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The best AT&T phone for February 2017 now includes Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. That’s not to mention two already great Samsung phones have been on the network for months, not counting the discontinued Samsung Galaxy Note 7, of course. No need to fret about decisions, because we’ve gone ahead and thoroughly tested then ranked all of the best AT&T phones available, from the iPhone 7 ($650, 32GB) to the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge ($794) to help you decide which phone you want in your pocket for the next year or two. This is handset shopping made easy! Read on for the easy way to choose a new phone on AT&T.
TechRadar’s guide to finding the best AT&T phone for you
To rank the best AT&T phones out there, we reviewed just about every contender and balanced the value of the phone compared to AT&T’s asking price. We also disregarded any personal preferences and/or biases towards specific operating systems, be it Android, iOS or Windows. All of these phones are available through AT&T’s main Mobile Share Value plan and can be financed with AT&T Next, which spreads the cost of the phone over a set amount of time. For this article, we’ll be looking at the AT&T Next 24 plan, which spreads the cost of the phone over 30 months, with an option for upgrade after 24 months. If you’re still shopping for a plan with AT&T, check out our breakdown of the best plans the carrier has to offer.
AT&T features a wide range of handsets, ranging from around $5/month to over $30/month and everything in between. Essentially, you as the customer can pay as little or as much as you like, but naturally your phone will reflect the investment. A solid, cutting-edge phone will likely run you above $22/month every time, with a few notable affordable exceptions falling below that threshold. Instead of you having to manually peruse the AT&T site for a decent phone, we’ve compiled a list of the best the network has to offer, ranked as we see them. Let’s dive in and find the perfect phone for you before we rank all of the available options a bit further down the page.
Overall we found that the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is the very best handset that AT&T has to offer, boasting a brilliant 12MP camera, a removable SD card slot and arguably the best display on the market. On top of it all, the phone is natively water resistant for 30 minutes in over 4 feet of water, adding some much needed peace of mind. We also like the newer and even bigger Galaxy Note 7, but Samsung has temporarily recalling its phablet. The S7 Edge is also cheaper, starting at $26.50/month.
AT&T’s best phone running iOS is the iPhone 7, or the iPhone 7 Plus if you like them big! Was Apple late to the phablet party? Of course. Does it matter? Not really. The iPhone 7 Plus makes up for its tardiness with Apple’s best camera because it has a dual lens system. It also has a brighter display and the longest lasting battery to date. This is the best Apple phone this carrier currently offers and starts at $25.67/month.
The best Android is technically the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention at least one of the many other excellent Android phones that AT&T has to offer, including the surprisingly impressive LG G5. This phone also runs at lightning speeds on a glorious 5.3-inch IPS display with a 16MP camera that’s nothing to scoff at. This could be the Android dark horse on this carrier.
If you’re like Bono and still haven’t found what you’re looking for, you’re probably waiting around for a stellar value. The best bang for your buck at AT&T is without a doubt the iPhone SE. Don’t let its size fool you – the iPhone SE runs on the same guts as the ultra-powerful iPhone 6S and boasts a 12MP camera with 4K video capture. Starting at only $13.34/month for the 16GB version, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better value.
If you’re not looking to spend much money, AT&T has no shortage in excellent affordable smartphones. The best is the LG G Vista 2, an oft-overlooked phablet that has some pretty impressive features, including a full-HD 5.7-inch display, a 13MP camera and an embedded stylus. Most impressive is that this behemoth starts at only $9.97/month, making this a perfect choice for the penny-pinchers out there.
1. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge | Android 6.0 | 5.5-inch screen | 12MP/5MP camera | From $26.50/month
Simply put, this is the best phone on the market at the moment. As we mentioned, the native water resistance paired with a sharp camera and an even sharper design make this a phone to covet. I highly recommend this phone to anyone living an active lifestyle, especially around water, or to someone who simply wants the best phone available at the moment. It’s that good.
2. Samsung Galaxy S7 | Android 6.0 | 5.1-inch screen | 12MP/5MP camera | From $23.17/month
This phone is so similar to the Edge that we’d be lying if we put it anywhere else on the list. The crystal clear 5.1 display along with the joyous return of the SD card slot to Samsung phones are just a taste of what makes the S7 and S7 Edge a cut above the rest.
3. Apple iPhone 7 Plus | iOS 10 | 5.5-inch screen | 12MP/7MP camera | From $25.67/month
The iPhone 7 Plus is not only bigger than Apple’s iPhone 7, but it is more powerful, with a few groundbreaking features thrown in. The highlight is the dual-camera lenses on the back for better telephoto photography and an all-new portrait mode. Behind the 5.5-inch display is a bigger battery. At launch the iPhone 7 Plus Jet Black was almost impossible to find, so snap this phone up right away in the color of your choice.
