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The mobile phone war hasn’t yet ended. People remain confused about whether they should get a Windows, Android or iPhone device. The bad news is there isn’t a clear winner. The good news is that it’s easier than ever before to choose the right platform and phone.

The operating system remains an important part of a smartphone. A few things matter when you’re purchasing a phone. Battery life, screen size, camera, and some other features are often as important as the software.

Keeping the whole package in mind, here’s what the three top mobile ecosystems offer today. And just to help you further, the best phones you can buy as well.

Apple iPhone

Apple has only a few smartphone options. You can buy the 4.7-inch iPhone 7, the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus, or the smaller 4-inch iPhone SE.

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iOS is easy to use and intuitive, which makes it ideal for first-time smartphone users or those who find Android too complicated. First and foremost, Apple updates iPhones for several years, much longer than most Android devices. It also relies on Apple services, so it’s ideal if you already use a MacBook or an iPad. Like we always say, buy the ecosystem, not the gadget Apple vs. Android: Buy the Ecosystem, Not the Gadget Apple vs. Android: Buy the Ecosystem, Not the Gadget You love your Android phone and want to buy a tablet. Everyone tells you the iPad is the best tablet, and it really is the best; but you should still buy an Android tablet. Read More .

On the hardware front, the iPhones are as good as they come. They have arguably the best cameras around — especially the iPhone 7 Plus iPhone 7 Plus Review & Giveaway iPhone 7 Plus Review & Giveaway This year's iPhone 7 models break with convention. For the first time ever Apple has opted for the same general design three years in a row, while introducing some divisive, but long-overdue features. Read More — and both the seven series phones boast of long battery life. A gorgeous screen finishes the package.

The Disadvantages of the iPhone

But that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. Apple removed the headphone jack on iPhones No Stereo Jack, No Problem: Why the iPhone 7 Sounds Great No Stereo Jack, No Problem: Why the iPhone 7 Sounds Great It's official -- Apple has removed the standard 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7. But don't worry, this is a good thing. Read More , so you now have to use Bluetooth headphones or Lightning earphones. Not everyone likes that.

Best Phone 2016 -- iPhone Headphone Jack

Plus, the Lightning cable isn’t as ubiquitous as micro-USB or USB-C, a port common to Android and Microsoft devices. There’s also a case to be made to skip the iPhone 7 and wait for iPhone 8 Why You Might Want to Skip the iPhone 7 & Wait for the iPhone 8 Why You Might Want to Skip the iPhone 7 & Wait for the iPhone 8 2017 marks ten years of iPhones, and rumor has it that Apple has something very special planned. Read More .

While iOS is easy for newcomers, it severely limits what you can do. You can’t customize its themes or skins; a mess of widgets and alerts clutters the notification center; the locked operating system doesn’t allow you to tweak it to how you like things.

Best Phone 2016 -- iPhone SE

With all those considerations in place, here’s who should buy an iPhone:

  • If you’re looking for a small phone, get the iPhone SE 5 Things You Need to Know About the iPhone SE 5 Things You Need to Know About the iPhone SE The iPhone SE is more than a boring, cut-price iPhone 5c refresh, and it's not cheap either. Read More . Nothing on any platform matches up to it.
  • If you seek simplicity and reliability, the iPhones are better than their Android counterparts.
  • Want a great camera and other smartphone basics? Get an iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus.
  • If operating system updates are important to you, then iPhones have the best track record among all platforms. It’s best to buy the latest one (i.e. the seven series) since it receives the longest support period.
  • iPhones are more future-proof than other smartphones. So if you buy one phone for the next three years or more, this is a safe bet.

Recommended iOS Phones

Best Phone 2016 -- iPhone All

iPhone 7 or 7 Plus  ($738/£560): This one is simple. You’re choosing the size you’re comfortable with, and you need to know if the extra features of the iPhone 7 Plus Everything You Need to Know About the iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus Everything You Need to Know About the iPhone 7 & iPhone 7 Plus No headphone port, water and dust resistance, and Apple's best camera yet -- this is the iPhone 7. Read More matter to you.

