Best smartphones of MWC 2016: PhoneArena Awards

And just like that, another Mobile World Congress is behind us. We had an amazing time checking out the latest innovations in technology – from smartphones, tablets, and wearables to talking human-like robots, virtual reality headsets, and blazing-fast 5G networks. We had a blast witnessing the announcements of the latest products by Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC, and many other companies. We enjoyed snacking on home-made tapas and sipping on locally brewed beer. But now it is time to pack our bags and head home. Indeed, time flies when you're having fun. 

Before we board our flight, however, we think there's one more thing we should do. We feel obliged to highlight the best smartphone we saw at MWC 2016. And if you've been following our coverage, you might not be surprised by our top pick. 

Best smartphones of MWC 2016: Samsung Galaxy S7, Galaxy S7 edge

The Samsung Galaxy S6 was already a really good smartphone. So were the Galaxy S6 edge and S6 edge+. This is why Samsung didn't need to deliver anything radically new with the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. It just had to polish its flagship phone and its counterparts a bit further. And so Samsung did.

On the outside, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge look more or less identical to last year's models. Dig a little further, however, and you'll see how they bring a number of meaningful, practical improvements to Samsung's formula. The two new phones sport better cameras, faster processors, IP68 dust and water resistance, and expandable storage. And all of that in a sleek, stylish body. Sure, the phones are a bit thicker and heavier than their predecessors, but we don't mind that at all, knowing that the two pack bigger batteries and their cameras don't stick out as much. Besides, that new Always On Display feature is kind of neat.

So yeah, the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 edge are looking like top-of-the-line Android phones, and we can't wait to give them the full-on review treatment. This is likely to happen very, very soon, as Samsung will be launching them as early as March 11.

First runner-up: LG G5

Few were the phones at MWC that drew as much attention as the LG G5. Many were curious to see its unorthodox, Modular Design in action and to experience its wide-angle, 135-degree secondary camera. Indeed, LG's new Modular Design concept might hold great potential, Although we're not entirely convinced, having tested the modules and accessories made for the LG G5 at the MWC show floor – the camera grip and external audio DAC by B&O being among them. Still, being able to expand the functionality of a smartphone, all while retaining the removable battery and storage expansion, sounds great to us!

As for the wide-angle camera we just mentioned, it is actually something we can see ourselves using – when shooting in tight spaces or when taking photos of grandiose pieces of architecture, for example. And when we don't need the wide-angle feature, the high-quality main camera stands at our disposal. 

Second runner-up: Sony Xperia X Performance

Who doesn't like a pleasant surprise? One came from Sony at Mobile World Congress – the company announced its brand new X-series of smartphones. And the best device in the lineup is the Sony Xperia X Performance, which is shaping up as a great smartphone overall. 

One of the phone's highlights is the latest Qualcomm SoC beating inside it – the Snapdragon 820. Then there's the 23MP camera, featuring Sony's latest – and supposedly really fast – autofocus technique. All of this, along with a 5-inch screen, a 13MP front camera, and expandable storage slot, are housed in a stylish, metal-made body with a traditional Sony feel to it.

All in all, the Sony Xperia X Performance could be a great all-around device – a smartphone made to deliver a no-nonsense smartphone experience, with none of the bells and whistles found on competing devices. Whether that's the case, however, will be known in a few months, when the Xperia X Performance hits the shelves.



1. Skimshaddy

Posts: 126; Member since: Feb 23, 2016


56. Tanujtiwari

Posts: 84; Member since: Mar 18, 2015

Seriously? There is nothing G5 can't do what S7 can! Such stupidity phonearena, such stupidity. That G5 can do anything...except bribing this website ofc

57. Shocky unregistered

Water/dust resistance? wireless charging? low light camera? large battery?

59. Tanujtiwari

Posts: 84; Member since: Mar 18, 2015

Sure. Care to take the blindfold off and see what LG offers? BEST USER EXPERIENCE. BEST ALL ROUND LASER AF CAMERA. UM, A NON FINGERPRINT MAGNET BACK :P I don't even have to talk of pricing, 1 tb SD card support and removable battery. BAM

63. DerryAhmad

Posts: 296; Member since: May 05, 2012

- Best User experience? Subjective. As much as many don't like Touchwiz, the LG's skin were more critized than Sammy's skin - Best Allround Auto Focus? S7/Edge Autofocus with its Dual Pixel tech was praised as the best one coming out of the MWC 2016 - Fingerprint Magnet Back? Sure. But it's not as Flashy as the Silver/Gold S7/Edge. Many thinks the G5 are ugly. My point, design is subjective. - 1 Tb SD Card: Even S7/Ege supports that too. Good luck finding one though. - Removable Battery: Yes. This is the most obvious advantage the G5 has over the S7/Edge. It's modular design is very interesting. But one can also argue the longevity of it. Not to mentioned dust getting inside. - Dual Camera: the dual camera is very intriguing. It's wide cam surely helpful in scenery or group photos. Quality wise, we have to wait for the review. Objectively, The S7/Edge has the 'edge' over the G5 on: - Bigger Battery. Especially the S7 Edge with a whopping 3600 mAh - Water/Dust Resistant. - Wireless Charging - Edge UX (for S7 Edge)- now it become very useful, with lots of options. - Brighter Camera. - Gaming Experience. With Vulcan API and Game launcher (for recording, screenshot and uninterrupted gaming experience) - Liquid cooling system. - Display. This one is a little subjective. But the S7/Edge Display is brighter than the G5. Also, Displaymate crowned the S7/Edge Display as the best mobile phone display.

