2016 was a huge (and crazy) year for smartphones. We started off the year with truly premium handsets from Samsung — the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge. And throughout the year, we’ve seen a lot of other great options — the LG G5, the HTC 10, the Moto Z, the LG V20, and the Google Pixel among them. These are all great phones, but it goes without saying, people’s opinions differ widely from one phone to another.
This year we’re once again putting out our top picks for the best phone of 2016, with an opinion from each of the team members here at Talk Android. Be sure to join us after the break to see some of the very best phones from this year!
Justin Herrick — Editor In Chief
What a year. Everyone delivered promising devices full of innovative qualities, but only Samsung came out on top with the Galaxy S7. It’s everything that everyone wants. Nothing is missing. Back in 2016, the masses were scared away from the Galaxy S6 due to it missing a water-resistant design and a microSD card slot. Samsung brought its most loyal customers home while welcoming first-time buyers when the Galaxy S7 was released in early 2016. The body is made of metal and glass, but the Galaxy S7 can still take a splash and expand its storage. And, of course, the specs are impeccable.
There’s no question, to me, that the Samsung Galaxy S7 is the very best phone we’ve seen in 2016.
Brad Ward — Senior Editor
Samsung’s Galaxy S7 launched early this year and has had quite a bit of competition rise since then. But, even after all the different releases, I still say the Galaxy S7 is the best premium package Android has to offer. With the sleek metal and glass design, innovative hardware, long battery life and refined software, Samsung has shown us what a truly premium Android phone looks like in 2016.
Jared Peters — Author
Lenovo introduced the Moto Z family this year as a new line of smartphones with a unique feature; Moto Mods. All of the phones support the Moto Mods (which are great on their own) but the Moto Z Play really continued Motorola’s recent tradition of fantastic phones at good prices. We don’t always need an extremely high-end phone, and many of us would gladly sacrifice some excessive features for battery life and performance, and the Moto Z Play nailed that. The Moto Mods were just icing on the cake.
Jeff Causey — Author
The year started out with the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S7, a solid entry in the line that pleased reviewers and buyers. The device was a solid market entry for a company that generally sets the pace in the Android phone pace. That is a lot to live up to and meeting those expectations means something was done right, so credit to Samsung.
At the opposite end of the timeline is the Google Pixel. Amidst much hoopla, Google decided to take greater control over their in-house hardware. Google went for top-tier specifications. This brought along with it a premium price tag in a calculated move by Google to try to elevate their brand. That upset some Android loyalists, but the move appears to have pleased the market and general consumers who have placed enough orders to keep the wait for a shipping date several weeks long.
Although they got there in different ways and their achievements represent different important qualities needed for a successful phone, I’m going to vote for a tie for the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Google Pixel for the best phone of the year for 2016.
Peter Holden — Author
There have been some mightily impressive phones released this year, and after careful consideration, the Honor 8 is my choice as the best phone of 2016. It’s an absolutely stunning handset, takes fantastic photos, and has stellar battery life. While the phone runs Huawei’s EMUI interface, it’s the best version yet and is easily lived with. Cosmetically, the phone’s rear panel is a constant ‘wow’ factor and gives the Honor 8 a unique appearance belying it’s mid-range price.
Kevin Arnold — Author
Despite the high price tag, Google finally decided to go all-in with a premium phone of its own. With unique features, an unbelievably stellar camera, and amazing build quality, the Pixel simultaneously represents what the best of Android can be and stand as a direct competitor to other companies in the mobile industry. It’s a phone that, because of its existence, pushes everyone in race to innovate and better themselves.
This is only the beginning on Google’s rise in hardware.
Nick Martin — Author
Look over at Apple. Tell me what you see. A really good phone, right? A huge part of the iPhone’s success is the control Apple has over its product. Both hardware and software are developed by the same company; therefore, the iPhone feels like a complete device in every sense. Google, too, is getting into the business of doing all of the work itself. The Pixel is the iPhone of the Android world, and that’s not a bad thing. Every component is tailored for the software and the software is tailored for every component. Google’s Pixel is the way Android is intended to be experienced.