What is the best Android phone?
|Best phone||RRP||Key specifications|
|Samsung Galaxy S7 edge||£639||Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Exynos 8890, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, 5.5in Quad-HD, 3600mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy S7||£569||Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Exynos 8890, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, 5.1in Quad-HD, 3000mAh|
|LG G5||£529||Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Snapdragon 820, 4GB RAM, 32GB storage, 5.3in Quad-HD, 2800mAh|
What’s the best Android phone 2016? The simple answer is the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge, but there are 19 other amazing phones on our list of the top Android phones of 2016, which covers everything from the HTC 10 and Nexus 6P to the LG G5, Sony Xperia Z5, Xiaomi Mi 5 and OnePlus 3. Android phone buying advice and best Android phone reviews.
Update 13 October: We have removed the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 from our smartphone chart due to the ongoing battery issues which, in some cases, are catching on fire. It has been discontinued so if you have one, stop using it and return it for a refund.
You'll notice our chart is also missing the new Pixel from Google, which is available to pre-order now. You can read our hands-on review here, but until we finalise our scores it won't be added to this round-up. Also see: Best kids' phones 2016.
Latest entries: Sony Xperia XZ and Google Pixel XL.
Android has the largest market share in the smartphone world, but whereas Apple’s share is divided between just a few iPhones with obvious differences between them there are hundreds of Android phones available to buy. And the choice gets even more confusing when you consider that each Android phone manufacturer has multiple Android phone product lines, each with its own features and benefits. Also see: Best smartphones 2016 UK
In our best Android phones chart we focus primarily on flagship devices, with the exception of where a phone lower down the range stands out for its excellent value (see the OnePlus X and Moto G4), feature set or performance. The phones in this group are those most likely to be bought on a contract, however, and their initial cost will be largely irrelevant. If you are buying them SIM-free you should check out our best SIM-only deals, but if budget is a primary consideration for you, also see our round-up of the best budget phones.
What makes a best Android phone?
When we talk about flagship smartphones, we really just mean the top model in a company’s phone line-up. You’d usually expect to pay between £500- and £600 for it SIM-free, or around £40- to £50 a month on a contract. But cheaper phones can have flagship specs - and especially when you consider some of the surprisingly affordable Chinese phones we review.
In 2016 a flagship Android phone specification will look something like this:
• Android 6.0 Marshmallow (Android Nougat will be available on new Android phones soon)
• Slim, lightweight metal frame
• 5-5.5in Quad-HD IPS display with Gorilla Glass 4
• Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor or comparable octa-core chip
• 4GB+ of RAM
• 32GB of storage, plus microSD support
• Fingerprint scanner
• 12Mp-plus primary camera with dual-tone flash, optical image stabilisation, laser autofocus and large apertures, plus support for 4K video recording
• 5Mp selfie camera
• 4G LTE Cat.9
• Dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi
• Bluetooth 4.2
• NFC, GPS, GLONASS, OTG
• Circa-3000mAh battery with fast charging
We’ve placed the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge at the top of our list because it is the fastest Android phone in our benchmarks, with the longest battery life, the best camera quality, and it has a load of extra features such as the dual-curved-edge screen, heart-rate scanner and new always-on display (also seen in the standard Galaxy S7 and LG G5). We love its premium metal-and-glass, waterproof build, and although there isn’t a huge amount new in this year’s model Samsung really didn’t need to make any huge improvements to retain its crown for best Android phone.
But that’s not to say the other phones in our list are not worth a second look, and especially now that we get closer to the point where it’s impossible for phone makers to differentiate their devices on traditional grounds such as performance (all are excellent). The LG G5, for example, has a cool new modular design that lets you bolt-on accessories to expand its functionality, and it’s one of few flagship phones to feature a removable battery. The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 has a large screen with stylus support for enhanced productivity, while the HTC 10 supports Hi-Res audio, and the Sony Xperia Z5 ties into PS4 Remote Play. For the ultimate in screen quality, the Premium variant of the Xperia Z5 has a crazy-high-resolution 4K screen.
