We're coming in to that time of year when you might be thinking of treating yourself (or someone special) to a new phone. If that's you, well, you're in luck! Apple, Google and Samsung have served up worthy competitors and consumers are spoilt for choice with solid performers.
Smartphone technology has reached maturity. The life-cycle of a phone is now comparable to a computer. Until the last few years, it was generally accepted that a phone upgrade was worthwhile every one-to-two years. Now more people are looking at every three-to-four years. Many are coming to the end of their two year contracts and thinking, "well it has not slowed down and does everything I want, why would I upgrade?".
But that doesn't tell the whole story.
All of the majors players in the phone market have seen their flagship devices receive great reviews this year and for good reason. Each promises a lot and each appears to deliver on those promises. Here is our take and a round-up on the flagship phones available at the end of 2016.
Google is directly challenging Apple, finally. The Google Pixel is their firing shot at capturing the top of the phone market.
Unlike the previous Nexus range, Google is being more hands on with Pixel. Pixel is actually manufactured by HTC but from its outside appearance, you wouldn't know it. The phone instead has its own branding and customisations to the standard Android experience. Plus it has included a powerful AI assistant, Google Assistant.
Reviewers are pointing to the Google Assistant as the key feature of the Pixel. Its ability to understand natural language and provide answers has led some to say "it just works" - a description usually reserved for Apple products.
At the same price of an iPhone, consumers have a right to demand a lot for their money. Going by the reviews, it appears Google is onto a winner with the Pixel.
Once the most innovative model in the market, now arguably the most consistent. The latest iPhone is by no means pushing the envelop but many Apple customers don't mind. Many iPhone users stay iPhone users because of the reliable iOS experience. For them, the iPhone 7 delivers.
The iPhone 7 Plus introduces a Portrait mode with its new dual camera. Outside this feature, the larger screen and longer battery life, there is little that separates the Plus from the regular iPhone 7.
The stand-out feature (or annoyance) is the lack of the standard audio port (3.5mm), with only the Lightning port remaining. Yes an adaptor is included but you won't be able to charge and listen to music without an extra third party adaptor. Of course none of this matters if you don't actually use the port on your current phone.
Water resistance (not proofing!) is also a welcome addition, following in the footsteps of the Samsung Galaxy S7. But the general consensus, is unless your phone is older than an iPhone 6s, maybe give this one a pass.
There is no skirting around it, Samsung is not closing out the year well. The messy recall and ultimate cancellation of their flagship Note7 phone has been devastating and left them at a competitive disadvantage. But don't forget the appealing Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge.
If you're looking to save a few dollars, the Samsung S7 range may be your best best. Launched in March, the Galaxy S7 edge received highly positive reviews - largely reflecting the more evolutionary not revolutionary state of the phone market. The standout criticism was its comparable price to the expensive iPhone. Prices have dropped since Today prices have dropped and significant savings can be had without compromising features.
However its age may come at a cost for some. A new flagship Galaxy phone can be expected around March or April. Something to consider for those who don't like finding their technology superseded within months.
Oh, and if you're a Note7 owner and haven't already, send back your Galaxy Note7.
Unfortunately we can't recommend the LG G5. It was arguably the most innovative feature this year, modular add-ons. However it now appears LG has given up on the feature with reports saying next year's G6 phone will ditch the modules.
If you've had any experiences with the phones above, or held out after this year's announcements, please comment below! If you'd like to see more reviews for phones from less popular manufacturers, see ARN's round-up here.