Best phone in the US for 2017: the 10 top smartphones we've tested

Update: What's the best phone in the US today? There's been a shake-up to our smartphone rankings for July 2017 thanks to OnePlus 5 rivaling Apple's iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus. Here's the new list.

Knowing the best phone you can buy in 2017 is more than just a hunch for us. We test out the latest and - sometimes - greatest phones in comprehensive mobile phone reviews.

To drill down to a list of our 10 favorites in the US this year, we based today's updated rankings on a lot of geeked-out factors: design, performance, battery life, camera quality and software updates.

Sure, your personal preference among iOS 11 and Android O could sway you to another device besides our top-ranked phone. Likewise, your contract with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint or T-Mobile is a personal preference. The best phone for AT&T may not be available on-contract on Verizon, and vice-versa.

That's why we have more than just a No. 1 pick, which, spoiler alert, isn't just Apple's iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus. We're not that predictable. Before you lock into a binding contract or spring for an expensive unlocked phone, consult our best phone guide, updated regularly.

10. ZTE Axon 7

A cheap Android phone that doesn't cheap out on specs

Weight: 175g | Dimensions: 151.7 x 75 x 7.9 mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 3250mAh | Rear camera: 20MP | Front camera: 8MP

Inexpensive, yet well designed
Generous 64GB of internal storage
Slippery in the hand
Not on all US carriers

The most surprising smartphone on our best phones list is the ZTE Axon 7, which blends a sophisticated metal design with an equally attractive price. It's also feature-packed with awesome-sounding front-facing speakers, generous 64GB of internal storage and the same Snapdragon 820 and 4GB of RAM chipset used by many of its pricier rivals.

You're going to be hard-pressed with find a better value for a mid-range phone. The OnePlus 3 comes close, but lacks a microSD card slot and the screen is 1080p. The Huawei Honor 8 has the microSD card slot, but its screen is 1080p and smaller at 5.2 inches.

The Axon 7 really shines with its Samsung-challenging AMOLED display. Be warned, at 5.5 inches and with a full metal body around it, this phone is slippery. It also doesn't completely work with Verizon and Sprint, despite having all of the necessary GSM and CDMA bands ready to go.

Full review: ZTE Axon 7

  • What's next? Think you can wait it out for the ZTE Axon 8 or ZTE Axon 9? Well, the Chinese phone maker isn't beholden to annual phone launch schedules (we've seen them launch refreshes both sooner and later in some instances). We're also smitten with this unlocked dual-SIM device in case you're hungry for a phone right now. The fact that a $499 phone can play with Apple, Motorola and Samsung on this list says a lot.

Also consider: Moto Z Play isn't nearly as stylish as the ZTE Axon 7, but it has killer two-day battery life for the same exact price. It trades in dual front-facing speakers for MotoMods, which are accessories that attach to the back of the phone with magnets. Who doesn't need an instant boom box speaker or pico projector on the go?