The Xiaomi Mi 5 is significantly cheaper than the competition here, but offers many of the same features. Had it not been for its lack of Google Play support out of the box and MIUI 7 operating system (a great OS, but some aspects are not intended for a European audience) we would have placed it much higher up the chart. For a pure Android experience there can be no better than Google’s own Nexus 6P, and as a Nexus device it will always be first to receive new operating system updates.
(Also see: What's the fastest smartphone 2016 for comparison with more Android phones.)
Of course, with all the best Android phones on a similar level of awesomeness, your choice may come down purely to how it looks - and that’s something we can’t help you with, other than to point out the build quality information not visible from the PR shots and offer our own opinion on how they look. Click on any phone in our list of the best Android phones to read our full reviews.
Read on for our expert opinion of what our the 20 best Android phones money can buy. Also see: Best new phones coming in 2016.
- Reviewed on: 17 October 16
- RRP: £639 inc VAT
The Galaxy S7 edge is no longer the semi-gimmick it was before. Although some of the main features are things from the Galaxy S5 – Micro-SD and waterproofing – Samsung has given fans what they want. It's now a refined, sophisticated and highly desirable piece of technology. The battery isn't removable but the phone lasts longer than before and has seriously powerful specs under the hood. It has almost everything you could want from a phone even though the IR blaster is gone. We're also very impressed with the new camera and unless the screen is too big for you (despite some software features to help out) we think it's worth getting the S7 edge for the extra £70 with its gorgeous looks and extra functionality. Right now, this is the best smartphone money can buy.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S7 edge review.
- Reviewed on: 17 October 16
- RRP: £569 inc VAT
The Samsung Galaxy S6 was the best phone of 2015 and, although it’s still early days, the Galaxy S7 is a serious contender for best phone of 2016. Samsung has taken into account what its fans want, addressing the three main areas of concern: removable storage, waterproofing and battery life. It’s also upgraded the core hardware and photography gear, added an always-on display and some useful software. Right now the Galaxy S7 is simply unbeatable.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S7 review.
3. LG G5
- Reviewed on: 5 May 16
- RRP: £529 inc VAT
The LG G5 is one of the most radical phones to come along in a while and we’re glad the firm has shaken things up with the modular design. The G5 is innovative and interesting with unique features but it’s a shame the design and build feels unfinished in areas. It’s a top-notch device which can hold its own with the best phones in performance and cameras, but it’s LG’s modular design which is the real selling point here. There is bags of potential but the future of this is unclear so it’s hard to be definite right now. The G5 is one of the best phones around but for completely different reasons to the Galaxy S7.
Read our LG G5 review.
- Reviewed on: 28 April 16
- RRP: From £449 inc VAT
Originally, Nexus phones stood out for being excellent value at a price that was low, but not the lowest. They weren't an alternative to flagship phones, but they had the advantage of running stock Android and getting the next version more quickly. The 6P, though, is not only a flagship, but is arguably the best Android phone to buy at the moment. It won't suit everyone due to its size, nor those looking for a phone with dual-SIM slots or a removable battery. There's no support for wireless charging either. But the excellent screen, front-firing speakers, quick charging, great cameras, speedy performance and Android Marshmallow add up to make this a phone that's a pleasure to use. And yes, it's also cheaper than its rivals, so unless you think it's worth shelling out extra on the Note 5, Galaxy S6 Edge+ or iPhone 6S Plus, the Nexus 6P is the one to buy.
Read our Google Nexus 6P review.
5. OnePlus 3
- Reviewed on: 27 September 16
- RRP: £329 inc VAT
The OnePlus 3 is another amazing smartphone from the Chinese company as easily its best effort yet. It's a little bit more expensive than its predecessor but it's still a ridiculous price considering the design, build and hardware on offer which matches rivals but also beats them in some areas. There's very little to dislike here unless you really need things like expandable storage and waterproofing. You don't even need an invite any longer, either.
Read our OnePlus 3 review.
