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Phones

These are the 5 best phones you can buy right now

From high-priced pocket-busters to our favorite budget beauties.

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You're up to date on everything you need to know before buying a phone, and now the time has come to actually dig out your wallet and go for it. There are tons of great phones that will fit your exact size, price and carrier needs, but if you're looking for a shortcut, allow me to present to you with my top picks, plus one honorable mention. Happy shopping.

Google Pixel (and Pixel XL)

Cost:

You're definitely going to want a case.

Josh Miller/CNET
  • US, 32GB: $649, 128GB: $749
  • UK, 32GB: £599, 128GB: £699
  • AU, 32GB: AU$1,079, 128GB: AU$1,229

What we love: Google's follow-up to the Nexus is our favorite phone right now, hands-down. It's a top-notch, liquid smooth, race car-fast archetype of unaltered Android Nougat 7.0 that fits into a body both ergonomic and light. Even the larger XL is pretty easy for small-handed types to wield.

What we don't: The glass panel on the phone's back is a lightning rod for aesthetic debate. But whether you find it elegant or weird, we found it cracks the same either way. It also isn't as water-resistant as other hydrophilic phones, and the iPhone 7 Plus' portrait mode is way better than the Pixel's.

iPhone 7 (and 7 Plus)

Cost:

  • US, 32GB: $649, 128GB: $749, 256GB: $849
  • UK, 32GB: £599, 128GB: £699, 256GB: £799
  • AU, 32GB: AU$1,079,128GB: AU$1,229, 256GB: AU$1,379

What we love: Apple's new iPhone is a little boring, but still really, really good. Its shape hasn't changed much, but there are enough updates beneath the hood to move the phone forward, and it's as dependant and reliable to use day-to-day as we've come to expect. The water-resistant coating is a much-needed addition, and the 7 Plus' portrait feature sets the standard for every other phone.

What we don't: Removing the audio jack forces wired headset owners to use an inconvenient, easy-to-lose dongle adaptor or a pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones. Apple seems to be saving its best new updates for 2017's 10th anniversary iPhone (the iPhone 8?).

OnePlus 3T

Cost:

  • US, 16GB: $439, 128GB: $479
  • UK, 16GB: £399, 128GB: £439
  • AU, 16GB: Converts to AU$590, 128GB: AU$650

What we love: Two of the year's best buys came from this small, Chinese-based phonemaker: summer's OnePlus 3 and this improved 3T. There are plenty of midpriced Android phones, but the 3T's long battery life, solid camera and fast fingerprint reader help it coolly rise to the top of the pack.

What we don't: The 3T costs more than the OnePlus 3, so it's not quite as good a deal as the less expensive version. That puts it in more direct competition with the creme de la creme, like the Pixels and Galaxy phones of the world.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Just look at those curves.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Cost:

  • US: $750-$795, depending on carrier
  • UK: £639
  • AU: AU$1,249

What we love: The S7 Edge is a beaut. Dual-curve screens make it elegant, and it can do whatever you throw its way. Long battery life is always a plus.

What we don't: The novelty of the extra navigation tools afforded by the curved screen wears off after a while and it's still really expensive. With the Galaxy Note 7 out of the picture, the Galaxy S7 Edge is Samsung's sole large-screen device, so in a sense, this is an also-ran.

Moto G4

Cost:

  • US: $199
  • UK: £169
  • AU: Converts to AU$260

You can't find a better phone for the same cash or less.

Josh Miller/CNET

What we love: The Moto G series has never aspired to be the top phone, but for the last several years now, it's succeeded at being the budget phone you can afford. It's got the best hardware and performance out of any budget phone it competes with. Plus, the G4's splash-resistance means it can hang ten with the other water-loving big boys.

What we don't: You probably won't want to make a photo book from the camera, and gaming performance will let down serious mobile gamers.

Honorable mention: Moto Z Play

Cost:

  • US: $450
  • UK: £344
  • AU: AU$594

What we love: The Z Play strikes the right balance between the innovation of magnetic, snap-on Moto Mods and midrange price. While the Moto Z and Verizon-only Moto Z Force have the slightly better hardware on paper, it's the humble Z Play's long battery life and headset jack that win us over most.

What we don't: There aren't a ton of Mods out yet (more are coming in 2017), and some of the ones that are available feel too experimental to truly be useful.