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Choosing the best mobile phone

The latest mobile phones

By Oli McKean

Article 2 of 3

From the latest Apple iPhone to Samsung, LG and Huawei, we cover the latest smartphone developments to help you find the best mobile phone.

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With the seemingly never-ending slew of smartphone releases, it can be tricky to keep on top of trends to figure out which model is the right choice for you.

From big brands Apple and Samsung, to lesser-known names such as Huawei and OnePlus, people are truly awash with possibilities when deciding on a mobile phone.

Here, we explore the most important mobile phone releases of the moment to help you refine that choice.

Simply want to find out which is the best phone you can buy? Head to our mobile phone reviews.

Latest Apple mobile phones

The latest Apple smartphone releases always come amid much hype and discussion, and the the launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in September 2016 was no different.

Perhaps most talked about, and criticised, was the removal of the 3.5mm headphone socket. This means you won’t be able to use your traditional headphones in the conventional way – that is, simply by plugging them in and away you go. Instead, you’ll have to either connect your headphones through the Lightning port via an adaptor or buy some wireless headphones. It was a big point of contention for Apple, but does it undermine the user experience? Find out in our full reviews of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

Both of these smartphones are waterproof with an IP67 rating and have more advanced cameras than their predecessors.

Our tests have found that successor mobile phones don’t always triumph over the handset they are replacing, however. If you want a glimpse of how Apple iPhones typically fare in our tough tests, head to our Apple mobile phone reviews to make sure you make the right decision with your cash.

Latest Samsung mobile phones

Unlike Apple, Samsung releases lots of mobile phones to suit different budgets; the South Korean company doesn’t just put out premium, top-of-the-range phones, but cheaper and more practical handsets as well.

At the end of March 2017, Samsung announced the launch of the Galaxy S8, the successor to last year’s successful S7. It has an ‘infinity display’ – the screen runs seamlessly from the right edge to the left edge, and Samsung has really reduced the size of the bezels at its top and bottom. It also has upgraded cameras, and a new 10-nanometre processor. You can now buy the phone - head to our Samsung Galaxy S8 first look review to find out whether it might be worth investing in. Alternatively, see our video below for our full first impressions of the phone from the launch.

Samsung has also recently launched new versions of two phones in its A series, the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) and A5 (2017). Both have decidedly mid-range prices but also some high-end features. For instance, both are dust and water-resistant with an IP68 rating, which means they should survive a 30-minute dunk in 1.5 metres of water. Interestingly, they have a better rating here than the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, while the pricey Google Pixel has no waterproofing at all.

If you want a Samsung smartphone but are at the budget end of the market, look to its J range, which includes the exciting J5 and the bargain-priced J3. We expect new versions of these to be released later on this year.

Head to our Samsung mobile phone reviews to find out which of Samsung’s wide range have impressed us the most in our test lab.

Latest Google mobile phones

The Google Pixel and Pixel XL were launched in October 2016, and you’ll still see adverts abounding for them in print and on-screen.

They’re the first phones to be completely manufactured by Google. They were the first smartphones to have Google Assistant – a voice assistant comparable to Alexa, Cortana and Siri – built-in, and you can choose between 32GB and 128GB options. Neither have a micro-SD card slot for boosting on-board storage, though, so make sure you choose the right option for your needs.

Google claims that the Pixel and Pixel XL have the best ever smartphone cameras, a claim that we thoroughly enjoyed putting under the microscope in our test lab.

Find out how the Pixel, Pixel XL, and other Google-branded smartphones got on in our tests by heading to our Google mobile phone reviews.

Latest Sony phones

At the 2017 Mobile World Congress, Sony announced four new smartphones. One of these was the Sony Xperia XZ Premium, which Sony says is the first phone with a 4K HDR display. This means you should expect an incredibly clear and vibrant screen that lets you watch 4K video without noticing a drop in quality.

Its camera should capture 960 frames per second, for high-quality slow-motion video. Latest reports suggest it will be released around the first week of June and will set you back a hefty £649.

The latest Sony phones that we’ve tested include the Sony Xperia XZ. It has an impressive-sounding 23Mp rear camera – but it’s not just megapixel count that determines image quality. So it’s worth reading our review rather than simply assuming that it takes truly excellent photos.

And if you’re looking for something a bit more affordable, the Xperia XA Ultra impressed in some key areas; take a look to see if they’re the ones that matter to you.

Head to our Sony mobile phone reviews for a complete rundown of our in-depth tests and to discover whether it’s a brand to keep an eye on.

