This year’s end is almost here and 2017 is around the corner. This means that amazing sales for Black Friday, Christmas gifts and end of the year are ready to hit the market. Of course, while almost everyone owns a smartphone, it is not bad to check the market just for a last minute change. It is also important to know what the market has to offer, especially for a nice price during the last months of the year, just in case you want to purchase a gift for your special ones or yourself, or if your device requires replacement.
In what concerns smartphones, 2016 meant many updates for some big names, but also just a couple of changes for others, all for the sake of pleasing the customers’ needs. We will not say anything more and let you discover 4 of the best smartphones that 2016 brought us.
Sony Xperia Z5
The last model of the Z series and the one to leave the door open for the X series in February 2016, Sony Xperia Z5 came as the device with a revolutionary camera and innovative design. Xperia Z5 was introduced as Sony’s smartphone with the greatest camera, with its Hybrid Autofocus, which, combined with the 23 megapixel sensor and the 5x zoom, enhanced the speed and accuracy. Sony Xperia Z5 is also equipped with a brand new image sensor that allows taking photos at night, without risking any unwanted noise or blur effect.
Even the phone’s design is catchy. The device has a smooth form with a metal frame and a frosted glass back. However, the design is not only a visual benefit of Xperia Z5, as it also provides waterproofness. Rain – and the summer showers, actual storms, knocked over drinks, even drops in the toilet or sink will not require a replacement or a bowl of rice, because this jewel is not afraid of water.
Moreover, it is not only protected against water! Xperia Z5 has a fingerprint sensor integrated in its power button. The location of the button makes things easier, so that the owner can pick it up and unlock it at the same time. The same couldn’t be said about nosy friends.
What about the battery, you might wonder. Smartphones are mini computers, cameras, recorders, TVs and music players all in one, but this also means being dependent on the plug and socket duo, depending on how much you use the device. Sony thought of this issue and for a quick charge of 45 minutes, you can get a full day and perhaps even two. So you might not need to worry about that camping trip.
Subsequently, the smartphone also provides Hi-Res Audio and it can digitally block the surrounding noise so that you can focus on your music. Other technical details include its weight of 154 grams, dimensions of 146 x 72 x 7.3 mm, with a screen of 5.2” FHD 1080p. The apparatus takes microSD™ cards of up to 200 GB and has a Single/ Nano SIM capability. The device comes with an incorporated Google Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system.
The first Android handset for Blackberry, Priv provides an all touch screen with gesture support, fine cursor control, Touch enabled on screen keyboard and 4 row physical keyboard that can be slid out. The keyboard has a contextual auto correct feature and next word prediction, but also a personalized learning engine set to memorize the way you type. Except for its physical keyboard, Priv also has keys for locking the device (which includes the power on and off feature), a mute key, and a volume up and down one. The display has a resolution of 2560 x 1440, 540 PPI, with a screen size of 5.4” diagonal and a 16:9 ratio.
In what concerns the memory, BlackBerry Priv has a RAM of 3 GB with a flash of 32 GB. This can be expanded via a microSD card of maximum 2 TB. The battery is non-removable, with a power of 3410 mAh, and wireless charger. The estimated time for the battery’s life can get even to minimum 10.2 hours and maximum 72.7 hours.
The rear camera is of 18 megapixels with the property of optically stabilizing the image, detecting auto focus and fast focusing. Along 4x zoom and illumination on the back side, the rear camera also provides the panorama, burst and live filters, while the videos can reach 1080p with 60 fps. The front camera has a lower quality at only 2 megapixels, 2x digital zoom 720p HD for video recordings, but it has a panorama feature for selfies entitled “Wide Selfie Mode”.
BlackBerry’s Android smartphone can read various image formats such as the usual BMP, JPG and PNG files, but also the user favourite GIF, and audio and video formats such as MIDI, 3GP, MKV, AAC, MP3, AVI, DIVX, MP3, WAV, MPEG-2, WMV, etc., while it can encode and decode files in MIDI, MPEG-4, DivX, MP3, WMA, MPEG-2, Xvid and others.
The smartphone comes with a bunch of its own pre-installed apps (BlackBerry based), but also Google based. The BlackBerry apps include content transfer, the BlackBerry camera, device search, the keyboard, password keeper, and Calendar. The Google apps include Android’s device manager, Gmail, Google Chrome, Google Drive, Google Play for movies & TV, Google Play for music, the Google Play store, Google’s Street View, the Google+ social network, Play for books and the one for games. Other services provided by Google are the syncing options for contacts and calendar, WebView for the Android system, Google Play Services, Google’s features of transforming text to speech and the one for talkback.
