Best phones 2016: 10 best smartphones you can buy

best phones 2016

Finding the best mobile phone for your needs has changed a lot since the days of Snake — here are the best phones to buy in 2016.

Ever since Steve Jobs took to the stage in 2007 and unveiled the very first iPhone to the world, the smartphone has become one of the most important tech devices you will ever own. No longer just a tool for making and receiving phone calls, today's smartphones manage our very existence, connecting us with friends and family and informing us of every part of our day-to-day lives.

The sheer impact of the smartphone on today's society makes the decision on which smartphone to purchase all the more important. These products can be expensive, and are quite often purchased on a contract every two years, meaning you have to live with your choice for an extended period of time.

To make matters harder, these days there are so many great mobile devices to choose from, with major technology manufacturers from around the world all producing excellent quality devices. We're here to help you choose.

2016 has been the best year for mobile phones yet. The trend towards larger screen smartphones has allowed for phones to feature larger batteries, helping overcome the challenge of running out of juice before you get home from work each day. Improvements to mobile operating systems like iOS 10 and Android N also allow us to accomplish more from our phones than ever before.

It hasn't all been smooth sailing though. Despite debuting at the number two spot, Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 has been recalled because of fear of spontaneous combustion. It then had replacements issued and then when some of those caught fire had shipments paused around the world. It's reached the point that the phone has been recalled worldwide and won't be relaunched, and so we've removed it from our list altogether.

Note 7 issues aside, here at finder we've reviewed all of this year's flagship smartphones, putting them through their paces and have argued long and hard to create this list of 2016's best smartphones. We'll be updating this page constantly, with our most recent update adding Google's Pixel XL and Sony's Xperia XZ to the mix. To find out just where they landed on the list, read on.

1. Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.1in | Storage: 32/64GB | Weight: 152g | Processor: Octa-core Exynos | Rear cam: 12MP | Front cam: 5MP | Battery: 3,000mAh | Screen res: 2560 x 1440 | Display density: 577ppi

Samsung has well and truly cemented its place as the smartphone manufacturer to beat in 2016. The Galaxy S7 was the first major flagship refresh of the year, and it set the bar very high for the rest of the market. The Galaxy S7 manages to combine amazing build quality with powerful performance and impressive battery life to create a phone that is frankly tough to beat.

But what's most impressive about the Galaxy S7 is the fact that Samsung has managed to take 2015's impressive Galaxy S6 and improve in practically every way. There's a waterproof design, an external storage slot and the curved, metallic body feels great in the hand. Plus, Samsung's camera has set the benchmark for smartphone photography this year, although Apple and Google have both risen to the challenge with their respective flagships.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S7:
  • Telstra Go Mobile Plus M Contract

    Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB

    Telstra logo

    Product Features

    • All for use in Australia
    • 2 min standard national mobile call cost (incl. flagfall): $2.00
    • 6 Months Apple Music Subscription
    • Unlimited Telstra Air data until 27.3.2017

    Product Key Details

    • 3GB
      Extra data $10/GB
    • Unlimited
      + Unlimited messages
    • $85.00
      per month
      ($75 Plan + $10 handset)
    Min. total cost is $2040.00 over 24 months
  • Woolworths $73 Samsung Galaxy S7 Mobile Phone Plan

    Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB

    Woolworths Mobile logo

    Product Features

    • Parts of Telstra's 4G network
    • Contract 24 month
    • Includes 150 minutes/month for calls to selected international destinatons

    Product Key Details

    • 4GB
    • Unlimited
      + Unlimited messages
    • $73.00
      per month
      ($50 Plan + $23 handset)
    Min. total cost is $1752.00 over 24 months
    Standard national calls | Unlimited standard national messages
  • Southern Value $50 Plan

    Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB

    Southern Phone logo

    Product Features

    • Optus 3G
    • Month-to-month or 24 months with a phone

    Product Key Details

    • 5GB
      Extra data $10/GB
    • Unlimited
      + Unlimited messages
    • $85.00
      per month
      ($50 Plan + $35 handset)
    Min. total cost is $2040.00 over 24 months

