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Top 10 Best Android Smartphones Buyers Guide: January 2016 Edition

January 13, 2016 - Written By Tom Dawson

Last year was an interesting time of year for phones, we saw a resurgence from Samsung with their new design language from the Galaxy S6 and LG perfect beyond just high-resolution displays. OnePlus launched yet another device and Motorola were back with some larger phones compared to 2014. Now that it’s 2016 however, we’re beginning to get itchy for new hardware. We’ll have to wait a couple more months to see fresh hardware, for now we have the best of 2015 to choose from should we be on the lookout for quality hardware without the price tag.

10. Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

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When Sony unveiled the Xperia Z5 lineup, they did so with much of the same features and hardware that was used in the Xperia Z3 and Xperia Z2 line before it. However, with a new camera and a fingerprint sensor, there were upgrades to get excited about, and a new Xperia Z5 Premium to go crazy for. With a 4K 5.5-inch display, the Xperia Z5 Premium is one hell of a smartphone, and its mirror-finish certainly turns heads, too. Despite all of its plus points however, the Xperia Z5 Premium is difficult to get hold of in North America and expensive the world over. As we discovered in our review, the 4K display is only really 4K part of the time, and the chances of making the most out of it are often slim. If you’re in the market for an Xperia Z5 however, this is the one to go for.

09. Motorola Droid Turbo 2

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The Droid line of devices have been around for years now, and this latest is one of the best ever produced by Motorola. With more ‘Moto’ DNA than ever before, there are now some customization options available via Moto Maker and a ShatterShield display that promises to not ever break on you. Even so, it’s only available on Verizon, and there’s not much beyond the usual Droid features and the aforementioned shatterproof display to set this aside from, say the Moto X Pure. Regardless, for those looking for a quality phone that doesn’t break when you look at it, and quality service from Verizon this is a decent option.

08. Google Nexus 5X

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When Google and LG teamed up once again to make the Nexus 5X, a lot of users were understandably pretty happy. The original Nexus 5 was a great device that had a whole lot going for it, especially the price tag. With the Nexus 5 X, Google added a Sony sensor that takes great shots, as well as a new fingerprint sensor. With a familiar form-factor at 5.2-inches, the Nexus 5X is a return to form for affordable Nexus devices. However, compared to other similar-specced devices, it could be considered a little pricey. Needless to say, we found it a great balance of size, specification and price when we reviewed it last Fall.

Buy the Nexus 5X from Amazon

07. OnePlus 2

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Last year OnePlus introduced not one, but two smartphones. The later OnePlus X was mostly the original dressed up different clothing, but the OnePlus 2 was an excellent successor to the original. With a better-looking display, a better build and much more developed software, the OnePlus 2 is incredible value for money. It’s also available without an invite now, making this a much more accessible device for the majority of users. While the lack of NFC gets more and more lamentable as Android Pay takes off, there’s still a lot to love here. Especially if you’re the type of user that likes the sound of 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage for much less than most other devices on this list.

06. Moto X Pure

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2015 might be the last year that we see Motorola launch the Moto line of devices now that their parent company Lenovo has big plans for 2016, so it’s a good job the Moto X Pure was an excellent all-rounder. For a smartphone that costs less than the majority of others and works on every carrier throughout North America and even further afield, the Moto X Pure is an excellent device. The camera and battery life have been greatly improved, and as we found in our review, Motorola have kept a lot of what people liked about the previous iterations alive and well. With a refreshing take on software as always, the only real downside here is that at 5.7-inches this is a big jump in size from previous Moto devices.

Buy the Moto X Pure from Amazon

05. LG V10

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When LG released the V10, they essentially took the camera software from the G4 and turned it up to 11. With excellent video recording capabilities as well as some brilliant stabilisation tricks, the V10 is an excellent device to make films, capture every moment and just share away. While dressed up to be a little more rugged than the G4, it doesn’t feature a ShatterShield display like the Droid Turbo 2, and it doesn’t feature much else besides the camera features. Regardless, the V10 is a curious little device that deserves recognition. With the specs of the best out there and special attention paid to the camera, the V10 is the smartphone for creators and those with busy schedules alike.

04. LG G4

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The LG G4 was an improvement over the LG G3 in practically every way, and it brought with it a little refinement thanks to the leather back panels, too. Of course, with one of the best cameras on the market, it’s hard not to like the LG G4, regardless of looks. The 5.5-inch 2560 x 1600 display now looks much better in terms of color reproduction, and the software is a little more toned down as well, with LG working hard to get Marshmallow rolled out to everyone, not just parts of Eastern Europe. Having said that though, the G4’s Snapdragon 808 can produce some stutters here and there and doesn’t keep up compared with other devices on this list.

Buy the LG G4 from Amazon

03. Samsung Galaxy Note 5

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The Galaxy Note line of devices have often been the absolute best Samsung can cram in a smartphone. This year however, they seemed to take a step backwards. Aside from the ever-excellent S-Pen, the Galaxy Note 5 looks and feels like a larger Galaxy S6, with none of the fanciness of the Galaxy S6 Edge+. There’s no removable battery and no expandable storage. What there is however, is one of the better software experiences outside of Google’s own as well as one of the best cameras out there coupled with a fresh new look. It’s just a shame Samsung didn’t do more to make it its own device like they had done previously.

Buy the Galaxy Note 5 from Amazon

02. Huawei Nexus 6P

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When Huawei and Google partnered for the Nexus 6P everything looked great on paper, but there were questions after the announcement. Could this Chinese manufacturer deliver? As we discovered, the Nexus 6P not only delivered but became one of the best Nexus smartphones ever produced. With an excellent build and great display, the Nexus 6P delivers in many an area, including the excellent camera. It might not have all the pixels as some cameras out there, but with a larger sensor it takes much more natural photos than most other devices.

01. Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge, Galaxy S6 Edge+

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Samsung released not one, not two but three devices cut from the same cloth. The Galaxy S6 line of devices all feature the same excellent processor, the same Super AMOLED display and the same look and feel. The Galaxy S6 Edge and Edge+ add-in a little luxury and mystique with the curved display edges, but there’s otherwise a similar thread joining these all together. Which is great, as it gives users the opportunity to get a larger device with a similar experience, and it gives Samsung’s new design language a number of devices to show off with. What will 2016 hold for Samsung’s Galaxy S7 line? We’ll have to wait and see.