Written by Emily Scott on 26th August 2016
The smartphone market is fast-paced and perpetually developing, with brands releasing new models with new features consistently throughout the year. It’s hard to keep up and even harder to choose, so we’ve done the legwork for you and rounded up the 5 best phones of 2016.
The iPhone holds the title of being one of the best smartphones you can get, so naturally it’s with the recently launched iPhone 7 that we start.
Apple is released both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus this September and there’s been a huge amount of hype surrounding them for months.
Offering a waterproof build, haptic home button and iOS 10, the iPhone 7 has quickly become the best phone of 2016. What's more, we've seen new colours and minor design improvements as well, meaning you'll actually have a phone which looks a bit different too.
The 7 Plus also features a dual-lens camera as well, giving you a real reason to splash the cash on the bigger device too.
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The excellent Galaxy S6 was featured in our best of 2015 list, but the clever people at Samsung have managed to make it even better, giving us the S7 and S7 Edge - And it really is good.
Boasting an improved camera, improved battery, a slimmer, waterproof design and wireless charging, it definitely gives the iPhone a run for its money. And it also supports MicroSD cards, which is something that the S6 lacked.
In a world dominated by Apple and Samsung, it is easy for other smartphones to be overlooked. One that we reckon deserves a bit more attention is LG’s G5.
Unlike the iPhone 7 and the Galaxy S7 which are improvements of their flagship models, LG has completely remodelled its flagship handset.
Downsized from the 5.5-inch screen of the G4 to 5.3 inches, the G5 features a new, all-metal design rather than the (somewhat bizarre) leather finish of its predecessor, as well as a removable battery and the ability for users to connect add-on modules in order to expand their phone’s capabilities even more.
Users can also enjoy a dual camera set-up, with one lens providing the ability to take extra-wide photos.
Often referred to as Samsung’s king of “phablets”, the Galaxy Note has returned to the UK with its newest model: The Galaxy Note 7.
Undoubtedly the highlight of this handset is its built-in infrared iris scanner. In other words, you can unlock this phone with your eyes which really is a cool feature. As with other leading phones on the market, it also incorporates wireless charging, a waterproof design and a rather excellent camera.
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You can pick up the Xperia X for a cool £450. Seems like a lot for a phone, but we reckon it’s worth it.
Pronounced Sony’s ‘smartest, fastest camera smartphone yet’, it’s the camera that really stands out on this handset. So to all the photographers and Instagrammers out there, this phone is for you.
Thanks to Predictive Hybrid Autofocus, your photos can still be in focus even when moving and the high-quality, 13MP selfie camera enables you to capture that perfect, 10,000-likes-standard selfie.
So there are the 5 best phones of 2016. Unfortunately, they’re also the most expensive phones of 2016 so if you’re going to invest, make sure you protect them with mobile insurance.
Next year's smartphones are certain to be some of the best, but what can you expect? What's left to come in 2016 - see the latest upcoming smartphones list .
Which smartphone year are you looking for?
So 2016 is in full flow, with smartphones being rumoured to arrive on almost every date that the calendar has. But we shouldn’t forget about last year’s exploits too fast, with plenty of handsets proving to be some of the best we’ve ever encountered. All these handsets come at a huge cost, so ensure you are protected with mobile phone insurance for all your gadgets.
But what were the best phones that made their way onto the market last year? Here are five of our favourites for you to consider investing in.
Could we start anywhere else? The iPhone 6s was one of the biggest smartphone launches the world has ever seen, and made Apple a pretty penny as well.
Whilst it didn’t bring us any major design changes (but for the inclusion of Series 7000 aluminium which makes it more durable), we did get some nice new features to play with – namely 3D Touch and Live Photos.
Apple threw in the iOS 9 operating system for good measure as well, giving us all access to some extra software features as well. Overall, Apple’s latest addition to the market was just what we all wanted to see, and more…
What's the deal with the next Galaxy? Find out all the Samsung Galaxy S7 details here...
Another big time manufacturer with a big time handset launch, the Samsung Galaxy S6 was a phenomenal smartphone, and one which broke all of Samsung’s previous design rules.
Bringing a metallic design to the fray for the first time, the Galaxy S6 was arguably the best looking device of 2015, with a fashionable and durable build proving successful. It didn’t take it easy on the specs front either, with a ridiculous amount of power under the hood as well.