Other features include on screen and multi-colour LED indicator, Wi-Fi Direct, 4G Mobile Hotspot, Bluetooth 4.1 Low Energy, GPS with pre-loaded Google Maps and sensors for proximity, ambient light and accelerometer, but also Braille Back.
Motorola Moto X Play
Moto X Play comes with an interesting design, which is not all about aesthetics, but is also practical due to its water repellent properties. But what is the most exciting part when it comes to Motorola Moto X Play is that its battery has one of the best endurances for a device running on Android. With 3630 mAh, the battery can last for 48 hours or “lasts as long as you do”.
The camera has a rich quality of 21 MP (opposed to the front camera which has only 5 MP) with 4x digital zoom to use for extraordinary photos and sharp videos. The flash is colour adjusting and the camera also enjoys a rapid focus and a night mode. Once taken, the videos and images can be admired on the 5.5” HD screen with a clear resolution of 1080p.
The device comes with the usual Moto software, enhanced by the Android provided OS – Android 5.1.1, Lollipop, a RAM of 2 GB and a ROM of 16 GB and even 32 GB. The availability for dual nano SIM and base models (black with black back, white with winter white back) might vary by market.
Huawei Mate S
Huawei began as a small Chinese business, but now it has made quite a name with its smartphones. 2016’s Huawei Mate S might not the best smartphone on the market, but it is one of Huawei’s best products. In terms of design, Huawei Mate S has a large format of 5.5 inches, measuring 149.8 x 75.3 x 7.2 mm, but rather light compared to other devices, weighting only 156 grams. The metal body’s anodised material offers friction, avoiding the phone to become slippery. On the side, there are the buttons for volume and power control, the location making it easy for the user to find them when holding the phone.
Mate S comes in a standard version of 32 GB in grey and champagne colours, a premium one of 64 GB in gold and coral and a luxury model of 128 GB, the last one being quite similar to Apple’s products. The pressure sensitive display is a change from the normal AMOLED one. The memory of the device can be further enlarged by the addition of microSD cards, while the RAM remains at 3 GB.
The battery has a power of 2,700 mAh, which is not very much, but somehow enough for a day. At least the phone will notify you when a background app consumes too much power, so that you can close it.
As we mentioned before, the 5.5 inch display provides an AMOLED panel, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels and a 401 ppi density. The display is a 2.5D one, the curved edges being protected by Gorilla Glass 4, which is resistant to any scratches. The colours are vibrant and the tones of black are deep, but they do tend to look oversaturated in some instances. All in all, the display has a very good quality for the phone’s price and battery power.
Like all the Mate S models, this one has a fingerprint scanner on the rear, making it easy for the device to be unlocked with only one tap, even when doing simple actions such as taking the phone out of the bag or pocket. But not only the fingers can be used to swipe or trigger selfies. Huawei has a knuckle control option that can be used to launch apps, the camera or trace letters. This option has visibly improved from its other version and makes the overall control of the device much easier.
In terms of camera aspects, Huawei is well known for its good cameras and it is really proud of it. The app itself resembles Apple’s in design, but has many options and settings to toy with. The rear camera is of 13 megapixels and has a dual tone twin LED flash and a fast focus asset, while the front camera has 8 megapixels and some beauty functions, because all selfies need a little touch of Huawei magic.
If you are interested in finding out a little bit more about what this year’s smartphones introduced and if you are considering buying one, but you are not fully convinced, we invite you to check out our next collection and discover 5 more great smartphones released in 2016.
As we mentioned above, the biggest device companies created an entire competition in releasing some ingenious smartphones. Some are fancier, some are more about performance, some are just for basic usage, and some require an arm and a leg, while some have decent prices. In other words, 2016 offered smartphones for all wallets and needs.
Therefore, until the release of the newest smartphones in 2017, you might want to check out these jewels that impressed the market, customers and smartphones fans this year. Perhaps LG, Motorola and Huawei have something that might conquer your heart just before the stores make space for the new names, and maybe at a low price.
