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Best phone 2017: the 10 top smartphones we've tested

The best smartphone right now is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

By Gareth Beavis | Mar 17, 2017, 08.40 PM IST
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Update: The Lenovo P2 has been reviewed, but doesn't quite make it into the top ten - however, for a phone with a brilliant battery check it out on the last page!

Thinking of buying a new phone? We've got the best smartphones of the moment all listed here - and with MWC 2017 now out of the way, we've got the LG G6 and Sony Xperia XZ Premium landing in the list soon.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is launching on March 29 in New York and London, and will be joined by the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus too.

But if you're after a top smartphone right now, here's the ranking we've spent hours whittling down to a top ten, taking into account the power, specs, design and, most importantly, value for money of each handset.

(If the price is too high, check out our list of the best cheap handsets that won't cost you more than £200). 

Best smartphone

For those in a rush, here you go: the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the best smartphone in the world.

Its combination of great camera, stunning looks and sleek body, alongside the world's best screen, make it an easy win... and lower prices of late have made it an even better buy.

Motorola's got a bit of an underground hit with the Z pair - and now it's available in the UK properly, the Z Play has knocked the hyper-expensive Google Pixel XL out of the list.

We're fans of the Z Play thanks to its innovative magnetic clip-on accessories - a simple snap on cover can transform this phone into an impressive standalone camera, music player or even projector.

It looks great and for a low price too - sure, the CPU could be better and the camera doesn't impress massively, but that drop in spec has been drilled back into the price tag, and this is a very decent phone for the money.

Read the full review: Motorola Moto Z Play

  • What's next? There's not a lot of information out around now around the Moto Z Play 2, but we've compiled a look at what we're hoping will be coming to the Moto Z (2017) - and a lot of that will filter down to the new Z Play.

  Also consider: How about the Google Pixel XL though? The also-5.5-inch handset might not be in our top ten, but that's only because of a HUGE price tag and a slightly bland performance elsewhere - but the camera is stupendous and you're getting a much better screen for the cash. Oh, and the latest version of Android too!

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

The Google Pixel is an excellent flagship phone that's an impressive debut for Google as a manufacturer - and the new Assistant is a great Siri rival. If you're OK with the price point, the Pixel is a breath of fresh Google air in a world of Android over-complication. 

The 12MP camera on the back is one of the best on the market, while the clean, fresh Android Nougat interface is a joy to use.

There's heaps of power under the hood making it perfect for gaming and multi-tasking, while the bright, colorful screen provides an excellent viewing experience for your movies and TV shows.

It may not be the most attractive handset on the market but it's far from ugly... and what you can be sure of is a lot of bang for your buck.

Read the full review: Google Pixel review

  • What's next? There's little information out at the moment regarding the Google Pixel 2 , but we do expect it to pack the new Snapdragon 835 chipset (or a slight upgrade on it) when it emerges around October this year - and it looks like it'll be water resistant too.

  Also consider: Like what you see, but need more screen real estate? You you'll want the Google Pixel XL - the 5.5-inch brother of the Pixel which boasts an eye-popping QHD (that's 2K) resolution. 

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

The OnePlus 3T has still got the same beautiful all-metal design, the same 5.5-inch AMOLED display that's bright and vibrant and the fingerprint scanner is still lightning fast - all the main specs are there, and it's only the upgraded chipset and battery that make the biggest difference to the now-defunct OnePlus 3.

The lack of a microSD card, and a battery which only lasts around a day, may put some off but considering the price you're paying the OnePlus is good value for money, despite a price hike over the OnePlus 3.

If you're desperate for a high-end phone, but don't have the money to stretch that far, the OnePlus 3T will make you rather happy.

Read the full review: OnePlus 3T

  • What's next? It looks like the OnePlus 4 is set for a raft of changes, from a dual lens camera to a sharper QHD screen - as well as a new glass display.

  Also consider: If OnePlus isn't doing it for you, then check out the Moto G4 Plus which has slightly less power, but a still very strong feature set - or go a little more left field and take the Oppo F1 Plus for a spin. 

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

HTC didn't really ignite the smartphone game with the One M9, but with the new HTC 10 the brand has made a beautiful phone that's 'sculpted by light', added in a genuinely impressive camera and improved the battery life. 

It's since added the HTC 10 Evo to the mix, but it's nowhere near as impressive as the original.

But that's not the best bit: that comes when you plug headphones into this thing. It's sensational - can this thing pump beautiful, Hi-Res Audio into your ears or what? It's sensational.

For that reason alone it's worth a place in the top 10, and the myriad other improvements (including a good camera for those that like to tinker with setting) impress equally.