Of course, the Samsung Galaxy S7 has since taken over as the Samsung flagship device – meaning that the S6 has become pretty affordable. So, if you do fancy buying one of the better phones of 2015, the S6 could prove to be a great choice.
LG’s streak of launching top of the range smartphones continued in 2015 with the release of the LG G4, which once again packed the company’s unique rear button design – as well as bringing some pretty amazing specs to play with as well.
LG’s own UI makes the cut on top of Android Lollipop, whilst a tonne of features also get included, along with intuitive hardware – like laser autofocus for improved photography.
Once again, with the LG G5 taking hold this year, the G4 can now be picked up at a cheaper price than in 2015, making it a perfect time to invest.
Spot the difference: Samsung Galaxy Note5 vs Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+...
Want the best phablet of 2015? If that’s your kind of deal then the Samsung Galaxy Note5 is the best way to go. Whilst Samsung was very choosy with where they sold the handset, it doesn’t take anything away from the Note5 as a whole.
Offering a huge 5.7” QHD quality display, the Note5 isn’t messing about when it comes down to power. In fact, behind the screen we also find plenty of heavy-hitting technology as well, with 4GB RAM and an Exynos 7420 chipset leading the way.
On top of this, we do get the S-Pen to play with as well, which brings its own array of extra features like multitasking and on-screen scribbling.
If money’s no object, then the Xperia Z5 Premium is right down your alley, offering some of the best specs and features with a genuinely superb style on offer.
Coming as part of a trio of Sony devices, the Z5 Premium was the most expensive of the bunch, easily outpricing the Z5 Compact and regular Z5. However, for the extra cash you end up with the first mainstream 4K smartphone display, effectively making it the most powerful screen on the market.
Topping everything off is a unique twist on the classic Xperia design, with a reflective chrome version of the Z5 premium on offer for fans of fashion forward handsets. Since the Z5 we're yet to see an Xperia Z follow-up, will we see the Sony Xperia Z6?
Any one of these phones all stand a chance as the best phone of 2015, so it’s hard to choose a real winner. Of course, the iPhone 6s has seen massive success, but the likes of the Note5 with its S-Pen, or the Z5 Premium and its 4K screen are also worth shouting about and the most popular mobile phones right now.
Simply put, any one of these devices is definitely worth your cash, even more so when their successors make appearances this year, it’s just your job to choose one…
The best smartphones are always a topic of hot discussion and everyone has their opinion of exactly which smartphone is the best.
Some are die hard Apple fans, others love the open platform provided by Google’s Android while others still are hooked on a specific service of a phone such as Microsoft Office.
So let’s take a look at the contenders for the best smartphone title.
This phone doesn’t get the attention it deserves and yet it is most definitely one of the best smartphones of 2013. It has the quality workmanship of Sony’s high-end products and includes technology from the Sony camera range and BRAVIA TV range.
Why buy it? It looks like an ordinary smartphone but it is waterproof and you can even take pictures underwater!
The Nokia Lumia 930 smartphone deserves a mention here as the leading phone operating the Windows Phone OS. An improved user platform which matches the look of Windows 8 on PCs and laptops for many may alone make this device one of the best smartphones for you.
What catches the eye? A 20-megapixel camera and 5-inch display that uses Nokia’s ClearBlack technology for use under direct sunlight. You also get Microsoft Office built in and that's worth its weight in gold.
Heading back to the physical QWERTY keypads, BlackBerry is jumping back into the game with this flagship device. You can now enjoy those specialist BlackBerry services heightened by the upgraded specs on the Passport, even with a square screen.
What caught my eye? The square screen takes some getting used to, but once you do get used to it, it works well and looks even better! Also, the BB OS is much more reliable compared to older efforts, which is nice.
The iPhone is the flagship phone device from Apple but this we saw a new direction with two devices released with much larger displays than on previous efforts.
The iPhone 6 Plus is the highest spec model whilst the iPhone 6 delivers a product for those who want something a little smaller and are working with a slightly lower budget.
One of the most desirable phones of the year, Samsung hit gold by introducing an improved look and a fingerprint scanner, even if Apple has had it for a while now.
What’s new? An upgraded design is a nice surprise, whilst the introduction of a better camera and features like Kids Mode and Ultra Power Saving Mode offer practicality to the handset.
Powered by Android the HTC One M8 is certainly a contender for best smartphone for personal users. BoomSound and stereo forward facing speakers deliver music clarity and volume on a new level.
What’s so special? A new breed of duo camera is installed and it offers brilliant results with a sensor that captures more light than ever before. Is the megapixel race over?
