Now that we’ve moved into the last quarter of the year, it’s time to roll out our list of the best Android phones of 2016. Obviously, if any new devices are released just in time for the Christmas shopping season, we’ll have to analyze those and possibly add them to the list later. But for now, we have a great Top 10 list of the fastest, highest performing Android smartphones, with top of the line specs all around.
The prices of our top 10 Android phones range from $399 to over $800, but if you’re tech-obsessed, these gadgets are definitely worth it. And if you get the phone from your mobile provider on a contract basis, you can probably save a couple hundred bucks on any of these high-end phones.
What makes the best Android phones of 2016, the best?
Most of the smartphones on this top 10 list are so-called flagship phones – in other words, a brand’s own top of the line model. We’ve got the most relevant specifications for each individual device in our reviews below, but in general you’re going to be getting the highest quality possible in terms of processing power, screen quality, camera features, etc. A typical “best Android phone” this year might include a powerful Snapdragon 820 quad-core processor, at least 32GB storage and 3GB of RAM, a generous high-res screen with Gorilla Glass, main camera of at least 12 Mpx, and powered by Android 6.0 with the ability to upgrade to Android 7.0 Nougat when it becomes available.
So, without further ado, here’s our list of the top 10 best Android phones of 2016.
Top 10 Android smartphones 2016
- Samsung Galaxy S7 edge: $780
The famous Samsung Galaxy S7 edge takes the top spot this year, just like its predecessors have in previous years. It’s pricey (still a fraction of the cost of Samsung’s upcoming W2017), but has basically everything you could want. Aside from the standard array of top-quality specs, the Galaxy S7 edge has micro-SD support and is waterproof.
- Samsung Galaxy S7: $670
If you want all the best technology but don’t care for the wrap-around screen on the Edge, the standard Samsung Galaxy S7 is your next best Android smartphone this year. Great battery life, fast charging, improved waterproofing, and Samsung’s low power consumption “always on display”.
- LG G5: $650
This is not your typical smartphone, guys. LG is thinking outside the box with its modular G5 smartphone. There is plenty of potential for growth with this design concept. Plus, unlike most flagship phones, the LG G5 has a removable battery.
- Google Nexus 6P: $499 (32GB), $549 (64GB)
Google’s own Nexus line of devices has come a long way, and the Nexus 6P (manufactured by Huawei) is one of the best Android phones you can find on the market today. It’s hard to say how much longer the Nexus line will be around, now that Google is rolling out its new Pixel line, but for now this device provides an excellent pure Android experience. This smartphone is ideal for watching videos thanks to its large screen and front-facing speakers.
- OnePlus 3: $399
This Chinese smartphone is the cheapest on our list of the best Android smartphones of 2016, but that doesn’t make it any less competitive here. It’s a steal considering the level of technology and design you’re getting, but you do have to forego waterproofing and expandable storage.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 5: $720 (32GB) $816 (64GB)
The third and final device from the Samsung Galaxy line of phones, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is the best option for Android users looking for stylus support. Note that there were some major problems with the Note 7 – and by major problems, we mean batteries catching fire spontaneously. Thankfully, they’ve been discontinued, and the Note 5 is still a safe bet.
- HTC 10: $699
The HTC 10 is an all-around great smartphone with a fairly unadulterated Android experience. Compared to its predecessor, it features improved screen and audio quality plus a better camera.
- Huawei P9: $680
The Chinese brand Huawei keeps proving itself over and over, and their P9 smartphone is a strong contender on our top 10 list of the best Android phones this year. Pros: expandable storage via micro-SD card. Cons: slightly less powerful camera and reduced screen quality.
- Sony Xperia XZ: $699
Sony’s Xperia XZ is eye-catching mainly because it eschews the conventional curved corners for a more angular style. If the new look doesn’t both you, this is a very decent phone, although possibly not the best value considering it’s more expensive than even the Samsung Galaxy S7.
- Google Pixel XL: $729
Google’s line of Pixel phones is a relatively new addition and will get you VIP access to some of the latest developments coming out of Android and Google system apps like Play Store. Unfortunately, for the price, it doesn’t come with waterproofing or micro-SD card support.
The best Android phones of 2016: in conclusion
In terms of a well-designed device and great hardware, every smartphone on this list is a good option. However, considering its optimum combination of the best features at a mid-range price, if you are really stuck, we’d recommend going with the Samsung Galaxy S7, #2 on our top 10 list.