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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.

Hands-On

Huawei Mate 20 Pro Hands-on: Best phone of 2018?

Huawei outdoes itself again

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In an industry where incremental updates are the new norm, Huawei manages to wow us again — barely a year after the release of the P20 Pro. The Chinese company is back with the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro which might just be the best among the best this year.

In this video, we go over the phones’ new designs, updated cameras, and new memory card format. We also go through the differences between the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro.

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Features

Huawei Mate 20 vs Mate 20 Pro: What are the differences?

Price isn’t the only factor

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Huawei has once again launched two flagships phones at the same time; one comes with a Pro moniker, while the other does not. Like before, there are some significant differences between the Mate 20 pair to take note of.

While we wait to get our hands on the Porsche Design Mate 20 RS and Mate 20 X, here are the two phones we already know everything about.

Display

One obvious difference is in their displays. While the Mate 20 Pro goes for a notched 6.39-inch 1440p curved HDR OLED display — certainly a mouthful — the regular Mate 20 has a 6.53-inch 1080p RGBW HDR LCD with a much smaller notch.

The Pro model justifies the larger notch by housing a more complex camera system for secured facial recognition, but if that doesn’t matter to you, the regular variant’s Dew Drop notch may be more appealing — and definitely less intrusive.

In addition, the Mate 20 Pro’s OLED tech allows it to curve the edges and equip an in-display fingerprint scanner. It’s essentially the more modern-looking design of the pair.

Performance

Since both models have Huawei’s Kirin 980 chipset installed, pure performance is virtually identical. The Pro and non-Pro also share the same memory and storage configuration of 6GB and 128GB, respectively, although the plain Mate 20 has a more affordable 4GB memory variant available, too.

Another minor difference: The 4200mAh capacity of the Mate 20 Pro, along with the more energy-efficient OLED, provides it with potentially longer battery life than what the Mate 20’s 4000mAh capacity and LCD panel offer.

A more significant advantage for the Mate 20 Pro is its inclusion of a 40W SuperCharge adapter in the package — noticeably better than the 22.5W output of the Mate 20’s. Plus, the Pro version can charge other phones wirelessly using wireless reverse charging tech.

Cameras

Perhaps, you’ll care most about the difference in camera quality and performance. While it’s too early to make photo and video comparisons, an initial look at specs shows that the Mate 20 Pro may have an edge.

There are three modules in place for the Pro: One is a 40-megapixel main camera, another has 20 megapixels and an ultra-wide lens, and the final unit offers 8 megapixels with 3x optical zoom

As for the Mate 20, its main camera has only 12 megapixels, the ultra-wide shooter settles for 16 megapixels, and the 8-megapixel telephoto camera goes up to only 2x optical zoom.

Despite the larger notch of the Mate 20 Pro, they share the same 24-megapixel selfie camera.

Pricing and colors

This part largely depends on where you reside, but in an ideal setting, all five colors — Emerald Green, Midnight Blue, Twilight, Pink Gold, and Black — should be available for both models.

Pricing is another matter, and it again depends per region. In Europe, the Mate 20’s 4GB+128GB configuration retails for EUR 799 and its 6GB+128GB model goes for EUR 849. The Mate 20 Pro’s sole 6GB+128GB variant costs EUR 1,049, making it more expensive by EUR 250 and EUR 200, respectively.

In Singapore, the Mate 20’s 6GB+128GB setup retails for SG$ 998, while the Mate 20 Pro is at SG$ 1,348 — a difference of SG$ 350.

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Huawei Mate 20 series first to have Nano Memory Card

Could this become a trend?

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Aside from introducing a host of flagship features to the freshly minted Mate 20 series, Huawei also introduced a new memory card standard, simply named Nano Memory Card.

It’s available on both the Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro, and it effectively replaces the microSD slot we’ve become so accustomed to. The question is: What’s so special about it?

The simplest answer is that it has the same size as the nano-SIM card inside any smartphone today. Because of the identical dimensions, the secondary card slot doesn’t have to be designed differently, like what has been done for microSD cards.

In the case of the Mate 20 series, the removable card tray has back-to-back slots: one for the nano-SIM, and the other for either another nano-SIM or separate Nano Memory Card.

As of writing, Huawei will be offering 128GB and 256GB NM Cards, with speeds of up to 90MB/s. They’re hoping it’ll become the new standard, and are producing adapters for additional compatibility.

It’s certainly a more efficient way of adding physical storage to a handset, and allows manufactures like Huawei to use the saved space for other features, like a large battery.

Looking ahead, it seems only logical for other smartphone brands to follow suit, but that would mean consumers would have to buy into a whole new standard and let go of their microSD cards.

The same thing happened with the introduction of the USB-C port, wherein users had to replace their micro-USB cables for the newer, more intuitive system. It’s been a gradual process, but definitely rewarding.

It’ll take a while before we find out if this will become a trend, but for now, we should appreciate Huawei’s courage in taking the first, big step.

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