2. Apple iPhone 7 Plus

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.5in | Storage: 32/128/256GB | Weight: 168g | Processor: Apple A10 Fusion | Rear cam: Dual 12MP | Front cam: 7MP | Battery: 2,900mAh | Screen res: 1920 x 1080 | Display density: 401ppi

We're still working on our review of the iPhone 7, but having put the plus sized variant through its paces we can confidently say that Apple has a winning device on its hands. If you can get past the loss of the 3.5mm headphone jack, the iPhone 7 Plus is a powerful phone that seriously competes with Samsung's devices for top billing in this list.

We debated long and hard about where the iPhone 7 Plus would fit in our list of the top phones, and ultimately its position as runner up comes down to a single factor – price. On performance, features and battery life the iPhone 7 Plus is on par with Samsung's top offering, but the iPhone 7 Plus's cheapest configuration still manages to come in at more that the full RRP of the Samsung device. And given the fact that the Galaxy S7 series have been around for 6 months and are now regularly discounted, it's impossible for us to give the 7 Plus top billing.

Store Store description Phone Price
Cheapest Price
Apple iPhone 7 Plus 128 GB
Go to site
Free shipping for orders over $300. 12-month Standard Warranty included. Apple iPhone 7 Plus 128 GB
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3. Google Pixel XL

Google Pixel XL

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.5in | Storage: 32/128GB | Weight: 168g | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 | Rear cam: 12MP | Front cam: 8MP | Battery: 3,450mAh | Screen res: 2560 x 1440 | Display density: 534ppi

Google may be the driving force behind the Android operating system, but the search giant has dipped its toes into the well of mobile handsets too. This year however, the company ditched the Nexus branding in favour of the Pixel name, and the Pixel XL has headed straight to number three in our best phones list.

The Pixel XL makes a big deal of its integrated camera, which sings in natural light situations by producing vibrant images. Like most mobile cameras though, it still struggles in low light.

Google has also focused on delivering a super smart digital assistant in the Pixel XL, with voice control technology that learns over time to basically deliver you the best information you need using easy to understand natural language.

Unfortunately, the phone's design is rather dull though.

Buy the Google Pixel XL:

4. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.5in | Storage: 32/64GB | Weight: 157g | Processor: Octa-core Exynos | Rear cam: 12MP | Front cam: 5MP | Battery: 3,600mAh | Screen res: 2560 x 1440 | Display density: 534ppi

Our 2016 top 10 phone list currently feels a little bit stacked in favour of a certain South Korean electronics company, but the reality is that Samsung has stretched itself magnificently this year to release a trio of truly superb flagship phones. The Galaxy S7 Edge is the true powerhouse of the three, happily sitting at the top of the performance and battery life benchmark charts even 6 months after launch.

That said, the curved screen still feels like a bit of gimmick, even after a couple of years of development, and makes the phone a bit more slippery to hold, which is why it sits below the other two Galaxy flagships in this list.

Ultimately though, what you get with the S7 Edge is a truly impressive powerhouse of a phone, with a sleek design and unbeatable specs.

Buy the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge:
Store Store description Phone Price
Cheapest Price
Free standard shipping to metro areas sitewide. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32 GB
Go to site
Free Kogan SIM card with device purchase. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32 GB
Go to site
Free shipping for orders over $300. 12-month Standard Warranty included. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32 GB
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Free express delivery to most metro areas, 14 day change of mind and 24/7 parcel tracking. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32 GB
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5. Sony Xperia XZ

Sony Xperia XZ

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.2in | Storage: 32GB | Weight: 161g | Processor: Snapdragon 820 | Rear cam: 23MP | Front cam: 13MP | Battery: 2,900mAh | Screen res: 1920 x 1080 | Display density: 424ppi

It seems one major smartphone family launch a year just isn't enough for Sony, with the company backing up the release of the Xperia X trio of devices with the Xperia XZ. It's a good move too, because the XZ is the best phone the company has ever produced.