4. Apple iPhone 7 | iOS 10 | 4.7-inch screen | 12MP/7MP camera | From $21.67/month
The iPhone 7 is nearly as impressive as the 7 Plus. In fact, many would prefer the size on the 7 over the 7 Plus, even if it doesn’t come with the fancy dual-camera lens. This ranks just behind its counterpart, but if you’re looking to get an iPhone and still want a phone you can control easier with one hand, the iPhone 7 is probably the one for you. Even coming from the more powerful 5.5-inch iPhone, we greatly appreciate the one-handed operation of the iPhone 7.
5. Samsung Galaxy Note 7 | Android 6.0.1 | 5.7-inch screen | 12MP/5MP camera | From $29.34/month
The Galaxy Note 7 is Samsung’s oversized phone that’s had a troubled launch. It was recalled due to overheating batteries that exploded, resulting in burns and fires. That’s a shame because it remains one of the best Android phones on AT&T. It has a larger 5.7-inch display and S-Pen stylus you can’t get on any other phone. It’s now water-resistant and supports microSD cards, but you still can’t swap out the battery. You’ll have to turn to LG for that perk.
6. Moto Z | Android 6.0.1 | 5.7-inch screen | 13MP camera | From $24.67/month
Motorola has the world’s thinnest smartphone, and it now works with the AT&T due to the fact that it’s unlocked. It’s making its way to other carriers now, but Verizon’s timed-exclusivity of Droid phones has always been a nice perk. While this phone touts its thinness, it’s not meant to be kept so slender. It’s compatible with a bunch of modular accessory backs, from a mini boom box to a pico projector. If you like accessories, this phone is for you.
7. LG G5 | Android 6.0.1 | 5.3-inch screen | 16MP/8MP/8MP camera | From $22.97/month
While this is a stellar Android phone for a host of reasons, its modular design and easy battery access make this an unforgettable entry into the Android lineup. I would recommend this device to anyone who longs for the Android days of yesteryear and needs a steady, no fuss handset.
8. LG V10 | Android 6.0.1 | 7.7-inch scr5en | 16MP/5MP camera | From $23.34/month
The LG V10 is yet another impressive entry lately from LG. Otherwise known as the selfie king, the LG V10 can take 120 degree wide angle photos with its front facing camera, negating the need to ever look silly with a selfie-stick ever again. Isn’t that reason enough to buy it? Besides the impressive camera, the phone has a rich HD display and would appeal to just about any casual Android fan.
9. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge | Android 6.0.1 | 5.1-inch screen | 16MP/5MP camera | From $23.84/month
Although the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge both went through a bit controversy in the nixing on the SD card slot (a move which was undone by the S7 and S7 Edge,) the fact remains: this is a great phone. This ultra sleek handset is one of the best looking devices Samsung has released and has the features to back it up. While it’s not cutting edge, if you’re looking to save a bit of money compared to the latest generation, this is the ticket.
10. Microsoft Lumia 950 | Windows 10 | 5.2-inch screen | 20MP/5MP camera | From $19.97/month
If you’re looking for a new flavor altogether, the Windows powered Lumia 950 just may be the way to go. With a high megapixel camera, Windows 10, and Windows’ personal assistant, Cortana on board, this handset is a welcome change up from the Android/iOS rat race. This phone’s for anyone who’s ready for a break from the two main competitors.
Bonus: 11. iPhone SE | iOS 10 | 4-inch screen | 12MP/1.2MP camera | From $13.34/month
For those longing for the days when the iPhone could fit in the palm of your hand, the iPhone SE is likely exactly what you’ve been waiting for. This thing runs on the same heavy duty guts that the iPhone 6S runs on, with several other features that make it a formidable entry into the iPhone line.
Update: It may look like an alien artifact, and while the Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 is out of this world in terms of performance, it’s one of the best wireless routers on this planet right now. Check it out for yourself at number 10 on our list!
If your current router is a fossil that’s getting older by the day, you’re missing out on more than just a handful of basic hardware advancements. The 802.11ac networking standard has been complemented by a suite of modern design choices, sometimes to a fault, but almost always to the advantage of the user.
One development we’ve seen in some newer Wi-Fi setups, like the Netgear Orbi, is the collaboration between a router and a satellite with the goal of introducing uninterrupted Wi-Fi signal to every room in the house. For those with slow internet connections to begin with, this is undoubtedly the best option.
However, if you’re looking for a basic router setup, festooned by a generous helping of extras, these are our picks of the 10 best wireless routers you can buy. With the best wireless router on-hand, read on to give your house the 802.11ac boost it so gallantly deserves.
The idea behind the six antennas on the Archer AC3200 is triple wireless networks for a situation where you might have dozens of computers and mobile gadgets all needing access to wireless resources.
It has two 5GHz bands supporting 802.11ac, so when a large transfer is gobbling up all the space on one channel, you can keep other devices running at full speed on the other one. It’s all done through TP-Link’s Smart Wi-Fi tech that automatically picks the most suitable frequency band to assign to your various devices based on network traffic.
The C3200 also brings a clean and simple management interface that provides the usual basic settings page alongside advanced pages for each Wi-Fi band. On the router itself you can initiate WPS, disable LED lights and switch Wi-Fi on and off.
