This is a championship fight – which among today’s Android flagship smartphones has the best performance?
The Huawei P9 retains the industrial design language iconic to the brand’s P series. We have a phone built using aerospace-class aluminum, accentuated by diamond-cut edges and rounded off with 2.5D glass on the front. Aesthetically, the phone looks marvelous and consistent, given how Huawei avoids having unnecessary protrusions on its compact form factor.
The phone is 6.95mm thin, so even if it’s not as sleek as the preceding P8, the P9 still remains the slimmest phone among the flagship phones in this shootout. Combined with its 5.2-inch screen size, the P9 is easy to grip, while being small and light enough for one-handed use. The phone is delightful to use, and that’s helped along with a sharp, Full HD display.
Under the hood is an octa-core Huawei Kirin 955 processor. Going by our benchmark scores, the Huawei-made processor falls behind industry leading chips by Qualcomm and Samsung’s Exynos. Nevertheless, the user interface and everyday performance were smooth and free of hiccups. Unfortunately, the battery life falls short next to the S7 Edge, and the P9 isn’t waterproof.
The P9’s headline feature is none other than the dual, 12-megapixel rear cameras, co-engineered with Leica. One camera focuses on grabbing the best colors, and the other camera brings out clarity with a monochrome sensor – without a color filter, the monochrome sensor can capture more detail in a scene. The resulting color images are nearly on par with the S7 Edge in quality. With a dedicated monochrome sensor, the P9 also takes strong black and white photos. This makes the P9 a good phone within this selection for photography at large.
As a whole, the Huawei P9 is a wellmade phone, with a camera quality to match. At its price tag, it’s quite a bargain for a phone that looks good and shoots well. The battery life and benchmark results make it less ideal, but it’s still a worthy gadget on its own.
+Amazing construction quality and camera prowess.
-Short battery life with average benchmark performance.
AT A GLANCE
Display 5.2-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pixels IPS LCD
Processor Huawei Kirin 955 octa-core
Dimensions 145 x 70.9 x 6.95mm
Price $768 (32GB) $888 (64GB)
Co-engineered by Leica, the dual
rear cameras can work individually
or as a pair, giving us photos with
The p9 has high quality build, which
holds up even when it’s compared
against more expensive flagships.
The LG G5 uses an unorthodox modular design, giving a fresh breath of life to the Android market and its subtle silver Shiny Cut Edge that gives the 5.3-inch phone a comfortable grip dominates the look.
Features such as the Always-On Display (AOD), removable battery and the option to enhance the phone with modular attachments combine to make the phone feel like it’s worth its weight in gold. Modular add-ons such as camera grip and DAC may be one of the biggest things to happen to mainstream flagship phones, but note that the design requires the phone to be turned off to swap components.
The AOD is not too bright, which limit viewing angles. It’s less fancy than the Samsung’s AOD templates. However, LG’s AOD feels more practical in comparison with a wider spread of notifications.
The one attachment we had for the review was the LG Cam Plus camera grip. Installed, physical controls are far more tactile than tapping tiny symbols on a screen, but it’s not too ergonomic. As a bonus, the attachment bestows an additional 1,200mAh battery capacity.
Within the LG G5 is a 64-bit quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 SoC, and its real-world performance almost matches the Exynos-equipped Galaxy S7. Base battery life, however, was mediocre.
The LG G5 has two rear cameras. One a standard 16-megapixel shooter with an f/1.8 aperture, while the other rear camera is a 135-degree wide-angle lens with an 8-megapixel resolution and f/2.4 lens. This feature adds greater variety to taking photos, bringing it on par with the other interesting cameraoriented phones, like the Huawei P9.
While we do feel that LG could’ve done better with its features, the LG G5 is certainly one of the most powerful Snapdragon 820 devices within reach. It’s definitely worth a look, thanks to its features, performance, and battery flexibility.
+One of the most interesting and powerful Snapdragon 820 Android phones today.
-Battery life isn’t good, but it’s replaceable.
AT A GLANCE
Display 5.3-inch Quad HD 2,560 x 1,440 pixels IPS LCD
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 quad-core
Dimensions 149.4 x 73.9 x 7.7mm
Price $998 (32GB)
The two rear cameras are
functionally different, with one of
them having a wider field of view
to get more in a shot.
The LG G5’s modular design is one
of the most interesting features to
happen for smartphones.
