The best new smartphones that aren't made by Apple

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Paul Armstrong

Not impressed by Apple's iPhone SE? We don't blame you.

The smaller, 4-inch handset might appeal to those looking for a budget upgrade, but Apple's repurposed 'iPhone 5 with new brains' will leave many desiring a true 'flagship' phone wanting for more. 

We've turned to Paul Armstrong, owner of the HERE/FORTH future technology consultancy, to take us through the best new handsets that carry a good deal more pizzaz than Apple's latest offering.

  • The best new smartphones that aren't made by Apple

    HTC 10

    Price: £569

    With hi-res audio, a 5.2 inch quad HD screen and a 12 megapixel camera, the new HTC 10 is the bold new challenger in 'Android Top Trumps'. 

    While the iPhone 7 is expected to make a big deal of hi-res audio later this year (bye-bye headphone jack), HTC has jumped the gun by providing top quality audio tech and hi-res headphones straight out of the box. 

    A fully customisable user interface will also appeal to those who like to be 'different'. You know the ones. They usually insist on telling you why they deleted all the 'bloatware' from their handset (but HTC has already done that for you here). 

    Get it here

  • The best new smartphones that aren't made by Apple 1

    Samsung S7 Edge

    Price: £639

    This is the phone for you if you like notifications: even if you put it face down you’ll still see a sleek bar of light along the side of the handset letting you know someone is calling or just liked that ShortList article you posted on Facebook (thanks by the way).  

    With a gorgeous 5.5-inch HD screen, this beauty works with the Samsung virtual reality headset too, so you can also feel like you’re at the cinema in the comfort of your own home.

    Get it here

  • The best new smartphones that aren't made by Apple 2

    OnePlus X by OnePlus

    Price: £199

    The OnePlus X is a 5-inch, 13MP rear-facing and 8MP front-facing camera smartphone that has been blessed by the design gods in more than one area.

    From the fire-baked ceramic or onyx black glass body to the chamfered edges it screams luxury.  Add in the textured alert slider and etchings that sort of make it shimmer and you know this phone was made with love.  

    Beyond all this, it’ll take a beating better than a Dapper Laughs tweet.

    Get it here

  • The best new smartphones that aren't made by Apple 3

    XperiaX by Sony

    Price: £pre-register only

    With a 23MP camera, you’ll want to make sure you get the most out of every shot. Fear not, the Xperia X’s Smart Capture technology means blur is a thing of the past (unless you’ve had one too many, but that’s on you).

    The smartest feature on this phone is the camera's Predictive Hybrid Autofocus (stay with us) which means you can choose a person or object and automatically track it, keeping it in focus at all times. Smart stuff indeed.  

    Available in Graphite Black, White, Lime Gold (!) or Rose Gold there’s one to suit every outfit... or you could dress it up with a case.

    Get it here

  • The best new smartphones that aren't made by Apple 4

    MP01 by PUNKT

    Price: £229

    With looks and a feel that make this phone stand out from the beginning, the MP01 was clearly made with privacy and peace of mind... in mind.

    Need to focus or just want some 'you' time? The MP01 has you covered with a wide range of sound-muting, alert-crushing and vibration-quelling features that mean no-one’s getting through - unless you want them to. We especially like the smart shortcuts that enable you to do things like add a contact with one press or make a speakerphone call with one long press of the send key.

    It’s clear that lot of thought has gone into how this phone will be used.

    Get it here

  • The best new smartphones that aren't made by Apple 5


    Price: €525

    The FairPhone may just be the last phone you ever buy thanks to the modular nature of the 5-inch device.

    Made with Gorilla Glass, with 32GB of storage and Dual SIM, the FairPhone is slick, unique to each user and speedy. Best of all, all the parts are ethically sourced and built to last so you can sleep well when you set the alarm.

    Get it here

  • The best new smartphones that aren't made by Apple 6

    G5 H850 by LG

    Price: £pre-register only

    With a rear fingerprint scanner that doubles as the power button (nice touch) the H850 from LG is a well rounded bit of kit.  

    Other notable features including the Daylight Mode which means when in direct sunlight the screen brightens temporarily so you don’t have to use your second hand as a shield or change battery-sapping settings. The ultra-wide zoom angle lens is also a nice touch allowing you to zoom out while standing still.

    Get it here


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Paul Armstrong

Paul runs HERE/FORTH, an emerging technology advisory helping business leaders decide how to best use rapidly changing and emerging technologies.  Armstrong also writes for the Guardian, Reuters and Cool Hunting. 

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