With a nice design and an aggressive price point of under $1,000 for a flagship phone, the XZ may not compete with the performance of Samsung's flagship phone, but it does offer solid battery life and fast, crisp photos using its 23MP camera and 5-axis image stabilisation.

The return of water resistance is also welcome, which sees this device sneak into the top five against some of this year's other premium devices.

Buy the Sony Xperia XZ:

6. LG G5


QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.3in | Storage: 32GB | Weight: 159g | Processor: Snapdragon 820 | Rear cam: 16MP/8MP | Front cam: 8MP | Battery: 2,800mAh | Screen res: 2560 x 1440 | Display density: 554ppi

More than any other manufacturer in 2016, LG can be given credit for trying to accomplish something different in the LG G5. Completely overhauling the design of the well-received G4, LG introduced a modular battery system that allowed it to introduce new accessories, like the dedicated photography attachment or the digital amplifier.

Paired with the unique new dual-camera setup, which offers users a super wide shooting option alongside the traditional rear camera, the LG is a powerful contender. It's a great idea that is implemented fairly well, though things like removing the battery are still a little clunky to be considered practical.

With some refinement, LG's friends ecosystem could become a powerful point of difference in an extremely competitive smartphone market.

Store Store description Phone Price
Cheapest Price
Free standard shipping to metro areas sitewide. LG G5 32 GB
Go to site

7. Huawei P9

huawei p9

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.2in | Storage: 32/64GB | Weight: 144g | Processor: Quad-core Kirin 955 | Rear cam: Dual 12MP | Front cam: 8MP | Battery: 3,000mAh | Screen res: 1920 x 1080 | Display density: 423ppi

Technically the Huawei P9 is the Chinese firm's second entry in the list, given that the Nexus 6P is in fact manufactured by Huawei. And it's obvious when you wrap your hands around the P9 that Huawei learnt a lot from its collaboration with Google, as the P9 is the best self-branded handset the company has produced.

Most notable is the dual-lens camera setup, which is itself a collaboration with camera company Leica. The P9 features two rear cameras, one which takes a black and white photo and the other which takes colour, and then software stitches the two together for super sharp results.

Throw in some solid battery life and respectable performance and you have a very solid flagship offering from a brand traditionally located between the budget and mid-range markets.

Store Store description Phone Price
Cheapest Price
Free standard shipping to metro areas sitewide. LG G5 32 GB
Go to site

8. HTC 10

HTC 10

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.2in | Storage: 32GB | Weight: 161g | Processor: Snapdragon 820 | Rear cam: 12MP | Front cam: 5MP | Battery: 3,000mAh | Screen res: 2560 x 1440 | Display density: 564ppi

Few smartphone make devices as refined as HTC, and the HTC 10 is an impressive feat of engineering. The 2016 flagship from the Taiwanese company builds on the HTC One family of the past few years, adding support for high-res Audio playback and shifting to the USB C standard.

You still get HTC's Boomsound speakers and ultrapixel camera technology, making the HTC 10 a very robust device. The only downside is that even though the specs of the HTC 10 look great on paper, in the real world they seem to underperform compared to similar devices with the same internal components.

Still, there's a lot to like about the HTC 10 as a device, making it a solid choice for anyone after an Android smartphone.

Buy the HTC 10:
Store Store description Phone Price
Cheapest Price
Free shipping for orders over $300. 12-month Standard Warranty included. HTC 10 32 GB
Go to site
Free Kogan SIM card with device purchase. HTC 10 32 GB
Go to site

9. Sony Xperia X Performance

Xperia X Performance

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5in | Storage: 32GB | Weight: 164g | Processor: Snapdragon 820 | Rear cam: 23MP | Front cam: 13MP | Battery: 2,700mAh | Screen res: 1920 x 1080 | Display density: 440ppi

2016 saw Sony take a big step away from the Xperia Z family it had been growing for the past five years, redesigning its flagship family to launch the Xperia X smartphone. The top of the line model in the family, the X Performance, was the only model that included the water resistant design the Z family made famous.