LG Nexus 5X
The device made by LG and Google is not spectacular in terms of design; however, it has a plastic shell, which makes it very light compared to other products, especially considering its size. Having the dimensions of 147 mm x 27.6 mm x 7.9 mm, this baby of 5.2 inches and 136 grams is easy to use with only one hand and it can fit regular pockets. Available in white, black and blue, the phone is also quite resistant to drops and presumably, oleophobic, which means that no fingerprints stain the case. The only physical buttons are the power and volume buttons, the home one being replaced with a speaker grille and a digital version on the screen. Speaking of speakers, having only one is not the best aspect, but when the headphones are plugged in; the sound does show its real power.
On the back, Nexus 5X has a fingerprint scanner, which works pretty well and is for people who do not like wasting time unlocking their phones. This feature has been tested by customers and it has not failed to impress with its promptness – it is both fast and accurate.
For a cheaper smartphone, Nexus 5X does not have a display of cheap quality. The LCD display measures 5.2 inches with a 1080 x 1920 p resolution, protected by Gorilla Glass 3. Its brightness goes up to 487 nits, while the colours are well defined regardless of the lighting settings.
The camera is also not a cheap one, the rear camera having a resolution of 12.3 MP, with the capability of taking 4K videos and the front one of 5 MP. The result is rich images despite the quality of the lighting. The app is the one that has disappointed the users with its bugs, but at least it has some photo tricks such as photo sphere, panorama and lens blur.
The phone comes with 2 GB of RAM and a limited internal storage of 16 GB and 32 GB, has GPS, Bluetooth 4.2, Wi-Fi, and a battery of 2,700 mAh estimated to last a day without much usage, though it does charge quickly. However, it is compatible with any cellular carrier, while it is also one of the few phones to support Google’s own cellular service – Project Fi.
After so many plastic designs and leather back, LG followed its competitors in the metal and glass design with LG G5’s metal design and even removable battery. The device incorporates a rather small fingerprint scanner and an upgrade from G4 – the volume controls moved to the side and not the rear.
A problem that many smartphone users encounter is the overheating of the phone, with an emphasis on heat. Cases of smartphones causing severe burns and even exploding have made manufacturers more attentive. In the case of G5, LG provided a Snapdragon 820 processor with 4 GB of RAM. The phone does get a little warm when using more demanding apps, but you can be sure of your safety. Though, such processor is not exactly battery friendly, especially on G5’s. The device’s battery has a power of 2,800 mAh, which is not exactly the best and long lasting, making the possibility of changing the battery more tempting. However, until buying a new battery, G5 has Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 to take care of power issues and in a very short amount of time.
Throughout the history of mobile phones, people have went from using huge devices to reducing them to tiny, though a little bit heavy ones, to going back to large devices, yet thin. This is also the case with G5, which is not exactly a small phone, but it is remarkably slimmer, having only 8 mm, with a screen of 5.3 inches. The LCD display has a Quad HD resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels (554 ppi) and a brightness going up to 900 nits, while the colours and contrast are both ample, though sometimes blue-ish.
The camera of 16 MP has a very accurate autofocus and an aperture of f/1.8 for situations when the lighting is poor. In fact, many customers have claimed that this is one of the best cameras to use in all conditions and environments. The 8 MP front camera is not far behind, though it has some issues with the fingers being too easy to catch in the frame, but this is only because of the 135 degree field of view. If you are into photography or high quality selfies, you have the right cameras and an internal storage of 32 GB, which can be further expanded with microSD cards.
Huawei Mate 8
The Mate 8 is quite impressive, considering its rather low price compared to its huge size. With 157.1 x 80.6 mm and a thickness of 7.9 mm, Mate 8 has metal edges, curved corners and a back circular fingerprint scanner. Considering its size, the fingerprint scanner was placed smartly so that once the device is grabbed, the scanner can be naturally triggered without any effort. The only problem that all such scanners have is that moisture, especially rain, makes it almost impossible to use.
The device has an eight core Kirin 950 chipset, the 3 GB of RAM work quite good with the resolution of 1820 x 1080. Compared to other Huawei devices, the resolution might seem low and maybe even a little magenta, but it is more than enough, especially because there is no point in ruining the battery. Of course, the 4,000 mAh battery is strong enough to last more than one day even with battery draining apps such as Facebook and WhatsApp. Though, alerts about such apps can appear a little too often.
The cameras found in Huawei Mate 8 are something slightly different in quality. Faster than in the case of some of its predecessors, the 16 MP camera also has some interesting modes such as the high quality Professional mode, the original Standard mode, but also Beauty mode, used solely for smoothing selfies. Just like in Snapchat, you can add the watermark filter for geographical details, but the icing on the cake is the Business Card option, which is meant to pull out and fill in information from business cards.
