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

With the Galaxy Note 7 all but gone and forgotten, it's up to other names in the industry to make the noise as we close out 2016, and with LG dragging their feet promoting the LG V20, it's fallen on Google and OnePlus. One has been pushing value, while the other has been pushing overall experience and fit and finish. With the new OnePlus 3T now available to match the new Pixel line, there's a little more choice for those looking for a new smartphone this Fall, and many of them will be discounted on Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, too.

10. LeEco Le Pro3

When we take a look at the spec sheet, complete with 5.7-inch display, Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM, it might be confusing to see the Le Pro3 in this spot in our list. Sadly, though, the arrival of LeEco in the US isn't quite going to play. With flash sales that not only confuse the US buyer, but outright annoy them, LeEco has some catching up to do. With software that leaves a lot to be desired, and might not ever be update to Android 7.0 Nougat - let alone Android 7.1 - the Le Pro3 is a device that might not be as good a prospect as it originally seemed on paper. Still, the low, low price tag of just $400 is eye-catching and niceties such as a fingerprint sensor do help sell the phone, but there are better overall options out there.

09. Sony Xperia X Performance

The Xperia X line of devices has been an interesting line for Sony since it launched earlier this year during Mobile World Congress 2016, and while it's still unclear just what Sony is up to, the Xperia X Performance is an excellent device nonetheless. With an excellent 23-megapixel camera around the back, as well as a Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM, all in a 5.0-inch package, it makes a great case for a smaller smartphone in today's market. Perfect for those that are either familiar with Sony devices, or those just looking for something on the smaller side of things, the Xperia X Performance is well worth looking into, and it looks the part, too. It is, however, a shame that it's as expensive as it is, considering that there are devices out there from OnePlus offering better specs for similar prices.

08. HTC 10 

The HTC 10 is a great smartphone. There's no way of getting around that, it looks good, it feels well-made, it has great specs and it has a decent camera. It's a great smartphone, but it's a great smartphone by last year's standards, in all but the processor that keeps the HTC 10 going. The Snapdragon 820 on the inside of the HTC 10 is a great performer and it will ensure speedy performance no matter what you're doing, but it ultimately can't compete with the likes of the Galaxy S7 Edge, and the OnePlus 3T, even at the sort of prices that HTC is calling a "discount" during these Black Friday sales.

07. LG G5

The LG G5 might not have started the trend of modular devices, as it's arguable this part of the G5 is the reason the device didn't capture the right sort of market that it should have, but it did set a trend where dual camera setups were concerned. HTC have dabbled with these in the past, and Huawei are trying to make it their own, but LG were first with this in 2016, and while the rest of the device is just okay by 2016 standards, there's a lot on offer elsewhere, with the G5 offering a good selection of features overall, but failing to live up to its modular promise that so many were looking forward to.

06. Google Nexus 6P

Now that both the Nexus 6P as well as the new Pixel are available, it's difficult to recommend the Nexus 6P, that is, of course, until the price makes itself apparent, as the Nexus 6P is much cheaper than the majority of options out there. Sure, it might be over a year old at this point, but with a Snapdragon 810 as well as 4GB of RAM, a good-looking 5.7-inch AMOLED display and a similar camera to that in the Pixel line, the Nexus 6P is still an excellent phone to own. Especially when we consider that it's likely to get Android 8.0 - or whatever it ends up being called - while others on this list might struggle to make it to that point.

05. Lenovo Moto Z Force

Where the LG G5 failed, it's easy to say that the Moto Z Force succeeds. There are countless different models of the Moto Z available, but the Moto Z Force is definitely the best of the bunch. With a better camera, better battery life and so on, it's really the pinnacle of the Moto Z line. More and more Moto Mods are becoming available, and the whole line has just gotten something of a discount for Black Friday, too. All of which makes the Moto Z Force one hell of a smartphone. It's the sort of device that will look good, run well and offer users something more than they'd normally get from their smartphone. It's perhaps a little on the pricier side of things, but it's been discounted for Black Friday, making it a little more affordable.

04. OnePlus 3T

Is the above a shot of the OnePlus 3 or the OnePlus 3T? Well, it'd be hard to say, and we won't say either way, which is perhaps the point. The only difference with the OnePlus 3T is that there's now a Snapdragon 821 under-the-hood as opposed to the Snapdragon 820 that the original launched with. Some will be annoyed by all of this, but in reality, this is what OnePlus is all about; moving quickly, failing fast, and keeping as little stock around as possible. Dead stock is dead weight, and supporting a processor that perhaps Qualcomm no longer wants to ship for much longer is as good as dead stock for OnePlus. Regardless, OnePlus have vowed treat their pair of flagship devices as one and the same, but right now it's all a lot of promises without much substance. Of course, the fact that the OnePlus 3T is so cheap makes it difficult to even dislike OnePlus in this sort of situation.

03. Google Pixel

The Google Pixel is the smaller smartphone of the pair that Google announced back in October, and while it's easy to dismiss the pair as expensive Nexus devices, they're so much more than that. The Pixel, that is the 5.0-inch version here, is easily the best smartphone that falls under 5.5-inches in size, and it really does go to show that a smartphone doesn't have to big in order to be good. With the same Snapdragon 821 and 4GB of RAM as its bigger brother, the Pixel has all the right Googley boxes ticked, and it's the sort of device that will appeal to old Nexus users, as well as those looking for a simple, easy to live with experience in a package that doesn't feel like a house brick.

02. LG V20

The LG V20 is the sort of device that the South Korean firm should really be making a lot more noise about. The V20 is packed to the gills with all kinds of features and tricks. With a Quad DAC and some amazing recording abilities - both in terms of sound as well as video, the LG V20 works wonderfully to giver users the sort of tools that the Galaxy Note 7 should have. It goes beyond that, however, and gives users a number of different reasons to be interested in such a device, thanks to a removable battery, an excellent dual camera setup and an endless list of additions and little tweaks here and there make the V20 one of the best smartphones to be released in 2016, it's just a shame that LG aren't making more noise about it than this.

01. Google Pixel XL & Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

The Pixel XL and Galaxy S7 Edge share so much in common it's tough to draw a line between them, the Galaxy S7 Edge has all the bells and whistles that you could wish for, while the Pixel XL is all about refinement, about making sure that the user has a great experience, regardless of whether or not they need a few extra features - that's what the Play Store is for. The Galaxy S7 Edge has a great camera, but then the Pixel XL has a better camera. The Galaxy S7 Edge has a great-looking design and a gorgeous display, but then the Pixel XL has better battery life. For every plus there's a minus here, and as Android users, we should be happy that we have such a tough choice to make, as choice is what defines Android and makes the platform as strong as it is today.

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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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