Fastest Smartphones of 2016 – Flagships

2016 has been a great year for Smartphones and here are some of the releases that year. All of these phones comes equipped with either Snapdragon 821 and 820 Chipset.

Released Late 2016 (Snapdragon 821 upgrades)

Xiaomi Mi5s – The successor to the Xiaomi Mi5. Although it might not offer a radical change over its predecessor, it still a very good Flagship. Not only is it more powerful, it also comes with a very good SonyIMX378 Camera Sensor, which offers one of the best camera sensor available. Unfortunately, it lacks OIS, so 4K videos are basically useless but 1080p supports EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization).

Where you can buy: $279 (Price updated January 25, 2017


  • Amazing Still Photos and Video on Absolute Good Lighting
  • Premium Build Quality
  • 141K points on Antutu
  • Fast UFS (Universal Flash Storage) – Read: 375 Mb/s and Write speeds: 75 Mb/s
  • No Thermal Throttling, runs cool even on heavy use
  • One of the best 1080p Display I have tested, Vibrant colors, no tinting, maintains colors even on extreme angles, and the touch sensitivity is accurate.
  • Runs MIUI 8.2 Global ROM (few bloatwares installed in the system)
  • Fast and Stable WiFi (Dual Band WiFi support)
  • Supports NFC, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Good Audio Quality from the loudspeakers
  • 3.5mm Headphone great Audio Quality and supports Mi Enhancer and Equalizer (no static)
  • Almost 10 hours of battery life on casual use
  • USB Type C (supports Quick Charging), Charges fully in just 90 mins.


  • Personally, the performance boost is mainly for benchmarks, there are still stutters sometimes and the overall OS is a bit of a Memory Hog.
  • No App Draw
  • No Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) 4K recording, only EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization) on 1080p
  • The Camera UI hasn’t changed, from the midrange Smartphones like the Xiaomi Redmi Pro (identical)
  • Underutilized Camera Sensor (limited features)
  • Weird issues on the Fingerprint Scanner (Sometimes it’s accurate, sometimes it’s not)
  • Camera Audio Output is not that good (only 16 bit at 96kbps)
  • No MicroSD Card Support (non expandable storage)


OnePlus 3T – “T” Meaning Turbocharged and also the successor to the OnePlus 3. Compared to the predecessor, the design remains unchanged but it does have a slightly larger battery. It also comes with a SonyIMX Camera sensor with 4K support with OIS and EIS built in. Dash Charging is also one of the phones highlights, you can charge the batter to almost full in just 90 minutes.

Where you can buy: $449 (price updated January 25, 2017)


  • Superb Performance
  • Whopping 6 GB LPDDR4 RAM doesn’t lag and multitasking is overall very smooth
  • 64 GB UFS 2.0 (Universal Flash Storage) over 500Mbps (both on Read and Write Speeds)
  • Oxygen OS 3.5 (Android 6.0 Marshmallow) supports OTA Upgrades
  • OS or UI community offers a lot of customization options, especially for Heavy users
  • Great AMOLED 5.5 inch, 1080p Display with Corning Gorilla Glass 4 Protection
  • OnePlus has the Dark mode (emphasizes deep contrast and colors)
  • 16 MP SonyIMX298 Rear Camera (scratch resistant lens – protected by Sapphire lens)
  • Very good camera performance especially on great lighting, High Dynamic Range also works excellent
  • 4K Video with EIS 2.0 (Electronic Image Stabilization) and OIS (Optical Image Stabilization)
  • 4K video comes out great and the OIS and EIS works perfectly making the videos stable.
  • 16 MP Samsung 3P8SP Sensor Front Camera, F/2.0
  • Accurate Front Fingerprint Scanner (Main Menu)
  • NFC Support, Dual Band WiFi
  • Fast and Stable WiFi Performance
  • USB Type C
  • Fast GPS with Glonass Support
  • 13% increase battery capacity from the OnePlus 3 (standard)
  • 3400mAh battery (Dash Charging 3.0)  Fully Charge in just 90 minutes
  • Dash Charger (most of the heat is on the charger and not kept on the phone)
  • No Throttling or build up of heat even used in gaming while charging


Xiaomi Mi Note 2 – Xiaomi’s best looking Smartphone of 2016, the phone also has obvious reference to the Samsung Galaxy with the Dual Curved Display. The build is mostly Glass and looks premium. It still suffers from the same drawback from the Mi5s but offers  a bit more features.

