With such a wide collection of Smartphones available these days, it can sometimes be hard to pick the best one for you. Having said that, when we decided to pick out the best five Smartphones, we weren’t struggling finding the Smartphones to include in the list, more the position to give them. Some honourable mentions include a collection of Huawei devices, which have come a long way recently. The Smartphone game hasn’t been all good however, when it comes to newcomers like Sony’s Xperia X Series and the likes of the HTC One M9, there’s definitely a few casualties along the way which seem to have lost their spark, which hopefully they retain with successors throughout the year.
Spoiler alert, there’s no Windows devices on this list, which is a shame as it doesn’t seem too long a go when we were recommending a collection of Lumia devices for value and specification, but as we’ve mentioned in posts before, the Windows 10 story has confirmed the loss of that;
5. OnePlus 2
After our review of the OnePlus X, it’s only naturally we talk about the more higher end variant, the OnePlus 2. The OnePlus 2 is a more direct continuation of the OnePlus which kicked off the OnePlus family, the OnePlus One. However, just the OnePlus X, you won’t find CyanogenMod on the OnePlus 2, rather Oxygen OS again, although their is a build of Cyanogen which is possible to install, based on Android Marshmallow. The OnePlus 2 joins the fray of devices adding a Fingerprint scanner, however does lack any NFC, so you can rule out any Android Pay on this device.
Then, the story turns over to Oxygen OS, just like with the OnePlus X, it remains limited and we’d of preferred if the disagreements never happened, but the key to the OnePlus 2 is the value, you get a very decent Smartphone for not a lot of pennies, costing just £249 SIM Free (64GB Sandstone Black), whilst yes you do have the SnapDragon 810, that’s still fairly decent and still the best value for money available today.
4. Nexus 6P
We’ve reviewed a collection of Nexus devices, from the Nexus 4 to Nexus 5, so when it comes to the Nexus 6P we’re already in general familiar territory, however Huawei who made the Nexus 6P have actually considered some of the typical Nexus pet peeves, and found some resolve. The Camera, Battery life, two things seemingly all Nexus devices fall flat on, are fantastic on the Nexus 6P, in fact until the device from Mobile World Congress this year came along, the 6P was the cream of the crop in terms of Android photography, and you could never say that about a Nexus before with a straight face.
The device, naturally running Stock Android (now Marshmallow, though a preview of N is now available), runs very well, and it should considering the relatively top of the line hardware. Of course with the Nexus 6P being announced at the back end of last year, it is a lower spec device, but the fact it’s still here in the first quarter of 2016 should say enough.
Even today, the 6P still has a stunning AMOLED Display, and that’s before we mention the high quality materials of the device which just shine, especially the harder to find grey model.
Even today there’s still some benefits with going Stock, although we will say in current versions of Android that is disappearing fast, though if you want the least bloat as possible, a more than adequate Android experience in a device that not only looks, but acts the part, you need a Nexus 6P.
3. LG G5
The LG G5 is without a doubt a Smartphone with so much on paper potential. LG has always being a brand which can oust some incredible specifications and deliver them well, however in the case of the G5, in practice is where the sun turns to shade. On paper, what’s not to love, a fresh new design supporting high grade materials, latest specs from Qualcomm all inside a more accessibly sized and better feel in the hand device, what’s not to love right? To add to that, LG have added some innovative solutions to aspects such as having a replaceable Battery on a device fully metal and unibody, but taking that functionality to the next level by integrated Modules, which not only add further Capacity to that Battery, but also improve upon the G5’s existing Technologies, from the Speaker to Camera.
However, as we hinted at before, the in practice is where the story get’s a bit more flakey. The Modules, for example, are all well and good, however a surprisingly lower amount of interest has being gained when it comes to third party support, and the first party Modules from LG are almost impossible to find, and …not the best when you do. The biggest issue with these is that you don’t need them, it’s well and good attaching a Speaker or a Camera button, but at the end of the day, for the price they cost, they’re just not worth it.
Finally, design. We understand design is completely personal preference, we get that, however we can’t help but be incredibly underwhelmed when it comes to the G5, with a design akin to the Lumia 950’s low to mid-range look on a premium priced, and intended, Smartphone. LG have also chosen to completely adopt an App Drawer-less Android experience, which may be bad enough, but surely rectifiable through Folders, though that’s just the tip of LG’s Skin problems, we’re brought back to the TouchWiz of old, and not in a good way.
UPDATE: LG have since announced a new version of their Skin will be coming returning the option to include an App Drawer by default in the Settings.
Despite this, the LG G5 is a Smartphone you should at least check out, a lot of it’s flaws are more to taste then flailing, and well their much be someone who loves the design, though you can clearly see why it’s not the top of the list, but still a very respectable devices none the less. Looking back at what we’ve put we have probably being slightly unfair with the G5, it really is a fantastic phone don’t get us wrong, just know there’s a few struggles along the way.
2. Apple iPhone 6S (and 6S Plus)
The iPhone has always been the safe option when it comes to recommending a Smartphone to a member of family or friend, and to be fair that’s not changed with the iPhone 6S line. Apple continue to refine the product of the iPhone in ways that we still can’t deny and still puts the iPhone at the top of our recommendation list when it comes to the overall package.
Whilst the design of the iPhone 6S line is generally the same as last years iPhone 6, minus the very marmite colour of ‘Rose Gold’, Apple have vastly improved the internals with their A9 processor which is still to this day more than keeping up with the latest Qualcomm SnapDragon 820 which is insane considering what that processor can do on Android, but continues to show Apple’s impressive hardware. Apple also introduced their Force Touch technology in the 6S line through a new ‘3D Touch’ brand, which allows areas of Applications and even the Icons to feature additional actionable actions, which not only add a heap of convenience but also bring a bit of extra life to the somewhat dead appearance of the iPhone UI.
Whilst many may prefer the variety from the world of Android, you can’t deny that certain charm from the iPhone, and it’s due to that charm it will always remain a device on, not just ours but all, recommendation lists.
1. Samsung Galaxy S7 (and S7 Edge)
Samsung have always made quality hardware, whether it’s with their TVs or displays, or chipsets, to so much more, so it’s always been very frustrating that Samsung have combined those in to rather disappointing Smartphones overall, however when it comes to Samsung’s recent efforts, we’re happy to see that they finally get it. The first incarnation of this was with last years Galaxy S6, whilst it did leave a lot of key Samsung differentiators out, such as expandable storage and replaceable battery, Samsung have brought the majority of the prior features back in the much more refined Galaxy S7, minus the battery but we bet most won’t mind.
The refinement of the Galaxy S7 though doesn’t stop in bringing back some of the old, like waterproofing and expandable storage, but the design is so much more refined with the extra curves to hold, the general beauty of the device and so much more. Samsung have also refined the performance and features of the device, with easily one of our favourite displays we’ve seen, instant Camera with decent results, and this phone is fast.
No device is perfect however, the fingerprints you’ll see all too much on the device can get rather irritating, the Fingerprint scanner is well, but you will see “No match” much more times than any failures of Apple’s TouchID it has to be said, but Samsung’s has still come along way. However when it comes to an overall experience, if you’re a big fan of the Android experience, this is the best Android phones you can buy right now, and what we believe, unless you’re fully invested in Apple or Microsoft’s ecosystem, is the best phone you can buy right now.
And there you have it, we’ll be back with a whole new Top 5 next quarter of 2016, but as of now, these are without doubt our favourite and best recommendations in terms of Smartphones right now. Agree, disagree? Let us know below.