The 11 Best Smartphones to Buy in 2017

Buy the top smartphones on the market for iOS and Android

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It’s difficult to say, with confidence, which of the many smartphones available on the market is the absolute, all-around best. And that’s only because of the polarizing differences between iOS and Android — not to mention all the other preferences to choose from (camera, gaming, budget and screen size). Sometimes, taste is as arbitrary as Coke vs. Pepsi. You don’t know why you like it — you just do.

That said, there are some clear winners in each category — winners that, we think, boast the right specs, design elements and features to satisfy the general public. So read on to see which smartphones made the cut for the best of 2017.

iPhone X
Apple

The phone comes in either space gray or silver in either 64GB or 256GB models, but the real eye-catcher is the screen. From corner to corner, it measures in at 5.8 inches, while the phone itself is actually smaller than the 8 Plus (5.65 x 2.79 x 0.3 inches). How? Well, the screen runs right up to the edges erasing basically any bezels and coexisting right next to the front speaker used for making calls. They’ve also done away with the home button to allow for more space to show off the screen’s beauty. How beautiful? Well, the display is Apple’s first OLED display, which allows for true blacks and brilliant whites and it offers a resolution of 2436 x 1125 pixels, giving you 458 pixels per inch. There is, of course, the requisite wide color display, 3D touch technology and everything else listed for the 8.

If you can tear your eyes away from all those specs, there’s also an impressive set of other features. For starters, Apple has found a way to truly revolutionize even the unlock phase of the phone by removing the need for a fingerprint sensor and employing face recognition. That’s right, the front-facing cam will actually recognize your face when you lift it to wake and will unlock automatically.

Beyond that, the phone gives you all that splash, water, and dust resistance, the full, blistering power of the A11 BIonic chip, a 12MP wide-angle rear cam with an additional telephoto lens (with all the features of the 8 Plus) and way too many photography tools to list here. It records video at up to 4K and up to 60 fps for cinema-quality movies and the front-facing camera (the one used for face recognition) clocks in at 7MP and also incorporates itself into a truly innovative animated emoji feature that maps your Animojis based on the facial expressions you’re showing to the camera. More »

Let’s start by letting the Pixel 2 specs speak for themselves: the construction is a unibody metal design that underscores its water-resistance, there’s a Snapdragon 835 processor, up to seven hours of use on just a 15-minute charge (kind of mind-blowing when you think about it), a 12.2 MP camera on the back that employs really cool “dual-pixel” multi exposure tech from Google and a front camera that’s 8MP. The five-inch AMOLED screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and there are built-in security measures, including a dedicated chip, three years of built-in Android security updates and Google Play Protect. It runs on the latest Android 8 Oreo OS, has 64 or 128 GB of space, stereo speakers on the front, Active Edge sensors (for summoning Google Assistant), as well as a super slick, simple design.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 has a 6.3-inch screen and measures 6.4 x 2.94 x 0.34 inches – pretty impressive for such a big screen. That screen is comprised of a quad HD+ Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2960 x 1440 and 521 pixels per inch. The actual screen (which they’re calling an Infinity Display) is virtually bezel-less and runs right up to the edge of the device, which is what allows Samsung to make the phone as small as they do.

The cameras are equally impressive, with an 8MP sensor on the front-facing camera and a 12MP sensor on the back with dual lenses (wide angle and telephoto for the now-standard dual lens effect capabilities). It shoots video in full 4K at up to 30fps, offers a proprietary digital image stabilization and even gives you the ability to film stunning hyper-lapse videos right out of the box.

Then there’s the S pen – arguably the most controversial addition to Galaxy Note models of the past. But you’d do well to get past the assumption that the pen makes it a dated PDA-style device ​because this is way more than a stylus. Sure, you can use it as a stylus (and with on-board sketching apps and live note functionality, it’s pretty great), but the pen also employs some side-pressed buttons and an offscreen sensor function that lets you hover the pen over the device to pop menus and interact with apps in really unique, intuitive ways.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 runs on an Octa-core (2.35GHz Quad + 1.9GHz Quad), 64-bit, 10nm processor and offers 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, though you can expand that with a microSD slot optimized for up to 256 GB. Round that out with ultra high-quality audio playback, Bluetooth connectivity, dust and water-resistance and a 3300 mAh battery, and this thing is basically a computer that goes in your pocket.

