If you’re like most of Team AA, you’ll often be asked which to provide advice on which phone your family, friends, or people you randomly meet should buy. In 2015 we introduced Best of Android to answer this question and this year, we picked the top ten phones on the market in a bid to help you answer this question.

Over the past few days, we’ve put ten of the latest flagships through a series of tests, with categories ranging from audio and camera to battery and performance. The tests were designed to quantitatively test most aspects of each phone. Here’s the phone’s that we’ve been testing:

The series :

How we crowned the winner

Throughout all the testing, we ranked each smartphone in order (from 1st to 10th) and used these rankings to decide the overall winner. For each category, the smartphone coming first gained ten points, second place got nine points and so on. At the end, we added up all the points and then calculate average scores for each phones across all test. The phone with the highest is the Phone of the Year 2016!

The Phone of the Year 2016 is… OnePlus 3T

After an arguably less impressive showing with the OnePlus 2, OnePlus finally showed us their A-game again with the OnePlus 3. The 3T is an incremental update that adds a few extra coats of polish, further improving what was already a pretty solid device. The result is a phone that while not being the very best for display, audio or camera, proves to be excellent in the battery and outstanding in the performance departments.

Thus it’s the best all-round smartphone in our list, and one of the cheapest as well, at a cost up to 30% lower than its rivals. OnePlus donned the “Flagship killer” moniker in the past and the OnePlus 3T is a smartphone that certainly lives up to this billing. The latest processor and 6GB of RAM deliver an experience that’s smooth, slick and top-notch.

Honorable mentions

The OnePlus 3T proves a worthy winner here but as we mentioned above, each phone has a particular feature that allows it to stand out from its rivals.

Google Pixel XL

The first phone “made by Google” brings with it the guarantee of the fastest possible updates to the latest Android version, as well as Google’s own AI-based Assistant. These features combined with excellent low light photos and a pure Android experience make the Pixel XL deserving of its honorable mention.

Huawei Mate 9

The latest flagship from Huawei is the first to run the new Kirin 960 processor and packs a 4,000mAh battery and a Full HD display. This translates to outstanding performances in the battery and performance tests and combined with a revamped software experience, the Huawei Mate 9 is one of the stand out devices of 2016.

ZTE Axon 7

The Axon 7 proves that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a flagship experience that includes a Snapdragon 820 processor, QHD display and a 3,250mAh battery, at a cost of sub-$400. Solid performances in battery and audio make the Axon 7 one of the best bang-for-your-buck smartphones released in 2016.

Who’s your winner?

With many ways to test smartphones and as different features matter more to different people, it’s possible that you may have come to your own conclusion, which may, or may not, differ from ours. Having seen our testing, the results and the rankings, what do you think? Who’s your winner and who would you give an honorable mention to?

Vote for which phone is your Phone of the Year 2016 in our poll below and let us know why this phone won, as well as which phones you’d give an honorable mention to down in the comments.

 

  • David A. Lessnau

    “In Best of Android 2016, we’ll be looking at these crucial aspects of user experience:

    Display
    Audio
    Camera
    Battery life
    Performance”

    What about software updates and security? That’s the primary differentiator as far as I’m concerned.

    • Prince Mensah

      It’s as if the they already know which phone will win….

      • We’ll be factoring unique features, software updates and security into our final decision but the results may be surprising.

    • Daggett Beaver |dBz|

      My Note 4 has this month’s (December) security update.

      That’s right, a Note 4. Not even a Note 5. It’s more than 2 years old. Google phones aren’t the only phones to get security updates.

    • mit

      im quite sure people dont usually grill the seller over whether the phone gets regular security updates. majority probably doesnt even know their phone gets security updates

  • Prince Mensah

    It will either be the S7 Edge or the Pixel XL…..and Sony? It’s there as a sign of respect to them…..knowing how AA functions of late….

    • I wouldn’t be too sure. To win, the phone needs to excel in several areas and the results may be surprising ;-)

    • DaHitman

      Has to be the S7 Edge, as for Sony……………..who?

