Top 5 phones for Christmas

A phone for all tastes and budgets

If you’re anything like us there are few better gifts to unwrap on Christmas morning than a shiny new smartphone, and few better ones to give to your closest friends and family (as long as you can afford it...).

But which should you choose? Smartphones aren’t one-size-fits-all, so whether you’re adding a handset to your own list or picking one out for someone else there are several key considerations.

With that in mind we’ve selected the five very best picks across a range of categories, covering the best camera phone, the best phone for music, the best phone for gaming, the best luxury phone and the best budget phone.

You can see our five choices in the video above, or keep reading for a rundown of the top 5 smartphones this Christmas.

Best camera phone: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

A brilliant phone with a class-leading camera

Weight: 157g | Dimensions: 150.9 x 72.6 x 7.7 mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Exynos 8890/Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 3600mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Beautiful screen
Brilliant camera
Expensive
Slightly plastic feel

The Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a brilliant all-round smartphone, with a great design and plenty of power, but it’s particularly accomplished as a camera phone.

Photos taken with its 12MP camera are clear, crisp and vibrant, and made all the better when shown off on the S7 Edge’s sharp Super AMOLED screen.

It can also snap photos quickly, so you’ll be able to capture your cat’s every calamity in a beautiful, detailed image.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Best gaming phone: Google Pixel XL

A big screen and plenty of power

Weight: 168g | Dimensions: 154.7 x 75.7 x 8.5mm | OS: Android 7.1 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Snapdragon 821 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32/128GB | Battery: 3450mAh | Rear camera: 12.3MP | Front camera: 8MP

Seriously powerful
Sharp screen
Pricey
Odd design

There are a lot of considerations when buying a gaming phone. It doesn’t just need to be powerful, but also to have a great screen to display the games and decent battery life so you can play all day.

The Google Pixel XL has all of that, with a big and sharp 5.5-inch 1440 x 2560 screen, 4GB of RAM, a Snapdragon 821 chipset – the most powerful mobile chip available right now - and decent battery management to go with its large 3450mAh juice pack.

Together that makes for a large-screen, fast and smooth gaming experience that won’t end abruptly.

Read the full review: Google Pixel XL

Best music phone: HTC 10

Great audio and a good design

Weight: 161g | Dimensions: 145.9 x 71.9 x 9 mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | CPU: Snapdragon 820 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: 3000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP

Amazing audio
Great design
Camera could be better
BoomSound not great

Some phones neglect audio, but the HTC 10 isn’t some phones. It supports Hi-Res audio, and even gives you a decent set of headphones in the box to make the most of its audio output quality.

The HTC 10 is also packed full of amplifiers to help drive the sound and can upscale lower quality tracks, and it can personalize the sound profile to your own hearing, so it’s always optimally tuned to you.

Audio is rich, clear and not just good for a phone but genuinely good full stop. It's also worth checking out the LG V20 or ZTE Axon 7 (if they're available in your region).

Read the full review: HTC 10

Best luxury phone: iPhone 7 Plus

Big, beautiful and expensive

Weight: 188g | Dimensions: 158.2 x 77.9 x 7.3mm | OS: iOS 10 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: A10 Fusion | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 32/128/256GB | Battery: 2900mAh | Rear camera: 12MP+12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Loads of power
Excellent camera
Costs a lot
No headphone jack

Made of money or have a rich relative buying for you? Then the iPhone 7 Plus is our luxury phone of choice.

Its dual 12MP cameras on the back make it one of the best smartphone snappers around, it has a large and bright 5.5-inch screen, a stunning metal design.

If money really is no object you can opt for the 256GB version, giving you all the room you’ll need to fill the iPhone 7 Plus with apps and games from the App Store.

The iPhone 7 Plus is the best big screen iPhone experience around and one of the best smartphones, it just doesn’t come cheap.

Read the full review: iPhone 7 Plus

Best budget phone: Moto G4 Plus

Lots of phone for little money

Weight: 155g | Dimensions: 153 x 76.6 x 7.9-9.8mm | OS: Android Marshmallow | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1080 x 1920 | CPU: Snapdragon 617 | RAM: 2/4GB | Storage: 16GB | Battery: 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP

Great camera
Crisp display
Plastic build
No NFC

All of these choices are great, but they’re also expensive. If you want to save some money this Christmas, the Moto G4 Plus is our pick.

It’s got a surprisingly great 5.5-inch 1080p screen for big and clear visuals, while its 16MP rear snapper will take some mouth-watering shots of your Christmas dinner.

If you’re on an even tighter budget or just want something smaller you could consider the Moto G4, but the Moto G4 Plus for us is the ultimate affordable option.

Read the full review: Moto G4 Plus

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps.