2016 Best of Year Smartphone Awards
From Android to Apple, here are the very best smartphones we tested in 2016.
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These days, you use your smartphone for just about everything. And if you're going to rely on it for a couple years, you want to make sure you get a good one. We put every smartphone we review through a battery of lab tests, including the most in-depth camera testing in the business.
Whether you care about image quality, battery life, performance, or style, we've got you covered. Here are the best smartphones that we've tested in the past year, from flagships to budget buys.
Best Smartphone (iOS): Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Setting aside our headphone jack hot takes, Apple's iPhone 7 Plus isn't just the best iOS smartphone we tested all year, it's also one of the best smartphones we've ever tested, period.
Its dual cameras deliver some of the best photos we've ever seen from a smartphone camera, the battery lasts longer than any iPhone we've tested to date, and Apple's A10 chipset provides a ridiculous amount of horsepower. You'll need a dongle to use traditional 3.5mm headphones, but this phone is good enough that it's worth the hassle. Read our review.
Best Smartphone (Android): Google Pixel
The Google Pixel is the best Android phone of the year, and although Google isn’t a shoo-in for 2016 MVP, it most certainly wins Rookie of the Year. The Pixel’s robust hardware (combined with Google’s tailor-made software) makes for one of the most seamless smartphone experiences to date.
Equally as impressive is the camera, which would be the best we’ve ever seen were it not the iPhone 7 Plus. It's fast, great in low light, and comes with unlimited storage with Google Photos. The Pixel is simply a breeze to use—and a joyous breeze, at that. It’s the first Android phone we think even the most dedicated iOS devotees might warm up to. Read our review.
Best Smartphone Camera: Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Every smartphone we review has a camera, but not all of them are as good as advertised. This year, the Apple iPhone 7 Plus and its dual-camera setup was by far the best smartphone camera experience of the year, both in testing and in practice.
The 7 Plus will impress photographers and casual users alike with its ability to consistently capture remarkable shots, even in low-light settings. The dual cameras can also process portrait-style shots with a blurry bokeh effect—a feature sure to elevate your Instagram game. All told, the iPhone 7 Plus's camera is sure to please everyone, and we've got the science to prove it. Read our review.
Best Smartphone for the Money: Motorola Moto G4 Play
It doesn't have the best camera, it's not packed with fun features, and it’s certainly not the fastest phone on the block. But what Motorola's Moto G4 Play lacks in bells and whistles it makes up for in value.
At about $150 (and as low as $99 on sale) the G4 Play is one of the most affordable Android smartphones around. Its battery life is superb, its camera gets the job done, and your wallet won't feel the pinch too badly. For anyone just trying to save a buck, this is the best value around. Read our review.