Next great cell phone

The best smartphone you can buy

There’s no denying that smartphones are the most important gadgets in our lives. They are our portable portals for communication, information, entertainment, navigation, gaming, photography, and so much more. Even calling these things “phones” doesn’t really do them justice — they are really miniaturized supercomputers in our pockets. Nearly every other piece of technology we use connects to or interacts with the smartphone in some way.

It wasn’t too long ago that you could find good smartphones and bad smartphones on the shelves of a carrier store. But you’d be hard pressed to find a smartphone today that couldn’t handle basic phone calls, web browsing, text messaging, light gaming, and all the apps to fill your heart’s content. Rather, the things that separate a great smartphone from the rest aren’t as obvious. The best smartphones have excellent design, easy-to-use software, reliable battery life, a strong ecosystem of apps and accessories, and tremendous cameras.

When you’re buying the most important gadget in your life, it’s worth taking some time to find the best one you can get. That option may vary for different people based on their own needs and preferences, but for most people, there’s one smartphone that balances all of those ingredients the best.

Apple iPhone 6S

The best smartphone you can get isn’t the most exotic or even the most interesting. The iPhone has been at the top of best smartphone lists for so long that it’s all but given that it would show up here as our recommendation. But it’s at the top of those lists for a reason: it’s an excellent smartphone that hits all of the right marks with no significant compromises.

The iPhone 6S — whether you go for the smaller 4.7-inch standard model or the bigger 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus — has great design; a sharp, vibrant display; fast performance; a great camera; and the best app ecosystem around. Apple’s support after you buy the phone is also second to none — a factor that many people don’t consider until something bad happens to their phone and they either need to get it fixed or replaced.

Most people will be perfectly happy with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6S, but power users might want to consider stepping up to the 6S Plus. The Plus has all of the same traits and features of its smaller sibling, but gains much longer battery life, a slightly better camera, and a bigger display that makes everything more immersive.

Regardless of which iPhone you choose, you have access to Apple’s App Store, which has the most high-quality apps around. There are also more third-party accessories, cases, chargers, docks, and so forth for the iPhone than any other smartphone.

Google Nexus 6P

As great as the iPhone 6S is, sometimes you do just want something different, and you can’t do any better in the Android world than Google’s Nexus 6P. The 6P marries premium design with fast performance, a great camera (finally!), and the latest Android software from Google. It also does all of this at a price that’s hundreds of dollars less than the iPhone or competing Android phones — if budget is a concern, you’re going to want to give the 6P a hard look.

The Nexus 6P is a big phone, but the hard truth is that every other smaller Android phone makes compromises in one way or another that leave them inferior to the 6P. If you want the best Android phone you can get, you’re going to have to put up with a big phone.

There are a couple of things that hold the Nexus 6P back from being our main pick: you can only buy it direct from Google (though it does work just fine on all four major US carriers), and if you have a problem, it’s much harder to get help and support with a Nexus phone than with an iPhone. But if those things aren’t a concern for you, it’s really hard to find a better option at the 6P’s price point.

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