Motorola Moto G4
The fourth generation of Moto G and also more pricy, but still affordable, Motorola Moto G4 is a quite a big device, measuring at 153 x 76.6 mm, with a thickness of 9.8 mm and a weight of 155 grams, supporting a display of 5.5 inches. The design is slightly more sophisticated than the previous models, with the speaker grill not put on the face, silver edges, a removable polycarbonate back, and metal buttons. Moto G has also water repellent properties, so that drops of water and a drop in water will not do any harm. However, even if the front can only remain black or white, with Moto Maker you can make your own personalised rear.
The 5.5 inch display we previously mentioned comes in Full HD resolution with 1920 x 1080 pixels and a density of 4401 ppi. The level of luminance is not that great and neither is the colour level, but it is sufficiently satisfactory.
The performance, backed by Qualcomm Snapdragon 617 processor and 2 GB of RAM, is quite good with no stuttering, though it takes a little longer for some apps to load. The battery (2,999 mAh) can last around 24 hours depending on the usage, but the phone benefits from fast charging with an extra plug, which has to be purchased separately.
In what concerns the camera, it is not very different from Moto G3’s. The rear camera provides 13 MP with f/2.0 aperture, while the front one has 5 MP with the same f/2.0. The problem with lighting can be visible as photos taken in good lighting look decent, while the ones taken in poor lighting tend to be noisy. Nevertheless, the rest of the photos that are worth saving have plenty of space in the storage, which has a standard space of 16 GB and 32 GB in the more expensive version.
Honor might be a new name for many, reason why it is sufficient to say that it is a subsidiary of the more popular Huawei. Just because its history might not be rich, it does not mean that Honor 8 is an ordinary, medium quality phone. The device’s aspect has been compared to both iPhone, in terms of design, and Samsung, in terms of colour choice. The sides are glass coated with 2.5D glass, while the power and volume buttons are on only one side and quite too close one to another, which makes taking screenshots a little difficult. These features fit in the 5.2 inch phone, which is also thin with only 7.45 mm, along a rear fingerprint scanner. The phone also comes with a microSD tray that takes up to 128 GB to the original 32 GB and 64 GB.
Embodying HiSilicon Kirin 950 with 4 GB of RAM, Honor 8 has a pretty decent performance, though some apps can stutter occasionally. The usage of RAM can be controlled for the sake of battery with three battery options, one for limiting the CPU, and one for the battery’s longevity. The battery (3,000 mAh) is quite powerful for the phone’s dimensions, though it does not last very much with mixed usage, the duration being estimated to maximum 16 hours. However, it has the property of being fast charged and the battery life can also be saved with the low resolution mode.
Honor 8 comes with a Full HD panel of 1920 x 1080 pixels and density of 423 ppi, which is more than enough for the 5.2 inch diagonal. The screen can be controlled in terms of colour balance adjustment – this way avoiding a cold blue-ish screen or a warm magenta one. Auto brightness can sometimes fail its purpose, though the colour level is rather decent. Honor 8 also provides knuckle control, which can be used to write letters on the screen that would trigger apps.
There is not too much to say about the 12 MP camera, except that it can reach only f/0.95 and some of the photos taken can look slightly fake. However, it is quite decent for the smartphone’s price and has a Pro photo option that gives shutter speed, autofocus, compensates exposure, and controls metering and white balance.
Are you still not convinced which one is for you? Are you curious what the other smartphones that caused large queues in front of stores and people sleeping in tents outside them are? Or do you just want something more as the perfect gift at the end of a full year of work and hardships? Then stay tuned for our next collection, which will introduce you what bigger names such as Apple and Samsung brought in the 2016 smartphone competition.
In the previous article, we took a peek at what LG, Motorola and Honor had to offer this year. With cameras defined by 12 MP, RAM of 2 GB and large displays, there seem to be no difference between the devices provided by big names. However, 2016 is not full of clones. The small details make the big difference between cheaper phones and those very expensive. To check out some of the more expensive and fancy smartphones, we are going to introduce you to the new Huawei and Apple devices.
Huawei has been gathering quite a fan base by gaining ground in the smartphone industry. This year, Huawei brought plenty of phones to the worldwide market, accessible to all wallets. However, the second most impressive Huawei release of 2016 is, without any doubt, Huawei P9. Although it resembles the previous version, P8, this release has its own mark in the P series. The device comes with a bezel on its edges to complete the rose gold, prestige gold, titanium grey and mystic grey design colours. The sides also host metal buttons, SIM and microSD trays, and the headphone jack at the bottom. On the back, we find the much praised fingerprint scanner, which is one of the best, if not the best on any of the 2016 devices. The phone’s thickness of 6.95 mm is the result of a much powerful and resistant battery.
