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Best UK smartphones of 2017: The best mobile phones you can buy right now

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Best Smartphone 2017 – It’s always hard to know when to jump on the technology treadmill, and harder still with smartphones. They’re upgraded every year, and assuming you go with the standard two-year contract lifespan, you’re likely to spend at least half of that time looking enviously on at the latest phones and wondering why your pride-and-joy from 12 months ago isn’t as magical as it seemed then.

In some ways, the start of 2017 is the best time to buy a smartphone. All the previous years’ options are laid out, and you can clearly see which are best and why. The problem is that they likely won’t be the best for very long, with the latest upcoming smartphones of 2017 just around the corner. Should you buy now or wait a little longer?

That’s a choice for you to make. All we can do is keep updating the best smartphones of 2017 list below, keeping you informed as to how the rankings change as we review newer models. Make no mistake, you’ll be very pleased with any handset on the list below – it’s just that what’s around the corner might be even better.

This is the only guide you need to uncover the best mobile phones of 2017. From budget marvels to the finest flagship smartphones, you’re guaranteed to find the device you’ve been searching for – at a price you can afford, and with all the features you need.

If you just want to start shopping right now, scroll down to read the review of our current favourite smartphone, and below you’ll find links to all the other top-notch smartphones that have made the cut. On each page, you’ll find quick summaries of our in-depth reviews, as well as all the key specifications you need to help you make a buying decision.

If you’re not sure what kind of smartphone is right for you, then have a read of our buyer’s guide. This will help you decide between Android, iOS and Windows Phone, and run you through all the key specifications you need to look for when buying a new phone. If you can’t be bothered to click the menu above, you can click here instead.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus - rear compared

The Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are now official – and they look like they could sweep all before them in 2017. Both look gorgeous, with the most notable upgrade this year the taller, slimmer shape enabled by the new 18.5:9 aspect ratio.

So, although the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus have 5.8in and 6.2in screens, they’re not as big and bulky in the hand as you might expect, and with the home button moving off the bezel, there’s barely any screen border left in place on the front.

These are the best-looking phones we’ve come across, and should be faster than last year’s S7 models – but the hitch is the price. With the 64GB Samsung Galaxy S8 costing £689 and the 64GB Samsung Galaxy S8+ going for a shudderingly high £779, it’s currently the most expensive phone on the market.

You can read our hands-on review for the Samsung Galaxy S8 here and the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus here, and although we haven’t yet fully tested the phones, it’s almost certain they’ll drop in somewhere at the top of this list when they hit the shops on 28 April.

Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus best deals in the UK: Pre-order Samsung’s new flagship with these hot deals

Best smartphones of 2017:

1. OnePlus 3T

OnePlus 3 camera
Screen Camera Processor Storage Battery
5.5in
1,920 x 1,080
16MP
16MP
Snapdragon 821
6GB RAM
64GB
No microSD
3,400mAh
Non-removable

Price when reviewed: 64GB SIM-free, £399 inc VAT

Buy the OnePlus 3T now

The OnePlus 3 swept all before it when it launched in June 2016, and the reason? From its smoothly finished chassis, to its super-sensitive and reliable fingerprint reader, the OnePlus 3 was a superb phone. Yet at £329, it cost much less than any other phone in its class. It’s reign, however, came to an end just five months after its introduction, and it was replaced by the OnePlus 3T, which is faster and more refined – but also costs significantly more money. The OnePlus 3T is £399 for the 64GB version and £439 for the new 128GB variant.

“OnePlus has squeezed in a monster roster of components that sees it stretch out a huge lead over its rivals”

That’s still a low price considering how much OnePlus has squeezed in here. Its Snapdragon 821 processor, huge 6GB of RAM and 64GB/128GB of storage remain unmatched at this price; its 16-megapixel rear camera isn’t half-bad, either; and the new phone also throws in a 16-megapixel front-facing snapper and a slightly bigger battery than before.

