We’ve reviewed many phones this year. Usually the later models are better than the older ones, but which ones had the most impact and which ones stood the test of time? Here are the contenders for our Phone of the Year 2016 award.
Joint Runners Up
• Google Pixel XL | Powerful Android flagship
Google moved from providing cheap Nexus phones (to attract developers) to the premium, power-packed Pixel range in order to show off new technologies. The Google Assistant, with its amazing voice recognition and AI smarts makes the likes of Siri and Cortana look as bright as a vacuum cleaner, while the partnered Daydream VR headset did things we thought were only possible on powerful PC rigs. The phone itself had a great camera, good screen and was very fast thanks to the latest processor. But it was hugely expensive and not attractive. Furthermore it scuffs very easily and the glass design element on the back is very brittle. It’s a worthy Android standard bearer, but just misses out on the top award.
• iPhone 7 | Access Apple’s accessories, apps and ecosystem
We had to have an iPhone in the list and the choice wasn’t great. We thought the iPhone 7 Plus would be brilliant but, well, it wasn’t really. Who actually wants a zoom camera? So we plumped for the cheaper 7. Getting rid of the headphone jack and replacing it with the Taptic-feedback sensor to make scrolling and screen-pressing more interactive is just plain arrogant and misguided in our view. But it’s a good phone with a decent camera and, more importantly, gives access to the whole Apple ecosystem of apps, services and accessories.
• Huawei P9 | Best camera phone of all
We haven’t enjoyed using a phone this much in ages. The dual Leica cameras on the rear are absolutely brilliant and still the best on the market. Add to that a great screen and the fastest fingerprint unlock we’d seen to that point and you’ve got a real winner. What stopped it getting the top award? It’s very very fragile. Even cases struggle to protect this shatter-friendly phone. Love it, but be very very careful with it.
• Huawei Mate 8 | phabulous all-rounder
This phone pretty much does it all and while the big boys are charging silly money for their phones, the Huawei flagship come in at hundreds of dollars less. It’s fast, fits a six-inch screen in a relatively-small body, has a huge 4,000mAh battery, decent camera and was one of the first to have a fast fingerprint reader unlock on the rear. Why isn’t it our phone of the year? Huawei keeps launching these phones late in Australia and this actually came out overseas in November last year. But this is still a great phone.
Next: And the Winner is…