Speaking of battery, it does not have the option of quick charging and although it has a power of 3,000 mAh, it does not last too long, getting a little over 16 hours. This also has to do with the Kirin 955 octa core chipset, 3 GB RAM and quite bright screen. However, the phone does not get very hot, except when using the device as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Since we mentioned Huawei P9’s brightness, it is necessary to add that it reaches 500 nits, which makes it sometimes a little too bright to cope with, and the display does pretty well in different light conditions. The colours are also powerful on the 5.2” panel, with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, which is less than its’ competitors, but enough for the battery life to last a little longer.
The dual camera comes with a colour sensor of 12 MP, lens of f/2.2 and a monochrome sensor. These features make using additional filters rather pointless, and allow the photos to have a better original quality.
Other interesting features are the hidden apps screen and the user interface available for one hand usage, which includes automatically answering calls when the phone is picked up and rejecting the calls when the phone is flipped over. Also, for a quicker launch of the music player, one can draw an M with the knuckles.
Huawei Nexus 6P
2016 brought one of its best smartphones, LG’s Nexus 5X, but also Huawei’s top device – Nexus 6P. An obvious improvement with a larger size (5.7 inches), which would push it into the phablet category, and premium materials, 6P comes with a frame of aluminium and chamfered edges and in three colours: white, silver and graphite black. On the front, the phone has a glass of 5.7 inches and the grilles of the dual speaker. The notifications can be easier to notice by activating the phone’s RGB light, while the charging port is at the bottom, volume and power buttons on the right side, the SIM card tray on the left side and the top hosts the headphone jack.
On the back, the phone has a curved bar beneath the camera and flash, which might seem uncomfortable, but it gives the phone quite a unique and stylish design. On this curve, Nexus has its fingerprint scanner (Nexus Imprint), which has the same perquisites as its sibling 5X. The strategic placement of Nexus Imprint makes it easier for the user to unlock the phone while pulling it out of the pocket or grabbing it. The scanner also connects with Android Pay, making it possible to use options for contactless payment.
The 5.7 inch LCD display has a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and 518 ppi and Gorilla Glass 4 to protect it from scratches and shattering. However, its brightness does not reach Nexus 5X’s with 487 nits.
Nexus 6P’s rear camera has a decent quality of 12.3 MP and a fast laser autofocus. The camera captures the natural light very well, making the colours look as accurate as possible, though on gloomy days, which look more grey and cloudy than in real life. Otherwise, it does great with natural light, but it has some downwards, such as the optical image stabilisation which lacks. However, this problem is sort of resolved by the burst mode, which snaps eight photos out of which you can choose the right one or merge them into a GIF. But the camera is not only good for photos, as it can also record 4K videos.
In order to do all these, Nexus 6P needs a strong battery, which unfortunately is not too great for this phablet. The 3,450 mAh battery can last only a little more than a day, in case of intense usage. Though, this can be balanced with the aid of power saving batteries, including Doze, an app that stops everything, except for the basic calling and texting features. Thankfully, the phone also has the fast charging feature.
Apple iPhone 6S
We could have not discussed about this year’s best smartphones without mentioning Apple’s iPhones at all. The first we are going to present is iPhone 6S, which, at first glance, is no different from iPhone 6. However, 6S is slightly bigger than its predecessor, measuring 138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm and weighting 143 grams, with a 4.7 inch screen delivering a resolution of 750 x 1336 pixels. And it also comes in silver, space grey, gold and rose gold, and it still fits iPhone 6’s cases.
However, iPhone 6S’ most significant addition is the 3D Touch feature. Similar to Apple Watch’s Force Touch and MacBook’s trackpad, 3D Touch identifies the amount of pressure put on the screen. With such feature, pressing down icons reveals more options such as favourites when pressing the phone icon.
In what concerns cameras, the rear one has a sensor of 12 MP, which is an impressive upgrade from the 8 MP one, especially because the photos turn out looking quite natural. Of course, this also has to do with the autofocus, which takes a certain item as the central piece for sharpness. The front camera is a 5 MP iSight one that uses the screen as a flash for better selfies. Another feature exclusive for 6S is Live Photos, which makes taking photos less irritating when trying to capture certain moments in motion, by instead capturing videos of 1.5 seconds pre and after taking the shot. 6S also introduced 4K videos for iPhones, which is not the smoothest, but is still in an early stage and probably soon to be improved.
