Best phones in Australia 2017: the 10 top smartphones we’ve tested

Update: Sony’s newest flagship, the Xperia XZ Premium, has been added to our list of the Best phones in Australia 2017 – but where has it placed? Read on to find out!

  • If you’re interested in Apple’s flagship handset, then perhaps you’d be more interested in our best iPhone list.
  • Alternatively, if you prefer Google’s OS, then our best Android phone roundup should be right up your alley.

2016 was a stellar year for smartphones, and 2017 is shaping up to be even better. The recent launches of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the Samsung Galaxy S8 and Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus late last year mean that the humble smartphone is destined to become faster, more powerful and even more versatile than ever before.

Here at TechRadar, we check out every phone under the sun, putting the ones that matter through our vigorous testing process to create our in-depth mobile phone reviews.

However, with so many to choose from, we’ve spent hours whittling them down to a top ten, taking into account power, specs, design and value for money. And we’ll always point you in the direction of the latest handsets – after all, nobody wants to be carting around a phone that doesn’t get any updates in a year’s time, right?

So whether it’s one of the many slick Android handsets, the latest iPhone or one from a range of other cool manufacturers, we’ve extensively tested them all so you don’t have to!

Here are our rankings for the best smartphones around, currently available in Australia.

iPhone SE

10. Apple iPhone SE

A simply brilliant palm-friendly phone

Weight: 113g | Dimensions: 123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6mm | OS: iOS 9.3 | Screen size: 4-inch | Resolution: 640 x 1136 | CPU: Apple A9 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/64GB | Battery: 1624mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 1.2MP

The iPhone SE sports a tired design, has a screen that’s several years old and a display size which isn’t really big enough for today’s apps and movies on the move.

That said, it’s one of very few high-end smartphones you can get which you can use one-handed without issue. It won’t be for everyone, but for those who dislike the supersized phones of today the iPhone SE is a top performer on a miniature scale.

Remember the SE has the same power, same camera and same operating system as the top of the range iPhone 6S, but in a size you can easily pocket and at a price which isn’t going to break the bank.

Sure Sony has the Z5 Compact, but that still has a large-ish 4.6-inch display – the SE is a rare breed of small form and big power.

Read the full review: Apple iPhone SE
See the best Apple iPhone SE outright deals

9. Sony Xperia XZ Premium

A screen as good as the one in your living room (maybe even better).

Weight: 195g | Dimensions: 156 x 77 x 7.9 mm | OS: Android 7.1 | Screen size: 5.46-inch | Resolution: 3840 x 2160 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3230mAh | Rear camera: 19MP | Front camera: 13MP

Like the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium before it, Sony’s Xperia XZ Premium boasts an incredible 4K display, only this time it’s even better than before thanks to the inclusion of HDR support. This gives the display a much wider colour gamut, allowing for greater colour detail and more vibrant and lifelike visuals overall.

Screen aside, the phone itself is quite impressive in terms of specs, with 4GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 835 processor, 64 GB of storage (microSD up to 256GB), a 3,230 mAh battery, a water resistant build and it’s also got Sony’s unique side-mounted fingerprint scanner.

When it comes to raw power, the XZ premium maybe not be a class-leading device. That said, its incredible 4K screen (which boasts a whopping pixel density of 807ppi) is the gold-standard for handset displays – especially when used in conjunction with XZ Premium’s impressive 19MP primary camera.

Photography is also a major selling point for the XZ Premium, with its dedicated shutter button (which you can half-press to initiate laser autofocus) and its ability to record 720p video footage at a ridiculously slow 960fps as well as 4K footage at 30fps.

Admittedly, we’re not fans of its huge top and bottom bezels – Sony doesn’t really make meaningful use of that space (there are some front-facing speakers tucked in there), opting to use on-screen buttons instead of touch capacitive ones. And, since its fingerprint scanner is side-mounted, that just leaves a bunch of empty space at the bottom of the handset.

Still, the Sony Xperia XZ is a seriously slick phone with a jaw-dropping screen (backed by the same Triluminos display technology that powers Sony’s 4K TVs). One look at this display and you may just be in love.

Read the full review: Sony Xperia XZ Premium
See the best Sony Xperia XZ Premium telco plans
See the best Sony Xperia XZ Premium outright deals

8: Huawei P10 Plus

Huawei’s most impressive flagship to date

Weight: 165g | Dimensions: 153.5 x 74.2 x 7 mm | OS: Android 7.0 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Kirin 960 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Battery: 3750mAh | Rear camera: 20MP | Front camera: 12MP

While last year’s Huawei Mate 9 was already an incredibly impressive handset, the Huawei P10 Plus takes everything that phone did well and improves upon it.