Where to buy: $699 (Price updated January 25, 2017)


  • Dual Curved Display (Front and Rear)
  • Vibrant 5.7″ OLED Pentile 1080p Display, Deep contrast and colors
  • Fast UFS (Universal Flash Storage)
  • Fast and Accurate Front Fingerprint Scanner (Front)
  • Good Quality 22.5 MP Sony IMX318, 4K Video supports EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization)
  • 8.0 MP Front facing camera with Autofocus function
  • IR Transmitter
  • Premium Build Quality (Glass front and rear)
  • Bluetooth 4.2, Dual Band WiFi and NFC Support
  • Fast and Stable WiFi, 4G LTE Performance
  • Fast and accurate GPS (supports GLONASS)
  • Performance or Benchmarks similar to other Snapdragon 821
  • Good Battery Life (4070mAh) – 6 hours (screen time), 10 hours casual use
  • Good Thermals and Heat Dissipation
  • Quick Charging 3.0 (USB Type C)


  • No MicroSD Card Support
  • Glass front and build (Slippery)
  • No App Draw (but you can use third party apps)
  • Bloatwares especially on the Chinese and English only version (Global ROM has lesser Bloatwares)
  • No OIS (Optical Image Stabilization on 4K), only EIS (Electronic Image Stabilization)
  • 4K video performance isn’t really spectacular compared to the Xiaomi Mi5s
  • Pentile OLED Screen not the sharpest compared to other 1080p panels
  • Low bitrate Audio on Camera
  • 37 bands is only supported on Global ROM


Xiaomi Mi5s Plusthe bigger version of the Xiaomi Mi5s but also comes with Dual Camera functions. Not the same with the Xiaomi Redmi Pro, but similar probably to the Huawei Mate 9. The Dual Camera (RGB and Monochrome sensor) which is said to offer better quality images in theory.

Where you can buy: $415 (price updated as of January 25, 2017)


  • Bigger Display and Battery compared to the Xiaomi Mi 5s
  • Snapdragon 821 is blistering fast and the Adreno 530 can run the latest games with ease
  • 4 GB RAM and 64 GB UFS 2.0 Storage
  • Dual 13 MP Cameras (Standard RGB and a Monochrome sensor)
  • UFS (Universal Flash Storage) – Much faster than eMMC
  • International ROM (MIUI 8.0) – based on Android 6.0
  • 5.7 inch IPS 1080p Display with high brightness and performance
  • Fast Connectivity – 4G LTE, Dual Band WiFi, VoLTE NFC and accurate GPS
  • USB Type C with Fast Charging support
  • Good Loudspeaker performance and
  • Accurate Fingerprint Scanner
  • 8 hours plus battery life or a good 2 days of casual use


  • The Dual Camera Performance isn’t really anything spectacular – not really a big improvement when it comes to photo and video quality
  • The Xiaomi Mi5s with the SonyIMX 378 camera sensor offers much better photos
  • No MicroSD Expansion support


Early 2016 Flagships (Snapdragon 820)

Xiaomi Mi5 – Was once considered as one of the “Best Smartphone of 2016”. Actually, it still is. Compared to the newer Mi5s, this one offers OIS (Optical Image Stabilization on 4K video). The photos don’t look as nice compared to the Mi5s but at least the 4K videos are more usable. The rear shell is also Glass, scratch resistant and also offers Sapphire Glass on the Camera Lens.