A former running gag on the Internet was based on the premise that iPhones’ batteries barely last a couple of hours. This is not the case with iPhone 6S, which although does not have the same battery performance as iPhone 6, it does quite good, especially when using Low Power Mode. In other words, it can last more than 24 hours, unless using all the games in the store.
Apple iPhone SE
Another great Apple release is the smaller 4 inch iPhone SE. This special edition does not come in the 6’s style with round edges, but it is a throwback at the iPhone 5 series, even fitting in its predecessors’ cases. With a size of only 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 and a weight of only 113 grams, iPhone SE is easy to carry in the pocket.
Of course, being so small, so is the screen’s size, which is of 4 inches with a resolution of 1136 x 640 pixels and density of 326 ppi, which gives it sufficient sharpness and bright natural colours. However, such a small screen tends to be anything but user friendly, considering that Apple’s devices are getting bigger and bigger, while the operational system is updated to fit these devices. The side effects are noticeable on iPhone SE with the crowded screen.
iPhone SE comes with other features borrowed from 6S, including the chipset which provides the Apple A9 processor with dual core 1.8 Ghz, with the graphics brought by Power VR GT7600 and with 2 GB of RAM. The camera also comes with the 12 MP found on iPhone 6S, instead of the 8 MP one from 5S. Therefore, the phone can also record 4K videos, take panoramas and have TruTone flash for snaps with a more natural look, as well as using the screen as flash for the 1.2 MP front camera And while 3D Touch is missing, Live Photos does not.
OnePlus 3 came as a surprise, being not only one of the best smartphones of 2016, but also rather cheap compared to its competitors. OnePlus 3 follows the HTC One series design by being shaped from only one piece of aluminium, with addition curves to the back and edges. The phone’s thickness of 7.35 mm makes it enjoyable to hold and even with a screen of 5.5 inches, it is still easy to grip, but not precisely with one hand. The left edge hosts the volume rocker and notification switch, while the right is reserved for the dual SIM tray and power button, the charging slot, 3.5 mm jack and mono loudspeaker holes remain at the bottom. What it lacks is the option of adding a microSD card, in order to enlarge the 64 GB storage.
OnePlus 3’s display took care of all the issues that made OnePlus 2’s lack life. The screen has now a better colour palette and contrast levels, while also having a dual polarising layer added to make the usage in bright light less inconvenient. Even when using it indoors with only 50% brightness level, the screen has enough lighting. And in order to protect such a precious screen, OnePlus 3 comes with a Gorilla Glass 4 surface.
If until now most smartphones came with a RAM of 2-3 GB, OnePlus 3 stands out with a total of 6 GB of RAM. This obviously makes gaming more pleasant. Another enhanced element is the fingerprint scanner, which is tiny and better than the forerunners’ and it can be used to access Android Pay or Barclays.
The battery (3,000 mAh) does not exactly last two days as promised, but it can go through 24 hours without requiring any charging. By making use of Google’s Doze mode, the phone can get into standby throughout the night and save essential battery power. However, you can even switch off the phone if all you need is the alarm, because even when the phone is off, the alarm rings. For those moments when the battery has died, the flash charging technology gives you back more than 50% in half an hour.
We could have not forgotten about the camera, which comes with 16 MP and the capability of recording 4K videos. The modes Dynamic Denoise, HD and HDR are available to use to get rid of the low light grey tones, boost sharpness and clarity and balance exposures, though they cannot be used at the same time. Other aspects can be easily modified in the camera’s options, such as changing light levels, opting for the Automatic mode or adjusting the shutter speed, focus and exposure.
If Huawei’s best products on the market so far did not convince you and neither did the older inspired iPhone series, nor the cheaper OnePlus, then maybe you should take a step forward. The official six best smartphones of 2016 are about to make you throw away your old phone.
These are the “it” phones of 2016, the ones that conquered the market and set up newer and higher expectations from smartphone manufacturers. The official best smartphones available this year are defined by 7’s, from Apple to Samsung, while HTC made its way to the top, too, while Google made everyone an unexpected beautiful surprise. If you are in search for top quality devices with an equal top price or even if you are just curious to see what this year’s craze in terms of devices was, check out these six jewels.