Read the full review: HTC 10

  • What's next? The HTC 11 is going to be with us very soon, and strong rumours suggest it'll have a metal shell with an edge-to-edge display as well as the Snapdragon 835 chip - but it won't be using the 'One' brand previously adorning HTC flagships.

  Also consider: It's hard to know what to recommend here, as last year's model was so underwhelming. We'd suggest having a gander at the LG G5 if you fancy an 'underdog' brand that can still make it big... great camera and some fancy innovation on offer there. 

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

Motorola Moto Z
Motorola Moto Z

Moto Z takes the modular accessory idea we liked so much about the LG G5 and actually makes it work with better add-ons and an easier-to-use snap-on design.

It's an Android phone that performs well right now and the potential behind its future accessories hold a lot of promise down the road. 

Usually when we talk about mid-cycle upgrades, we're strictly talking about new software. Moto Z could take on new form at any time, and new mods are still being offered a year on.

It may be the world's thinnest phone, but that comes at a cost with a reduction in battery size and the loss of the headphone jack - potential issues for some users. 

But if you can overlook these shortcomings then good news: you'll have a truly innovative device in your hands.

Read the full review: Motorola Moto Z

  • What's next? The Moto Z (2017) rumours are pretty thin on the ground right now, but the hottest leaks promise a metal-bodied phone with a QHD screen, coming around July.

  Also consider: The only phone which comes close to matching the Z's modular capabilities is the LG G5 , although it's the Moto which has the more intriguing line up of mods. The LG is potentially a better all-round device, and it does have a headphone jack. 

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

The new iPhone is rather iterative: it comes with a similar look and feel to previous models, but it's still the iPhone many will hanker for. 

Apple's refusal to lower the price of its flagship phones over time also harms its place in the list, but then again, if you're an iPhone fan you'll probably look past the cost.

That doesn't mean it's a bad phone though. Actually, far from it - with a power boost under the hood, water resistant and a decent camera upgrade all on offer there's enough to keep potential buyers interested.

There's no point upgrading from the 6S to 7, but if you're currently using an iPhone 6 or older then the jump to the 7 is a smart one.

Read the full review: iPhone 7

  • What's next? Well, it's either the iPhone 7S (which would make sense with the naming convention) or the iPhone 8 , as it's the 10th anniversary of the first iPhone - and rumours are it'll pack an all-new design that uses more glass to allow for wireless charging and more powerful water-resistance. Could it even be called the iPhone X?

  Also consider: If you want to save yourself a bit of money then the iPhone 6S is still an excellent smartphone. It looks identical to the 7, also runs iOS 10 and has the benefit of still having a headphone jack. Those wanting something a bit bigger should look at the iPhone 7 Plus - the best iPhone currently around. 

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

LG's back, and with an innovative bang. This is a phone that's designed to fall apart (well, come apart at least), as there's a clip at the bottom that lets you pull the battery out.

That's good in itself - too many phones lack a removable power pack - but you can attach new modules to improve the audio, battery life or camera grippability. 

However, while more were promised, that was months ago and we've not seen any sign of such upgrades. The dual camera, now a feature on many top phones, also impresses.

Another 'alternative' phone from LG, and we're big fans of the brand trying to keep separating itself from the rest of the market - and with the recent price drops we've come to expect from LG, this is a really good value find.

Read the full review: LG G5

  • What's next? The LG G6 has appeared, and it's the proper upgrade we've been waiting for from this brand. Sleek body, water resistance and a great-looking screen are a change in the right direction. Stay tuned for our full review!

Also consider: 2015's LG G4 isn't a million miles away from this phone in terms of spec, and it's a darn sight cheaper now. It's not got the attractive metal body, but if you can rustle up the leather variant you're getting an absolute steal of a smartphone. 

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

iPhone 7 Plus
iPhone 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 Plus is the best iPhone available right now, giving you a whole heap of power, water resistant body, not one, but two cameras on the back and super slick performance.

It does use the same design as previous handsets, and Apple's removed the headphone jack and upped the price - but if your pockets are deep and headphones wireless you'll love the 7 Plus.

The camera is a big improvement on the 6S Plus, and it'll only get better once Apple rolls out its depth-of-field feature later this year.

Read the full review: iPhone 7 Plus

  • What's next? Not a lot has been heard about a new, larger iPhone, but the current whisper is that it'll be the iPhone 7S Plus with minor upgrades, and there'll be no larger, re-designed iPhone 8 Plus . However, we often don't hear a lot about the bigger iPhone until after June.

  Also consider: The standard iPhone 7 is very good too, with a more manageable form factor and lower price point it's the phone that's likely to appeal to a wider audience - but for those looking for Apple perfection it has to be the 7 Plus. 