Written by: Michael Brown
As the year draws to a close and that dreaded festive season creeps upon us, there’s no time better to evaluate the best phones of 2013.
We’ve seen some real corkers when it comes to releases from the big dogs such as Samsung, HTC and Apple, and 2013 truly marks the year that innovation and technical creativity became its own.
So what are our top 10 phones of 2013? And what can we look forward to next year?
Kicking us off is the Samsung Galaxy S4, Samsung’s flagship model released in March this year. The S4 really shook things up in the mobile phone arena by offering a whole range of new features never before seen on a smartphone.
In terms of specs, the Galaxy S4 has got a 5-inch screen, quad-core 1.6GHz processor and a whopping 13 megapixel camera.
What really makes the Samsung Galaxy S4 stand out, though, is its multitude of exciting new features. On the device’s camera, users have access to Dual Shot, whereby they can use both the front and rear-facing lenses at the same time, meaning you can be in the photo while you’re taking it. Other in-built camera features include Sound & Shot, which lets you capture short audio clips alongside your photos; Eraser to remove any unwanted background objects; and Animation to jazz up your images.
The phone also offers S Translator (which can be activated using just your voice), S Drive and Story Album.
No list of this sort would be complete without the mention of an iPhone. And, for the first time ever, this year we have two to talk about! The iPhone 5s, however, is Apple’s usual premium offering to the market, and in many ways looks and feels like any other iPhone.
It has a 4-inch screen, an 8 megapixel iSight camera and, wait for it, a fingerprint scanner! It is the latter feature which has got critics and fans alike going crazy for the iPhone 5s, as it’s one of the first smartphones to offer such an innovative feature. Ok so we have seen fingerprint sensors on laptops and other devices for some time now, and yes, the fingerprint technology has been hacked by German hackers, but still, the fact that you can pretend that you’re James Bond by unlocking your phone is undeniably cool.
Conversely to Samsung, Apple likes to keep things simple, putting quality into its features as opposed to quantity. That’s why, whilst other manufacturers are piling megapixels into their camera lenses, Apple is retaining the iPhone 5’s 8MP lens, simply making its performance better. The camera has 4 modes: Auto, Panoramic, Square (presumably for Instagram) and Video, and the new True Colour flash mimics the background colour that features in your photo to improve its quality.
With more recent releases such like the two phones listed above, the HTC One has almost been forgotten about. Nevertheless, it remains one of the best smartphones to have been released in 2013.
HTC was the first manufacturer to really overhaul the smartphone scene this year, packing its flagship model with unusual, yet useful, features which make it stand out from all other Androids on the market.
First of all you’ve got the phone’s full-aluminium body, which upgrades the device to the premium end of the spectrum sitting next to the iPhone because of its high-quality appearance and build.
Next, you’ve got HTC BlinkFeed, which has completely changed the user interface of this Android smartphone; rather than displaying rows of static apps on the phone’s home screens, HTC BlinkFeed displays your personalised news stories, social media updates, notifications and photos in a dynamic home screen which updates in real time. This means that you don’t have to, for example, launch the BBC News app, as all the main stories are constantly updated on your phone’ s home screen.
The HTC One is also one of the best phones of 2013 because of HTC Zoe. HTC Zoe is a camera mode on the One’s Ultrapixel camera, which allows you to take short 3-second bursts of video which really bring your photos to life. The mode also automatically collates all of your photos from any album into a 30-second movie backed up by music, making the One one of the best cameras I’ve seen on a smartphone.
Samsung usually features highly on lists such as this, and this year is no exception. The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 was only released in September in a glitzy press event in Berlin. The device is the third to be launched in the Note range, and features a 5.7-inch screen (smaller than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 rumours suggested), the same camera features as the Galaxy S4, and an incredible quad-core 2.3GHz Krait processor.
The Note 3, being primarily designed for busy users always on the go, is also great for multitasking. With features such as Pen Window, you can open and display multiple apps on the same screen, or activate the Quick Memo feature to make annotations and notes on screenshots using the in-built S Pen.
Although the device has only just hit the market, we expect that the Note 3 will be a popular one in the run up to Christmas (Yes, I mentioned the dreaded C word…).
Launched just last week, the Nexus 5 has created quite a stir for its sleek looks, impressive features, and more importantly, Android 4.4 (KitKat).
As a new Nexus 5 user myself, I love the true Android experience that you get from a Nexus device, which includes automatic updates as soon as Google releases any operating system upgrades.
