We are around halfway through the year and a lot of the biggest smartphone manufacturers have put out their 2016 effort—and many have been very impressive. So far it’s been a fascinating year to watch the trends come and go—as well as to see some underdogs take their game to the next level.
So what are the big ones we are still waiting for this year? We’ll be getting the next Galaxy Note in August, as well as the next pair of iPhones in the fall. Lastly, we also could see Nexus followups at the very end of the year.
Unless you’re waiting for one of those, these 10 are the smartphones you should be considering if you are in the market for an upgrade.
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10. Galaxy Note 5 / S6 edge+: The rumors about a new Galaxy Note are abounding on the internet, even signaling that it might be called the Galaxy Note 7. However, last year's Note 5 is still a great phone.
It was Samsung's first Note phone that used the S6's new all-glass design—which is a big jump up from the plastic it used in the past. If you want a phone that you can be productive on with a stylus, the Note 5 (or the confusingly-named S6 edge+) is the go-to phone. It barely makes the list, however, because of the fact that we'll be seeing the next Note within the next month or so.—Luke Larsen
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9. iPhone 6 / 6 Plus: The iPhone 6 is from way back in 2014, making it almost a year and a half old at this point. What's more, the iPhone SE is the better phone it almost every way—and comes in at $50 cheaper. However, you can buy the 6 for $549 right now (or $649 for the 6 Plus), and if you want the bigger iPhone for a discounted price, the iPhone 6 still manages to be a good purchase. This one will fall off the list once the new iPhone comes out later this year (and the 6s gets a discount), but for now it's a worthy buy.—LL
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8. Nexus 5X: At just $349, you'd think the Nexus 5X would be as cheap as a good Android phone gets, but in this day and age, even competition for that price level is stiff. The Nexus 5X is a modest phone in pretty much every way, which makes it ideal for a lot of people. Especially if you are someone looking for a smaller device (this one's got a 5.2-inch display) that is also clean and fully functional, the Nexus 5X really is a good way to go.—LL
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7. LG G5: For years, LG lagged behind its counterpart Samsung. But with last year's G4, the company really found away to pare down the design to a point that really separated it from the competition. With the new G5, LG took a big gamble by veering off course with its new accessory ecosystem. With the ability to swap out different modules like an extended battery or camera accessory, the G5 can be customized to the way you use your phone. This could be pretty cool down the line if LG really goes all-in on it and gets the pricing down, but for now it'll probably confuse more users than anything else.
The competition is stiff in Android with options like the Galaxy S7 and the Nexus 6P, but the G5 still holds up as a more refined version of what was already one of the best smartphone lines on the market.—Stephen Clark
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6. iPhone SE: Despite what some people think, there is a market for smaller phones out there—and it's one Apple has been trying to re-tap into for years. The iPhone SE, though, is their first successful attempt since going big with their flagship devices. The 4-inch smartphone is the same size and design as the iPhone 5, which has always been a fan favorite, but it also has a lot of the specs of an iPhone 6s. That makes it both a cheap way to get an iPhone that isn't extremely outdated, but also a way to just get a great smartphone in general.—LL
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5. Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge: It's always nice to see a smartphone manufacturer really pay attention to the desires of its customers. After Samsung took away some key features in last year's Galaxy S6, fans flocked to other Android options in droves.
Fortunately, Samsung has reintroduced waterproofing and expandable storage, which should please many Android users. Most importantly, Samsung pulled in these features without having to compromise the great design and build quality that it introduced last year. Oh yeah—and then there's that incredible OLED display, which you have to see in person to truly appreciate. This one just came out on today, so if you can't find it now, you should be able to soon.—LL
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4. HTC 10: The newest hotness from HTC isn't exactly the most standout device. It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect from the company in 2016, which means it might not be the savior of this smartphone manufacturer that it needs to be. But when you just look at the phone itself, it's hard to find much to complain about.
The device feels great in the hand and it's a design that has been iterated upon over the years quite well. It's a bit clunkier than what you'll get with a phone from Apple or Samsung, but there's also no questioning this thing's durability and some people are going to love the idea of going caseless with the HTC 10. What's more, the HTC 10 feels a step further than the Galaxy S7 or LG G5 on the software end of things, not overly relying on the company's proprietary Android skin much at all. Instead, you get a light, responsive, and clean interface that makes the new HTC 10 one of the very best options for Android smartphones out there right now.—Eric Walters
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3. iPhone 6s / 6s Plus: Despite how incredibly good Android options have gotten over the past couple of years, people who prefer iPhones are a large mass of smartphone buyers—and probably always will be. Fortunately for them, the iPhone 6s Plus (in particular), is the best iPhone ever made. It pushes forward some interesting technology with 3D Touch—and remain the most simple operating system to learn.
Rumors about the next iPhone are that it will again be a software-only update, meaning the 6s Plus will probably remain a really good buy, especially once the price goes down later this year. Of the two, the 6s Plus is the better phone, though the massive size of the device surely isn't for everyone.—LL
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2. Nexus 6P: Here at Paste, when we put the iPhone up against stock Android, we tend to choose stock Android. Despite the fact that we've got fresh new phones from LG, Samsung, and HTC, last year's Nexus 6P tops all of them. The stock Android phone from Huawei and Google from last year was our phone of the year and it's still a phone that is worth every dollar of its $499 pricetag.
The Nexus 6P edges out over the HTC 10 thanks to our love of stock Android software. The Galaxy S7 might have a nicer camera and the HTC 10 might be a little more durable, but the Nexus 6P is still the Android device that we want to use more on a day-to-day basis. What's more, the Nexus 6P is cheaper off contract than those other flagship options as well._—LL_
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1. OnePlus 3: If the OnePlus 3 costed as much as the Nexus 6P and HTC 10, it still would have been the best Android phone you could buy. It's got an incredible camera, a great display, fast performance, and the best feel in the hand out there. When you throw in the $400 pricetag, it makes me have very few reasons to recommend a different Android smartphone. The Nexus 6P and HTC 10 are great phones as well, but the OnePlus 3 is simply the best when it comes to Android.
So what's the catch? Well—no catch really, though there are a few reasons to pick something else on this list. First off, the OnePlus 3 isn't available on Verizon. Secondly, if you absolutely must have the phone with the best camera, you'll want to grab the iPhone 6s Plus or the Galaxy S7. The OnePlus 3 has a fantastic camera actually, but those two phones nudge it out. However, for the most well-rounded smartphone experience at a price that will make your jaw drop, the OnePlus 3 is the best that money can buy._—LL_