Top 10: Best Android Smartphones Buyer's Guide - October 2016

The Fall is often an interesting time for smartphone releases, as some of the biggest names in the industry out their latest and greatest to end the year on a high, but this hasn't gone to plan for a lot of names out there, particularly Samsung. Over the past few editions of this list, the Galaxy Note 7 has popped in and popped out, but now has been well and truly discontinued. For those that are still hanging on to one, return it. As for the rest of the Android world, the LG V20 and Pixel have hit shelves, and they're proving to be quite popular with customers the world over.

10. Sony Xperia X Performance

In the world of Android, there are few devices that offer a serious performance punch, without also being on the larger side of life. Sony, however, has a long history of doing the opposite. The Xperia X Performance is a 5.0-inch smartphone with a Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM, making it as powerful as the majority of smartphones on the market, but a hell of a lot more compact. It also has the same 23-megapixel camera Sony smartphones have become known for, and as we found out in our review, Sony have made an elegant and good-looking smartphone for everyone, without skimping on the performance. Sony do, however, expect you to pay for this privilege.

09. LeEco Le Pro 3

With a 5.7-inch display, a Snapdragon 821 CPU and 4GB of RAM, the Le Pro 3 from LeEco already has enough on offer to grab your attention. When we then go into the price tag of just $399, things start to get a whole lot better. Sure, the Full HD resolution could be higher, and the software could be a little nicer, but for 400 bucks, there are few other phones that offer this amount of features, all wrapped up in a quality metal build, complete with fingerprint sensor. A 16-megapixel rear-facing camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera make up the rest of the specs, and it's clear that LeEco have something of a winner on their hands. Now that it's launched in the US, they just need to make sure that they can get rid of the flash sale stuff, and they could become a big player here, soon.

08. HTC 10

While HTC was probably hoping the HTC 10 was going to turn their frown upside down, that hasn't been the case. Compared to other devices that are either doing better designs or adding in more features for less, the HTC 10 is a premium phone that appears to be priced too high and doesn't have anything special to offer consumers. The BoomSound speakers are no longer the defining feature of the phone and the display, while good-looking and high-resolution it's about as good as most other displays on the market. HTC have included some excellent additions to the overall software here as well, but there's little in the way of "wow" here with the HTC 10, and when a company prices it as highly as HTC have, this is a problem.

07. LG G5

The LG G5 was supposed to be something of a halfway house between today and the future, one in which smartphones were modular, and could easily be upgraded with new parts, rather than being totally thrown away or replaced when a new device is out. It was a fantastic concept, and one that LG should be given a lot of credit for, but just because a smartphone has plenty tricks up its sleeve, does not mean that it's instantly a great smartphone. With a camera that lags behind the competition, and a software experience that could benefit from some clean up, the LG G5 didn't manage to capture the imagination of buyers all over the world, and it's perhaps not hard to see why.

06. Google Nexus 6P

Sure, the new Pixel and Pixel XL might now be available all over the world, but that doesn't mean that last year's Nexus phones aren't worth it. In fact, the camera on the Nexus 6P is close behind the Pixel camera, and the Snapdragon 810 might not be a fan favorite, but still a competent processor nonetheless. With 4GB of RAM and an AMOLED display, the 5.7-inch Nexus 6P is a great option for those looking for a stock Android device that also want to save a little money - or a lot, depending on which Pixel model you have your eyes on - and it still comes with a great fingerprint sensor as well the latest version of Android, with Android 7.1 not far behind.

05. OnePlus 3

Rumor has it that there's a new OnePlus 3 in the works, and even if there is, the OnePlus 3 as we know it is still a great device. Offering an AMOLED display, 6GB of RAM and a Snapdragon 820 for a lot less than the majority of phones on this list already make this a great option to consider. OnePlus still has a lot to prove when it comes to their software updates, but with some decent features inside of OxygenOS and a very nice look and feel, the OnePlus 3 punches well above its weight. Sure, the 5.5-inch AMOLED display could be better than a standard Full HD panel, but it's hard to deny what good value the OnePlus 3 is.

04. Lenovo Moto Z Force

The Moto Z Force is perhaps one of the more interesting and underestimated devices of the year. With the Moto Mod system allowing for customization, expansion of the base functionality of the phone with better cameras, a projector and longer battery life, there's a hell of a lot going on here. The Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM under-the-hood, as well as the 5.5-inch Quad HD display places this in among other names in this list, but the Hasselblad camera, JBL speakers and many more Moto Mods set this aside from the rest of the pack. Lenovo doesn't have a great track record with software updates, but perhaps the Moto side of things will rub off on them here. Either way, this is an excellent device to consider, especially when we consider that the Moto Mod platform and accessories will only get better with time.

03. Google Pixel 

Are 5.0-inch phones cool again? Well, that's tough to say, but the Pixel is a phone that's designed for, well, anyone. The smaller, 5.0-inch version of the phone is important not just because of its size and the fact that it's Google's vision of what an Android phone should be, but because it's the cheaper of the two options. The Pixel line is not cheap, and the days of affordable Nexus phones like the Nexus 5 are well and truly behind us. For some, that will come as something of a shock, and a disappointment, but for others it's something to get excited about. The Snapdragon 821 and excellent camera that is arguably the best on the market right now make for an excellent experience all-round. Plus, it's small enough to send a text message with one hand, too.

02. LG V20

The LG V20 has become something of an enigma, now available from Verizon, with ourselves having just finished a giveaway for one, the V20 is starting to become more and more available. Consumers are struggling to see what all of the fuss is about though, and that fuss is of course the fact that the V20 builds on what the G5 did really well. It has a good look and feel to it, an excellent pair of cameras, and the V20 adds in a cool second-screen feature as well as an excellent Quad-DAC to make listening to music better than any other device on this list. With great audio and video recording tricks, the LG V20 is something that will appeal to power users as well as creators, and given the Galaxy Note 7's disappearance from the market, there's room for another larger-than-life smartphone.

01. Google Pixel XL & Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Both the Google Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 Edge have a lot in common with each other; they're both larger phones at 5.5-inches, they're both built exceptionally well, and they're both on the pricier side of things. For the Galaxy S7 Edge, there's a little more in the way of design, with a glossy finish and premium finish with the glass paneling, but the Pixel XL arguably has ease of use on its side. The Pixel XL has one of the best cameras on the market, and it also has super-slick software that will appeal to the majority of users. The Galaxy S7 Edge, meanwhile, has lots of software extras and a competitive camera. Powered by the same silicon, these two devices trade blows, but there's no clear winner, except perhaps the person that buys either of these phones.

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About the Author
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Tom Dawson

Former Editor-in-Chief
For years now I've had a heavy interest in technology, growing up with 8-bit computers and gaming consoles has fed into an addiction to everything that beeps. Android saved me from the boredom of iOS years ago and I love watching the platform grow. As an avid reader and writer nothing pleases me more than to write about the exciting world of Android, Google and mobile technology as a whole.
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