Apple iPhone 7 Unlocked Phone 32 GB - US Version (Black) Apple iPhone 7 Unlocked Phone 32 GB - US Version (Black) Keep everything you love about iPhone up to date, secure, and accessible from any device with iCloud. Buy Now At Amazon $699.00

iPhone SE ($424/£360): And of course, like we said earlier, the iPhone SE is the best small-size phone iPhone SE Review & Giveaway iPhone SE Review & Giveaway Apple's newest iPhone is the smallest produced by the company since the release of the iPhone 5s in 2013. Despite being crammed with the latest hardware, you'd struggle to tell the two apart. Read More . It’s missing a few features, like 3D Touch and the fantastic front-facing camera, but it’s still worth it.

Google Android

Buying Android means choosing between a wide range of products. Even though now Google makes the Pixel Google Unveils New Pixel Phones, Chromecast Ultra, & More... Google Unveils New Pixel Phones, Chromecast Ultra, & More... Google has unveiled a host of new hardware, including new Pixel phones, the Chromecast Ultra, the Daydream View, Google Home, and Google Wifi. Read More  series smartphone, there are plenty of other companies with fantastic devices.

Android enjoys an advantage over Apple in its customizability. Over the last few years, Android experienced explosive growth and evolution. The new Material design overhaul Exploring Android L: What Exactly Is Material Design? Exploring Android L: What Exactly Is Material Design? You may have heard about Android L and Material Design, but what exactly is this new design philosophy and how will it affect Android and other Google products? Read More is beautiful, it works better on low-end hardware, and it receives love from developers.

The Google Play Store now matches Apple’s App Store. Any major app released on one will find its way to the other, so don’t let that be a factor in your decision.

Best Phone 2016 -- Android Phone in Hand

Android’s biggest selling point now is its artificial intelligence. Google Now towers over voice-controlled smart assistants OK, Google: 20+ Useful Things You Can Say to Your Android Phone OK, Google: 20+ Useful Things You Can Say to Your Android Phone Slowly, without us noticing, the future has arrived. Read More , outperforming Siri and Cortana comfortably. Couple Google Now and another smart tech, and your Android feel magical.

Finally, since so many companies make Android devices, you’ll get something that fits your exact needs. If you aren’t worried about the camera but care about the phone lasting all day, then you’ll get Androids with long battery life. Google caters to every niche.

Best Phone 2016 -- Android Skins Fragmentation

The Disadvantages of Android

Fragmentation remains Android’s biggest hurdle. Since so many manufacturers make so many phones and put different skins on Android, the operating system doesn’t look the same on all phones. It leads to confusion, anger, and dissatisfaction.

There’s also an issue with updates. While Samsung might update its flagship Galaxy S7 phone to new versions of Android, the cheaper phones ignore such upgrades. Before you purchase any Android, you’ll need to research if it is likely to get upgrades Why Hasn't My Android Phone Updated Yet? Why Hasn't My Android Phone Updated Yet? The Android update process is long and complicated; let's examine it to find out exactly why your Android phone takes so long to update. Read More .

Some people also find Android overwhelming. The amount of customization it offers can overwhelm some users, who just want a simpler phone.

Best Phone 2016 -- Android Nexus

With all those considerations in place, here’s who should buy an Android:

  • If you like to be able to control every aspect of your phone, Android is the only operating system to let you do that.
  • If you want a specific type of phone, like say a particular screen size along with other hardware must-haves, Android is almost always your only choice. Picking the right equipment is as important as the software it’s running.
  • If you’re on a budget, Android offers excellent phones at low prices, where you won’t find anything of that level on Windows Phone or iOS.

Recommended Android Phones

Best Phone 2016 -- OnePlus 3

Google Pixel / Pixel XL ($650 and up): The first “Made by Google” phones obviously top the list here. If you want the pure Android experience, and especially if you like to use Google products, it doesn’t get better than this.

OnePlus 3 ($399): The great part about Android is getting a premium phone without paying a premium price. Our current pick for such a combo is OnePlus 3 OnePlus 3 Review and Giveaway OnePlus 3 Review and Giveaway OnePlus One and OnePlus 2 were tricky to get hold of, despite attracting favorable reviews. This time around, things are different. Read More , which offers everything that the best Androids and iPhones have to give. Try it — you’ll wonder why you ever paid so much for phones.

Blu Life One X2 ($200): For $200, you won’t believe what you get: a Full HD screen, Android 6 Marshmallow, a decent processor, 4 GB of RAM, and 64 GB of onboard storage. In case you’re looking for something cheaper, we have other Blu options among the best smartphones for students this year Best Smartphones for Students in 2016 Best Smartphones for Students in 2016 Before heading back to school this season, consider getting a new smartphone. Think a daily driver! But what are the best smartphones around? Read More . (Be aware of the security issues with BLU phones, though).