And with an impressive 8MP camera, the Nexus 5 provides users with a really high quality, sleek phone for half the price of most top of the range Androids.
Sony has been a bit of a quieter player in this year’s smartphone arena, releasing just two devices this year. The first flagship model, the Sony Xperia Z, offers a premium-built, smart-looking mobile phone, with a crystal-clear 5-inch screen and tempered glass body.
With one of the world’s first 13 megapixel cameras, the Xperia Z upped the ante, forcing other manufacturers to follow suit.
What’s more, Sony has ensured that the Xperia Z flagship is a symbol of quality and durability, which is why the model is both dust and waterproof, meaning those accidental spills and drops won’t mean saying goodbye to your phone.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was a little more than sceptical about the Samsung Galaxy Mega, mainly due to its bordering on ridiculous dimensions. With a 6.3-inch screen, the Mega (cleverly named by Samsung…) is one of the largest phablets on the market. In fact, it only just fits into the phablet category, with the typical tablet measuring in at just 0.7-inches larger.
That said, I really enjoyed using the Galaxy Mega, and the huge screen did make it really easy to use the phone for business- most widgets can be displayed in full on a home screen, eliminating the need to manually launch apps to access, say, your calendar, or calculator.
And for a mid-range smartphone, the Galaxy Mega didn’t have too bad a set of specs, either. With an 8MP camera and dual-core 1.7GHz processor, it’s in many ways a budget version of the Note 3.
BlackBerry has come under fire lately after it was announced that the Canadian company is considering putting itself up for sale, cutting thousands of jobs in the process. However, although the BB10 platform evidentially failed to have the impact that BlackBerry needed, the devices launched this year aren’t entirely disappointing.
The BlackBerry Q10 embodies all that is good about BlackBerry: the BB10 OS and the physical QWERTY keyboard that we all know and love from BlackBerry.
The new operating system has revolutionised the way that BlackBerry users navigate around their phones; removing the permanent control buttons means that users can seamlessly glide through apps, opening and exiting programs with a swipe of the finger.
In at number 9 is the iPhone 5c. As mentioned above, 2013 is the first year that Apple has ever released two smartphones in the same year, which makes it one exciting time for Apple fans all over the world.
The iPhone 5c is a slightly cheaper (though not as cheap as originally anticipated) version of the iPhone available in 5 fun and vibrant colours, including pink, blue, green, white and yellow.
The device is in many ways just like the iPhone 5 but with a colourful plastic body in place of the premium aluminium casing donned by every other iPhone.
And with iOS 7 preloaded onto the device, the iPhone 5c truly marks a break from Apple’s corporate, serious-looking user interface, providing more choice for Apple users.
Why not take a look at our best iPhone deals, with contracts for the iPhone 5c starting from just £33/month.
Last but not least is the Sony Xperia Z1, Sony’s latest flagship model to follow on from the Xperia Z. Launched at a jam-packed press event at IFA last month, the Xperia Z1 looks set to become one of the most impressive, high quality smartphones this year.
The Xperia Z1 looks in many ways like the current Xperia Z; it features a 5-inch screen, water and dustproof capabilities, and a whopping 20 megapixel camera.
Sony is really bringing out all the tricks in its book with the Xperia Z1, and its camera is no exception. Not only does it pack in 20 megapixels, but the device also allows users to add fun animations onto their photos, alongside enacting the Timeshift Burst features, which takes 61 shots in 2 seconds. If that’s not enough, you can also attach Sony’s Q10 and Q100 lenses to your smartphone using a bracket, transforming your device into an even more impressive camera.
Written by Charlotte Kertrestel
As Christmas approaches and the New Year sneaks ever-closer, we aim to take a look at some of the best phones of 2012 that really showcase all that this year had to offer.
With 2013 promising to be an exciting time for mobile phone innovation and design, it is important to see how the up-and-coming models emerging in the New Year have come about, as we celebrate the best phones of 2012.
The much anticipated Samsung Galaxy S3, following its predecessor’s excellent reputation, had a lot to live up to when it was released in September this year. The S2 was a game-changing phone for Samsung and became not only the leading Android phone of 2011 but also the world’s best-selling handset.
Let's say that the S3, without doubt, did not disappoint.
The Galaxy S3 has already become the main contender in the smartphone market, with Samsung pioneering a model with which other manufacturers are still chasing to catch up. The S3’s 4.8 inch screen seems to have created the general trend for larger phones, and its sleek design and ultra-thin appearance has led to this phone shooting off the shelves quicker than you can say ‘Samsung Galaxy S3’.
