If you don’t want to buy an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7, which smartphone do you buy for uncompromising performance? We round up our top five picks!
We usually reserve giving our verdict on our favourite smartphones of the year during our December Awards, but we’ve undoubtedly experienced one of the most fascinating skirmishes between flagship smartphones yet in 2016. While both the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 enjoy good recall and great performance, where are you left if you don’t fancy either?
The good news is that you actually have plenty of options. While Apple may have generated headlines for dropping the headphone jack, and Samsung have enjoyed an explosive third term, smartphone manufacturers have turned out solid effort after solid effort this year – and we’ve rounded up our top five favourite smartphones for your perusal.
With this list, we’ve tried to accommodate something for everyone – if you have a favourite phone that we’ve not listed below, share it with us in the comments below!
Without further ado, let’s get started!
For that modular feeling – the Moto Z
Google’s Project Ara is dead, and it’s not going back. Similarly, LG’s modular experiment with the G5 failed so hard that the company is reportedly abandoning the concept altogether. So, what’s still in the running? Well, it turns out that Motorola’s Moto Z is still turning heads.
For the uninitiated, Motorola – which has recently relaunched in South Africa under Lenovo – launched the Moto Z earlier this year; a super slim, headphone jack-less contender with a special trick; it sports the capability to house removable back-plates that can add functionality at the drop of a hat.
Fancy getting the point or shoot experience? Buy the Hasselblad camera add-on, or you can add a power back or even – if you’re that way inclined – a clip-on JBL speaker. The possibilities are endless.
The great thing is, too, that you’re getting a flagship phone. With a 5.5″ 1440p display that runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, and a setup completed by 3GB of RAM, 32/64GB of internal storage expandable by microSD, as well as a 13-megapixel primary and 5-megapixel secondary camera, you’ve got a phone which can throw down with both the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7.
No frills, no spills – the Xiaomi Mi 5
Perhaps the idea of a modular smartphone is a bit too much for you; maybe you just want something slick and simple that you can get the job done with.
Xiaomi’s Mi 5 definitely has some influences; there’s the presence of a Samsung-styled rear panel and a Note-ish fingerprint reader. Still, if you can look past that, the Mi 5 is a great alternative for its snappy screen, sizzling performance, and the fact that thanks to the reveal of its new sibling – the Mi 5s – it’ll only get cheaper.
With a 5.15″ 1080p display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, in addition to a 16-megapixel camera and a 4-megapixel secondary camera, the Mi 5 is a simple, no-nonsense contender that might do away with certain frills, but will certainly get the job done. If you can look past MIUI, this is the way to go.
For the media hoarder – the LG V20
Here’s a phone which is also due in South Africa this month; the LG V20. Capitalizing on the failure of the LG G5 and the success of its predecessor, the LG V10, the V20 brings with it a Swiss Army Knife of media features.
While the V20 lacks a modular design, it sports some tricks of its own; namely, a “œQuad“ DAC, which maximizes volume output while minimizing distortion. That means that audiophiles can have a whale of a time listening to their favourite tracks or videos.
Users will be able to expect a Snapdragon 820 processor, 4GB of RAM, a dual camera setup straight from the LG G5, a 5.7“³ QHD display, 64GB of internal storage, a fingerprint scanner, and, of course, Android 7.0 Nougat.
See double, act single – the Huawei P9
Let’s not beat around the bush; we loved the Huawei P9. Featuring Huawei’s Leica-made dual lens camera setup, the P9 gave us one of the best photographic experiences we’ve had this year, and it’s been our default recommendation for mobile photographers since.
Alongside the camera that we think can unseat the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7, the P9 accommodates the most graceful rendition of Huawei’s design language yet.
With a 5.2″ 1080 display, a HiSilicon Kirin 955 processor, 3/4GB of RAM alongside a 32/64GB storage capacity that’s expandable by microSD, the P9 further has a sizey 3,000mAh battery. A dual-lens camera setup on the phone’s rear is constituted by two 12-megapixel sensors (one is colour, while the other is monochrome) while on the front users get an 8-megapixel unit.
If you can move past Huawei’s EMUI, the P9 offers great pound-for-pound performance which we feel makes it a natural competitor amongst such lethal company.
For the wild child – the Xperia Z5 Premium
If you’ve thought about buying either an iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7, there’s likely a part of you which is hedging on the shock value of unsheathing either phone from your pocket. If that’s the case, we ask you, why bother? Just go straight for Sony’s crazy Xperia Z5 Premium and turn heads wherever you go.
Thing is, the Xperia Z5 probably won’t turn heads for its design language – which is essentially an upsized version of the Xperia Z5 – or its software features. You will, however, draw cinephiles everywhere with the news that you have an industry first in your pocket – a 4K display on a smartphone.
In addition to that, the Xperia Z5 Premium totes a Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a 23-megapixel primary camera and 5.1-megapixel primary camera, and packs in a large 3,430mAh battery.
Further, given the fact that Sony has moved on with the likes of the Xperia X family, the Xperia Z5 Premium is only headed further towards bargain territory.
Have your say!
What smartphone would you turn to if the iPhone 7 or Galaxy S7 weren’t an option? Which device on our list is your favourite? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!