Apple iPhone 8
Courtesy of Amazon.com

The standard iPhone 8 has a glass front and back and comes with a 4.7-inch screen. The device measures 5.45 x 2.65 x 0.29 inches and weighs just 5.22 ounces. The LCD screen employs Apple’s insanely crisp Retina Display tech with 1334 x 750 pixels (a ppi of 236). The phone has a True Tone wide color set on the display with 3D touch technology, dual-domain pixels for wide viewing angles and a gorgeous top brightness. It's splash, dust and water-resistant, and operates on an A11 Bionic chip at 64 bits. It comes in 64GB or 256GB capacities and has a fingerprint sensor, 4K video recording (with impressive stabilization), a 7MP front-facing cam for Facetiming and selfies and insanely fleshed out photo details. The rear camera has a 12MP camera. In short, this phone takes everything about the iPhone 7 and updates it just enough to be worth the trade-in.

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If you’ve been paying any attention to Samsung in the last year, it will probably come as no surprise that Samsung’s newest flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, had a lot of prove when it was released in April 2017. Thankfully, the Galaxy S8 is a far cry from Samsung’s phones of the past and sets a new standard for Android phones of all brands.

For starters, the Galaxy S8 has a beautiful 5.8-inch screen that covers the whole front of the phone with no bezel. It runs the latest version of Android (7.0 aka Nougat) and it’s fast, too, with an “octa-core processor” and 4GB of RAM. When it comes to cameras, the back has a great dual-pixel 12-megapixel shooter and the front has an eight-megapixel camera for high-quality selfies. The camera can also record 4K HD video at 30 frames per second or 1080p HD video at 30 or 60 frames per second. For battery, the S8 will last about a day before it needs to be recharged.

LG V30
Courtesy of BestBuy.com

The V30 comes in a core model and a V30+, and best we can tell, that basically means the difference between 64GB of internal memory and 128GB (respectively). The V30 gives you a six-inch Quad HD OLED FullVision Display that wows the eye with 2880 x 1440 resolution. The display also offers HDR10 support for the ideal level of brightness and crispness on picture and video.

The rear cam is 16MP with a front-facing cam sensor of 5MP. There are four 2.45 GHz Snapdragon processors and 4GB of RAM, so the run speeds won’t disappoint. It’ll shoot in 4K video with an LG-researched steadying tech that allows super smooth recording in both the slow-mo and hyper-lapse modes. They’ve even added 16 different Cine effects to add a little more punch to what you’re filming. The audio on the phone comes standard with a 32-bit digital-to-analog converter, ensuring a full crisp sound from the expertly engineered analog mics.

It’s constructed with super-strong Anodized Metal sides with Gorilla Glass 5 on both the front and the back. The wake button is on the back (something that feels odd at first, but is easy to get used to), and they’ve incorporated a fingerprint sensor right in it for private unlocking. The whole handset measures 5.97 x 2.97 x 0.29 inches, and they’ve even designed a unique “heat pipe” system that traps and moves heat away from the processor to ensure fast, unfailing operation. It all runs on the latest Android OS, and you can be sure it will keep up with your tech lifestyle, no matter how advanced.

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The Pixel 2 XL is pretty similar to the standard Pixel 2 (with a bigger screen). The Pixel 2 Xl runs on a Snapdragon 835 processor and has a 12.2MP camera on the back with really cool dual-pixel tech and 8MP on the front for making video calls. It also has Android 8 Oreo built right in with 64 or 128 GB of space, and you can squeeze the Active Edge sensors on either side of the phone to pop up Google Assistant to help you complete tasks. Like the Pixel 2, it also is also water and dust-resistant and has a cool, metal-based design.

But how are they different? Let’s start with the obvious: the screen on the XL is a bigger six-inch P-OLED with a resolution of 2880 x 1440, making it way more intensely vibrant with a more cinematic aspect ratio. But, Google has managed to put this massive screen onto a phone that’s not that much bigger than the standard Pixel. And it’s this low-bezel design that puts the phone so front of mind… the XL just looks like a more premium phone than the standard, with cleaner more organic edges. And that sort of aesthetic tangibility is really important when buying a new premium phone. The battery on the XL does also have a higher capacity 3,520 mAh (vs. the 2,700 mAh on the standard), and both do employ that speed charging. But honestly it’s the look, feel, and tactile satisfaction of the XL that make it its own placement on this list.

