The 10 Best Smartphones to Buy in 2017

Buy the top smartphones on the market for iOS and Android

It’s difficult to say, with confidence, which of the many smartphones available on the market is the absolute, all-around best. And that’s only because of the polarizing differences between iOS and Android — not to mention all the other preferences to choose from (camera, gaming, budget and screen size). Sometimes, taste is as arbitrary as Coke vs. Pepsi. You don’t know why you like it — you just do.

That said, there are some clear winners in each category — winners that, we think, boast the right specs, design elements and features to satisfy the general public. So read on to see which smartphones made the cut for the best of 2017.

Google’s introduction of the Pixel XL has firmly pushed the company right to the top of the smartphone space. There is a 32GB and a 128GB variant of the 5.5” 1440p Pixel XL, and inside the is a Snapdragon 821 processor, 4GB of RAM, Type-C ports and arguably one of the best smartphone cameras ever (12.3-megapixels).

Google’s design of the hardware isn’t revolutionary, but the glass panel on the rear of the device and metal build add up to something that feels premium. The buttons (volume, power) are on the right of the device with the fingerprint reader on the rear and Type-C charging/connection port at the bottom of the device. All day performance shouldn’t be an issue except for the most intense app-running conditions. As a Google device, expect the latest in Android updates with Android 7.1, which introduces among other features, Google Assistant. Google’s answer to Siri and Cortana, Assistant utilize Google’s search and knowledge base and adds a host of information right at your fingertips. Equally useful and futuristic, Assistant is always listening. Just say “OK, Google” and speak your search query.

Perhaps the top standout of the Pixel XL, the camera is one of the best in the current smartphone market and that’s saying something in the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 world. Images are sharp and better exposed than Google’s previous “Nexus” line, and the introduction of HDR+ allows for excellent photography. With sharp detail and good exposure, the front-facing 8-megapixel “selfie” cam is arguably better than most Android rear-camera devices. To top it off, the Pixel captures 4K 30-frames-per-second video and adds electronic image stabilization that outperforms Apple’s optical image stabilization.

With Apple's iPhone 7, you will find an improved battery, a better camera, water resistance and, for better or worse depending on who you ask, no headphone jack. On top of that, the introduction of the A10 Fusion chipset offers a nice performance bump. It's available in four colors, including jet black (which looks fantastic, but is prone to fingerprint marks and scratches).

The iPhone is the same size as its predecessors, but it has IP67 water-resistance standards. You can keep your iPhone up to a meter of water for 30 minutes without worrying about it getting fried. The Taptic-home button will take some getting used to, but it’s a welcome change as the physical button had to go to make way for water resistance protection. The 4.7” Retina HD screen remains top-notch and is more vivid than the 6S, especially when it comes to viewing in direct sunlight.

The inclusion of a f/1.8 sensor on the rear 12-megapixel TrueTone camera, as well as the addition of optical image stabilization are definite upgrades as well. Low-light photography has improved, too, thanks to four smart LEDs built into the camera that 50 percent more light than the previous iPhones.

The quad-core A10 chip is fantastic and allows for faster launching of apps and multitasking. Battery life on the iPhone 7 is much improved over the 6S, adding an additional two hours of talk time, thanks to the new processor and 14 percent larger battery. The lack of a headphone jack has caused quite a bit of negative chatter, but this is easily remedied with an adapter. Overall, the iPhone 7 is easily the best smartphone on the marker today.

If you’ve been paying any attention to Samsung in the last year, it will probably come as no surprise that Samsung’s newest flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, had a lot of prove when it was released in April 2017. Thankfully, the Galaxy S8 is a far cry from Samsung’s phones of the past and sets a new standard for Android phones of all brands.

For starters, the Galaxy S8 has a beautiful 5.8-inch screen that covers the whole front of the phone with no bezel. It runs the latest version of Android (7.0 aka Nougat) and it’s fast, too, with an “octa-core processor” and 4GB of RAM. When it comes to cameras, the back has a great dual-pixel 12-megapixel shooter and the front has an eight-megapixel camera for high-quality selfies. The camera can also record 4K HD video at 30 frames per second or 1080p HD video at 30 or 60 frames per second. For battery, the S8 will last about a day before it needs to be recharged.

When push comes to shove, choosing between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus generally comes down to screen size. Fortunately, both displays are fantastic but the 1920 x 1080 LCD on the iPhone 7 Plus really shines. Fantastic display aside, let’s talk about Apple’s new A10 Fusion quad-core processor – it's the fastest chip yet, which means app-loading will be a breeze. The A10 is also more power efficient, which helps offer an additional 60 minutes of battery life over the 6S Plus (this is also thanks in part to the five percent larger battery). And the inclusion of 3GB of RAM with  this model gives it a little extra “oomph” over the 7.

Like the iPhone 7, the Taptic home button might take some getting used to, but this means that the phone now meets IP67 water resistant standards and can stay in up to one meter of water for a maximum of 30 minutes. There’s no question the removal of the headphone jack is worth noting here as well, but this is easily fixed if you buy an adapter.

The 12-megapixel camera on the rear of the device is arguably the best part of the iPhone 7 Plus and likely the best smartphone shooter on the market. The inclusion of optical image stabilization, f/1.8 aperture, and the brand new dual camera setup sets the 7 Plus apart from the pack. Essentially, Apple has made it so you can tap between 1x and 2x zoom modes or drag your finger along a half-circle for more precise control. Apple added digital zoom up to 10x, but realistically, anything beyond 2x and you’ll start to see the noisier, grainy images that are associated with digital zoom. The secondary telephoto camera (that’s the “dual” camera part) has a wider f/2.8 aperture that allows photo junkies to play more with depth of field. In short, if you're a fan of phablets and are looking for one of the most powerful ones on the market, this is it.

