2016 saw some great smartphones come into the market with emphasis on features like camera, video and security. Here is our top pick:
Apple iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7
One of the biggest and most awaited launches of the year. The flagship iPhone series launch also saw the removal of the headphone jack following LeEco’s move to do the same. The iPhone 7 Plus was also Apple’s route to increasing battery backup, offer better camera and more storage. Apple also stunned consumers as it kept the launch prices of the phones same as its last version. The iPhone 7 Plus has a marvellous camera -- a dual-camera setup at the rear -- that helps in taking better and more detailed pictures in all kind of light conditions. It also added the Potrait mode that allows users to take depth effect features populary known as the ‘Bokeh’ effect in photography. The Plus also comes with the latest iOS 10 that allows more software optimisations and allows users to interact with the phone without evening unlocking it. All in all, we feel that the 7 series was the most balanced launch of the year when it comes to iOS.
The 7 is smaller and offers a little less battery efficieny. The dual camera and the potrait mode is also not available on the 7. However, everything else is identical to the Plus.
Google Pixel and Pixel XL
When you come to know that the world’s most popular phone OS-maker is revamping and launching a device of its own, then the only thing you do is wait eagerly for it. We did as well and the phone mostly lived up to our expectations. The 5.5-inch Pixel XL sports the Snapdragon 821 processor and 4GB RAM combination and is blazing fast. It can do some heavy-lifting as well. Throw anything at it and it handles it. Although we have noticed some heating on the device, it is worth mentioning that it cools down very fast as well. The Pixel also saw the launch of Android Nougat with the Google Assistant. Google has been betting on the Assistant to take a giant leap in artificial intelligence and create a conversation platform as users. The phone not only offers top specifications but also free unlimited Google photos and videos storage in origianl format.
However, it will be criminal on our part if we don’t mention the camera abilities of the Pixel. It is safe to say that it is the best camera that Android has ever seen. The 12.3-megapixel camera compares to the 7 Plus camera and is capable of taking well-balanced, detailed photos.
The camera also comes with electronic image stabilisation for better and less-choppy videos. It also sports phase detection, laser autofocus and dual-LED (dual tone) flash. The front camera is 8-megapixel.
Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge
Keep the Note 7 fiasco out of your mind for a while. The S7 series has all the qualities of a true flagship. The S7 tops benchmark scores with its powerful in-house Exynos processor and a 4GB RAM. But the best part of the Edge is its dual-edged design and how extremely light it feels in your palms. The 5.5-inch phone, which comes with a quad-HD display and Marshmallow operating system, was one of the first to lead the camera experience on phone. It offers many modes that most flagships didn’t offer at the time of its launch. The phone comes with a 12-megapixel camera that supports phase detection autofocus, optical image stabilation, LED flash. It can take beautiful photos and is at the same league as the Pixel. The phone sports a five-meagpixel front camera. The battery backup on the phone is also decent.
OnePlus 3 and 3T
Even though, the Chinese handset-maker launched the 3T at the end of the year, the road to glory was lead by its predecessor OnePlus 3. The 3 is a true flagship killer and offers the same speicifications of a premium smartphone at a much cheaper price (a discount of nearly 45%). The 5.5-inch 3 comes with an optic-AMOLED display which looks as bright as other premium smartphones. The combo of a 6GB RAM and a Snapdragon 820 processor makes it a beast at processing heavy games, multiple apps all at the same time. The 3 also has a huge battery of 3,000 mAh which is good enough for a day of heavy usage. It also supports dash charge which can come handy in tricky situations. The cameras are good and tries to offer a better photography experience but cannot be compared to the likes of Pixel, S7 Edge or the iPhone 7 Plus.
The 3T is an improved version of the 3 and sports a more powerful processor. The performance on the 3T is marginally better. It also offers incremental features with the addition of electronic image stabilistion, more storage memory and a bigger battery.
Another phone that snuck in just at the knick of time. This is LG’s attempt to make an actual smartphone with killer specifications and an unbreakable attidude. The phone’s best feature is that it doesn’t break if it falls from your hands. It just opens up and displaces the battery -- just like our old feature phones. The camera, video and sound improvements also make it one of the best smartphone launches of the year. An user with a V20 can do selective audio recording in a noisy place, take a video with no jerks and take advantage of several camera model.
This phone was the best news after Google’s Project Ara was put to rest. The G5 was the first modular phone that made doing new things with your smartphone look easy. Even though we don’t agree with the pricing, the G5 is quite an experience especially with its wide-lens cameras and the LG Friends (modules). With the inclusion of controlling a drone, the G5 can turn into a better camera, a DAC, help control a 360-degree camera and run a motion sensor robot. The 5.5-inch phone also has good battery backup.
When it comes to camera phones, you cannot ignore the P9 as it was the first smartphone to come with a dual camera. The phone sports a Leica-branded dual rear camera setup that even if a tad slow, takes nice contrast-level pictures. It also sports several modes that can take your photography experience to a new level. The phone also comes with a pedometer that makes basic wearables obsolete. It also sports a powerful enough processor and RAM combo to support heavy games and multitasking.