Where you can buy: $239 (price updated January 25, 2017)

  • Powered by Snapdragon 820 Chipset
  • 4 GB LPDDR3 RAM and up to 128 GB UFS 2.0 Storage
  • 5.15 inch IPS, 1080p FHD Display, Corning Gorilla Glass 4
  • MIUI 7.0 (based on Android 6.0 Marshmallow)
  • 16 MP Sony IMX298, PDAF (Phase Detection Auto Focus),  4 Axis OIS (Optical Image Stabilization),
  • 4K Video Recording, Sapphire Lens
  • Fingerprint Sensor (Home Button)
  • Supports NFC, Miracast (Wireless Display)
  • Dual Band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • USB Type C (reversible Connector)
  • built-in 3000mAh (Quick Charge feature)
  • 3D Glass Cover (Rear Shell)


Lenovo Moto Z (XT 1650-05)Modular Smartphones that offer optional extensions such as a Speaker, Projector, Zoom and Battery Pack. However, those purchases are a bit pricy and would cost a lot if you buy all of them. It also has a 2K Quad HD Display and a 13 MP camera with OIS. But as a barebones Smartphone it isn’t that impressive unless you buy those peripherals.

Where you can buy: $449 (price updated January 25, 2017)

Highlights of the Lenovo Moto Z (XT 1650-05):

  • Modular (Moto Mods) – JBL Soundboost Speaker, Moto Insta-Share Projector, Hasselblad True Zoom, Motostyle Shell, Incipio Offgrid Power Pack
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 and Adreno 530 GPU
  • Supports up to 2 TB TF Card Expansion
  • 5.5 inch IPS Quad HD 2560 x 1440 pixels, Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 13 MP OIS (Optical Image Stabilization), 4K Video
  • NFC, Dual Band WiFi and USB Type C
  • Netmosa 3.0 Support
  • Ultra thin at just 5.2mm
  • 2600mAh (Quick Charge Support)


LeTV LeeCo Le 2 Max – I consider this one of the most affordable and overall the best value for the price. It is a 5.7″ Phablet with a Whopping Quad HD or 2K Display, which means, it has almost 500 ppi. It has superior Audio Quality, especially with the CDLA (Continuous Digital Lossless Audio). The camera also takes great stills especially on good lighting.

Where you can buy: $219 (price updated January 25, 2017)


  • Premium All Aluminum Finish
  • Top Tier Performance (Stable and good Multitasking Performance)
  • Blistering fast UFS (universal Flash Storage)
  • Gaming is smooth despite the ultra high 2K Display
  • Less Bloatwares in the System
  • Powerful 21 megapixel camera (Great Quality Shots)
  • Gorgeous 2K QUAD HD Display
  • Supports Dual Band WiFi
  • Ultrasonic Metal Fingerprint Scanner (10/10 accuracy)
  • Good Call Quality (Clear and Natural Sounds)
  • Fast Connectivity (Dual Band WiFi)
  • Infrared Blaster (Universal Remote)
  • Impressive (CDLA) Audio Quality


  • Camera UI lacking in features or customizations
  • Camera UI hasn’t changed from last year’s Le 1 Max
  • 4K video has obvious graining, and video has slight delayed focus especially when moving.
  • Limited Storage, no MicroSD Support
  • CDLA (you need to carry the USB Adapter)
  • Frugal 3100mAh battery, especially for a large 5.7 Phablet (7 hours and 6 mins)
  • EUI has not really improved, it’s not on par with other systems such as MIUI


Lenovo Zuk Z2 Smallest and most compact Flagship available. At less than $200, it is the cheapest and most affordable Flagship currently available. Most of the specs here aren’t as good compared to the Leeco Le 2 Max but it is more portable.

Where you can buy: $186 (price updated January 25, 2017)

  • Small and compact size
  • Powered by Snapdragon 820 chipset
  • Equipped with 4 GB RAM and 64 GB eMMC Storage
  • Runs Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • 13 megapixel Samsung ISOCELL SENSOR Camera
  • 5.0 inch IPS, 1080p FHD Screen
  • USB Type C Connectivity
  • Utouch technology (Fingerprint Recognition and Multifunctional keys)
  • Supports Multiple International Bands, Dual Band WiFi
  • 3500mAh battery

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