  • Akira Tabuchi Yagui

    why the Xiaomi Mi5 instead of the mi5s? ok, we already know who’ll win, but at least give the Chinese manufacturer a chance …

  • sachouba

    That seems fair, unlike most “best smartphone” awards.

    Design / screen-to-body ratio / operability should be taken into account, too, in the final decision, in my opinion (just like in your reviews).

    Of course, I hope you’ll use the international version of the S7 Edge when it comes to battery life and performance. ;)

    • Kunal Narang

      Don’t you think design is purely the choice of the customer?

      • Battery life also matters a lot for internet user who spends more time on it.

    • Anon

      don’t forget price!

  • Daggett Beaver |dBz|

    I triple-dog-dare you to pick something other than the Bezel and Bezel XL as the best phone. Show some spine for once.

    • Kunal Narang

      I see you trolling Pixel and Pixel XL on every article. What’s your grouse?

      • Airyl

        He really doesn’t like Pixel and Nexus devices. Something about them being overrated because they have no features?

      • The Black Hand

        It’s junk and ugly af.

    • Sned

      They didn’t.

  • Bezel XL FTW!! or could’ve easily been the Galaxy Fireball if they had their way. You always know with these guys.

  • Ciro

    Xperia xz win!!! More complete!

    S7 oboslet phone, no have USB type C, no have stereo speakers, no DAC Hi RES, no botton camera..
    S7 use tecnology 2015!!

    • Lol you’re funny ^^
      But the xz has the same perf that the s7, but the s7 is way cheaper ;p

    • mit

      you is no has proper english

  • Zimno

    I hope the results of this list get cross referenced against price to come up with the best value best phone. The S7 Edge and Pixel are probably the best on paper, but if they’re not affordable they’re not the best value. Trying to compare phones that are targeted at different groups and different build costs is otherwise so subjective to be redundant.

  • Kunal Narang

    My favorite series of all time is back!

  • Howard Zhang

    i think S7 edge and V20 should also on the list?

  • Earl DePass Jr.

    Value, speed, DASH charging, rapid updates, and a strong developer community, combine to make the 3T something special. The OnePlus 3T deserves the distinction as Phone of the Year.

  • steadymobb

    DL best phone comment thread is a dogfight compared to this

  • Steve

    The OnePlus 3T is an awesome device! The battery life is insane too! I’d recommend it to anybody looking for a new smartphone. It also feels similar to a nexus device with very little bloatware and fast updates.

    • I’d argue the exynos variant of the S7 Edge tops it. IP68 is pretty crucial IMO.

  • POINTLESS GUY

    According to AA’s “Best Smartphone Awards” lists and their rules of calculation, I did the math.
    This is not a biased calculation.

    Moto Z Force Droid: 6 + 6 + 8 + 10 + 9 = 39
    OnePlus 3T: 10 + 8 + 6 + 6 + 7 = 37
    ZTE Axon 7: 7 + 9 + 7 + 5 + 5 = 33
    Google Pixel XL: 5 + 3.5 + 9 + 3 + 8 = 28.5
    Huawei Mate 9: 9 + 10 + 4 + 2 + 3 = 28
    Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge: 4 + 1 + 2 + 8 + 10 = 25
    Sony Xperia XZ: 8 + 2 + 1 + 9 + 4 = 24
    HTC 10: 1 + 5 + 10 + 4 + 1.5 = 21.5
    LG V20: 3 + 3.5 + 5 + 7 + 1.5 = 20
    Xiaomi Mi 5: 2 + 7 + 3 + 1 + 6 = 19

    p.s. How in the hell did Moto Z Force Droid come up top? I don’t even like that phone.

    • Braxton Meyer

      It didn’t the S7 Edge did… you just forgot the 17 that the S7 Edge got in awesomeness….

      • Daggett Beaver |dBz|

        The OP3T and Axon 7 are both awesome phones for the price. But the S7 Edge should have won this easily. You pay more, but you actually get what you pay for. It does so much that no other phone can do.

        • Mustrashh

          S7E is way slower then OP3. S7E has a better screen and camera, and that’s about it. In every other compartment OP3 destroys S7E. For half the price.