6. HTC 10
- Reviewed on: 9 May 16
- RRP: £569 inc. VAT
There's a lot to like with the new HTC 10 including a number of hardware upgrades across screen, camera and audio, plus a Nexus-like stock Android experience. However, we're not totally sold on the design and it's tough at the top these days. While the HTC 10 is a solidly good phone and a respectible upgrade for M9 owners, it doesn't blow the competition out of the water. The features which appeal the most are more niche than mass market.
Read our HTC 10 review.
7. Huawei P9
- Reviewed on: 27 April 16
- RRP: £449
When comparing the P9 to other flagships, it’s important to remember the £449 price which makes it considerably cheaper than many of its rivals (but not the identically priced Nexus 6P that's also made by Huawei). Overall, we're impressed with the phone: it's well built, feels good and looks good. The cameras aren't the absolute best out there, it doesn't top the charts in game tests and the screen isn't Quad HD, but these minor quibbles are outweighed not only by the price but also because, unlike the Nexus, the P9 lets you stick in a microSD card to expand the storage. If you can afford it, the Galaxy S7 is a better phone overall, but this is a great choice if you can't.
Read our Huawei P9 review.
- Reviewed on: 15 October 15
- RRP: £484.99
So, what do we think of the Galaxy Note 5? We’re very fond of just about every aspect of the Galaxy Note 5, from its curved and sleek design to its vibrant display and high-resolution camera. It can handle almost anything you can throw at it thanks to its CPU, GPU and 4GB of RAM and we experienced no lag during our testing. The only bad point is that the Note 5 would sometimes falsely detect the S Pen detaching – and to point out such a minor fault says a lot about the quality of the handset. With this being said, we’re both surprised and sad that the Galaxy Note 5 won’t be heading to UK shores any time soon.
Read our Samsung Galaxy Note 5 review.
9. Honor 8
- Reviewed on: 5 September 16
- RRP: £369.99 inc VAT
The Honor 8 is a fantastic smartphone, but the price has gone up from the Honor 7. In return for the additional expense you get a fantastic dual-camera, a sleek and stylish design, a faster fingerprint sensor and a beautiful display, which combined make the Honor 8 a worthy competitor to the OnePlus 3.
Read our Honor 8 review.
10. Sony Xperia XZ
- Reviewed on: 12 October 16
- RRP: £539 inc VAT
The Xperia XZ is an attractive phone in design if you can get on with the angular style and while it's cheaper than rivals such as the iPhone 7 and Google Pixel, you can get better value with some older phones like the Samsung Galaxy S7. While the hardware is decent, we can't help but mention the very similar Xperia Z5 will save you a lot of money.
Read our Sony Xperia XZ review.
11. Google Pixel XL
- Reviewed on: 24 October 16
- RRP: £719 (32GB) £819 (128GB)
While the Pixel XL is an attractive phone (if you can get used to the glass section) with decent combination of hardware and software, we can't help but feel a bit disappointed. It's very similar to the much cheaper Nexus 6P and OnePlus 3. You can get plenty of other Android phones for less which have extra features like waterproofing and expandable storage. Sorry Google, but things have gone a bit wrong here.
Read our Google Pixel XL review.
12. Sony Xperia Z5
- Reviewed on: 29 April 16
- RRP: £549 inc VAT
There's no doubt that the Xperia Z5 is a solid flagship smartphone from Sony and an improvement on the Z3+. We certainly like the new frosted glass rear cover and the addition of a fingerprint scanner in that slim power button. The camera isn't great compared to the best phone cameras out there though, and you can get a better phone for similar money. The price has dropped, and it's now a decent-value waterproof flagship with a Micro-SD card slot. However, you can't use it underwater, and there are newer rivals which are better value, take better photos and have better performance.
Read our Sony Xperia Z5 review.
