Flagship Fantastic: what is the best phone so far of 2016?

It’s almost the middle of the year, and almost every phone that is going to come out before September is probably out now. That means if you’re looking for a new phone, your selection is likely in stone before that point.

For those unaware, September is the likely month where we can expect a new iPhone, with the iPhone 7 expected around this time likely bringing a new design as well as a host of other features.

But if you need to buy a phone now or don’t care about the iPhone, what should you buy?

For that, we turn to our reviews, because we’ve been spending a lot of time looking at and analysing the phones out today, including a few from last year that may be worth your time.

Compact hands (screens below 4.7 inches)

Phone sizes have changed a lot over the years, but if you like your phones small, you’ll want a screen below 4.7 inches.

Apple iPhone SE


Screen size: 4 inches

Price: starting from $679

One of the surprises for 2016, the iPhone SE is a genuinely impressive product, with Apple taking much of the tech from its iPhone 6S and throwing it into a smaller body, using the template of the iPhone 5S and basically upgrading the entire thing.

Let’s just get this out there: the iPhone SE is not a tiny version of the iPhone 6S, or even a “normal” sized version for people used to the smaller size. This is a different phone, and it even arrives in two storage options, with only 16GB and 64GB.

But with an excellent camera — hey, the same one from the iPhone 6S — as well as a great set of system innards, solid build, and a battery that lasts a full day, it’s an update to the form-factor that made the iPhone famous. Highly recommended.

Read our full review…

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact


Screen size: 4.6 inches

Price: $859

If there’s one company that gets small phones, it’s Sony.

For a few years now, Sony has been dabbling in the idea of compact handsets, and in its Z series, Sony has found success in getting the power of the big models into a smaller body when the screen isn’t necessarily as schmick.

That is still the idea in the Xperia Z5 Compact, with a 4.6 inch 720p display being used with Triluminos technology for better colours to improve the package even if the resolution isn’t smash bang awesome.

Despite this, the phone is a winner, with the guts of the bigger phones stuffed into a smaller body that is just as upgradeable, just as well built, and just as water-resistant as Sony’s bigger phones.

Why it even includes a fingerprint sensor and support for a PlayStation 4. Neato.

Read our full review…

What we’d pick

With only two phones in this category, it’s a pretty easy pick. If you like Android, get the Xperia Z5 Compact. If you prefer Apple’s iOS, get the iPhone SE. Pretty simple.

There are other small-sized handsets, that said, but these are the best of the bunch that we’ve seen, and we review a lot of phones.

Normal sized phones (4.7 to 5.3 inches)

From the 4.7 inch mark to around 5.3 to inches, you’ll find what generally passes for a phone for regular hands. You can thank our love and need for larger screen sizes for this one, with a relatively spacious screen and a body that fits comfortable in most hands.

Apple iPhone 6S


Price: starting from $1079

Screen size: 4.7 inches

The new “normal size” for iPhone owners, Apple’s iPhone 6S is normal because it’s close to a 5 inch phone, but still isn’t.

The latest “normal” iPhone delivers a new processor, new graphics abilities, and a camera capable of grabbing 4K video.

The best trick, however, comes from the screen which can let you control it using a deeper touch, a more three-dimensional touch.

Battery life is about the only thing missing from this phone, so make sure to keep a battery brick in your bag if you want to make it through a full day.

Read our full review…

Motorola Moto G


Screen size: 5 inches

Price: $369

A good solid middle ground for people who need a phone that can deliver more than a day of life as well as a bit of water-resistance, the Moto G is a different phone than most of what you’ll see in this list, and that is primarily because it isn’t a flagship.

No, this is a phone that basically sits in the middle ground offering a good rounding up of features for a price point just above $300 while bringing a resistance to the elements.

The camera could be a little better, but overall, it’s still not a bad phone, and thanks to its supporting two SIMs, could be idea for the next trip you take.

Read our full review…

Oppo F1


Screen size: 5 inches

Price: $299

A little cheaper again, Oppo’s F1 cuts out the water-resistance and exchanges it for a body that feels so nice, you’d swear it was metal.

And you’d be right, with the Oppo F1 bringing a metal body and upgradeable storage to a sub-$300 price point.

We’ll admit that the camera needs work and the screen viewing angles aren’t the best, but if you fancy a good and well-rounded normal sized phone without spending too much that feels great in the hands, Oppo’s F1 is definitely worth a look. If you can handle only one SIM and want to use the Optus network, you can even find it for a little less.

Read our full review…

Samsung Galaxy S7


Screen size: 5.1 inches

Price: $1149

It may not have the edge when it comes to screens, but this curve-less phone has a sharper display than its brother, and pretty much identical hardware to boot.

Easily as good as the larger 5.5 inch phone, the Galaxy S7 standard (or “Galaxy S7 Flat” as some people call it) offers the same hardware inside of a smaller body, meaning it has a great Samsung-made processor, some of the fastest 4G access you can find, and a screen that is just absolutely lovely to set your eyes upon.

It’s also made for normal hands, and thanks to there being a standard screen, you’ll find this one fits in your hands very, very well.

This is highly recommended, and easily one of the best phones all year.

Read our full review…