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Essential Android smartphones: May 2016

Here are six of the very best Android handsets currently on offer.
Samsung Galaxy S7
1 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Samsung Galaxy S7

Samsung's builds on its reputation for flagship handsets with yet premium handset. This, along with the more expensive Galaxy S7 Edge are among the best smartphones currently available.

Tech spec:

  • Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
  • 5.1-inch quad HD Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (576 pixels-per-inch)
  • Snapdragon 820 processor (the Samsung Exynos chipset is used in some regions)
  • 4GB of RAM
  • Non-removable Li-Ion 3,000 mAh battery
  • MicroSD card slot
  • 12-megapixel rear-facing camera
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Wireless charging support
  • Water- and dust-resistant to IP68
  • Color options: Gold Platinum and Black Onyx
Samsung Galaxy S7
2 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Samsung Galaxy S7

For more information, along with pricing on various carriers, read the CNET review of the Samsung Galaxy S7 here.

LG G5
3 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

LG G5

Samsung is not alone in being able to come out with fantastic handsets. The LG G5 is proof positive that LG is clearly willing to innovate and reinvent, and even take gambles with this modular smartphone.

Tech spec:

  • Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
  • 5.3-inch quad HD IPS display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,440 pixel resolution (554 pixels-per-inch)
  • Snapdragon 820 with an Adreno 530 GPU
  • 4GB of RAM
  • Removable Li-Ion 2,800 mAh battery
  • MicroSD card slot
  • Dual rear cameras; a 16-megapixel camera with a 78-degree field of view, and an 8-megapixel camera with a 135-degree field of view
  • 8-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Color options: Silver, Titan, Gold, and Pink
LG G5
4 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

LG G5

For more information, along with pricing on various carriers, read the CNET review of the LG G5 here.

Google Nexus 6P
5 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Google Nexus 6P

The Nexus 6P is an odd beast indeed. From a tech point of view it's a powerhouse, with its sharp display and powerful Snapdragon 810 processor. But the exterior is something that might not appeal to all - it's bulky and top-heavy and the fingerprint reader is placed in an odd spot.

It also ditches the much-loved wireless charging feature.

Tech spec:

  • Android 6.0 (Marshmallow)
  • 5.7-inch 1440 x 2560 pixels AMOLED multi-touch display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 MSM8994 with Adreno 430
  • 3GB of RAM
  • 12.3-megapixel rear camera
  • 8-megapixel front camera
  • Non-user-replaceable 3450mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Colors: Aluminum, Graphite, Frost.
Google Nexus 6P
6 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Google Nexus 6P

For more information, along with pricing on various carriers, read the CNET review of the Google Nexus 6P here.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
7 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

Not a fan of the huge Android smartphones that seem to be all the rage these days? Then the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact could be worth a look. This is essentially an Xperia Z5 crammed into a more compact shell.

Tech spec:

  • Android 5.1 (Lollipop)
  • 4.6-inch HD 720p (1280 x 720) Triluminos display
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 with Adreno 430
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 23-megapixel rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • 2700mAh Li-Ion battery
  • Waterproof and dust tight (IP65 and IP68)
  • Colors: White, Graphite Black, Coral, yellow.
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
8 of 12 Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

For more information, along with pricing on various carriers, read the CNET review of the Sony Xperia Z5 Compact here.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5
9 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is a powerhouse of an Android handset, but with a price tag to match. Excellent quality components and construction - just don't insert the stylus into it the wrong way!

Tech spec:

  • Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop)
  • 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixel Quad HD Super AMOLED capacitive touchscreen display featuring Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 with quad-core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 32/64GB of storage
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery
  • 16-megapixel rear-facing camera with optical image stabilization
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Wireless charging support
  • Color options: Black Sapphire, Gold Platinum, Silver Titan, White Pearl
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
10 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

For more information, along with pricing on various carriers, read the CNET review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 here.

Motorola Moto G (late 2015)
11 of 12 Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

Motorola Moto G (late 2015)

Not the most powerful handset by far, but the Motorola Moto G is one of the best handsets for the money, doubly so given that you can buy it unlocked for under $200.

Tech specs:

  • Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop)
  • 5.0 inch 720 x 1280 pixel IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen featuring Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Quad-core Snapdragon 410 with 1.4 GHz Cortex-A53 with Adreno 306 GPU
  • 1GB of RAM in the 8GB storage version, 2GB in the 16GB storage version
  • 8/16GB of storage
  • Non-removable Li-Ion 2470 mAh battery
  • 13-megapixel rear-facing camera
  • 5-megapixel front-facing camera
  • Micro SD card support
  • IPX7 certified - water resistant up to 1 meter for 30 minutes
  • Color options: Black and White, but with many accent and trim options
Motorola Moto G (late 2015)
12 of 12 Sarah Tew/CNET

Motorola Moto G (late 2015)

For more information, along with pricing on various carriers, read the CNET review of the Motorola Moto G here.

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