Like the Mate 9, it has dual cameras (only this time with no hump whatsoever) and photography is rightly the key selling point of the device. At 20MP and 12MP, these lenses combine monochrome and RGB sensors with a creative Wide Aperture mode to make photography really enjoyable, often with pro-level results. Trust us when we tell you that you will never tire of applying bokeh effects and changing the point of focus after you’ve already taken the picture.

It’s got a speedy fingerprint sensor on the front, a gorgeous QHD display, a textured power button with red colouring for added pizzazz, a large battery with fast-charging capability, and thanks to the Kirin 960 processor it inherited from the Mate 9, it performs terrifically. It too uses machine learning to make sure that your handset does not show signs of slowed performance for at least the first 18 months of usage.

If you like what the fantastic Mate 9 handset brings to the table but consider that phablet a little too hefty, the Huawei P10 Plus is the perfect substitute.

Read the full review: Huawei P10 Plus
See the best Huawei P10 Plus outright deals


7. Google Pixel XL

A perfectly palm-friendly phone

Weight: 168g | Dimensions: 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 7.1 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 pixels | CPU: Snapdragon 821 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32/128GB | Battery: 3450mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

Google’s new phablet sports a new name (it’s ditched Nexus for Pixel), a top notch QHD display and a whole heap of power under the hood.

That makes it great for VR – keep an eye out for the Google Daydream View headset coming soon – while also making it a strong all round performer.

On screen and Google’s latest Android software is a joy to use, with smooth, slick performance and a clutter free design.

Fire up the camera app and the 12MP rear shooter is one of the best around, while a fingerprint scanner keep yours phone secure.

Minor weak points are battery life, design and the lack of waterproofing – but they don’t stop the Pixel XL from being an excellent flagship phablet.

Read the full review: Google Pixel XL
See the best Google Pixel XL telco plans
See the best Google Pixel XL outright deals

Nexus 6P

6. Huawei Mate 9

A nice kind of déjà-vu

OS: Android 7.0 | Screen size: 5.9-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | Memory: 4GB | Storage:  64GB (microSD up to 256GB) |Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 20MP | Front camera: 12MP

A vast improvement over the Mate 8, Huawei’s latest flagship is the Chinese company’s most impressive to date.

Huawei’s Mate 9 is a phone that’s equal parts Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (minus the fire) and iPhone 7, mixed in with the brand’s own design sensibilities both inside and out.

With its new EMUI 5.0 OS (based on Android Nougat), the Mate 9 has successfully bridged the gap between iOS and Android, letting users place their apps in an App Drawer or spread all of them across numerous home screen pages, iPhone-style.

Like the Huawei P9, the Mate 9’s camera is Leica-branded, and with a bit of tinkering, users can produce photos with professional-looking depth of field effects and incredible detail.

Performance is impressive, too – Huawei has included its own Machine Learning Algorithm in the Mate 9, which is designed to ensure your phone gets faster over time, and that’s backed up by 4GB of RAM and the aforementioned Huawei-made Kirin 960 chipset.

Read the full review: Huawei Mate 9
See the best Huawei Mate 9 telco plans

iPhone 7

5. Apple iPhone 7

Better, sleeker and faster than the iPhone 6S

OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 1334 x 750 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB/256GB |Battery: 1,960mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

On paper, the iPhone 7 doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade from last year’s terrific iPhone 6S, but seeing as that phone was fantastic, that’s not such a big deal.

Much has been said of Apple’s decision to drop the traditional headphone jack from the iPhone 7, and while we can’t really agree with this “courageous” decision, the flagship handset does pack its fair share of improvements, too.

It’s got slightly longer battery life, a better camera, fast innards and protection against water – if you’re going to buy a new iPhone, this is the one to get. However, many of the changes are slight, and the iPhone 6S, for the lower price, suddenly becomes a very attractive option.

Full review: Apple iPhone 7
See the best iPhone 7 telco plans
See the best iPhone 7 outright deals

HTC 10

4. Google Pixel

The perfect phone for Android aficionados

Weight: 143g | Dimensions: 143.8 x 69.5 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 7.1 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: Snapdragon 821 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32/128GB | Battery: 2770mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

The Google Pixel is an excellent flagship phone that’s only let down by mediocre battery life and the still-developing Assistant. If you can stomach the price point, the Pixel is a breath of fresh Google air in a world of Android over-complication.