If you want double down and snag a device that captures equally great photos and videos, you’ll want the LG V20. The device boasts three cameras: a 16MP rear camera has optical image stabilization to ensure steady footage even when you’re on-the-go and a secondary 8MP wide-angle camera lets you take 135-degree snaps of your surroundings. The 5MP front camera also has a wide angle mode perfect for fitting your whole crew into your selfie.

There's 64GB of onboard storage, while a microSD slot under the removable battery means you can snap photo after photo without filling up the phone. But perhaps the finest photo feature of the 5.7-inch LG V20 is its camera app, which lets you calibrate exposure, aperture, shutter speed, white balance and focus. If you know what you’re doing there, you’ll feel fine about leaving your clunky DSLR at home.

With high processing power, it runs Android 7.0 smoothly, though as with most Android devices, it comes with with a fair amount of bloatware. Reviewers on Amazon have praised its removable battery and solid build. While some complain that the exterior can feel slippery, that’s nothing a good case can’t fix.

There are plenty of full-featured smartphones on the market that won’t break the bank. Our favorite is the Moto G4 Play. It’s the most affordable option out of all Motorola’s G4 products and raises the bar for budget phones.

Almost identical to the more expensive Moto G4, the five-inch Moto G4 Play is a tiny bit smaller and has a slightly slower 1.2 GHz quad-core processor processor with 2GB RAM. The 1280-by-720 IPS display has a 294-ppi resolution, which, while not as sharp as the Moto G4’s 401ppi, still looks great. Its two cameras — a 5MP in the front and an 8MP in the rear — take surprisingly clear photos.

Conveniently, you can slide off the back cover to access the SIM card, the microSD card and the removable 2800 mAh battery, which reviewers confirm lasts throughout the day. Perhaps the most commonly noted shortcoming of the G4 Play is that the display doesn’t get very bright, but that shouldn’t be an issue in most situations. Overall, the Moto G4 Play is a great budget option and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a phone of equal quality for a lower price.

Hands-down, the best smartphone for battery life is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Its 3,600 mAh battery is larger than most phones an ensures at least two days of moderate usage, and maybe a full day of intensive, video-heavy power consumption. Of course, the S7 Edge’s sizable screen hogs a good deal of all that power, so you can expect the slightly smaller Galaxy S7 to operate with similar efficiency, even if its 3000 mAh battery is less powerful. When it comes to sheer specs, though, the S7 Edge wins out — at least when it comes to flagship, mainstream phones.

In addition to having great battery life (and turning heads left and right), the Galaxy S7 Edge is probably the best gaming smartphone in the market right now. So, what sort of features should you expect from it? How about a high-quality display with sharp resolution? Check. The Galaxy S7 Edge has a 5.5-inch, Quad HD (2560 x 1440) Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 534 ppi. And what about a fast processor? Check. The S7 Edge has a quad-core, 64-bit processor running Snapdragon 820 with a 4 GB RAM.

Apple’s latest iPhone is, of course, it’s best iPhone. It improves only slightly upon its predecessor, the iPhone 6, but some of those improvements are worth noting: The new, 64-chip A9 processor is a powerhouse, even by Android standards (which tend to pack a bit more punch in the hardware department). Most iPhone users probably won’t notice the improved processing speeds, but hardcore users certainly will. The 12-MP camera is a whole four megapixels bigger than the previous iPhone 6. The iPhone 6S also has three entirely new features in 3D Touch, 4K video and Live Photos.

And Android fanboys, just admit it: You love Apple design. Say what you want about hardware specs, bloatware, microSD, open source, and other proprietary headaches—iPhones look awesome. And the latest iPhone 6S is the best looking smartphone to date. It features a uniform aluminum body in a variety of pastel metallic tones that scream Apple: gray, silver, gold and rose gold. Apple has always placed a heavy importance on design, and considering how your smartphone is essentially an extension of yourself, it makes sense that you’d want it to reflect your own aesthetics. Or not. Design is subjective, and so is one’s concern for it.

It doesn’t get much better than this. Samsung’s latest flagship phone is meant to compete directly with the Apple iPhone — and maybe even surpass it. Like the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the Galaxy S7 has a sister model in the beefier S7 Edge. The difference between the two mostly comes down to preference: How big do you like your screen?

The standard S7 offers higher resolution (Super AMOLED; 2,560 x 1,440; 534 ppi); a more robust, high-contrast camera; a larger screen (5.5 inches vs the 6S’s 4.7 inches) and a significantly longer-lasting battery. It’s also got a quad-core processor with a 4 GB RAM and 32 GB of storage space (expandable to 200 GB). But because it costs around the same price, these specs aren’t necessarily going to convert any Apple addicts. Then again, Android diehards aren’t lining up for the iPhone 7 either. But the prominence of these two flagship phones highlight the intense competition between the two companies, and the clear supremacy the two of them have over the market.

The Google Nexus 6P is definitely for people have committed fully to the big-screen, “phablet” bandwagon. The 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display alone is enough to separate it from the pack, but when you add in the 2560 x 1440 (Wide Quad HD) resolution, 518 ppi density and the 3D curved glass screen, the whole thing becomes a near-overkill expression of phablet ideals. Just don’t expect to fit this thing into the pockets of your skinny jeans.

But it’s not just the generous display that makes the Nexus 6P a great phone. It’s also got an eight-core, Snapdragon 810 processor, a 3 GB RAM, 64 GB of storage, and a 12.3MP f/2.0 camera sensor made by Sony, which can record video in 4K at 30 fps. It’s absolutely one of the best all-around phone cameras on the market. And the 8MP front-facing camera really drives the point home and seals the ideal for selfie fanatics.

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