While Sony's camera excels and the processor performance is solid, the inclusion of some less-than-premium components compared to other models in this list and mediocre battery life see the X Performance well down the list in today's smartphone lineup. With the imminent arrival of the Xperia XZ too, it probably won't remain in the top 10 list for too long.

Buy the Sony Xperia X Performance:

10. iPhone 6S Plus

Apple iPhone 6S Plus

QUICK SPECS – Screen size: 5.5in | Storage: 16/64/128GB | Weight: 192g | Processor: Apple A9 | Rear cam: 12MP | Front cam: 5MP | Battery: 2,750mAh | Screen res: 1920 x 1080 | Display density: 401ppi

Apple's second attempt at a phablet-styled phone shows that the Cupertino company has come a long way since the early iPhone models. The iPhone 6S Plus adds a heap of additional screen real estate to the iPhone 6S, while the extra size allows Apple to squeeze a significantly larger battery in as well.

That extra battery is most welcome here, as is the inclusion of optical image stabilisation in the iPhone's 12-megapixel rear camera.

Otherwise though, the Plus variant of the iPhone 6S is near identical to the smaller model, just bigger. If you like bigger devices and want something that runs iOS, then this is the phone for you.

Buy the Apple iPhone 6S Plus:
Store Store description Phone Price
Cheapest Price
Free Kogan SIM card with device purchase. Apple iPhone 6s Plus 64 GB
Go to site
Free standard shipping to metro areas sitewide. Apple iPhone 6s Plus 64 GB
Go to site

Latest Mobile Phones news

Glossary: Key smartphone terms to consider

DisplayAMOLED displays don’t need a backlight, screen pixels are actually turned off to produce blacks, which can save energy. Super AMOLED has improved visibility in direct sunlight. LCD displays use a backlight, which reduces contrast. IPS LCD displays has truer colour reproduction and looks better when you view the screen from an angle.
OSThe operating system. The Apple iOS works seamlessly with the App store for a dynamic and engaging mobile phone experience. Android is an open source platform created by Google — anyone can have a play with it. All the phones on the list use the Android OS except the Apple iPhones.
RAMRAM is your phone’s short term memory. When you use an app, instead of writing data to your phone’s internal storage or SD card (long term memory), the data is stored in the device’s RAM so it can be recalled quickly and easily when it’s needed. The more RAM the better.
The Apple iPhone has far less RAM than the Android smartphones. When the RAM fills up on an Android phone, RAM is recycled through a memory heavy process called garbage collection. Apple does it differently and is able to run just as smoothly with half the RAM of most Android mobile phones.
Mega pixelsMP is short for Megapixels and is generally accepted as a guide for image quality. More megapixels doesn’t mean a better looking photo. Megapixels are about the maximum size of the image and the image quality. The more megapixels, the larger you can ‘blow up’ your picture without it becoming distorted.
Sensor sizeToo many megapixels for a small image sensor will ruin the image quality.

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10 best phones you can buy in Australia

Position Phone
Number 1Samsung Galaxy S7
Number 2Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Number 3Google Pixel XL
Number 4Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Number 5Sony Xperia XZ
Number 6LG G5
Number 7Huawei P9
Number 8HTC 10
Number 9Sony Xperia X Performance
Number 10Apple iPhone 6S Plus
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2 Responses to Best phones 2016: 10 best smartphones you can buy

  1. Default Gravatar
    Kafe | August 26, 2015

    What is the best mobile phone with the largest ram and expandable memory at a cheap price with excellent features and apps

    • Staff
      Brodie | August 27, 2015

      Hi Kafe,

      The new Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge boasts a massive 4GB of RAM. However, the latest Galaxy handsets (including the S6 Edge) do not offer expandable memory. I’d recommend either waiting to see what the Sony Xperia Z5 offers or settling for a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, which has 3GB of RAM and expandable memory up to 128GB.



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