64. RuneMaster

Posts: 75; Member since: May 31, 2015

It's your opinion. And people has their own opinion also. So, bear with it.

66. TheGranter

Posts: 63; Member since: Jan 28, 2016

the lg g5 not being water resistant is reason enough not to get it for me.

2. Silkrays

Posts: 6; Member since: Feb 19, 2016

Samsung is winning everywhere now.

17. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

So Mr Silk making alternate account to sound like Samsung fan are more numerous?

28. KONICHIWA-ANNYONG unregistered

So... Samsung fan = robot? Typical anti-Samsung attitude.

51. chenski

Posts: 770; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Really? This was the only mwc award article it won...

58. Shocky unregistered

marorun is a self confessed Samsung hater. If the topic is anything to do with Samsung just pay no attention to him

3. SonyFindOneDroidple

Posts: 865; Member since: May 11, 2013

The Xperia Z design is better than xperia P, the brushed aluminum design looks so dated! They could have just brought again the design from sony xperia Arc S

4. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3108; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

Why the fuk the LG G5 is a runner up?!

5. JMartin22

Posts: 2371; Member since: Apr 30, 2013

Because there's nothing standout about it besides a removable battery. All its improvements were lukewarm compared to the generational shift from the S6 to the S7

9. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

But you think something stands out about the S7/S7edge?? They're basically just an incremental update from the previous model. Nothing stand out about them. I think you need to revisit MWC because it's the S7/S7edge that had lukewarm imorovements.

32. Jason2k13

Posts: 1462; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

The G5 has a different way to remove battery and an uglier design... Yeh I think I prefer a bigger battery, better camera, better design and water proof.

34. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

Ugly is subjective. What's ugly to you isn't ugly to others. You really should get used to people not sharing your opinion. Better camera?? Lmao!! Very much doubt that. Better design is also subjective. And I'm not dumb enough to use my phone in the shower or rain or drop it down the toilet so water proof is a pretty much useless feature for me. I'll take innovation over me too, same old same old any day.

45. kartik.07

Posts: 73; Member since: May 04, 2015

Comparatively to S7 edge its ugly and s7 edge have best camera, best screen, faster cpu nd gpu new vulkan api and a higher capacity battery only thing g5 have is new way toh remove battery and this post is about best smartphone and not about innovation

61. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

Thanks for admitting Samsung didn't innovate. ;-)

37. John-Knotts

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

And yet they won anyway... :)

38. John-Knotts

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

Did you even read the article? They didn't need to innovate after already doing it last year. I'm impressed that they didn't need a bunch of new gimmicks (that no one is going to care about) to win. To me that says whatever they are doing, they are excelling at. :)

42. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

Not at MWC they didn't. LG won those awards. Same thing on other sites as well. Everyone knows PA is iPhonearena on some days and Samsungarena on others.

60. Shocky unregistered

Considering they almost nailed it with the Galaxy S6/Edge it terms of design last year an incremental update is more than enough to see off the competition from LG. They've also brought back water/dust resistance with with no annoying flaps, the sdcard slot, wireless charging is still built-in, low light performance is much better and they made it slight thicker to squeeze in a larger battery which we can all appreciate. Just admit it, the Galaxy S7 is great phone. The LG G5 has two new features, that's all. The dual camera setup and and modules. I haven't seen any evidence these bring anything worthwhile to the table yet, they're gimmicks which smart people users will see through them. Also the LG G5 is one ugly phone, the camera module is the most pointless thing I've ever seen and it makes it look even worse.

62. BobbyDigital

Posts: 2125; Member since: May 29, 2014

It's a great phone... *To you*. Everyone doesn't nor do they have to share in your opinion. It's nothing more than an incremental update. Samesung has copied Apple's model to a "T". Samsung has brought nothing new to the table here. It's literally the same phone with a few "updates". But you Samsung fanboys see it as the second coming of Jesus. You're worse than Apple fanboys. Like I said... Looks are subjective. But again, you Samesung fanboys think because *you* like it, everyone should. It looks plain to me. Same thing as the S6 and S6edge. We've seen it all before.

15. sobit81

Posts: 39; Member since: Apr 18, 2015

You are out of this world!!!!!

18. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

He is tottaly right the S7 edge nothing stand out. Same screen. Same design. Only better hardware and better camera. Nothing innovative.

23. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

Not the same screen. not the same design.

31. Jason2k13

Posts: 1462; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

While the G5 just has a different way to remove battery?

6. DoggyDangerous

Posts: 1028; Member since: Aug 28, 2015

Originally G5 won the best device of MWC 2016 award from GSM Association(the organizer of MWC). Rating of PA doesnt matter. G5 already won the show.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit for samples and additional information.