Latest LG mobile phones

You can expect to see the LG G6 hitting shelves very soon. It was announced at Mobile World Congress 2017, as the flagship LG G5 was in 2016. If the G6 follows last year’s patterns, it should be on shelves at some point in April 2017.

The LG G6 will have a large 5.7-inch display. However, LG claims that it will fit comfortably in one hand, partly due to the narrow bezels on the side of the screen. It also has an 18:9 screen ratio – different from the conventional 16:9 ratio – which means it will be twice as long as it is wide. The South Korean company says this allows greater viewing space and more immersive video watching.

The G6 succeeds the G5, which is now far more affordable if you don’t want to pay a premium and has some unique little quirks of its own. Historically, however, LG has been a bit hit and miss, so if you’re looking for an LG handset right now, head straight to our LG mobile phone reviews.

Latest Motorola mobile phones

Like Samsung, Motorola makes a range of phones to suit different budgets. For instance, 2016 saw the release of both the Motorola Moto E3, which costs around £95 to buy outright, and the Motorola Moto Z, which will set you back around £460.

The Motorola Moto E3 is a distinctly budget phone. It has a curved matte-plastic back and is spare in terms of features. Plus, you’ll have to either put up with its small 8GB of internal space, or buy a separate micro-SD card to boost storage by up to 32GB.

The Moto Z, on the other hand, has an aluminium body, a glass back and a fingerprint scanner. It’s also NFC-capable, meaning you can use this phone for Android Pay.

Two new budget-friendly Motorola models will be hitting shelves very soon, the Moto G5 and G5 Plus. Both run on the Nougat, the latest version of the Android operating system.

As we explain in our reviews, the brand has traditionally been one of the best for an affordable or backup smartphone. We’re looking forward to discovering whether these new entries will be cheap and cheerless or brilliant budget buys upon their release.

We put all mobile phones through the same tests, regardless of price or extra features. So you can trust our tests to truly separate the wheat from the chaff. Head to our Motorola mobile phone reviews to find out whether they’re worth your money.

Latest Huawei mobile phones

Huawei is currently a lesser-known name than many of its rivals. But it’s really starting to carve out its own recognisable identity in the mobile phone landscape with premium-style phones for a more wallet-friendly price.

The recently launched Huawei Honor 6X will set you back around £230 and has already passed through our test lab. We love that it feels more expensive than it actually is, thanks to its brushed-aluminium back. It also has a few other features that used to be the preserve of expensive handsets, such as a fingerprint scanner.

You’ll find dual cameras on the back of many Huawei smartphones. The Chinese company claims that these bring out detail better, which is something we explore more fully in our reviews.

There are also more expensive Huawei smartphones to consider – for instance, Huawei recently announced the upcoming P10 and P10 Plus, which look set to cost more than £500. We’re looking forward to seeing how they stack up against other pricey flagship phones – such as the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Apple iPhone 7.

Tempted by Huawei smartphones? Consult our Huawei mobile phone reviews before parting with your hard-earned money.

Latest HTC mobile phones

HTC has recently launched the U Play and U Ultra smartphones. Both phones run on Android Nougat, the latest version of Google’s operating system.

One of the main differences between the two phones is their screen size. While the U Play is an already-large 5.2 inches, the U Ultra is an even more palm-stretching 5.7 inches.

They also differ when it comes to camera specs. The U Ultra has a 12Mp rear camera that uses two autofocus techniques as well as optical image stabilisation (OIS) for clearer snaps. The U Play’s rear camera is 16Mp and has OIS too but only uses one autofocus technique. Whether this actually makes a real-life difference is something we’re keen to assess.

HTC has followed in Apple’s recently trodden footsteps by removing the traditional 3.5mm headphone socket. Instead, you connect headphones through the USB-C port on the underside of the phone. A pair of USB-C headphones come in the box, but you’ll need to buy an adaptor if you want to use your own headphones.

The HTC U Play and U Ultra are currently being put through their paces in our test lab – we’ll be bringing you the results in April.

Elsewhere, the recently released One A9s is a nice mid-range option that impresses in some important areas but, as with LG, HTC has been a bit hit and miss across its range.

Head to our HTC mobile phone reviews for a broader picture of how they cope in our stringent assessments.

Which? Best Buy mobile phones

We’re committed to finding the best mobile phones so that you can rest assured that you’re spending your money wisely.

If you’re not keen on forking out, you’ll be delighted to discover that premium quality doesn’t always come at a premium price. We’ve found Best Buy mobile phones that cost less than £200 as well as £400+ models that don’t quite meet the mark.

Just want to see our recommendations for the best models your money can buy? Here’s a simple solution: head straight to our Best Buy mobile phones.

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