PhoneArena Awards 2016

It is the very end of the year, and while we’re in the mood for celebrations and joy, we’ll have to get somewhat nostalgic right now, because we need to look back at 2016 and name our favorite products. Across a number of categories, it was actually surprisingly easy for the team to converge around a very reasonable selection of devices that we think deserve to win an award for being on top of their game this whole year.

The categories we’ll hand out awards in are the following: Value for money, Best wearable, Best tablet, Biggest flops and disappointments (anti-award), and Best smartphone.

Best value-for-money smartphones of 2016

In this cutthroat market, it's not that hard to find some great propositions that don't compromise much in specs, but come at very reasonable costs. The phones in this category don't necessarily have the best camera, or display, or processor, but they sure are exceptional at being affordable yet powerful and full-featured. If you're looking for a great bargain in smartphone land, look no further.

OnePlus 3T


Starting at $439, the OnePlus 3T is once again an offer hard to refuse. The phone doesn't have any worrisome issues, and it comes with superb, non-compromising tech such as latest and greatest Snapdragon processor, generous amounts of memory, a surprisingly capable camera and even fast charging! What's not to like? Even though OnePlus' motto is "Never Settle", it'd be really hard to fault you, should you decide to settle on this one.

Moto Z Play Droid


Unlike the OnePlus 3T, the Moto Z Play's hardware is what you'd actually expect from a mid-range handset, but hear this: the Z Play is remarkable in two very big ways. First, it has a spectacular battery life (almost 14 hours on our battery test!), and second, it's compatible with Moto Mods. Sold separately, these snap-on attachments can quickly alter the looks of your phone to suit your mood, or add new functionality like a powerful speaker, or a bigger battery, or even a portable projector!

Best wearables of 2016

What happened in the world of smart wearables this year? Well, even though the category is having some trouble truly taking off, there was still quite a bit to be seen in 2016. In the gallery below, you can explore our top picks both for smartwatches and fitness bands.

Best tablet of 2016

Nope, tablets are far from dead, but as you know, they aren't the most exciting market either these days. Still, we managed to track down two suitable candidates for an award, which honestly wasn't that hard, considering they were the most obvious choices.

Apple iPad Pro 9.7


Taking all that was great about the big iPad Pro and squeezing it into a 9.7" form factor probably wasn't an easy task, but Apple managed to do just that. As a result, we now have a powerful and portable tablet that has a breathtaking screen, incredible performance and is compatible with the Apple Pencil.

Samsung Galaxy TabPro S


The Galaxy TabPro S by Samsung is another "pro" tablet, but this one is much closer to being a real workhorse, considering it has a humongous 12" display, laptop-class Core M processor and runs full-blown Windows 10. The best part is the TabPro S comes with a full keyboard accessory that also has a trackpad built-in: a complete package for working on the go!

Biggest disappointments of 2016

There is, of course, a difference between a flop and a disappointment, but either way, it's used to denote a device that we generally ended up being unhappy with, for one reason or another. Let's see who the winners of our anti-award are this time!

Samsung Galaxy Note 7

Surprise, surprise. Samsung's juggernaut crashed and burned, right after scoring some quite favorable reviews from tech critics. While we still don't know the exact reason why the Galaxy Note 7 was prone to go off, rumors have already painted the picture of an overly ambitious Samsung who just wanted to seize every opportunity and stuff every possible feature and technology inside this Note. It was a great effort, indeed, but unfortunately, it ended up in a tragic way for the company. Let's hope Samsung is going to learn its lessons are surprise us pleasantly in 2017.

Super Mario Run


Just a couple of weeks ago came a game many of us looked forward to, but ended up seriously disappointed by. Even though we should have seen it coming, it still felt bad as we tap-tap-tapped our way through Super Mario Run with just a single finger and knowing that it could have been something much bigger and more meaningful. Oh well, it wasn't much of a game, but maybe that's just what Nintendo wanted it to be – a noise-maker whose main purpose was to directed some attention back to the Japanese company.

Best smartphones of 2016

And here we are, at our most valuable and momentous award. Three phones! That's all we're going to feature here, but boy are they the cream of the crop. By a huge margin, these handsets managed to outplay the competition and provide users with the best of the best user experiences. You probably have a feeling which models these are, but let's see if you guesses are correct.



9. tedkord

Posts: 17453; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

No consistency. The Gear S3 wins best smartwatch, but had a lower review score than second place Apple Watch 2. As for tablets, nothing comes close to the Surface 4.

13. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015


36. Tyrion_Lannister unregistered

The surface pro 4 is too big to be used as a conventional tablet. That's also the reason you see the iPad 9.7 and not the pro in the article. Pro 4 is a 2-in-1, not a tablet.

17. airoid

Posts: 132; Member since: Dec 13, 2016

Gsmarena is more realistic. It is voted by real fan and there is no iPhone.

52. cnour

Posts: 2305; Member since: Sep 11, 2014

So go and stay there.

18. Kdk2020

Posts: 42; Member since: Apr 27, 2016

Saw it coming.... Won't be surprised if the iphone SE was included. If there was a headphone section the "Airpods" wld surely be there.... Typical iPhonearena

19. bubbadoes

Posts: 1225; Member since: May 03, 2012

great article and the best smartphone along with biggest disappointment of 2016 is. Drum role. ..............

41. tedkord

Posts: 17453; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Don't forget the best smartwatch...

21. bubbadoes

Posts: 1225; Member since: May 03, 2012

you crybabies in here cry and complain about the same lame excuses about iphoneareana. yet you are here everyday clicking on articles.

27. Tizo101

Posts: 595; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

I think most of us are here because we like their articles and the passion they bring out of us... not forgetting the comments section, in fact, sometimes I don't even read the articles - I just go for the title and comments.

34. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Nice photo of you and your friends.

26. Settings

Posts: 2943; Member since: Jul 02, 2014

Where is Pokemon Go on the disappointment list?

30. robyumzz

Posts: 9; Member since: Oct 19, 2016

what justifies in crowning the bezelicious Apple iPhone 7 the best smartphone of 2016??? Not the best display, camera, battery galaxy s7 edge did way way better

33. kiko007

Posts: 7520; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

They didn't crown it anything. They said best SMARTPHONES of 2016.....there's no ranking system. Do any of you actually read past the title?

46. shield

Posts: 862; Member since: Sep 12, 2015

LG G WATCH much better than Gear.

47. DavMor0069

Posts: 266; Member since: Dec 09, 2015

I actually agree with all of them.

53. KingSam

Posts: 1492; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

Value for money without the axon 7?

62. ebilcake

Posts: 1231; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

Axon 7 camera is horrible, very inconsistent even in good lighting. This is one area they must never compromise on and for me this rules it out completely. Also the interface is not that nice, you can flash it with near stock roms to get rid of the crap from ZTE but you shouldn't have too.

68. jellmoo

Posts: 2645; Member since: Oct 31, 2011

The camera won't win any awards, but it takes really solid photos in good lighting. Not S7 level, but you get pretty good shots. Low light though, yeah, bad. Almost surprisingly so, considering the specs. Not sure what you mean about the software though. It had "real" software issues with lock screen notifications, which was fixed in update. I'm not really sure what crap from ZTE you mean. The phone is almost bloat free.

60. ebilcake

Posts: 1231; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

OnePlus 3 is better value than the OnePlus 3T. £329 vs £399 for what? three minor changes to the specs. Maybe the pricing is better other Countries but it's not worth the extra £71.

63. ebilcake

Posts: 1231; Member since: Jul 16, 2016

They should have given the vote to the readers, but then they risk Apple not winning so I guess it will never happen.

96. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 927; Member since: May 07, 2014

I liked the Phonedog's user rankings better. I don't know why is it dead.

67. KalmanSakal

Posts: 3; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Never miss a chance to spit on Samsung, PhoneArena. And goes a long way. Watched carefully for months and every single time when a chance shows up, you talk and add stuff that suggests that people should stay away from Samsung and choose the almighty Apple products. Such a shame really. You could be great but this is not the way you should write about any company. I am telling this as a guy who tried a lot of phone brands and am not a fanboy of any of them. Try to be objective, not like a website which is sponsored by one single company... I just removed you from my newsfeed and Flipboard. Truly a shame, I did like this site a lot back then. Goodbye

69. StreetNerd

Posts: 870; Member since: Dec 08, 2010

Why is iPhoneevery year the best phone? I don't see any innovation, same as every previous generation iphones....

75. mikehunta727 unregistered

I think you missed the part where they awarded 3 phones the best smartphone of 16. They never gave iPhone the #1 spot, so what if it is labeled#1 in the photos, it's just numbering the photos and to probably troll some of the sensitive here but they clearly gave 3 phones the same award

89. vishnu_ramesh

Posts: 38; Member since: Mar 01, 2016

Why not Oneplus 3 or 3T on the best smartphones list? And where is Surface under best tablet section? #biasedArena

93. sansbill

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 03, 2017

Asking myself if Apple did really improved iPhone 7's camera. Well the 7 plus did have dual cam yet other phones still beat it even the 6S. So are there any improvements?

94. sansbill

Posts: 2; Member since: Jan 03, 2017

Asking myself if Apple did really improved iPhone 7's camera. Well the 7 plus did have dual cam yet other phones still beat it even the 6S. So are there any improvements?

97. Djay.atos

Posts: 1; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

So i Own the Best one. Iphone 7 plus.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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