Best Smartphone of 2016 by Will Lech

What Makes A Great Smartphone?

A great smartphone is one that, when compared, rises above all others because of its outstanding and uncommon but useful features. With this, a good smartphone will also excel in terms of hardware and software. Too often do you see new phones that come out that have great features but fail in the most basic of categories. In this report, we will be factoring both parts to figure out what truly is the best smartphone of 2016.

What is the benefit of having a top-tier smartphone?

Top-tier smartphones are great because top tier smartphones are good. In all seriousness, though, there are some major benefits to having a top tier smartphone. One of the biggest reasons I can think of is the value over time. Great smartphones will hold their place as a good smartphone for at least the next four years. That’s four, or in Apple’s case, eight different smartphone generations worth of time. Another reason would be that, if you’re anything like me, you want things to be fast and look good while doing that. Top-tier smartphones are built to do just that, sometimes at the expense of a low price point.

What are the best smartphones on the market right now?

Google Pixel XL
A snazzy picture of the Google Picture from CNET

Screen: 5.5” QHD AMOLED at 534ppi. This is the second highest pixel density on the list. The quad-high-definition amoled display on the Google Pixel XL shows beautiful and very accurate colors, and is, overall, a great display.

Hardware: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 821, 2.15Ghz + 1.6Ghz, 64Bit Quad-Core Processor. What all of this techy mumbo jumbo means is that this phone is really snappy. Faster than the Galaxy s7 and just as fast, if not faster than the iPhone 7. The Google Pixel XL is probably the fastest phone out there right now with this hardware.

Software: The Google Pixel sports Android 7.1 Nougat. Also, because Google develops Android, Google Phone users get to beta test new versions of Android and get the full releases first.

Build and Style: The Google Pixel has an Aluminum body, very similar to that of the regular iPhone. This comes in blue, black, white, and gray. On the back, though, there’s an odd glass patch that holds the fingerprint scanner, which is my prefered place to put the scanner. It is assumed that the glass panel may help the phones wireless connections like 4G LTE and BlueTooth.

Camera: 12.3 Megapixel Camera. Without boring you with the specifics, this phone has what is arguably the best camera on the market with beautiful low light, true to life colors, and highlights that are not overexposed. The only feature this camera lacks is optical image stabilization, though this is done digitally.

Price: $769 for an unlocked 32gb model.

Extra Features: Fingerprint sensor on the back, in a very comfortable place that can be reached while holding the phone normally.

Samsung Galaxy s7 edge
Courtesy of Android Authority

Screen: 5.5” Quad HD Super AmoLED display with a screen that wraps around the edges, hence the name Edge. This looks really really cool. The phone sports 543 pixels per inch, which is the highest density in this comparison and looks fantastic but admittedly a little bit oversaturated.

Hardware: Custom-designed CPU that is 30% faster than the Galaxy s6, and CPU that is 68% faster than the s6, and has 4gb of ram! Despite being the slowest phone on the comparison, it is in no way actually slow. It’s really fast, but doesn’t manage multiple tabs and switching between apps as well as the other phones.

Software: Running a custom Android Marshmallow 6.0 which is a great operating system with many configurable settings

Build and Style: All glass and metal. Absolutely no plastic in any of the builds, unlike the iPhone, which is using metal for every version but the matte black version (which is more expensive than the others.)

Camera: 12MP camera. Beautiful in low-light situations, and has great color and detail. It also has a 5MP front-facing camera that isn’t as great as Apple’s, but is still pretty good. 4K video at 30 fps, and 1080p at 60fps. I would put this camera above the iPhones, but ever so slightly below the Pixel, but usually it just comes down to preference.

Price: $769.99 for a silver, unlocked, 128gb Galaxy s7 Edge

Extra Features: Expandable storage! Quickcharge! Waterproofing! Oh my!

iPhone 7+
Picture from Digital Trends

Screen: 5.5” Retina Display, which means around 400 pixels per inch. 1080p display with “force touch”. iPhone screens are notorious for being pretty meh. Not really anything to show, but nonetheless a pretty solid display. This screen is the worst in this comparison.

Hardware: A-10 Fusion chip with embedded m10 motion coprocessor, which means it’s pretty fast. Faster than the s7, and comparable to the Google Pixel XL.

Software: The Apple iPhone is running IOS 10.2 as of the time of writing this report.

Build and Style: What can I say. It's Apple. Sleek, minimalist, and easy to look at. It's not revolutionary, but that doesn't mean it doesn't look great.

Camera: 12MP cameras, which there are two of. Does okay in low-light, but it overall not nearly as great as the Galaxy and the Pixel cameras. 30FPS 4k video, 1080p and below at 30-60 fps.

Price: $869.00 for a Jet Black, no sim, 128gb iPhone

Extra Features: No headphone jack, waterproofing, no physical home-button (but is replaced with a vibration that feels really close to an actual click). Requires a lot of dongles.

So which phone do i think deserves the spot as the best smartphone of 2016?

This decision is really tough. The Galaxy S7 Edge is a beautiful smartphone with great features that really push it far, the Pixel is Google's breakthrough smartphone and has everything it needs to compete with the big boys, and no one can beat the charm of a brand new Apple device. This decision overall comes down to preference.

For me, this choice was incredibly tough. However, it's made a lot easier if we judge based off of performance and power. So with that in mind, let me present to you my rankings of the three smartphones we have talked about today.

1) samsung Galaxy s7 edge
2) Google Pixel
3) iphone 7+

Okay okay. Let me explain. I'll start with the Google Pixel. Google really went the whole way with their new flagship phone. It was powerful, it looked great, had a great camera, absolutely nailed it by deciding to use vanilla Android, and overall made a great smartphone. What held it back could potentially be because of it being the first in it's line. As opposed to Samsung and Apple, it seemed as though Google's phone had a little bit less going on. Not as many features, and some of these are things that I would really miss like the Samsung curved display or the Apple polish. If Google really wants to push it to the number one spot with the Pixel 2, I think that it needs a bit more to wow me over. Now let's talk about the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge and why I placed it at number one.

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