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Phones

Product Specs Starting price

Huawei Honor 5X
Operating system: Android 5.1.1 with EMUI skin
Display: 5.5" 1920x1080 IPS LCD
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 616 SoC
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16GB  (with microSD slot)
Battery: 3,000mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.32"
Weight: 4.8 oz
$169.99

OnePlus 3T
Operating system: Android 6.0 (with OxygenOS skin)
Display: 5.5" 1920x1080 Optic AMOLED
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 64GB or 128GB
Battery: 3,400 mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.29"
Weight: 5.6 oz
$439
(64GB)

iPhone SE
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: 4" 1136x640 IPS LCD
Processor: Apple A9
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 16GB or 64GB
Battery: 1,624 mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.3"
Weight: 4 oz
$449
(64GB)

Google Pixel
Operating system: Android 7.1 (Nougat)
Display: 5" 1920x1080 IPS LCD
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 821
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 32GB or 128GB
Battery: 2,770 mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.33"
Weight: 5 oz

$649
(32GB)


iPhone 7
Operating system: iOS 10
Display: 4.7" 1334x750 wide-gamut IPS LCD
Processor: Apple A10 Fusion
RAM: 2GB
Storage: 32GB, 128GB, or 256GB
Battery: 1,960 mAh
Connectivity: LTE, 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.2
Thickness: 0.28"
Weight: 4.9 oz

$649
(32GB)
 

Huawei Honor 5X
Asus' Zenfone 2 is no more, so Huawei's Honor 5X is taking over the budget phone spot in our picks—not that you'd know it was a budget phone by looking at it. Huawei clads this phone's Qualcomm Snapdragon 616-powered internals in an aluminum shell with a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor. A 5.5", 1080p IPS display and a 13MP rear camera are both appealing things to find in a phone this cheap, as well. This phone does come with Huawei's extensively-customized EMUI 3.1 skin on top of Android 5.1.1, but we think it's probably going to be pretty hard to find a phone in this price range without some kind of custom Android distribution.

OnePlus 3T
OnePlus has been making a name for itself by making high-end phones with mid-range price tags, and labeling them "flagship killers." While there's a certain quantity of hyperbole attached to that description, we think it's not untrue either. The company's latest handset is the OnePlus 3T, and it goes for $439 with 32GB of storage. That money gets you a sharp 1080p screen, a hefty 6GB of RAM, a speedy Snapdragon 821 SoC, and an enormous battery with quick-charging capability.

The Oxygen OS operating system on the 3T is a lightly-skinned take on Android with a few useful features. As an added bonus, the handset's all carved out of aluminum. These specs and finish would be worthy of a handset costing almost twice the money. If you're looking for a phone that's both slightly different than average and an insane deal, the OnePlus 3T is it.

iPhone SE
A large screen on a phone is certainly handy, but not everyone enjoys carrying around a barely-pocketable device the size of a plaster trowel. Compact phones may have become as rare as hen's teeth, but they're not entirely extinct, and we think Apple has the best one by quite a margin. The iPhone SE could easily be called the "iPhone 6S compact," because it's pretty much what it is. The outer shell is nigh-on indistinguishable from the iPhone 5S, but the phone has the 6S's innards. That means an Apple A9 SoC, 2GB of RAM, and a vibrant 4" LCD.

Apple currently holds the crown of "longest software update track" for its mobile devices, too. iOS 10 can be installed (and used) on handsets that go as far back as the 2012-vintage iPhone 5, and the company works extra-hard to get minor patches and bug-fixes out the door. The iPhone SE is affordable, too, a characteristic not commonly associated with fruit-logo'd devices. At $399 for the 16GB version and $449 for the 64GB model we're recommending, you just can't go wrong.

Google Pixel
Google has had some trouble deciding what to call its mobile devices, going through the Chrome, Nexus, and Pixel names over time. The company seems to have finally settled on that last name, and the Pixel is its latest high-handset. The Google Pixel phone is jam-packed with goodies: a Snapdragon 821 SoC, a 5" 1080p AMOLED screen with an effective resolution of 441 PPI, a fingerprint authentication sensor, and a camera that's been rated by DXOMark as one of the best snappers to grace a phone's back. The 2,770 mAh battery supports fast charging, and handset has been praised for the quality of its finish.

Being a Google-branded handset, the Pixel comes out of the box with the freshly-baked Android 7.1 Nougat. Like previous Nexus and Pixel devices, the handset will receive updates directly from Google, making it a much safer bet, if you will, than other third-party phones. The Pixel doesn't come cheap, though. While it's certainly a premium phone, Google's pricing of $649 for the 32GB version and $769 for the larger, same-capacity Pixel XL model pit it directly against Apple's iPhone 7 and 7 Plus phones. While Google's tactic of placing its newest handset in the same price area as the iPhone may alienate those who enjoyed Nexus devices' fairly affordable price tags, the Pixel's reviews seem to back up the sticker. If you're looking for what's probably the best Android handset out there, with updates straight from the robot's mouth, the Pixel is it.

Apple iPhone 7
Every iPhone launch is a Big Event, and this year's release is certainly no exception. One the one hand, one could say that Apple didn't change all that much in the iPhone 7. On the other hand, the old adage of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" also rings true. The evolutionary steps from the already-excellent iPhone 6S are a newer and faster A10 SoC, a gorgeous wide-gamut screen to go with an improved camera, stereo speakers, and a water-proof construction. The bigger iPhone 7 Plus has an extra trick up its back: a dual-lens camera system capable of taking breath-taking shots.

Not all the changes are universal improvements, though. The iPhone's hallmark mechanical home button has been replaced with a capacitive, haptic-feedback circle, and the 3.5-mm headphone jack has vanished, leaving many users to suffer with another adapter dongle. Still, the phone's all-around strengths and the super-fast A10 SoC make the iPhone 7 the king among premium phones. Apple's sticker matches that lofty performance: $649 for the 32GB version, or $749 for the 128GB model. The iPhone 7 Plus goes for $769 in its 32GB incarnation, or $869 for a 128GB helping of storage.

If the iPhone 7 is too dear, Apple has also dropped the pricing of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus handsets considerably. If a wide-gamut screen doesn't sound that interesting to you and if you're okay with the still-pretty-fast A9 SoC and a lesser camera, the iPhone 6S is a darn good bet at $549 for the 32GB model. The iPhone 6S Plus, meanwhile, is currently going for $649.