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Best smartphones of 2016

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OnePlus 3

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.

[irp posts=”7615″ name=”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.

Unboxing

Hermès Apple Watch Series 8: Unboxing and Full Set-Up

What makes it different from the regular Apple Watch though?

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If you’ve been fond of GadgetMatch for quite a while now, you would know that Michael Josh is a big Apple Watch user.

From having to experience several Watch Series up until the Watch Ultra, to having various bands, he now has the most expensive Apple Watch in the Series 8 lineup in his hands.

In this video, he unboxes the most expensive Apple Watch ever — the Hermès Apple Watch Series 8.

To give you the full experience, he’ll also dive into the nitty-gritty of what makes it different and more special than the regular Watch Series 8.

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Camera Shootouts

vivo V25 vs V23 5G: Camera Shootout

Are there even significant improvements?

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vivo V25

It hasn’t even been a year but vivo has already revealed the successor to the V23 5G that was launched earlier this 2022. But is it actually worth upgrading to the new vivo V25? Or should you save yourself some money and buy the older V23 5G instead?

vivo V25

Don’t let that new camera bump with bigger circular cutouts on the vivo V25 fool you. On paper, the cameras are close to one another but the V25 has the advantage of having a slightly wider aperture and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) that the V23 5G doesn’t have.

vivo V25 vivo V23 5G
Wide 64MP f/1.79
PDAF, OIS + EIS
64MP f/1.89
PDAF, EIS
Ultra-WIde 8MP 120º f/2.2
Macro 2MP f/2.4
Selfie 50MP f/2.0 wide

 

50MP f/2.0 wide
8MP f/2.28 ultra-wide
+ Dual-tone Spotlight

The sad news though is that, vivo has decided to remove the extra ultra-wide selfie camera and dual flash system on the new V25.

vivo V23 with the Dual-tone Spotlight Flash feature

But how do these phones perform side-by-side knowing the new V25 also has a slightly less-powerful MediaTek Dimensity 900 chipset over V23 5G’s Dimensity 920? Are there enough convincing differences or is the older model actually better? Feed yourself some photo sample comparisons below.

Daylight

In any given circumstance, a valuable Android midranger should take at least a decent photo with natural light around — thus me taking lesser photos to compare.
Still, your judgment matters.

#1A (Ultra-wide)

vivo V25

#1B (Wide)

vivo V25

#2

#3A (Wide)

#3B (Zoom)

Food

Taking food shots (mostly with indoor lighting) is a better way to test which phone camera is capable of producing the better image output with the right amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness, temperature, as well as Dynamic Range.

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

#11

*Left photo was taken multiple times with the focus tapped on the baked roll. Lens coating was also cleaned several times but still resulted to the same output.

#12

Night Mode

Low-light photos can either make or break the capabilities of a smartphone’s camera.
While it’s a mixed bag of outputs, it still depends on the user if Night Mode photos are important in a midranger or not.

#13A (Wide)

#13B (Ultra-wide)

#14

#15

#16

#17

#18

vivo V25

#19

vivo V25

#20

vivo V25

BONUS: Low-Light Selfie

For users who love taking selfies even in the dark, both phones can take fill-in flash (using the display) to brighten up your faces.

Without Flash

vivo V25

However, the ultra-wide selfie and Dual-tone Spotlight feature were removed completely from the vivo V25. You just have to guess and pick which is which.

With Flash (Aura Fill, Dual-Tone Dual Spotlight Flash)

vivo V25

Results

No more confusions, the results are consistent all throughout the board:

Photo A — vivo V23 5G

Photo B — vivo V25

Conclusion

vivo V25

While it’s barely a big camera quality improvement, the vivo V25 has rendered some of the scenes quite well such as in Photos 1A, 11, and 12 which the V23 5G failed to display at least an acceptable output. Other times, the vivo V23 5G delivered better results like in Photos 1B, 2, 3A, 4, and 13A. Those images delivered overall better photos with a sufficient amount of HDR (High Dynamic Range) and AWB (Auto White Balance).

Overall, the V25 produced better images with decent amount of highlights, shadows, contrast, sharpness. The newer model also has some slight edge on focusing and making shots brighter and more stable at night.

vivo V25

While only two selfies were provided, the V23 5G obviously has the edge — especially with its extra selfie lens and dual-flash feature.

vivo V25

If you’re coming from the V23 5G, you don’t need to upgrade to the vivo V25. Period. But, if you’re looking for a phone to replace your old vivo smartphone (or pretty much any old budget phone or midranger for that matter), buying the V25 won’t hurt.

vivo V25

Unless you’re looking for a used unit, a brand new vivo V23 5G is being sold at PhP 27,999. Whereas, a brand new V25 retails at a cheaper PhP 23,999 price tag.

vivo V25

Imho, choosing the V23 5G over the V25 is advantageous for some reasons: a more premium-looking design with metallic sides, slightly faster chipset, and the extra selfie camera.

vivo V25

But realizing how more capable the cameras of the V25 are, you can also choose it for its bigger battery and brighter display. Also, the OIS feature is very handy if you love taking photos in action or at night or just record stable-free videos without worrying about warping and jitters. At the end of the day, you should know what you value the most in buying a new smartphone.

SEE ALSO:

vivo V25 is a Night Portrait Master

Taking photos to the next level with the vivo V23 5G

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Camera Shootouts

iPhone 14 Pro Max vs 13 Pro Max vs S22 Ultra: Camera Shootout

A Very Different Camera Test

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The iPhone 14 Pro Max finally has an upgraded camera system — highlighted by its 48MP main camera sensor.

But does it really take better photos vs the iPhone 13 Pro Max and Samsung’s Galaxy S22 Ultra?

Find out in our photo-walk style camera shootout with the pro-photographer and Apple’s #ShotoniPhone Macro Challenge Global Winner Tom Reeves.

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