Smartphone Reviews

46

The Galaxy S8 and plus-sized S8+ are absolutely brilliant smartphones. They're not without their flaws, but in everything from industrial design to internal hardware to software refinement, Samsung has knocked this one out of the park.

3

It's hard to stand out in the smartphone world, especially if your phone doesn't do anything unique. LG knows this and has never shied away from trying new ideas. It was one of the first companies to make use of curved screens, and last year, it released an insane smartphone with a "magic slot" that let you plug in accessories, including a camera and a speaker. The phone was a disaster. It was poorly reviewed, and few people bought it. This year, LG is hitting the reset button with the G6, a modern flagship with all the essentials and not much else.

2

When did mid-range phones get good? When did they get waterproof, with good cameras, great battery life, and design that looks just about as high-end as anything else you can buy?

In so many different ways, the Galaxy A5 and A7 are a cheaper and more restrained version of Samsung's own chart-topping Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge from last year.

1

Sometimes bigger is better. When it comes to phones, that's more true than ever — a bigger screen is easier to read, and a bigger body hides larger batteries and means more battery life. And that means Huawei's massive Mate 9 is one of the best new Android phones you can buy in 2017.

3

The Oppo R9s is a smartphone that will cost you less than $600 to buy, but that promises an experience — camera, interface, design and build quality — on par with a $1000-plus iPhone or Pixel or Galaxy. Can it keep that promise?

9

Step back, LG G5. There's a funky new modular smartphone on sale in Australia, and it's also — in its standard, straight-out-of-the-box guise — the world's thinnest. Motorola's Moto Z measures just 5.2mm from front to back, but still has the latest in high-tech hardware under the hood. Where LG's top Android phone ejects its modular components like a pistol's magazine, though, the Moto Z snaps them onto its rear case to add extra battery power, a high-res camera or a more powerful speaker.

5

The LG V20 is a very late entrant into this year's Android phone boxing match, but for exactly that reason it's arriving to the fight fresh and with a whole set of new tricks up its sleeve. Is this — very quietly, now — the best Android phone of 2016?

19

Sony actually has a top-end smartphone now. Learning from the stumbles of the rocky six month transition between the venerable Z Series phones and the Xperia X Performance, the new Xperia XZ brings back a little bit of finesse into Sony's smartphone design.

5

Until I had my hands on Playstation VR I couldn't understand the need for any VR that wasn't mobile. Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard are both "good enough" experiences with price tags a mere fraction of those of hulking VR systems like HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. For most people the only VR you need is the kind you show off at parties and family gatherings, and never think about again.

17

The camera on the iPhone has developed such a reputation for excellence that it's one of the device's central selling points. It's worth upgrading to a new phone just to get the latest and greatest camera. After a week of rigorous shooting, one thing is totally clear: the iPhone 7 has a damn fine phone camera that's the best you can buy right now.

19

At a glance, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus might both be confused for their predecessors, the 6s and 6s Plus. It's deceptive. The iPhone 7 is perhaps the most drastic revision of the phone since it was first released nearly a decade ago. It's not just the missing headphone jack. There are several other big ideas, including a new dual camera system (on the 7 Plus), a new touch sensor home button, and mercifully, newly added water resistance. These are substantial changes, and they hint at what we can expect from the future of Apple phones.

64

Google has a new phone. Two new phones, actually — a 5-inch Pixel and a 5.5-inch Pixel XL — that are packed to the brim with brand new software from the tech giant, including a new Google Assistant that takes the fight to Apple's Siri, a camera that is apparently the best ever on a smartphone, and all of Google's massive trove of search engine and artificial intelligence machine learning know-how packed inside.

6

A chat app with a built-in personal assistant, Google's Allo aims to be your virtual best friend. Back at the Google I/O developer conference in May, the search giant unveiled plans for two new communications apps in Duo and Allo. Duo is a simplistic video chat app, which was launched in August, while today Google takes the wraps off the far more ambitious Allo.

6

Apple's newest iPhone is here, and you've got just a few short hours to figure out which one is the absolute best deal. Although Apple didn't change up design much, the iPhone 7 and its larger 7 Plus sibling have more points of contrast than just size this time around.

20

Apple spent a lot of time today explaining that the iPhone 7 is the most "refined" iteration yet. Which is just a fancy way of saying that this phone's design is going to look very similar to last year's phone. Aside from a slightly different finish for the jet black model (glossy!) and some redesigned antenna lines, and that apocalyptic loss of a headphone jack, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus look very similar to their predecessors.

40

Samsung's newest phone is its best phone ever. But that's no surprise — we've said that about every flagship Samsung release for the last couple of years. No, what's interesting is why the new Galaxy Note7 stands out from the crowd — and it's not because of its world-first iris-scanning biometric unlocking.

15

You've probably seen something like the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 before. Its screen is huge, the camera takes ridiculously sharp photos, and it has a dorky little stylus that pops out of the phone's bottom. Since it was first released, the Note has become a staple for people who need (or want) a gigantic phone. But as I've found over the last week, the Note has evolved into a phone that almost anyone can love.