- Reviewed on: 13 July 16
- RRP: £169
Although the new Moto G4 is more expensive than the third-generation, Motorola is offering a Full HD screen, better processor, more storage and memory. Not everyone will enjoy the jump to 5.5in or the lack of full waterproofing but this is still a brilliant phone for under £200. Just bear in mind that the 3rd-gen Moto G is now a great buy at £149 and the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 offers similar specs for just £125 (albeit SIM-locked).
Read our Motorola Moto G4 (2016) review.
14. Xiaomi Mi 5
- Reviewed on: 31 May 16
- RRP: £263.75 (plus import duty)
A fantastic Android flagship that comes in at an outrageously low price, the Xiaomi Mi 5 has the braun and the beauty to match the greats. Perhaps not a wise choice for first time Android users, but those comfortable in customising the setup will love the excellent-value, gorgeously designed Xiaomi Mi 5.
Read our Xiaomi Mi 5 review.
- Reviewed on: 22 October 15
- RRP: £429 inc VAT
The Xperia Z5 Compact is the best small phone around, but then there's not much competition in this area anymore and there are a number of phones offering decent specs for a lot less. Those looking for Z5 design and specs in a smaller frame will be pleased but it's a shame about the chunky design with the sharp edges. The fingerprint scanner is a great addition and the Snapdragon 810 with almost stock Android provides slick performance. However, the camera isn't as good as Sony makes it out to be.
Read our Sony Xperia Z5 Compact review.
16. Elephone P9000
- Reviewed on: 11 March 16
- RRP: 193.98 (plus import duty from China)
We’re very impressed with the Elephone P9000, which is a great all-round Android phone at an unbelievable sub-£200 price. It’s fast, battery life is good, it’s feature-packed and it even runs Marshmallow. Wireless- and quick-charging-, NFC-, USB-C-, dual-SIM- and microSD support are the icing on the cake. Recommended.
Read our Elephone P9000 review.
17. Google Nexus 5X
- Reviewed on: 12 April 16
- RRP: £299 inc VAT
Those looking to upgrade from a Nexus 5 will be happy and sad in almost equal measure. The 5X is a fantastic phone overall, with excellent cameras, a good turn of speed and an excellent screen. But it's noticeably bigger than its predecessor despite the small increase in screen size, it has limited storage compared to the Nexus 6P and it lacks a couple of camera features due to the slower processor. The absence of wireless charging is another blow for some, but additions such as the fingerprint scanner will make it a great upgrade for others.
Read our Google Nexus 5X review.
- Reviewed on: 6 October 16
- RRP: £379
The Sony Xperia X Compact is an odd little smartphone. On the one hand its build quality, lack of waterproofing and lack of a standout feature make it harder to recommend compared to the older Xperia Z5 Compact. However, if you want a sub-5in Android smartphone with excellent battery life it’s the best current option out there. For all its flaws, we also kept coming back to the phone largely due to its sheer portability. Just don’t buy the blue one.
Read our Sony Xperia X Compact review.
- Reviewed on: 23 October 15
- RRP: £359 inc VAT
If you're looking for a big screen phone, the Moto X Style is a great choice. It's got great specs across the board and it cheaper than rivals like the Nexus 6P and Galaxy S6 Edge+. We love the screen, stock Android and cameras. However, it really comes stands out when using the Moto Maker to customise it which costs more. With a screen only slightly smaller and a fingerprint scanner the OnePlus 2 is the spanner in the works here at £289 for the 64GB model.
Read our Motorola Moto X Style review.
- Reviewed on: 15 December 15
- RRP: £279
Overall, the Moto X Play is a decent mid-range phone. But, it's not the great upgrade which Moto X owners were looking for. The camera is good, as is the screen, but performance could be better - as could battery life. Had Motorola offered the dual-SIM version in the UK and made the phone waterproof, it would have had enough to be a decent alternative to the OnePlus 2. For many, this more powerful rival will be more appealing. It's also cheaper and has optical stabilisation and the option to shoot 4K video. Yet, if you like the idea of creating your own custom phone and don't want the hassle of getting an invite to buy a OnePlus 2, it's really not a bad deal at all.
Read our Motorola Moto X Play review.