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a phone that initially looks just like the S6 from last year - but pick it up and you'll see there's a world of difference, plus it's been through some delightful cost drops of late.

Firstly, the rear of the phone feels much nicer thanks to a curved back (through a process called 3D Thermo Forming), it's now water resistant and a microSD slot is a welcome feature to return, after it was dropped last year.

The camera is just brilliant - it's lower in megapixels but improved in quality. You'll get brilliant pictures time and again, and you'll want to keep trying it in different scenarios. It's a great phone that you'll be happy to pull out of your pocket.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S7

  • What's next? The new Samsung Galaxy S8 will be announced at its own event in New York and London - and come with a redesigned shell and AI on board. A headphone jack has been shown off in the leaks (in a show of defiance over Apple's 'courage') - but with USB-C and no S Pen.

  Also consider: An easy one: go for the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge if you can afford it. It's a compact phone with the screen size of a phablet, and offers all the same features with a more attractive design. 

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

Last year's Galaxy S6 Edge was a good phone, but not brilliant. It was the same as the Samsung Galaxy S6, but had a curved screen - and that was it. It was the same size, power and camera, and that wasn't enough.

Fast forward to today and the S7 Edge takes all the great looks of the S6 Edge, makes the phone even curvier and combines it with the superb power and feature set of the S7 - and it's even dropping in price to make it even better value.

The camera is just brilliant, the mix of metal and glass is really nice to hold, and even the Touchwiz overlay is turning into something more usable than before. 

Battery life improvements are hugely welcomed, and while the price is higher, it's now affixed to a phone that offers simply the best in nearly every department, so many will be happy with the outlay.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

  • What's next? Like it's smaller brother, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus (not Edge any more) will be unveiled at its own event in New York and London - and there won't be a flat version any more. Two curved screens but two sizes: the S8 Plus will offer a whopping 6.2-inch display.

  Also consider: Like the phone above, this is an easy decision: go for the Samsung Galaxy S7 if you're not feeling the cost and price of the Edge. It's got all the power, but it's more compact and costs a little less. The LG G6 is nearly here too though - that could be a dark horse in the mix.

  1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7
  3. iPhone 7 Plus
  4. LG G5
  5. iPhone 7
  6. Moto Z
  7. HTC 10
  8. OnePlus 3T
  9. Google Pixel
  10. Moto Z Play

We're all about testing and rating all the phones here at techradar. There's nothing we like more than brewing a pot of tea and deciding where each new phone should sit in the list.

However, sometimes they don't make it into the top 10 - sad, we know, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a quick look to see if they fit your needs. After all, there are very few bad phones these days...

There's one reason you'd buy the Lenovo P2: it's got the best battery life of any phone we've tested. 

The screen is fine, the camera more than passable, the weight isn't even that bad - in short, it's a very capable Android phone that actually lasts two full days. Not best case scenario, not if you're light with it... we mean two sleeps before you need to charge it again.

On top of that, it's ludicrously cheap (which is why it's top of our best budget phones list) - if there was a bit more power and a newer version of Android, it would be much higher in the list.

The Google Pixel XL is a phone you should definitely check out - it's one of the best phones out there in terms of speed, user interface and camera.

The reason it's not higher is the amazingly high price for this phone - it makes it hard to recommend as there are handsets with equivalent performance that are a lot cheaper.

But if you want the latest lick of Android in a phablet, the Pixel XL is the place to be.

Read:   Google Pixel XL

Motorola is doing well with its flagship Z series, but it's also a great brand for making low cost handsets as well. The G4 Play is a great mix of decent spec and low price - it's one of our very best budget phone recommendations.

It's nowhere near the power levels of the other phones we've suggested here, but if you're in the market for a bargain you could do a lot worse.

Read: Moto G4 Play review

ZTE Axon 7
ZTE Axon 7

The key thing to know about the Sony Xperia XZ is that it's a very good phone indeed - it's just lost in a sea of other very good phones that sometimes cost a little bit less.

The camera on this Sony phone is, as ever, technically very able and the top choice if you really want to spend time framing a shot with excellent auto focus.

The design is subtly improved, the speed and performance good... in short, a decent buy. 

Read: Sony Xperia XZ review

Huawei Mate 8
Huawei Mate 8

The Huawei P9 is a phone that offers a lot for the price, and shows that the brand is really getting its act together in terms of making a phone that can mix it with the best.

The P9 shines in the camera - our tests have it as the third best snapper overall out of all the phones on the market - and the solid build quality. If this had come in at Huawei's usually-low price, it would have troubled the higher echelons of this chart, but even still the brand clearly knows what makes a good phone.

Read: Huawei P9 review

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