The 11 BEST Android phones 2016: Starting from £145 and upwards
Buying a new Android phone? Here are the best of the best
Allow me to be blunt. There was once a time when Android was rubbish. Those days are truly gone. It’s now a mobile operating system that's probably more feature rich, albeit slightly less reliable, than iOS. So what is the best Android phone?
If you’re looking to buy a new Android phone, I’d suggest holding fire for a month. MWC is set to take place on Feb 22 and it’s the trade show where we expect to see the Samsung Galaxy S7 launched - and possibly the LG G5 and Sony Xperia Z6 too. So if you’re planning to make a purchase soon, be sure to check our upcoming smartphones guide to see if it’s worth waiting for the updated version of your handset to be released.
Finally, if after looking over this list you’re still not sure which android phone is right for you, jump to page two of this article. There you’ll find a complete buying guide for Android, detailing what features and specs you should be looking out for, and why they’re important. Best of luck.
11 best Android phones 2016
Price when reviewed: £449 inc VAT, 16GB; from free on a £27.50/mth, 24mth contract
It really doesn't get better than the Nexus 6P. It's good-looking, powerful and equipped with great cameras, brilliant software, long battery life and a big, top-quality display. It was going to take something really special to knock the Samsung Galaxy S6 off the top spot, but the Huawei-built Nexus 6P doesn't pull any punches. At £449, this is very reasonably priced by flagship smartphone standards – all told, its rivals are going to have a tough time.
Price: 32GB, from £400 inc VAT
You could criticise Samsung for the absent microSD slot and removable battery, but in every other respect the Samsung Galaxy S6 is a superlative smartphone – the screen performance and all-round quality are what makes the S6 deserving of all its plaudits. The competition has improved substantially since it was released, but with the price dropping as low as £400, it's still good value for money.
Price: 32GB, around £340 inc VAT (for the plastic-backed edition)
For many people, the LG G4 will be the Android phone they've been waiting for. LG hasn't compromised on performance, battery life or camera quality, yet has managed to retain key features such as a microSD slot and a removable battery. It's a brilliant phone, and even more so now that prices are steadily ticking downwards.
Price when reviewed: £329 inc VAT, 16GB SIM free; £379, 32GB
It's no looker, but Google’s Nexus 5X is something of a smartphone bargain. Scrape together £329, and your reward will be a handset that sports one of the very finest cameras that you'll find on any mobile phone. Factor in the assured, fluid performance and the unsullied Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system and you have yourself a class act for sensible money.
If it's a smaller phone that you're craving then the Xperia Z5 Compact may be your dream come true. The 4.6in screen means that it's far more pocketable than the current generation of 5in and larger phones, and the overall quality is unbeatable. The screen has a few less pixels than some, but it's bright and crisp nonetheless. The camera is stunning and battery life excellent, too. Factor in hard-knock build and water resistance, and the Z5 Compact has alot going for it.
Price: 16GB, £239 inc VAT; 64GB, £289 inc VAT (purchase by invite only)
A high-end smartphone for £239. If that sounds impossible, then trust us it isn't – the OnePlus 2 is glorious inanimate proof that great smartphones don't need to cost the earth. You still need an invite, or to catch one of OnePlus's flash sales, but it's worth waiting for. The design is good, if not perfect, and all the usual flagship hallmarks – a very good camera, good screen and top-end processor – are present and correct. Fancy snapping up a bargain of epic proportions? Then get in line.
Price: £199 inc VAT (invite-only)
So, you want a smaller phone but can't stretch to the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact. The 5in OnePlus X isn't quite as tiny, but it comes in a far more pocketable package than most. Throw together some high-end hardware from 2014 with a lovely AMOLED display, and this £199 smartphone looks like the bargain of 2015. The only really sticky bit is how difficult it is to actually buy one – it's still invite only, or via one of OnePlus' sales. If big phones don't bother you, though, we's snap up a £239 OnePlus 2 if you can – it's the all-round mid-range champion.
Price: around £510 inc VAT
The 5.2in Xperia Z5 takes everything which made Sony's high-end smartphone great and improved upon it. The camera, processor and battery life are all superior to the last generation, and the only real black mark by the Sony's name is that the competition is super, super tough. When you have to choose between this and the Apple iPhone 6s and Samsung Galaxy S6, it's not easy – and then the LG G4 is nearly as good while costing almost half the price. A tricky decision indeed.
Price: 16GB, from £300 inc VAT
There's an awful lot to like about the Samsung Galaxy S5, it's good looking, tough, big, feature-rich and we love the user-replaceable battery and memory expansion. The Galaxy S6 and others might have stolen its flagship thunder, but with the S5 getting cheaper every day, it's still well worth a place on your shortlist.
Price: 32GB, around £550
A Blackberry? On an Android smartphones chart? No, it's not heresy – Blackberry has only gone and made a very decent smartphone that runs Android. Arguably the phone that the company should have made yonks ago, the Priv combines a beautiful, curved 5.4in display with some nippy hardware, a decent camera, and – most importantly of all for Blackberry die-hards – a slide-out physical keyboard. Most people probably won't give the Priv a second look, but this smartphone is earning itself an increasing number of high-profile fans – and for good reason.
Price: 8GB, around £150 inc VAT
Motorola has got used to owning the best budget smartphone award year after year. The third generation Moto G sports a new look, Moto Maker customisation and faster internals, alongside beefed up waterproofing and an excellent 13-megapixel rear camera. If you can't stretch your budget to a flagship phone, or be tempted to spend a little more on the OnePlus X (see above), then this is the next best thing.