Top 5 Android Phone for 2016
1. SAMSUNG GALAXY S7/S7 EDGE
I don’t think there is any surprise here with my top pick of 2016 so far. Samsung’s new Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge are clearly the best smartphones available today with industry leading specifications, refined design, and capabilities that had me almost awarding it a perfect 10 in my review. The only con I could come up with for the S7 was that it is a fingerprint magnet and for the S7 Edge that the edge screen sometimes facilitated inadvertant screen presses. Samsung is fixing that screen sensitivity with a software update soon.
The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge have extremely fast cameras that take incredible photos and video, responsive fingerprint scanners and advanced Samsung Pay support, water resistance without the fuss of ports, elegant refined design with the use of metal and glass, and also launched with sweet offers from US carriers and Samsung.
While wireless charging is just a convenience, Samsung has everything you could want in a phone in the S7 and S7 Edge to make using one a sheer joy.
2. HTC 10
The HTC 10 review embargo just lifted yesterday and after using one for two weeks I’m pleased to say that HTC is back with a real winner. HTC set the bar for the use of metal and enhanced design elements several years ago and the HTC 10 is the culmination of all that is great with HTC.
No other phone can match the audio experience of the HTC 10. If you use your phone for music or videos and like having a pocketable device that is built to withstand life’s daily movement, then you will understand why I picked the HTC 10 as my second choice.
HTC has come a long way with the cameras, introducing the first front-facing camera with OIS. The rear 12 megapixel UltraPixel 2 camera with OIS is its best yet, but there are still a few software tweaks to be made to beat out the Samsung Galaxy S7 and LG G5.
If you are considering a GSM model in the US, then I highly recommend you purchase the $699 unlocked model from HTC.com. This comes with the 1-year Uh Oh protection plan (one free replacement if you break or soak the phone) and is free of carrier bloatware, while also having an unlocked bootloader.
I awarded the HTC 10 a a 9.5/10 in my review, but after a software update or two it may earn a couple more tenths before the release in a couple of weeks.
3. APPLE IPHONE 6S PLUS/6S
Apple continues to make excellent phones, but this time I moved the Apple iPhone 6s Plusand iPhone 6s down a couple notches. It’s still an excellent choice, but we are starting to notice that Apple is missing out on some features such as fast charging, wireless charging, easily expandable memory, universal USB Type-C connections, water resistance, and advanced camera functionality.
Apple does a solid job with battery life, primarily because of how well standby time is managed. However, Android Marshmallow has provided Android phones with smarter standby battery management so Apple isn’t the only one getting battery life on a phone to go for at least a day.
3D Touch, Touch ID, Hey Siri, the improved camera, the awesome front-facing camera flash technique (now present on Android phones), and more all make the iPhone 6s/6s Plus a great choice today.
The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus remain the most expensive smartphones available, priced from $649 to $949. With US carriers no longer hiding the real price of phones behind subsidized scams, people are starting to understand how expensive the iPhone really is and it seems there is more consideration for more reasonably priced alternatives.
4. SAMSUNG GALAXY NOTE 5
It’s been a couple of years since I owned a Galaxy Note, but after falling in love with the radical design changes in the Galaxy S6 Edge I knew I had to buy the Note 5. I returned my Galaxy S6 Edge because it didn’t meet my battery needs so I was thrilled to see the Note 5 with the curved back (much better design than a curved front), new S Pen technology, one of the best smartphone displays ever, and more.
The S Pen has always been a focus of the Note line, but in the past I only used it occasionally. With the Note 5, I used the S Pen much more often. The ability to add notes to the display when the display is off is key to this change in my usage patterns.
As you can see in my full review (9.7 rating) the Note 5 has excellent specifications, but they were trumped by the 2016 Android phones. Rocking a Samsung Exynos octa-core processor, 4GB of the fastest RAM, 5.7 inch 2560×1440 pixels display, 16 megapixel camera, 3000 mAh battery, and more make it a device to seriously consider.
Samsung Pay is also better than Android Pay and Apple Pay thanks to its use of magnetic secure transmission (MST) technology. The Galaxy Note 5 is priced at $700 for the 32GB model and $780 for the 64GB model.
5. LG V10
The LG G4 was the Rodney Dangerfield of 2015 and despite its leading camera technology and other attributes, it never earned the respect it deserved. LG snuck one in on me in late 2015 with the release of the LG V10 and thanks to the awesome Des Smith at T-Mobile I had the chance to spend a few months with the LG V10.
The LG V10 took all that was great about the LG G4 and then beefed it up with a unique secondary front display, second wide-angle front-facing camera, rear fingerprint scanner, rock solid stainless steel sides, and a composite textured removable back cover. Android Marshmallow is just now rolling out for the LG V10, making it as relevant today as when it was launched several months ago.
LG continues to provide an IR transmitter in its phones so you can control your TV and other media right from the phone. The camera on the LG V10 still stands out above the crowd with manual video recording capability that gives you full control over the mics and other advanced recording settings.