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CoverStory: The Best Smartphones

The smartphone is the single most used gadget in practically anyone’s arsenal. We are constantly reliant on it for information, communication, and entertainment, and it’s constantly with us absolutely everywhere. It’s the device that gets the most attention during our waking hours, and as such, it’s never a bad idea to get the best phone you have the budget for. To help make things easy for you, we’ve got the best phones you can get your hands on right now.

Huawei Nexus 6P
If you were to ask Google, the company behind the Android operating system, what the current best smartphone is right now, it’s not a stretch they would pick the star of today’s Nexus lineup, the 6P. With top-tier specs, construction, and Google’s support, many users are inclined to agree. The Nexus 6P sports a truly massive 5.7-inch screen with a matching 1440×2560 pixel display for a razor-sharp pixel density of about 518 ppi. That size and sharpness is more than enough to comfortably watch full-length movies, and the bright colors and deep blacks of the AMOLED screen just makes the experience all the more immersive. Corning Gorilla Glass 4 protects the gorgeous display, and premium metal construction makes the phone feel as good as it looks. Few things are as disappointing as a sharp-looking phone with mediocre internals, but the Nexus 6P does not disappoint. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset, and dual quad-core processors running at 1.55 and 2.0GHz respectively give you a monster of a device under the hood. Add to that the beefy Adreno 430 GPU and huge 3GB of RAM and you won’t be lacking power, no matter what you want to do. Got security issues? The 6P keeps everything under wraps with an integrated fingerprint scanner that’s both safe, and lightning-fast. A large phone needs an equally large tank, and the Nexus 6P doesn’t disappoint here either. With a massive 3450 mAh battery, and quick charging via the new USB-C standard, you’re going to have a have a phone that goes on for as long as you do. A phone these days has to pull extra duty as a camera, and the 6P does that superbly. A main 12.3MP camera with HDR, and 4K recording means you get insanely sharp photos and video without the bulk and heft of a separate digital camera weighing you down, and since it’s backed by the Nexus project, you’re assured of the latest Android updates for a good long while.
While phones are getting faster, smarter, and more connected with each iteration, we have to admit that the releases are starting to look and act the same. Powerful hardware, gorgeous displays, great cameras: most of the phones we see these days have those. While this is great for the consumer, since you can’t really buy a bad phone anymore, the market on the whole feels like it has hit a rut. LG has taken this to heart and released a phone that has managed to break out of the slate-shaped box we’ve been confined in for so long now. The G5 is a beautiful phone in its own right, with a large 5.3-inch screen, LG’s trademark thin bezels, a resolution of 1440×2560 pixels for 554 pixels per inch, and Gorilla Glass 4 to keep everything safe. A curvy metal body makes it feel great in the hand, and expandable storage on top of 32GB on-board make it a great choice for those who need a little space. A gorgeous 12MP main camera provides stunning photos, and 4GB of RAM helping along a Snapdragon 820 chipset with 2.15 and 1.6GHZ quad-core processors do the heavy lifting. This alone is quite impressive, but the main draw of the LG G5 is modularity. A quick press of a button, and you can remove the bottom of the phone, allowing you to then swap in a number of additional accessories, such as a dedicated audio unit, a dedicated imaging unit, with separate controls, and other modular accessories in the future. With the G5, you can not only have one of the best phones, but one of the best cameras, music players, and entertainment centers in your pocket. It also has a fingerprint sensor for security, and runs Android OS Marshmallow out of the box. You even get the new USB-C standard, so you can be ready for the future.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Part of the smartphone experience is how nice the device looks and feels. Few companies have taken this as seriously as Samsung. The Samsung S7 Edge is easily one of the best-looking, best-feeling handsets you can get your hands on right now. Elegant, a wonderfully thin design, premium materials, and a keen eye on the details give you a phone that is more than worthy of a spot on this list. Under the hood, the S7 gives you hardware that one would expect from a top-tier device. With an octa-core processor running at 2.3GHz and 1.6GHz, 4GB of RAM, and 32 GB of expandable storage, you’ve got a beast of a pocket rocket. The Edge’s 5.1-inch AMOLED screen that’s beautifully curved at the edges is as much of a treat for your eyes as it is in the hand, and has the additional feature of serving as a smaller screen on which you can get alerts and notifications while the phone is idling. The Quad HD display has Samsung’s Super AMOLED display for bright, vivid colors, and deep, gorgeous blacks. Samsung has always put a premium on the cameras on their phones, and the Galaxy S7 Edge is no exception here. A superb 12MP main camera with 4k video recording and excellent low-light performance make for the perfect phone to have wherever you might want to capture some memories, and a wide front camera means you can take selfies without leaving anyone out. Proving that beauty needn’t be fragile, the S7 Edge is water-resistant right out of the box, so your phone doesn’t have to stop until your adventure does. At a svelte 7.7mm thin, and tipping the scales at just 157 grams, the phone is going to be right at home in your pocket, purse, or hand. It’s a phone that’s made to be held frequently, with the glass and metal leaving no doubt as to the device’s status as the best Samsung currently has to offer.

iPhone 6s Plus
A list of the best phones the market has to offer would just be incomplete without mention of the iPhone 6s Plus. The latest in a line of devices that revolutionized mobile telephony worldwide, the current iPhone gives us an elegant solution in a world where brute force pushes smartphone innovation. On paper, the iPhone doesn’t seem like much. The A9 chipset and a dual-core processor running at 1.84GHz, 2GB of RAM, and a six-core graphics processor seems like something that wouldn’t hold a candle to some of the best phones we’ve seen, but Apple’s total control of the ecosystem mean that system optimization is completely in their hands, giving you an end product that beats its share of competitors in both benchmarks and real-world tests. iPhone users the world over will tell you they have a device that “just works” and it’s true. It manages smooth performance, great functionality, and an extremely user-friendly experience that even a child can navigate through. With up to 128GB of internal storage, plus cloud storage options, an app store with more offerings than one could ever use in several lifetimes, and a class-leading 12MP camera, there’s a lot to like. Being of the same line that broke Apple’s slant towards smaller screens, the 6s Plus’s large 5.5-inch display, iconic status, and smooth integration across all of Apple’s myriad user platforms, you get a unified device that melds seamlessly with your life, for both work and play. Even Android fanboys have to concede to some of the iPhone’s strong suits, and there’s no shame in that.

Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE August 2016 issue

Words by Ren Alcantara