If you’ve got a large house where the Wi-Fi strains to reach every corner, and your home is filled with people using various devices to access the internet, then the Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band gigabit router is the router for you.
It comes with eight aerials and three bands – two 5GHz ones for fast multi-user performance and a 2.4GHz band as well for older devices. It features an excellent QoS system that detects what sort of network traffic it’s handling and sets its priorities accordingly – so streaming 4K Netflix will be given more bandwidth than simple tasks such as moving a file to your NAS.
The design won’t be for everyone, but its performance can’t be downplayed – this is an extremely fast and feature-rich router.
The Starry Station is not like most routers in its price range. Instead of chasing after the fastest speeds and longest range, it’s all about two things: convenience and aesthetic. The triangular design and curious LCD display make the Starry Station a welcome addition to your home whether it’s sitting atop your desk or on a coffee table in your living room.
Sure, it’s expensive for what it is, considering it offers little performance advantage over your ISP’s stock router, but what the Starry Station lacks it more than makes up for in style and ease-of-use. Just be sure that your source connection isn’t in, say, your closet.
Read the full review: Starry Station
The Asus RT-AC88U justifies its above-average pricing with unrivalled record-breaking next-generation 802.11ac wireless performance. With four antennas and NitroQAM technology, which pushes speeds further still, this router enables wireless performance that can break the 1GB/sec limit.
There’s a minor catch – you’ll need to invest in a NitroQAM wireless adapter, such as the Asus PCE-AC88, to see those faster speeds. It’s worth it though. Coupled with comprehensive built-in software, a generous array of eight external LAN ports and 100MB/sec performance from its USB 3 port, this router is a champion, and more affordable than the Asus RT-AC5300 Tri-band gigabit router we mention above.
If routers had a fashion contest, Netgear’s D7800 would be among the top contenders. Its solid black finish is complemented by a quartet of antennas. Bolstering speeds faster than a vanilla 802.11ac, this router promises an alluring 1,733Mbps over its 5GHz band and a still-remarkable 800Mbps over a 2.4GHz connection.
The Nighthawk X4S is is bettered by its inclusion of a duo of USB ports paired with an eSATA connector, thereby offering plenty of room for expanded connectivity. The real centerpiece, though, is the VDSL 2 modem built into the Nighthawk X4S D7800, negating the need to buy or lease one separately. The outfitted software isn’t too shoddy either; a simple Dynamic QOS system makes it a breeze to govern a multitude of devices on a single home network.
With three wireless streams, the Linksys WRT1900ACS is a less expensive proposition than the above quad-stream 802.11ac routers, and while it doesn’t offer the same blistering performance, it still packs performance and great software. Its internals are very powerful.
A dual-core 1.6 GHz processor and 512MB of memory drives a great-looking software interface that makes it a doddle to set up and customise a home network, with a built-in VPN, great wireless range as well as fast external connectivity via USB.
With four wide antennas that look like solar panels, the orange DIR-869 is a mid-range router from D-Link that uses the company’s flat, angular design. It doesn’t do anything particularly clever, but is still fast enough to work with the vast majority of all wireless hardware on the market at maximum capacity. It’s a dual-band model with a dual-core processor, driving a minimalist but slick software interface. 2.4GHz up to 450Mbps and and 5GHz up to 1300 Mbps is covered.
If you’ve used a Synology NAS, you’ll be familiar with the company’s Linux-based software interface that presents a Windows-like environment, with icons, folders and so on with all the settings to configure your hardware. Synology has gone with the same software design with the Synology Router Manager on the RT1900ac, its first wireless router.
Hardware-wise it offers the same sort of thing as other 802.11ac routers, with 1300 Mbps 802.11ac and 600 Mbps 802.11n. Unsurprisingly, there’s also great support for shared storage, with well-designed iOS and Android apps to access files. Uniquely, there’s also an SD card slot joining the single USB 3 port for shared external storage.
Although the Archer C9 is relatively inexpensive, there’s very little lacking from its specification list. It supports 1300Mbps 802.11ac wireless speeds that will deliver maximum performance for just about all laptops currently on the market.
It has good software, powerful internals and a bright white, inoffensive look that wont look garish in the middle of your living room. Although the built-in modem only supports DSL, rather than VDSL 2, very little else has been left out, making this a solid value option.
We’ve tested the Zyxel Armor Z2 out for ourselves, and though the design makes it look like an Alienware gaming laptop, its utility is universal. Crack open the hardened, extraterrestrial case and you’ll find a 1.7GHz dual-core processor with 512GB of RAM.
Because of its zippy internal specs, the Armor Z2 can run quickly through menus and settings throughout the included web-based software interface. Though it’s expensive, the Amor Z2 is made even better by StreamBoost, which allocates higher speeds to more demanding requests, whether it’s playing games or streaming Netflix in 4K.
Read the full review: Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
Gabe Carey has also contributed to this article