Phones:

Best phones of 2016

Updated

Looking for the best new phone? CNET editors rigorously test the design, cameras, battery life, speed and call quality of hundreds of phones per year. We run battery drain tests and performance benchmarks, we take thousands of photos and videos, and we evaluate hidden software features -- all to bring you frequent updates to our list of favorites.

iPhone meets its match

Samsung Galaxy S6

Why we chose it: Classy and brassy, this beautiful Samsung effort is rock-solid, but still approachable. Who it's for: Android lovers seeking a refined, high-end phone. Top strengths: Design, camera, operational speed.

Price: $0.00 - $599.99 Check prices

4.5 stars Outstanding The first great smartphone of 2015

Striking curved design makes this the S6 to crave

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

Why we chose it: Gorgeous curves make the Edge feel like a luxury phone. Who it's for: Buyers looking for a distinctive device. Top strengths: It has everything the S6 has, in an even more stylish package.

Price: $329.99 - $759.99 Check prices

4.5 stars Outstanding

A touch of the future

Apple iPhone 6S

Why we chose it: An excellent all-arounder, Apple's iconic iPhone builds on past strengths. Who it's for: Everyone, but you get the most of it if you also use an iPad or Mac. Top strengths: Ease of use, seamless build, option to buy direct from Apple.

Price: $0.00 - $889.99 Check prices

4.5 stars Outstanding A touch of the future

Bigger iPhone is (mostly) better

Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Why we chose it: The 6S is just like the iPhone, but bigger. Who it's for: Apple fans who enjoy a larger screen. Top strengths: Bigger battery than iPhone 6, optical image stabilization for video.

Price: $0.00 - $1,294.99 Check prices

4.5 stars Outstanding

A mighty phone with a mighty pen

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Why we chose it: With its stylus for navigation and writing, the Note 5 is the ultimate Android phone for power users. Who it's for: Those who love a beautiful, large-screen display, and people who value writing or drawing by hand. Top strengths: Productivity, stylus use keeps the screen smudge-free, large screen.

Price: $0.00 - $699.99 Check prices

4.5 stars Outstanding

Best-ever Nexus a high-end win

Google Nexus 6P

Why we chose it: This best-ever Nexus does everything you throw at it very well, for a great price. The cost-to-value ratio is through the roof. Who it's for: People who want a high-performing device for less than the superpremium phones cost. Top strengths: Fast, accurate fingerprint scanner, loud speakers, reliable camera.

Price: $639.99 Check prices

4 stars Excellent

The best mini Android phone around

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Why we chose it: It's a terrific deal for a camera that soars and a water-resistant body. Who it's for: People who want a smaller-size Android phone. Top strengths: Camera quality, value.

Price: $654.90 Check prices

4.5 stars Outstanding

Raising the bar on camera control

LG V10

Why we chose it: The big, pretty LG V10 isn't cheap, but it does introduce some amazing manual controls for the phone's photo and video capturing. Who it's for: This high-end handset will appeal to anyone looking for a top-of-the-line Android device. Top strengths: Camera software; textured, elegant design.

Price: $249.99 - $699.99 Check prices

4 stars Excellent

Inexpensive but good, with a software surprise

Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 (5.5)

Why we chose it: This 5.5-inch device has a surprisingly low price tag for all that the phone can do. Who it's for: Budget-seekers, especially those who prefer that their phone isn't tied to a specific carrier. Top strengths: Loud speakers, camera, "reversible" software layout.

Price: $247.73 - $294.99 Check prices

3.5 stars Very good

One of our favorite budget Androids

Motorola Moto G Late 2015

Why we chose it: The perennially likable Moto G offers the best customization around. Who it's for: Wallet-watchers looking for a midrange phone with lots of personality. Top strengths: Customizable look, comfortable build, good price.

Price: $179.99 Check prices

3.5 stars Very good
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