The 12MP camera on the back is one of the best on the market, while the clean, fresh Android Nougat interface is a joy to use.

There’s heaps of power under the hood making it perfect for gaming and multi-tasking, while the bright, colourful screen provides an excellent viewing experience for your movies and TV shows.

It may not be the most attractive handset on the market, and it’s far from ugly. What you can be sure of is a lot of bang for your buck.

Read the full review: Google Pixel
See the best Google Pixel telco plans
See the best Google Pixel outright deals

iPhone 7 Plus

3. Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Apple’s latest phablet is another stunner, though not much of an evolution

OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/128GB/256GB | Battery: around 2,900mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

The iPhone 7 Plus is an excellent phablet, but it would have been nice to see some upgrades to screen resolution. That said, just like the iPhone 7, the iPhone 7 Plus comes with its share of improvements over last year’s model.

That’s mostly achieved through two things: the battery life and innovative camera. The former is always going to be better thanks to the larger size, but by bringing a dual camera to the mix Apple’s made a conscious effort to make the 7 Plus seem like a distinctly different choice.

On top of that, Apple has increased the colour gamut significantly and – as far as we could tell – the contrast ratio as well, meaning the richness of colours and depth on screen was improved. The screen is apparently also 25% brighter than it was on the iPhone 6S.

Overall, it’s safe to say that the iPhone 7 Plus is Apple’s best phone to date, but it’s hard not to wonder if a little more could have been done to make this super attractive to the 6 Plus upgraders.

Read the full review: Apple iPhone 7 Plus
See the best iPhone 7 Plus telco plans
See the best iPhone 7 Plus outright deals

Samsung Galaxy S7

2. Samsung Galaxy S8

Samsung doubles down with two fantastic handsets this year

OS: Android 7 | Screen size: 5.8-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

The Samsung Galaxy S8 is the best phone in the world for a few reasons, but none more so than the display: it makes every other handset on the market look positively antiquated.

The camera is still excellent, the screen quality the best that can be found right now and it’s smashed through all our benchmarking tests.

While it costs a lot to own, there are a lot of premium reasons for the premium price, and with the screen Samsung has managed to find some impressive innovation at a time when there’s very little to be found in smartphones.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S8
See the best Samsung Galaxy S8 telco plans
See the best Samsung Galaxy S8 outright deals

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

1. Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus

The best smartphone in the world – it’s a work of art

OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2960 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB |Battery: 3550mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 8MP

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus fits a monstrous 6.2-inch curved display into an acceptably large body that doesn’t feel too different from its predecessor, the Galaxy S7 Edge.

That’s not all that’s impressive. It features the best phone display, chipset and camera of any phone to date, plus it’s still water- and dust-resistant and it features 64GB of internal storage plus a microSD card slot for expandable storage.

The battery life is very good, it can power the next generation of mobile VR games and it has software that rivals stock Android.

Aside from Bixby and some slightly clunky biometrics, the Galaxy S8 Plus is the perfect phone for anyone looking to maximism smartphone screen real estate.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
See the best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus telco plans
See the best Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus outright deals

We’re all about reviewing and rating all the phones here at techradar. There’s nothing we like more than brewing a pot of tea and deciding where each new phone should sit in the list.

However, sometimes they don’t make it into the top 10 – sad, we know, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a quick look to see if they fit your needs. After all, there are very few bad phones these days…

Galaxy S6

Samsung Galaxy S7

A true return to form from the Korean manufacturer

OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5.1-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | Memory: 3GB |Storage:32GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

The Galaxy S7 may have just been dethroned by the Galaxy S8, but don’t count this old boy out of the race yet.

The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a stellar phone. It’s a handset that packs great battery smarts, excellent camera abilities and loads of raw power into an increasingly affordable package.

Even though Samsung has replaced the Galaxy S7 with the new Galaxy S8, it’s still worth taking a look at the 2016 flagship Samsung phone for your next big purchase. The price has begun to drop quite impressively, and the Galaxy S8 lacks a killer feature that makes it a must-have over the Galaxy S7.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S7 review
See the best Samsung Galaxy S7 telco plans
See the best Samsung Galaxy S7 outright deals

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 1440p | Memory: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP

Though we’d love to include the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 on this list, a series of unfortunate burning issues has caused Samsung to officially recall the device for the time being. On that note (hehe), we’re going to hold off on including it here until it’s back on store shelves and the recall has finished.

With that said, people after a phablet may want to consider last year’s model, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, as it has one of the best-looking screens next to the S7 Edge.

