Suggestions for smartphones to stand in for an iPhone 7
Not interested in being an iPhone 7 owner? Here are some alternatives. These are all premium smartphones with great cameras, bloat-free operating systems, and a satisfying user experience.
The Google Pixel has an iPhone-like approach, right down to the price tag (US $649). Here’s a spec-by-spec comparison of how these phones stack up.
Like iPhones, Pixels’ hardware and software are made by the same company (technically HTC manufactured the Pixel, but Google claims the design as its own), so there is a harmony between the internals and the externals. If you’re departing the iOS ecosystem, you still have to adjust to Android, but you won’t be fettered by common Android problems like bloatware or aggressive manufacturer skins. In addition, you’ll be first in line for future operating system updates, so the Pixel will continue to offer the best Android experience around.
The Pixel also has one of the best smartphone cameras on the market – on par with or better than the iPhone 7’s, depending on who you ask. At this point, it’s also the only phone that ships with Google Assistant, the Android answer to (and improvement on) Apple’s Siri.
And if you’re departing the Apple world because the company just doesn’t seem to serve its customers, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Google perks like its 15 GB of free cloud storage via Google Drive. Photos taken on the Pixel don’t count against that storage total.
Don’t be deterred if you don’t recognize the name OnePlus. The Chinese startup company’s OnePlus 3T is the best value in smartphones today. For a starting retail price of $439, the phone ships with a near-stock version of Android Nougat, a high-end camera with strong low-light photography, excellent battery life, and fast, smooth performance rivaling that of the iPhone or Google Pixel.
The OnePlus 3T is a bigger phone than the iPhone 7, but at 153 mm x 75 mm x 7.4 mm (6 in x 3 in x 0.3 in) it’s not so massive as to be intrusive. It also packs in a 5.5-inch display, which is 27-percent larger than the iPhone’s.
One major caveat for US customers: The 3T only works with GSM networks. It’s not compatible with Verizon or Sprint, which use CDMA.
Yes, the iPhone 6S is a generation old, but if you want to stay in the iOS 10 ecosystem without spending any more, it’s probably your best bet. You won’t get the latest-and-greatest features like IP67 water resistance, an incrementally improved camera and a solid state home button (big whoop) but what will you get? A headphone jack and a fatter wallet. iPhone 6S is available new from Apple for $549, but you’ll get an even better value if you buy it lightly used or refurbished (recommended).
If the gadget lover in you is cringing at buying a phone from 2015, take heart in the fact that many of the key features are identical or nearly so – and its A9 processor still feels fast running the latest mobile OS. Between the two phones, there are few differences in size, build, display or overall user experience.
Samsung Galaxy S7
The Samsung Galaxy S7 is a great phone, despite the explosive reputation of its cousin, the Note 7. One piece of advice before we extoll its virtues: Scour the market for a good deal. Samsung is expected to release an updated version of this flagship within the next few months, and there’s no reason to pay full price for a previous generation phone.
The Galaxy S7 is a glassy, curvy, IP68 water-resistant phone with an excellent camera, microSD for expandable storage, fast/wireless charging and great battery life. It recently received the update from Android Marshmallow to Nougat, with a layer of Samsung’s TouchWiz interface on top. It’s not the purest version of Android, but modern TouchWiz is one of the more reasonable manufacturer software additions out there.
This is another option that’s expecting a new upgrade soon, but regardless, the HTC 10 is one of our favorite flagships from 2016. The previous advisory applies: Only consider it if you can score a bargain over its original $699 asking price. HTC’s next-gen flagship launches in March, and it’s possible the company will have another high-end phone this year.
This phone’s angular build is still noticeably high-end. It also boasts worthy internals, a good-looking QHD display, warm and rich audio, microSD expansion and a very subtle UI over a near-stock version of Android. For more info, check out this spec comparison.
If you’re still on the fence about the iPhone 7, check out New Atlas’ review. Alternatively, you could always upgrade to the iPhone 7 Plus, a bigger and more expensive phablet.