    • Overheated Oven

      if you put oneplus 3T & moto z side by side you ll understand why it didnt came on top … :P

    • Howard Zhang

      how did you get the score of display and audio ? they are not on the article

      • POINTLESS GUY

        Using AA logic. ;)

    • Goran

      Everything is lately strange with AA.

  • Jay X

    -USB 2.0
    -Proprietary Charging

    3T’s biggest faults in my opinion

    • Croc Ography

      Funny you mention USB 2.0, that is the reason I bought an Axon 7 instead.

      • Jay X

        That was my exact same thought process and that was exactly what I did. I can’t be using USB 2.0

        • Emmet

          Why not? Seriously curious because I only use the USB cable for charging.

          • Jay X

            Data transfers. USB 3 is way faster

          • Mustrashh

            You transfer 30gb multiple times of day? I mean, I would rather have usb3.0 then 2.0, but I don’t find that as fault at all.

          • Jay X

            I have a lot of files. Again, I said it’s a fault in my opinion

  • Joms

    None of the above, Le Pro 3 for me. Performance, Battery and Price, nothing touches it. This list if pure BS. And the review of Le Pro 3 is also BS, obviously rushed with no comparison at all.

  • Daggett Beaver |dBz|

    The tests were bogus, and the results are, too. But at least you didn’t go with the Bezel XL as number one, I’ll give you credit for that. The Bezel XL is definitely number two, if you catch my meaning.

  • Marius-Adrian Zoltan

    Ordered a oneplus3T, it should be called 3w, the “w” for weeks it takes to ship, through official store

    • all good things come a little bit late. patience is a virtue.

      • mit

        no wonder i spend so long in the bathroom

  • I love you AA. You said what all of us wanted. Overall rating is based on overall user experience and not on abundance of (unused) features.

  • Chuck Jones

    C’mon, this article was paid for by Oneplus.
    It shouldn’t even be on the list!
    It makes absolutely no sense, unless Oneplus bribed AA.

    • Shay Seale

      It actually does make a lot of sense
      The OnePlus 3T is a very solid phone

    • Goran

      When I saw mate 9 on the list, HTC 10 and S7e missing….Something is strange here…You are probably right.

  • Samuel Hauptmann van Dam

    The only thing that scares me about this is that they might increase the price again.

  • PakBelalang88

    does s7 that good? still sceptical on samsungs phone. as their advertisement look gimmicky. played with s7, felt nbothinbg special. n the always active screen is ugly. lols.
    my choice would be oneplus and LGv20(camera software is good)
    best innovation would be on Moto Z force.

    just my opinion. my be biased, using V10 lols

  • Shay Seale

    I’m genuinely surprised the S7 Edge didn’t make the list…

  • Goran

    The winner is ok but what is lately with AA and huawei? Forcing so much mate 9…. This is really suspicious. That phone is only ok, missing so much to be in the best of 2016. Huawei is known dirty player, I am really worried about AA objectivity. Pixel started this trend, mate 9 finishing it.

  • Alexander Bergman

    YES FINALLY!! You have the balls to tell the truth. Oneplus 3T is the best! Not just thanks to it’s price but rather the exceptional specs it carries. The real reason why people keep praising the Google Pixel series is for status much like the case with iPhones.

    • thereasoner

      I praise it for its fantastic performance, unlimited storage, awesome cameras, fast updates and the cool AI Assistant myself.

      Not sure that the Pixels have that “status” symbol thing at this point, they’re selling good but not that well yet.

  • OpinionsSmellFunny

    S7 Edge? I’d give that one the second spot, for sure. If I had my choice, I would have the 3T, but I got the s7 ($0 phone on sale). LOVE IT! You so crazy AA.

  • Dr. M

    Here is how I rank cellphones — All the important attributes weighed, including price. Top of the rankings – two versions of the Axon7. The OnePlus 3T – such great specs and pretty good price – coming in third – held back by a 1080×1920 screen.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dc013eb7083edb7c61c665b22da9706abb47aeada4d38c2670fe21b233a24613.jpg

  • Not gonna lie. I was expecting S7 Edge to be the best. Everyone and their mother seems to favor that phone.