Despite the improvements, it’s the OnePlus 3 that remains the best deal on the market right now, but good luck finding one. Don’t be too disappointed if you do miss out, though. The OnePlus 3T is still a cracking smartphone.

Click here to read our full OnePlus 3T review

2. Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung Galaxy S7 review: Main shot
Screen Camera Processor Storage Battery
5.1in
1,440 x 2,560
12MP
5MP
Exynos 8890
4GB RAM
32GB
microSD
3,000mAh
Non-removable

Price: 32GB SIM-free, around £569 inc VAT

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is the most capable smartphone on the market today, offering great performance, the best camera in the business, and a polished design that no other handset can match. It’s a brilliant phone, especially now that Samsung has brought back storage expansion via microSD, plus water- and dust-resistance.

There’s really very little it does wrong. Samsung’s 5.1in Super AMOLED screen is simply divine, and the screen technology allows for the clever always-on capability – you can set the Galaxy S7 to display the time and basic notifications all the time, without adversely affecting battery life.

“The clincher is the S7’s performance – and it’s battery life.”

It’s little surprise to find a superb camera in the S7. It might look like a downgrade at first sight – it’s dropped from 16 to 12 megapixels – but Samsung has taken the opportunity to enlarge the camera sensor’s pixels and increase the lens aperture to maximise the camera’s light-gathering abilities. The phase-detect autofocus – a feature more commonly found on DSLRs – has been improved, too, now locking onto subjects super-quickly. In short, it’s a great camera.

The clincher is the S7’s performance – and its battery life. The octa-core processor absolutely hammers through benchmarks and games, and it makes for a gorgeously silky experience in everyday use. Astonishingly, battery life is best in class, too, with the Galaxy S7 outlasting all of its rivals in our video-rundown tests.

So, why isn’t it number one? Simple: the only reason it doesn’t swing top spot is that it’s significantly more expensive than the OnePlus 3 – and for our money, isn’t quite as good value.

Click here to read our Samsung Galaxy S7 review 

If you can’t quite afford the S7, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is still a great phone and significantly cheaper, so make sure you check out our review of that handset, too.

3. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge always on screen from another angle
Screen Camera Processor Storage Battery
5.5in
1,440 x 2,560
12MP
5MP
Octa-core Exynos 8890
4GB RAM
32GB
microSD
3,600mAh
Non-removable

Price: 32GB SIM-free, around £569 inc VAT

Just like its stablemate, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is pretty much as good as it gets. It isn’t a huge upgrade on last year’s model, but with improvements all round – a better camera, bigger screen, better Edge screen functions, the all-important return of the much-missed microSD slot, weather-proofing and superb battery life – it’s a big enough update to maintain Samsung’s position at the top of the smartphone tree.

It certainly helps that it looks gorgeous, too. The glossy glass finish spreads across a glittering metallic base, while the 5.5in screen curves quickly away to reveal the dainty, softly curved edges. It really is something special.

“The S7 Edge pairs ridiculous, high-end performance with the best battery life.”

Turn it on, meanwhile, and Samsung’s expertise with Super AMOLED technology shows: the screen delivers class-leading levels of brightness, colour accuracy and contrast. It’s really quite stupendous, and it shares the clever always-on technology of the standard S7, which allows the time and basic notifications to be displayed permanently, and without hammering the battery.

And talking of battery, the S7 Edge has an enviable ability to pair ridiculous, high-end performance with the best battery life. Meanwhile, a clever feature allows you to limit the frame rate in games to squeeze even more battery life out of the S7 Edge. It’s just a great smartphone.

Click here to read our Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge review 

4. Google Pixel phone and Google Pixel XL

Price: £599 inc VAT, 32GB (Pixel); £719, 32GB (Pixel XL)

 

Screen Camera Processor Storage Battery
5/5.5in
1,080 x 1,920 /
1,440 x 2,560
12MP
8MP
Snapdragon 821
4GB RAM
32/128GB
microSD
2,770/3,450mAh
Non-removable

The Google Pixel phones set a new standard in the Android smartphone space when they launched in October 2016. Replacing the much-loved Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X, both phones are incredibly quick, well designed, offer decent battery life and – most important of all – an incredible camera. The Pixel phones’ 12-megapixel camera is, in fact, the best smartphone snapper we’ve ever tested.