Aside from the S3’s appearance, the model fulfilled our ever-growing demands by giving us a quad-core 1.4 GHz processor, an 8 MP camera and the latest Jelly Bean version of Android.
With news emerging about the up-and-coming Galaxy S4, we can only imagine how Samsung is going to improve on the s3’s massive success.
To read more, take a look at our Samsung Galaxy S3 Review.
We cannot write a feature about the best phones of 2012 and not mention Apple.
For most Apple fans, the wait for the iPhone 5 felt like an eternity, mainly because the 4S was released as an upgrade of an existing model. And although the iPhone 4S still sells more handsets than its successor, the iPhone 5 is undoubtedly one of the best phones of 2012.
While Apple have refused to follow the trend to make its screens reach the dizzying size of the S3, the iPhone 5’s 4 inch screen is one feature which made the new model stand out from its predecessor.
The iPhone 5 at first glance is also remarkably thin and fits in your hand with ease. The build quality is of the extremely high standard that we have grown to expect with Apple; the overall appearance is sharp, stylish and expensive (which undoubtedly it is, at almost £529 for the handset). And with Apple only releasing one model per year, you know that you’ll never go out of fashion with the iPhone 5.
To read more, take a look at our iPhone 5 review.
The HTC 8X is the Taiwanese manufacturer’s first phone to incorporate the new Windows Phone 8 operating system, which is what makes this model really stand out.
Available in variety of colours, ranging from Graphite Black and Flame Red to Limelight Yellow and Californian Blue, the 8X really does shine compared to the crowded rows of standard black rectangular phones that fill our shelves.
Another thing that makes the 8X different from all other Android phones at first look is the home screen; compiled of a series of live tiles that update in real time, the icons which fit together somewhat like a square jigsaw puzzle. Ultimately this looks entirely different from Android’s usual grid of neatly lined-up apps. What’s more is that you scroll vertically, not horizontally, through your home screens, scrolling horizontally only to select an app, which means that you technically never leave the home screen.
Also, if you are a true gamer, then the HTC 8X may be a phone for you. Not only can you download all of the latest games from the app store, but you can also get your Xbox scores delivered directly to your phone, allowing you to play on the go, anywhere. (Note: girls, you may never see your boyfriends again.)
So because the HTC 8X is new, vibrant, and above all, different from every other smartphone currently on the market, we believe it deserves to feature as one of the best phones of 2012.
To read more, take a look at our HTC 8X review.
Following the HTC 8X is another handset presented to us by the Taiwanese manufacturer: its flagship model the One X.
This 4.7 inch handset is slightly shy of the Samsung’s S3 4.8 inches and is lighter to hold than both the S3 and the iPhone 5. With a quad-core 1.5GHz processor, the One X is one of the most powerful Android phones on the market.
HTC’s advertising campaign for the One X really emphasised the quality of its camera and it does not fail to disappoint. The phone produces clear, sharp photographs and the addition of in-built editing, similar to Instagram, is a real bonus.
With further features such as a car mode, which essentially turns your phone into a sat-nav, and HTC’s Beats Audio, this model really is one of the best phones to be released this year.
To read more, take a look at our HTC One X review.
Finally, it would seem that Samsung have done it again: the South Korean manufacturer has rippled the waters of the technology world with its follow-up to its first phablet, the Note 2.
Although I was initially quite sceptical about whether the handset would deliver as both a mobile phone and a tablet, instead feeling that Samsung should really make its mind up over what the note 2 really was, I soon found myself eating my own words.
What makes the Note 2 one of the best phones of the year isn’t just its mega 5.5 inch screen (which in fact is key to making the phone stand out in its field), but also its huge array of features and improvements on its predeccessor. For example, the removable pen that comes with the Note 2 is a feature which no other smartphone, or tablet for that matter, has. The S-Note app, which makes use of the ‘S-pen’ allows you to write, draw and type a variety of documents, from business papers to fun interior designs.
In many ways the Note 2 makes a perfect commuter’s phone; whether you’re squeezing in those last minute preparations for your 9am business meeting using the S-Note app, or reading the latest novels on the Kindle app, the Note 2 is a perfect culmination of both a phone and a tablet, eliminating the need to carry two separate devices.
To read more, take a look at our Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review.
Written by Charlotte Kertrestel
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