HTC 10 might be reminiscent of HTC One series with its all metal body, but its stealthy new design has some more additions. A design change that is easy to remark is the deep chamfer on the back. In terms of size and weight, HTC 10 is quite solid with its 161 grams and 154.9 x 71.9 x 9 mm, and it also comes in silver, carbon grey, gold and even red in Japan. Even the screen is quite chic with its sole Gorilla Glass covering sheet. However, unlike the other phones we presented, the fingerprint scanner comes in the front.
The volume coming from HTC 10 is clear and loud enough, thanks to the new BoomShound Hi-Fi, which includes a tweeter and a bass speaker with separate amplifiers. However, if the music genre and the age it comes from, paired with the sound coming out do not seem to suit your taste, you can use the Hi-Res headphones.
If you are wondering how the HTC 10 is doing in terms of performance, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset, paired with a RAM of 4 GB make the phone run smoothly and fast. Also, unlike the previous HTC flagships, it does not get extremely hot. The phone also comes with a microSD card slot for internal storage expansion and, while the Wi-Fi connectivity is rather poor, the fingerprint scanner works excellently.
HTC 10’s 3,000 mAh battery was presented as powerful enough to last two full days, in practice; the battery can get through a day, depending on how much the device is used. However, the phone supports fast charging in about an hour, due to Quick Charge 3.0. In order to extend the battery life, there is also the battery saving mode, which would reduce the screen brightness and slow down the performance.
Speaking of the screen, the Quad HD displays of 5.2 inches comes with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and density of 564 ppi. The colour contrast can be modified to appear cooler or warmer, but the auto brightness is not exactly the greatest, which makes things slightly unpleasant when the battery saving mode kicks in.
Still, the camera gets thumbs up compared to what HTC provided in the past years. The UltraPixel 12 MP rear camera comes with an f/1.8 aperture and good optical stabilisation for the image, but also laser autofocus. Dim light can cause some ISO issues, damaging some details, but the final result can be pretty good. The front camera comes with only 5 MP, which is in fact more than other smartphones have to offer, especially since it includes autofocus and an adaptive flash for selfies. The video captures can get to 4K, but only for a time period of 6 minutes. Unfortunately, there is no quick launch for the camera.
Apple iPhone 7 Plus
Apple entered fall with new devices. Coming in the usual gold, rose gold, silver, but also matte black and a glossy jet black, iPhone 7 Plus has a new antenna design and has no socket for headphones, a speaker grille being what replaced the socket. This means that whoever buys 7 Plus needs wireless headphones or a Lightning connector. Also, the Home button is no longer a button to be pressed and it doesn’t sense movement, because now it does not move anymore. Another great feature is 7 Plus’ waterproofness, considering that former drops in the toilet or pool used to cause a lot of damage.
In what concerns the cameras, 7 Plus as a rear dual camera, with a 56 mm f/2.8 lens for standard shots, and a 23 mm f/1.8 lens for wide angles. With these two lenses zooming to only get low quality and pixelated photos is not that much of a problem anymore, because the zoom can reach 230 mm, respectively 10x digital zoom. The lenses can further create a depth effect for portraits, meaning that the background would be out of focus. On the other side, the front camera comes with a resolution of 7 MP and f/2.2 aperture. The flash is also very good for capturing all the colours, but also for recognizing bodies and faces.
We mentioned that the home button has suffered some modifications. Instead of having the old classic button to be clicked, now we have a track pad like instrument, which activates a vibration that gives the impression of movement. The new button can be used for double taps, but also for signing into Touch ID.
iPhone 7 Plus also comes with the latest Apple A10 Fusion processor, which means faster loading and more likely no crashes so far. Considering this and the 5.5 inch screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels, the battery might seem in danger. However, the new 7 Plus’ battery can get through more than 24 hours. And while games and the camera can drain it, at least the battery is not as sensitive as before to communication apps.
Samsung Galaxy S7
The long awaited Samsung flagship might not seem in any way different in design, perhaps except for looking more minimalist. With a size of 142.4 x 69.9 x 7.9 mm and a weight of 159 grams, S7 is not part of the plastic back gang, but glass. All metal and glass, S7 is coated against damaging factors such as water and dust. The phone still has its physical home hey, which can still be double tapped to launch the camera app.
The hardware load can differ from Samsung’s octo core chipset to Qualcomm Snapdragon 820, but regardless of which version is hosted, S7 is still smooth and fast. With 4 GB of RAM, there are no troubles in switching from one app to another, which is a thumb up when it comes to playing games. Of course, the same demanding games that are benefiting from the new and better performance also raise the temperature of the phone. However, moments of overheating are rare and not taken to the extreme. This is also supported by a better battery of 3,000 mAh, which can last an entire day. For a better battery performance, the software comes with its usual power saving technology, the phone identifying the rarely used apps and keeping them closed. Of course, the device also supports quick charging with the specific charger.