Oppo R9 Plus
It’s tough for the R9 Plus to compete against the pricier alternatives listed here, but it has its redeeming qualities, making the phone an effective contender.
The phone’s design is unabashedly similar to the iPhone 6s Plus, with a white front bezel and a sandblasted metal rear. There are minor differences, such as the phone’s flat side rims, and how it has an oblong Home button. Taken together, the R9 Plus is clearly an inspired design.
Despite its size, the 6-inch R9 Plus feels easy to control due to the staggered edge that runs along the device. The aluminum-cut edge doesn’t lie flush against the plastic front panel or the glass display. It’s great for holding, even if it looks unsightly. The large display is comfortable for reading and watching videos. The Home button doubles as the fingerprint sensor, which is more intuitive than using the R7 Plus’s rear fingerprint sensor.
Inside, you will find an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 processor. This processor is of the mid-range tier, so benchmark performances were weaker compared against the Snapdragon 820-based phones. That said, the ColorOS 3.0 interface (a re-skin of Android 5.1) runs butterysmooth, with no hiccups during everyday use.
Oppo makes selfiecentric phones, and the R9 Plus is no different. It uses a 16-megapixel, f/2 front camera – that’s the same specifications as its rear camera. Its rear camera has good performance, it’s sharp and the colors are more vibrant and natural looking than the photos from the LG G5. Image quality is on par with the other expensive models found here.
The R9 Plus has a 4,120mAh battery capacity, and our tests showed the Oppo outlasting the S7 Edge by a thin margin. This adds a big plus point to the R9 Plus. As a whole, it’s a phone that runs like a flagship, but it’s not without its flaws in design and processing power.
+Amazing battery life.
-Unoriginal design with a lower-powered processor.
AT A GLANCE
Display 6.0-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pixels AMOLED
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 octa-core
Dimensions 163.1 x 80.8 x 7.4mm
Price $769 (64GB) $849 (128GB)
The oppo r9 plus looks too similar
to the iphone 6s plus.
This phone takes selfies seriously,
with its 16-megapixel front camera
that shares the same specs as the
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge
The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge received numerous improvements, despite looking like the preceding S6 Edge. Our favorite change is the camera bump, which has been reduced to a mere 0.46mm above the rear surface. The S7 Edge has an IP68 rating, which makes it resistant to rain, splashing and accidental submersion.
It has a 5.5-inch display with the iconic Edge Screen that curves down the sides. The Always-On Display (AOD) shows the time and date, is brighter than the LG G5’s AOD, but supports fewer apps for notifications. You can now slot a MicroSD card (up to 200GB) into the S7 Edge. Otherwise, you can have two nano-SIM cards using its hybrid card tray instead.
The very edge of the phone also received improved Edge UX with more shortcuts and panels, buffing its functionality to make it less of a gimmick. Not only do you get to customize the order of the Edge panels, you can also get extremely specific shortcuts on the new Tasks Edge – such as starting up the e-mail app with the recipient field all filled up and ready to fire. The width of the Edge panel is now at 550 pixels, nearly double in size of the older S6 Edge+ panel’s 260 pixels.
Singapore variants of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge get a 64-bit octa-core Exynos 8890 processor. As a whole, the Samsung S7 Edge phones are still one of the most powerful smartphones around, with only the Snapdragon 820-powered LG G5 coming in very close.
The S7 Edge uses a 12-megapixel rear camera, with a bright f/1.7 aperture and Smart OIS (image stabilization), moving away from the predecessor’s 16-megapixel rear camera. While picture quality and vibrancy were great, it has the least exciting photography features out of the four phones here.
As it stands, the S7 Edge is a strong contender with the weaknesses of the previous Edge phones addressed.
+Great overall performance.
-Not as exciting as the competition.
AT A GLANCE
Display 5.5-inch Quad HD 2,560 x 1,440 pixels Super AMOLED
Processor 64-bit Exynos 8890 octa-core
Dimensions 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7mm
Price $1,098 (32GB)
S7 Edge’s rear camera may not be
as fancy as the competition, but it
still shoots vibrant images.
New Edge UX on the Galaxy s7 Edge
lets you have two rows of apps,
instead of one.
Sony Xperia X
Instead of the stylish, monolithic design language that permeated Xperia Z series previously, the Xperia X opts for a muted, functional appearance. Gone are the reflective surfaces or glass finishes on its rear; it is replaced with a brushed metallic look. The biggest physical change is the curved glass edges on the 5.0-inch display, and the seamless metal rear that wraps down the sides.