There are plenty of full-featured smartphones on the market that won’t break the bank. Our favorite is the Moto G4 Play. It’s the most affordable option out of all Motorola’s G4 products and raises the bar for budget phones.

Almost identical to the more expensive Moto G4, the five-inch Moto G4 Play is a tiny bit smaller and has a slightly slower 1.2 GHz quad-core processor processor with 2GB RAM. The 1280-by-720 IPS display has a 294-ppi resolution, which, while not as sharp as the Moto G4’s 401ppi, still looks great. Its two cameras — a 5MP in the front and an 8MP in the rear — take surprisingly clear photos.

Conveniently, you can slide off the back cover to access the SIM card, the microSD card and the removable 2800 mAh battery, which reviewers confirm lasts throughout the day. Perhaps the most commonly noted shortcoming of the G4 Play is that the display doesn’t get very bright, but that shouldn’t be an issue in most situations. Overall, the Moto G4 Play is a great budget option and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a phone of equal quality for a lower price.

With Apple's iPhone 7, you will find an improved battery, a better camera, water resistance and, for better or worse depending on who you ask, no headphone jack. On top of that, the introduction of the A10 Fusion chipset offers a nice performance bump. It's available in four colors, including jet black (which looks fantastic, but is prone to fingerprint marks and scratches).

The iPhone is the same size as its predecessors, but it has IP67 water-resistance standards. You can keep your iPhone up to a meter of water for 30 minutes without worrying about it getting fried. The Taptic-home button will take some getting used to, but it’s a welcome change as the physical button had to go to make way for water resistance protection. The 4.7” Retina HD screen remains top-notch and is more vivid than the 6S, especially when it comes to viewing in direct sunlight.

The inclusion of a f/1.8 sensor on the rear 12-megapixel TrueTone camera, as well as the addition of optical image stabilization are definite upgrades as well. Low-light photography has improved, too, thanks to four smart LEDs built into the camera that 50 percent more light than the previous iPhones.

The quad-core A10 chip is fantastic and allows for faster launching of apps and multitasking. Battery life on the iPhone 7 is much improved over the 6S, adding an additional two hours of talk time, thanks to the new processor and 14 percent larger battery. The lack of a headphone jack has caused quite a bit of negative chatter, but this is easily remedied with an adapter. Overall, the iPhone 7 is easily the best smartphone on the marker today.

The Google Nexus 6P is definitely for people have committed fully to the big-screen, “phablet” bandwagon. The 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display alone is enough to separate it from the pack, but when you add in the 2560 x 1440 (Wide Quad HD) resolution, 518 ppi density and the 3D curved glass screen, the whole thing becomes a near-overkill expression of phablet ideals. Just don’t expect to fit this thing into the pockets of your skinny jeans.

But it’s not just the generous display that makes the Nexus 6P a great phone. It’s also got an eight-core, Snapdragon 810 processor, a 3 GB RAM, 64 GB of storage, and a 12.3MP f/2.0 camera sensor made by Sony, which can record video in 4K at 30 fps. It’s absolutely one of the best all-around phone cameras on the market. And the 8MP front-facing camera really drives the point home and seals the ideal for selfie fanatics.

Hands-down, the best smartphone for battery life is the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Its 3,600 mAh battery is larger than most phones an ensures at least two days of moderate usage, and maybe a full day of intensive, video-heavy power consumption. Of course, the S7 Edge’s sizable screen hogs a good deal of all that power, so you can expect the slightly smaller Galaxy S7 to operate with similar efficiency, even if its 3000 mAh battery is less powerful. When it comes to sheer specs, though, the S7 Edge wins out — at least when it comes to flagship, mainstream phones.

In addition to having great battery life (and turning heads left and right), the Galaxy S7 Edge is probably the best gaming smartphone in the market right now. So, what sort of features should you expect from it? How about a high-quality display with sharp resolution? Check. The Galaxy S7 Edge has a 5.5-inch, Quad HD (2560 x 1440) Super AMOLED display with a pixel density of 534 ppi. And what about a fast processor? Check. The S7 Edge has a quad-core, 64-bit processor running Snapdragon 820 with a 4 GB RAM.

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