Best Smartphones of 2016 (February)

With so many great smartphones available and many more to come, it’s not easy to pick the best one. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of top 5 best smartphones for February 2016. Our list doesn’t discriminate between various mobile operating systems, and provides a good overview of what’s currently available.

You should keep in mind that all smartphones on this list will be excellent daily drivers. The final decision will mainly depend on your individual preference and minor advantages of one model over another. That being said, let’s start with the purest Android experience currently available.

Nexus 6P

The Nexus line of Android smartphones and tablets has always tried to showcase Android operating system at its best. Owners of Nexus devices are the first in line to receive new updates, and they never have to deal with slowdowns caused by the presence of bloatware installed by individual manufacturers and carriers.

Manufactured by Huawei and released in September 2015, the Nexus 6P combines a powerful processor with advanced features and gorgeous exterior. Its 5.7-inch AMOLED display with WQHD resolution has a pixel density of 518 ppi, which makes for an excellent multimedia experience.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor and 3 GB of RAM are a multitasker’s dream come true. This is especially true given the large 3,450 mAh battery that powers the smartphone. Going two full days on a single charge isn’t a problem at all. When you, finally, run out of juice, the included USB Type-C connector and its high-current capability will bring the battery back to its full capacity in just 90 minutes.

The only real negative is the somewhat ugly camera bulge on the back, and the fact that it doesn’t feature an image stabilization.

Best for: Android enthusiasts and power users who rely heavily on multitasking.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ front shoot

The fantastic Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ is one of many reasons why Apple is expecting their first decline in sales after more than a decade of steady profits. This curved smartphone targets the high- end smartphone market by improving on the already successful formula of 5.1-inch Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge.

This time, there’s a larger 5.7-inch screen with a sleek curve on each side for quick access to various shortcuts and often used contacts. Speaking of quick access, Samsung’s TouchWiz UI has improved tremendously from what we’ve seen just a few years ago. Instead of slowing you down, it comes with many truly useful features, like the split-screen view, that leverage the full power of the 1440p AMOLED display.

All of this is powered by Exynos 7420 processor with 4GB of RAM. The built-in F1.9 rear-facing camera makes for some remarkably sharp and vivid pictures, while the 5MP front-facing camera doesn’t lag behind in terms of image quality.

Given that the Edge+ is a premium device aimed at people who can get a new smartphone every year or two, it’s not a big surprise that the 3000 mAh battery cannot be removed. Luckily, there’s a quick charging support and wireless charging station to provide with a convenient charging method.

Best for: People who can afford to pay for a truly premium smartphone. Others may consider Galaxy Note 5 instead.

iPhone 6S Plus

iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus

The iPhone 6S Plus is Apple’s first foray into the phablet territory. Despite their initial stance on large smartphones, the company has given to consumer pressure and produced a smartphone that can compete with the likes of Samsung and HTC.

Apple went with 5.5-inch large IPS display with HD resolution. Yes, it’s not as large as many other phablets on the market, and the HD resolution can’t, at least on paper, rival super high-res AMOLED displays from Samsung, but it still looks gorgeous. What’s more, it now comes with 3D Touch technology, allowing for pressure-sensitive input.

If there is one thing that iPhones are deservingly known for, it’s the amazing quality of their cameras. Indeed, the iPhone 6S Plus features the best smartphone camera that you can currently get. It has a built-in optical image stabilization, dual-LED flash, phase detection autofocus, and can shoot full HD video at 120 frames per second. The front-facing camera has also been substantially improved, and you can count on it even in horrible lighting conditions.

Just don’t be surprised if the phone doesn’t last you a whole day. The battery has only 2750 mAh capacity and support for quick charging is expected to arrive with the iPhone 7.

Best for: Apple fans who agree that the phablet form factor greatly increases the utility of modern smartphones. Those who don’t can still choose the iPhone 6S to get the same experience in a smaller device.