It ditches the plastic casing and back everyone disliked about Samsung phones, but it did make a few key sacrifices along the way. The battery is no longer swappable, and the microSD card slot is missing.

While some long-time fans are vocal about these two missing features, the Galaxy Note 5 still has one of the best splitscreen modes and best cameras. It matches the quality of the Samsung Galaxy S6.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is a large phone that’s either a game changer or deal breaker for longtime fans of the Android phablet, now that it has a premium look and feel.

HTC One M9

HTC One M9

A stunning phone, even if it does feel like a slight step backwards

OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1920×1080 | Memory: 3GB |Storage: 32GB | Battery:2840mAh | Rear camera: 20.7MP | Front camera: 4MP

For two long years, the HTC One and its follow up, the One (M8) topped the techradar charts for the best phone money could buy. But while the most recent version has been overtaken by its competitors, it’s still one of the best devices on the market.

With the same exceptional build quality that made previous One handsets stand apart from the crowd, and the incredible Boomsound front-facing speakers, there’s plenty to love about this phone.

The 20.7MP camera may be better specced than previous iterations, but it still falls short against some of the higher-placed competitors here.

The price at launch was a bit too high for what you actually got, but given we’re soon to meet the HTC One M10, you can grab the M9 at a pretty good price. For the quality of the hardware and software, it’s definitely worth checking out.

Huawei Mate 8

Huawei Mate 8

Great battery life but a middling interface

OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | RAM: 3-4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 4000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP dual | Front camera: 8MP

This is obviously more phablet than phone, but it’s an intriguing one given it’s lower on the price scale. There’s a great, speedy fingerprint sensor on the rear, the display is still stunning despite not being the sharpest around and the battery life is much stronger than most on show here.

However, Huawei’s Emotion UI is still a bit hard to master, trying to ape the best bits of both Android and iOS but not really managing either. The speaker grille doesn’t look amazing, and we wish the fast charging cable came along at purchase.

OnePlus 3

OnePlus 3

OnePlus finally has a genuine flagship killer

OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP

Addressing a number of issues fans had with the OnePlus 2, it seems the third time’s the charm for the Chinese startup, as the OnePlus 3 manages to provide a premium smartphone experience without breaking the budget.

Its impressive Snapdragon 820 processor and huge 6GB of RAM ensure that the OnePlus 3 is future-proofed for the next few years, at least.

There are a few shortcomings, but some compromises are essential in a $550 smartphone with this level of spec, and on the whole the ones made here don’t really limit the OnePlus 3 in any meaningful way.

Samsung Galaxy s5

Samsung Galaxy S5

Two years old, but still very capable

OS: Android | Screen size: 5.1-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | Battery: 2,800mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 2MP

If Samsung’s latest duo of flagship devices (the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge) are too rich for your wallet then you can always consider last year’s Galaxy S5.

Sure it doesn’t have the same premium design as the current generation, but the plastic body means it’s dust and water resistant as well as giving you a removable battery and microSD slot – all things not available on the S6 range.

The drop in price also makes the Galaxy S5 more attractive and it’s stuffed full of tech and sports a fantastic screen to ensure you still have an enjoyable mobile experience.

iPhone 6

Apple iPhone 6S

Same frame but with a brilliant new touchscreen

OS: iOS 10.2 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 750 x 1334 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 1715 mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Apple’s iPhone 6S pitch has been ‘the only thing that’s changed is everything’, highlighting that it knows this is phone looks an awful lot like 2014’s model.

It makes sense that Apple would try its hardest to show that, despite the handset looking identical to the iPhone 6, there have been loads of changes under the hood that make this an attractive phone in its own right.

If you’re desperate to get a new iPhone, but don’t need or want the forever change (headphone jack-less) iPhone 7, I’d recommend the iPhone 6S wholeheartedly, especially if you’re jumping from a 5S. It’s got a great interface that’s only going to get better, and the overall package is still excellent.

Motorola Moto Z

The world’s thinnest smartphone is also the best modular phone

OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32/64GB | Battery: 2600mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP

Moto Z takes the modular accessory idea we liked so much about the LG G5 and actually makes it work with better add-ons and an easier-to-use snap-on design.

It’s an Android phone that performs well right now and the potential behind its future accessories hold a lot of promise down the road. Usually when we talk about mid-cycle upgrades, we’re strictly talking about new software. Moto Z could take on new form at any time.

It may be the world’s thinnest phone, but that comes at a cost with a reduction in battery size and the loss of the headphone jack – potential issues for some users. If you can overlook these shortcomings though you’ll have a truly innovative device in your hands.Read the full review:

Leave a Reply