The only reason the Pixel and Pixel XL haven’t shot right to the top of our chart, though, is we’re not too keen on the price. Where Google’s Nexus phones used to combine top performance with mid-market prices, the new Pixels are going toe-to-toe with the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus on price, costing £599 for the 32GB, 5in Google Pixel; and £719 for the 32GB 5.5in Google Pixel XL.

That leaves the OnePlus 3 as our best all-round smartphone buy, and the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge as the top all-round premium handsets, since they’re availabe to purchase for slightly less and have better battery life.

Still, if you have the money to spend, you certainly won’t be disappointed with either of Google’s latest smartphones. They’re a cracking pair of phones.

Click here to read our Google Pixel phone and Google Pixel XL review

5. Apple iPhone 7

Screen Camera Processor Storage Battery
4.7in
750 x 1,334
12MP
7MP
Apple A10 Fusion
2GB RAM
32/128/256GB
No microSD
Non-removable

Price: 32GB SIM-free, £599 inc VAT

The iPhone 7 is a great smartphone and, despite the controversy surrounding the removal of the 3.5mm headphone jack, it’s an improvement all-round over the iPhone 6s.

Our favourite feature is the Force Touch home button, which mimics the feel of a physical button, without the inherent unreliability of a mechanical buttons. It feels brilliant, and in conjunction with Apple’s 3D Touch display, lends the iPhone 7 a futuristic feel that no other smartphone can match.

The camera is also an improvement over last year’s model, with a wider, brighter aperture of f/1.8, an improved lens and quad-LED flash, and better performance in low light.

“Everything else about the iPhone 7 just screams quality.”

Everything else about the iPhone 7 screams quality. The luxurious feel and design will be enough to loosen most wallets, but that’s just part of the phone’s appeal.

The Apple A10 Fusion processor is incredibly fast, and this year it’s more efficient than ever, gaining extra battery life by running less-demanding tasks with its lower power cores. The battery life still isn’t up there with the Android competition, but it’s getting better, and that can only be a good thing.

Nevertheless, the iPhone 7 is all round a better phone than the iPhone 6s – and if you buy one, you’re very unlikely to come away disappointed.

Click here to read our Apple iPhone 7 review

6. Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Screen Camera Processor Storage Battery
5.5in
1,080 x 1,920
12MP
7MP
Apple A10 Fusion
3GB RAM
16/64/128GB
No microSD
2,900mAh
Non-removable

Price: 32GB, £719 inc VAT; 128GB, £819 inc VAT; 256GB, £919 inc VAT (all SIM-free)

Apple’s big smartphone is extra special this year. Instead of one camera on the rear, it has two, with the extra snapper allowing you to get twice as close to your subject as the standard snapper.

“The iPhone 7 Plus is extra special this year”

There are other reasons to choose this over the 4.7in iPhone 7, though, despite the fact that, internally, it’s largely the same.

It has a bigger battery, which in turn is larger than in last year’s iPhone 6s Plus, and a bigger screen, although 5.5in has become a common screen size these days.

The 5.5in screen is still “only” Full HD – which might not sound like much compared to the Quad HD displays on rival Android phones – but with that many pixels crammed into such a small space, it still looks fantastically sharp. And with Apple’s new “Wide Color” technology in place, it looks better than ever, with colour more vibrant and lush than ever before, but without sacrificing colour accuracy or overall quality.

The Apple A10 Fusion processor still delivers fantastic performance in everything from Safari to games, but it’s the combination of its two extra low-power cores and that bigger battery that makes the difference here, pushing battery life well beyond the single day of most smartphones.

The downside is that, thanks to the weak pound, the iPhone 7 Plus is more expensive than ever, and that’s likely to put it out of reach for many. But make no mistake, the iPhone 7 Plus is one fabulous smartphone.

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