New smartphones are constantly being announced, making it difficult to keep up with new releases, and hard to know which one to try out, let alone actually buy. It doesn’t matter whether you want to spend $100 or $700 either, store shelves are packed with choice.
Related: These are the 5 best phablets money can buy
While some will instantly go for their preferred brand, it may be worth taking a step back and seeing what the rest have to offer, because there are some fantastic phones on sale right now. Here are the phones we like, based on our recent reviews and hands-on tests. You should put these phones on the top of your list.
If you’re into plus-size phones, you should check out our list of the best phablets, which includes heavy hitters like Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge, the Galaxy Note 5, LG’s V10, the Moto X Style Pure Edition, the Nexus 6P, and iPhone 6S Plus.
Apple iPhone 6S
Apple is now one of the few manufacturers that is still making a phone that’s smaller than 5-inches. The iPhone 6S sports the same 4.7-inch, 1,334 x 750 pixel Retina screen as its predecessor, and comes wrapped in a very slim aluminum body. There’s even a rose gold version for those who want a flashier look. Apple also upgraded the rear camera to 12 megapixels and the front-facing shooter to 5 megapixels. The speedy A9 processor and 2GB RAM keep things moving, and iOS 9 looks as bright and colorful as ever, while 3D Touch takes iOS to another level. It’s a truly incredible device for iOS users who still want a slightly smaller phone. Avoid purchasing the version with only 16GB of storage, though. You will run out of space. Read our full review here.
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Hoping to revive its mobile division, HTC has pulled out all the stops with its latest flagship. A successor to the One M9, the HTC 10 hits all the marks with a bigger 3,000mAh battery; a 12-megapixel camera with Ultrapixel 2, which allows for better low-light photos; and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor with 4GB of RAM. The phone’s design isn’t all too different from HTC’s previous flagships, but it does feature sleek chamfered edges on the back and front of the device, so you can grip the phone better. The spotlight feature of the HTC 10 might be the software experience. Sense UI is still layered on top of Android Marshmallow, but HTC teamed up with Google to provide a more stock-like Android experience. Also, the 10 offers hi-res audio playback. It may not have front-facing speakers, but the HTC 10 still has BoomSound. The 10’s camera is solid, but it was inconsistent when focusing some times, and the battery life also was average — but either way, you won’t be disappointed if you end up going with HTC’s latest and greatest. Read our full review here.
Apple iPhone SE
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If you thought the iPhone 6S was small, wait until you get a load of Apple’s newest member of the iPhone family — the iPhone SE. This 4-inch device is meant to appease folks who want to be able to use their phone with one hand — those 5.7-inch behemoths are far too large for some. But don’t be fooled by its size — Apple packed the same A9 processor and 2GB of RAM as the iPhone 6S inside the familiar and retro design of the iPhone 5S. The SE also packs the same 12-megapixel camera as the iPhone 6S, so you’ll still be able to take stunning photos. The only downsides to the SE are an older TouchID sensor, a poor 1.5-megapixel front-facing camera, and the lack of 3D Touch. Regardless, if you’re looking for a small phone, the iPhone SE is the best on the market right now. Read our full review here.
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The LG G5 is more than a successor to the G4 — it’s a gamble with interesting modules that you can attach to the phone. LG offers a camera module that adds an external battery and dedicated camera and video buttons, as well as the Hi-Fi Plus module that greatly improves the audio on the device. Both modules are sold separately, but the audio one was just taken off of LG’s website — which doesn’t bode well for the future of its modules. LG hopes third-party manufacturers will build more modules for the G5 soon. The G5 itself, however, is stellar — and it’s highlight is likely the excellent 16-megapixel camera that has an aperture of f/1.8, as well as optical image stabilization. To make things even better, the G5 has a second camera that will give you a 135-degree wide-angle view to get more in the frame. The G5’s 5.3-inch Quad HD screen is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 processor, runs Android Marshmallow, and also has 4GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage. You can also expand the storage via a MicroSD card and replace the battery when you want. Read our full review here.
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Samsung Galaxy S7
The Galaxy S7 is everything the Galaxy S6 should have been. It refines on every aspect of last year’s phone, adding waterproofing and an improved camera. The 5.1-inch Quad HD AMOLED screen is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 in the U.S. — the international version gets Samsung’s Exynos chip. It comes with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, and Samsung also brought back the MicroSD card slot again in response to criticism. The S7 retains the S6’s gorgeous design, and even delivers on better battery life. It also feels great in the hand, a
nd the glass and metal body is a real beauty — as long as you don’t drop it. We recommend getting a case, because the glass front and back will be expensive to replace. It runs Android Marshmallow, and also features wireless charging with a large 3,000mAh battery to boot. The only downside is that Samsung doesn’t offer an unlocked variant of the S7 in the U.S. — so you’re stuck getting it from the carriers with all their bloatware. Read our full review here.
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Let’s start off with the unfortunate fact that you can’t buy the Huawei P9 in the U.S. just yet, but it’s still a strong contender as it’s available in a number of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries. Like most of the flagship devices listed above, the P9 is a winner in design and performance. The 5.2-inch screen offers a 1080p resolution, which certainly helps the already large 3,000mAh battery last longer. Huawei may have opted for its own Kiri 955 processor, but it performs well without any hiccups. The P9 also has a fingerprint sensor on the back of the device, where you’ll also find an assortment of camera-related instruments. That’s due to Huawei’s partnership with Leica, which resulted in a brilliant dual-camera setup. The biggest downside to the P9 is likely EmotionUI, which is running on top of Android Marshmallow. It’s not stock Android, and it comes with a few pre-installed apps — but regardless, if you manage to get your hands on the P9, you surely be more than satisfied. Read our full review here.