BLU LIFE ONE X2 - 4G LTE Unlocked Smartphone - 64GB+4GB RAM - Grey BLU LIFE ONE X2 - 4G LTE Unlocked Smartphone - 64GB+4GB RAM - Grey Unlocked Dual Sim Smartphone, Android v6.0 Marshmallow Buy Now At Amazon $199.99

Microsoft Windows 10 Mobile

It’s difficult to take Windows Phone seriously when Microsoft itself seems ambivalent at best towards it. But if you can’t stand both Android and iOS, this is your only real third choice.

Windows 10 Mobile benefits from the fact that the same apps work on desktop and mobile, so there is slightly better app support than you’d get otherwise. But even then, several popular mobile apps are missing from Windows Mobile. There’s no Snapchat. One of the world’s biggest finance apps, Mint discontinued its Windows Mobile app.

The limited or missing app market is the biggest issue with the new operating system. If you are okay with that, though, then Windows 10 Mobile has a few good things going for it Why You Should Upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile and How to Do It Why You Should Upgrade to Windows 10 Mobile and How to Do It Windows 10 Mobile has finally been released to the public. Provided your phone is supported, you should upgrade. Here's everything you need to know about upgrading from Windows Phone 8.1 to Windows 10 Mobile. Read More .

Best Phone 2016 -- Windows Mobile Music

Windows Mobile’s simplicity is a big draw for people. It may look and behave differently from Android and iOS, but first-time smartphone users find it intuitive.

Plus, Windows wants Continuum to switch between your phone and PC quickly. The company envisions a future where you will hop from one device to the other seamlessly. Unfortunately, while the idea is good, it isn’t implemented well yet. But there’s potential there.

Best Phone 2016 -- Windows Mobile Nokia

With all those considerations in place, here’s who should buy a Windows 10 Mobile device:

  • If you want an easy interface and just the essential mobile apps that most people rely on, Windows Mobile get the job done.
  • If your connection to technology revolves around Microsoft products alone, and you, don’t care much about other services.
  • If you want something different from Android and iOS, Windows mobiles are your only real options right now.

Recommended Windows 10 Phones

Best Phone 2016 -- Lumia 950 XL

Microsoft Lumia 950 XL ($499): The Lumia 950 XL is the premier Windows Mobile experience, and it shows. Packing a high-resolution screen, one of the best smartphone cameras in the world, and a large battery, this is the phone to get to experience Continuum, Microsoft’s intelligent assistant Cortana, and all other features.

Microsoft Lumia 950 ($399): The Lumia 950 is a watered down version of the 950 XL, but costs $100 less. The camera and processor, while good in their right, are of a lower quality than the XL. Still, overall, the Lumia 950 is a fine smartphone Microsoft Lumia 950 Review and Giveaway Microsoft Lumia 950 Review and Giveaway This could be Microsoft's final flagship phone. With many declaring Windows 10 Mobile dead on arrival, just what is the point of the Lumia 950? Read More .

Windows, Android, or iPhone in 2016?

If you had to advise someone to buy a phone in 2016, which of the three major mobile operating systems would you recommend and why? Is there anything that makes one better than the other at the end of this year, going into 2017?

  1. Steve
    November 29, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Very limited and weak review of Windows. "It's difficult to take Windows Phone seriously" is the first line. Glanced over key features (Lumia Camera which has always been top notch being one of them). Every "positive" note contained a sense of negative with it. Hard to take this seriously as a review. Apps will be a problem for a long time if Microsoft stays in mobile because it will take time to catch up but otherwise, the author is seriously underselling Windows. My personal preference is Windows, iPhone, then Android (if I have too, I had Android and hated it).

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 30, 2016 at 1:16 pm

      It's not a review, it's a buying guide / recommendation. Windows is so ridiculously far behind the curve now that I can't tell anyone to buy it any more.

  2. likefunbutnot
    November 28, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Android Devices at least have the option of getting removable batteries and removable storage. Although few devices have both, having at least the possibility to get user data from a dead device and having trivial access to keep an older one operating should definitely be points in its favor.

    • Mihir Patkar
      November 30, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Agreed. Although both those features seem to be not high on he radar of phone-makers any more, unfortunately :(

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