The Xperia X does borrow functional design cues from its past, such as having a dedicated physical camera button and the lock button on the side that doubles as a fingerprint sensor. As a whole, the Xperia X is nice to use, easy to operate, with a premium finish. But it doesn’t have the old suave vibe, so it’s no longer more visibly stylish than phones like the Huawei P9.
Inside the Xperia X is the hexa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor. It’s one of the lower-performing phones on our benchmarks, and it’s more expensive than the Oppo R9 Plus (64GB). There is the more powerful Xperia X Performance with a Snapdragon 820, but that model isn’t officially sold locally.
Real world usage of the Xperia X felt ordinary, except that Sony had their interface set to take on a slower, smoother glide between apps and menus, which can be irritating if you’re in a hurry. Battery life is decent for its small capacity, but it pales within this shootout.
We’re happy to report that the 23-megapixel rear camera on the Xperia X (with its 1/ 2.3-inch sensor) does have much better performance than its predecessors. Not only is the Xperia X one of the sharpest shooters in this mix, it’s also very detailed and excels at low light, even next to the S7 Edge. Photos from the Xperia X are certainly much more vibrant and accurate than the Xperia Z5.
On its own, it’s a complete phone that felt nice to use, but it’s currently up against prettier, cost-effective flagships with longer-lasting batteries.
+Good camera, efficient battery.
-Weaker performance, plain-looking, slightly costly.
AT A GLANCE
Display 5.0-inch 1,920 x 1,080 pixels IPS LCD
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 hexa-core
Weight 152g dimENsioNs 143 x 69 x 7.7mm
Price $848 (64GB)
The Xperia X has a 23-megapixel,
1/2.3-inch sensor with predictive
hybrid AutoFocus that delivers
quick focusing under 0.6 seconds.
Sony retains their dedicated
camera button, which stayed in
their design language since the
Xperia Z range.
Android flagship smartphones 2016
We look at color, sharpness, noise, and contrast in this comparison, while our review compares the unique shooting modes each phone has. By far, the new Sony Xperia X has the sharpest image, followed by the LG G5, with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge coming in third.
Colors are a wash, with the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge having the most natural tone, even if it’s tinted a little redder than the rest. The Xperia X may have a cooler color temperature as a whole, but its colors come second for its vibrancy and contrast. The LG G5 has the best black-andwhite contrast out of the mix.
All this is visible under scrutiny, and we think that all the rear cameras here performed well for the price they command – those that didn’t get a special mention did make up for it with unique shooting features.
Huawei: The P9’s ability to combine both lenses for better contrast makes the photo pleasing to the eyes, without losing disinction between shades of the same hue.
LG: Contrast is what G5 does best, but it loses out in color vibrancy.
Oppo: While functional, the R9 Plus’s rear camera is up against much tougher competition.
Samsung: Galaxy S7 Edge gives us images with impressive clarity, set against a natural color tone.
Sony: The strongest of this bunch is the Xperia X, aceing the sharpness, color, and contrast.
(in ms; Lower is Better)
3DMARK ICE STORM UNLIMITED
(Higher is Better)
3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited test uses a mix of graphics and physics tests to measure hardware performance. The first test measures the GPU’s ability to process many vertices, while the second does the same thing with lots of pixels and post-processing effects. Finally, the CPU is tested for its ability to process physics simulations, while keeping GPU load low.
(Higher is Better)
Quadrant benchmarks a device’s CPU, I/O, and GPU performance.
(in minutes; Higher is Better)
Our standard battery test for mobile phones includes the following parameters:
• Looping a 800 x 480-pixel video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
• Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
• Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
AND THE BEST ANDROID FLAGSHIP SMARTPHONE IS
SamSung galaxy S7 Edge
Every phone in this shootout felt powerful, and each of them had their own interesting features to stand out from the others. Ironically, it was the least novel S7 Edge that got our vote, because it had strong benchmark performance and battery life, backed up by its willingness to rectify its older flaws – this effectively brought the Galaxy phone series closer to perfection.
The LG G5 has novel features and comparable performance, but its battery life was less than what we hoped for. That said, LG’s first try at modular designs will hopefully bring us the next smartphone to beat. The other phones had their own merits too, such as the immense battery life on the Oppo R9 Plus, the attention to aesthetics on the Huawei P9, and the camera performance of the Sony Xperia X, but they didn’t manage to tick as many checkboxes as the S7 Edge did in one device.