Motorola Moto G (3rd gen)

Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) Motorola Moto G (3rd gen) - front and rear

The third generation of Moto G is an undisputed king of budget smartphones. It expands upon the already very popular 2014 model by adding back 4G LTE connectivity.

This 5-inch smartphone looks unassuming, but hides a lot of features that make it comparable even with much more expensive models. For starters, its HD-ready IPS display is covered with Gorilla Glass 3 for extra protection, and the whole body is IPX7 water resistant to up to 1 meter. This makes it a fantastic backup phone for outdoor adventures, or a capable introductory smartphone for younger kids.

The latest version of Moto G will also please all avid mobile photographers. The rear camera has been upgraded to 13 MP and can shoot full HD video at 30 frames per second. As far as the processing power goes, the modest Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 does an okay job when it comes to regular use, but it can’t keep with more demanding games and heavy multitasking scenarios. Fortunately, the lack of performance is partially redeemed by the pure version of Android Lollipop that can be found inside. Everything is kept in stock condition, which means that you get to enjoy a lot of free space and won’t have to spend any time uninstalling the stuff you don’t need.

Best for: Those who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a new smartphone, but would still enjoy the quality assurance that comes with a big brand like Motorola.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

The large consumer demand for large phablets means that people who prefer smaller-sized smartphones are often out of luck. After all, 5-inch displays are now often considered to be “compact” and 5.5-inch phablets are being pushed aside by 5.7 or 6-inch monsters with thin bezels.

However, there’s still some hope left. The Sony Xperia Z5 Compact packs all the power of its larger siblings into a small, 4.6-inch form factor, thus easily claiming the spot of the best small smartphone of 2016.

The phone features Snapdragon 810 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and Adreno 430 GPU. This combination is commonly found in much larger, flagship phones, and it packs enough power to smoothly run all the latest games and applications. There’s also plenty of space to store all documents and music files, and the built-in micro SD slot offers a sufficient room for potential expansion.

If you would expect to find a regular 13 MP camera in this phone, you would be mistaken. Sony went all out and the Xperia Z5 features an amazing 1/2.3" sensor with 23 MP resolution and ability to record 4K video footage at 30 frames per second.

Best for: Customers who don’t need to own the largest smartphone available, and would, instead, prefer something more pocketable.

Honorable mentions

Of course, there are many more interesting smartphones to choose from. Unfortunately, they often come with at least one serious issue that could make them seem like a bad investment. We are not suggesting that they are, but you have to know well ahead what you are getting yourself into.

BlackBerry Priv

The BlackBerry Priv is BlackBerry’s first Android phone and the company is hoping that it could help resurrect its increasingly worse market position. The phone features a full keyboard for comfortable typing, enterprise-grade security features for businesses, and elegant metal body. Unfortunately, the keyboard feels a bit too narrow for people with larger hands, and it just doesn’t add too much utility over existing touchscreen solutions.

HTC One M9+

The M9+ comes with higher resolution screen than the previous model, and features an octa-core MediaTek Helio X10 processor that should, in theory, provide sufficient performance even for the most demanding tasks. However, there are two big issues that prevented us from featuring this phone in the top 5: a poor battery performance and mediocre camera. HTC should know better than to cheap out on such critical components.

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

Microsoft’s range of Windows-powered smartphones provides a great alternative to Android devices. The Microsoft Lumia 950 XL is probably the best mobile Windows 10 experience out there, despite its plastic body and relatively plain design. The phone compensates for these negatives with a great camera, superb performance, and lovely display. Sadly, Windows still lacks the large selection of applications that we are used to from Android and Apple, and people who are coming from these platforms could certainly be disappointed.

Conclusion

As you can see, the selection of great devices is very large. Many new ones are expected to be released in following months (most notably the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 7), but it’s never a good idea to get stuck waiting for the next best thing. If there’s a smartphone that you like and you can afford it – go for it. It will last you a long time and a few extra megahertz of CPU power don’t make nearly as much difference as they used to.