 3T already came out, but we’ll stay loyal to the one that kept us company since last June.

Apple iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

We’re sort of cheating by giving two slots to the same brand, but Apple’s simultaneously launched flagships once again deserve a pair of spotlights.

Although the upgrades are incremental and all the talk is about next year’s super-duper tenth-anniversary iPhone, the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus are so powerful and so refined that they continue to make most Androids look like rocks in a sea of pearls.

And even if next year’s iPhones turn out to be drastic revolutions, there’s no shame in having what are currently the best Apple smartphones ever.

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge

We feel bad adding these two to the list, because this spot should have belonged to the Galaxy Note 7. Had it not been discontinued, it would have been our unanimous best.

Still, Samsung hit two homeruns at once with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge. Released way back in February, these phones continue to overshadow most handsets launched since then.

Powerful processors built by Samsung, gorgeous AMOLED displays with equally beautiful glass and metal frames, plus the best cameras in the business — we love using our Galaxy S7 pair to this day.

Honorable mentions

There you have it; those were our top choices for smartphones of 2016. But with so many incredible gadgets this year, we just had to include a few honorable mentions. Let’s break them down into their respective awards.

Best software in a smartphone: Google Pixel

Google Pixel

Even though it didn’t make the cut, Google’s very own Pixel phone shines with its optimized take on stock Android, which effectively replaced the Nexus brand we all had to say good bye to. The software is so good, it makes every shot taken with the Pixel’s camera look that more alluring. And we can’t forget about Assistant; Google’s intelligent AI outperforms the likes of Siri and Cortana with lots of humor behind its mostly accurate answers.

Best premium compact smartphone: Apple iPhone SE

Apple iPhone SE

Now that Sony is no longer investing in premium compacts like the well-received Xperia Z5 Compact, the award for best phone that actually fits in your hand and pocket is the iPhone SE. It’s nearly identical to the iPhone 5s before it, but speedier components and new colors make it a significant upgrade for those wanting a phone well below five inches in screen size.

Best modular smartphone: Moto Z

Moto Z

Not much competition here. With the demise of Google’s Project Ara and the clunkiness of LG’s execution on its G5 flagship, the Moto Z is the clear winner for best phone with modularity. The simple magnetic strip at the back is your gateway to a host of varied Moto Mods that’ll grow in number next year. We’re excited!

Best smartphones below $300

How can we have the best smartphones of 2016 without mentioning some of the more budget-friendly products? Well, we covered five of them in a recent list which we also debated over for hours. The list still holds strong now, no matter how fascinating the phones above are.

SEE ALSO
Best of 2016: Budget phones under $300

Do you strongly believe we’re missing out on your favorite phone? Is there anything else we could have added? Please let us know by commenting below.

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19 comments

  • Sans December 6, 2016  

    Why did the Google Pixel didn’t made it? It has the fastest software than the S7 and better camera than the iPhone 7! Why?

    • Marvin Velasco December 6, 2016  

      Have you used a Pixel extensively? No doubt it’s an excellent phone all around, but we don’t feel it belongs with the top smartphones we listed. It’s not as affordable as the OnePlus 3, not as gorgeous in person as the Galaxy S7 pair, and not as refined as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.

    • dorkymadupaku December 7, 2016  

      burn

  • Mark December 8, 2016  

    Where is LG V20?

    • Marvin Velasco December 9, 2016  

      The weak battery life, lack of functionality for the second screen, and overbearing Android skin bog it down. You can read more about them in our review.

  • Mborda December 9, 2016  

    how about the Zenfone 3?

    • Marvin Velasco December 9, 2016  

      Good phone, but it doesn’t offer great value for its price. You can find more powerful phones for much less.

  • brendan paul Tabora December 10, 2016  

    Looks Like OnePlus Still Lives Up To Its Title “FlagShip Killer”. XD

  • Aaron Lim December 10, 2016  

    Why the HTC 10 is not here? It also deserve to be in the list even though only in the Honorable Mentions. It’s better than iPhone SE and Moto Z.

    • Marvin Velasco December 10, 2016  

      Another great phone on its own, but we’re also taking innovation and consumer impact into consideration. The HTC 10 would have won the “Best smartphone no one really bought outside of Taiwan” award had we created that honorable mention.

  • jack December 10, 2016  

    One plus 3t
    ??

    • Marvin Velasco December 11, 2016  

      Please read the article. It’s mentioned near the start.

  • John Marcus Garcia December 11, 2016  

    How about the Huawei P9 plus and Sony Xperia XZ? What can you say about these two great smartphones? I need your answer, thanks 🙂

    • Marvin Velasco December 11, 2016  

      Both phones you mentioned are handicapped by their software. I’m personally not a fan of Huawei’s Android skin, and the Xperia XZ would have had better camera quality if not for its poor software utilization. This isn’t to say they aren’t good phones, however; they just aren’t complete enough to stand against the best listed above.

  • Daniel Alanzalon December 11, 2016  

    Lol. Mi mix KILLS all of these

  • Jake December 11, 2016  

    Glad that iPhone SE made it to the list, best phone below 5 inch so far

  • Meachiro December 12, 2016  

    Weh! How about the LG V20..?

  • Jerwin December 14, 2016  

    What about the Mi 5s Plus? Its 6GB RAM version is an instant killer.

    • Marvin Velasco December 14, 2016  

      Top of the line specs don’t instantly mean it’s the best phone. We prioritized the experience, and Xiaomi, for us, didn’t cut it this year. We love their lower-end phones, though.