The 5.1 inch display comes with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels and density of 571 ppi, vibrant colours and deep blacks. But while this is not exactly new, there is also a return, the one of microSD. Although the device comes with an internal storage of 32 GB, with 8 of them being eaten up by the system, the microSD card slot is more than welcomed. However, the section is not integrated, appearing as a separate area. Though, one good enough for any media files, especially photos coming from the 12 MP (f/1.7) rear camera and 5 MP (f/1.7) front one, both doing great in low light situations and being quite close to the performance of a professional camera.
Apple iPhone 7
Back to Apple’s devices, we have iPhone 7 with its 4.7 inch screen and gold, rose gold, silver, matte black and jet black, the overall aspect of the already presented iPhone 7 Plus. The headphone socket misses from this original edition too, being replaced with various speakers for a better sound. However, the phone provides a pair of earphones for Lightning connection (and also an adaptor); while on the market there are already wireless headphones that work perfectly fine. In addition, the new home button can originally be found here.
Even though it does not have the dual camera from the 7 Plus version, iPhone 7 still has a 12 MP (f/1.8) rear protruding camera and a 7 MP front one. The new flash can capture better skin tones and have some sharp final results, very natural in all sort of different lighting situations.
iPhone 7 is much more resistant from various points of view, as it can stay up to 30 minutes under water, without suffering any form of damage, and process everything much faster and with rich graphics due to the Apple A10 Fusion processor. The battery is also more resistant, even when considering the 4.7 inch screen with the 1334 x 750 pixel resolution, and it can survive without charging between 13 hours and maybe a little over 24.
By joining forces, HTC and Google came with Google Pixel. At a first glance, the phone might appear as a mix between iPhone, Samsung and HTC One, with the large chambers, glass panel back and flat edges, and the eye catching stamped G, Google Pixel is forming its own identity. On the side, Pixel has its power and volume buttons, while the back glass covers the camera, sensors, the LED flash and fingerprint sensor.
Google Pixel is quite a small phone in a mass of growing devices, therefore having an AMOLED screen of only 5 inches and 1080 x 1920 pixels, but it still offers the best screen for such a size. The device further functions with Snapdragon 821 quad core processor backed by 4 GB of RAM. Facing these aspects with the 2.770 mAh battery, as well as considering the Android Nougat software, can last even two days, especially because there is almost no battery draining when the phone is not used. However, it still supports quick charging.
To fill the 32 or 128 GB from the storage, which unfortunately cannot be further expanded via microSD cards, the almost perfect camera can be used. The photos are detailed and well coloured, while the process of taking a shot is immediate.
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
Finally, the ultimate praised smartphone of the year (though debatable) is Samsung’s Galaxy S7 Edge. The 5.5 inch device comes with the expected design already seen in S6’s Edge version. Measuring 150.0 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm and weighting 157 grams, S7 Edge is thicker than S6 Edge and subsequently the camera is no longer so protruding. Meanwhile, the rest of the design is defined by metal and glass instead of plastic, an aspect which makes the glossy versions of gold and silver more handsome. Thankfully, this smartphone is also resistant against dust and water.
The device is powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 like S7; carrying 4 GB of RAM, but it comes with a visibly capacious battery of 3,600 mAh. The battery’s endurance is so significantly enhanced that even on the busiest days, which require gluing oneself to the phone, it still lasts almost the entire day. But even with quick charging and battery life saving mode, having an AMOLED screen of 5.5 inches with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 and density of 534 ppi has its downs. Luckily, the phone responds to lighting conditions on its own by adjusting the brightness, without affecting the rich colours.
Coming with 32 GB, out of which 8 are for the system, the phone can further support microSD cards in order to host the photos taken by the 12 MP (with aperture of f/1.7) rear camera or the 5 MP front camera, which also transforms the screen into its own flash. The camera reacts well in different conditions that require better lighting or adjusting to other factors, while the manual controls can be further modified depending on ISO or shutter speed.
So far, this is the best the 2016 year has had to offer us in terms of technology and smartphones. There have been significant improvements from the big names, while even the smaller brands did their best to catch up from the behind. 2017 is approaching and new smartphones are being announced.
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