The industry has sort of agreed that phones with 5.5-inch screens are mainstream. The best phone you can buy at that size is the Google Pixel XL.

Daniel Bader Daniel Bader is Managing Editor of Android Central, writing about all things mobile, Google, and shiny when he's not making sure everyone else on the team is doing the same thing. In addition to writing and producing, Daniel regularly appears on Canadian networks CBC and CTV as a technology analyst. You can find him on Twitter, Instagram and email.

Best overall

Google Pixel XL

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It came as a surprise to us, too, but it became apparent quickly after its release that the Google's Pixel XL is the best phone under 5.7 inches you can buy. While the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge comes with a number of additional software features, in addition to sporting expandable storage and water resistance, the Pixel XL makes up for those shortcomings with the potent combination of speed, battery life, screen quality and camera performance.

Of course, it takes a lot to dethrone the king, so Google made sure to give its Android software — the latest version, Android 7.1 Nougat — some additional kick, with Google Assistant and 24/7 support. And because Google engineers Android itself, the Pixel is all but guaranteed the quickest software updates, with the latest features. Right now, Android 7.1 boasts improvements to notifications, multitasking and the home screen, with features that make a meaningful difference to users' lives.

Bottom line: The Google Pixel XL is probably the best phone you can buy today. Not only is the camera incredible, the software simple-but-powerful, and the performance unparalleled, but Google's 24/7 support and quick software updates are unmatched in the Android ecosystem.

One more thing: The Pixel XL also has a smaller sibling, the Pixel, which shaves some screen size and resolution for some one-handed love.

Why the Pixel XL is the best

An obvious choice for anyone who values simplicity and speed over features.

The Pixel XL is one of the fastest phones out there today — in fact, it may be the fastest. How? Because not only does it use the latest Snapdragon 821 chip paired with 4GB of ultra-fast RAM, but it's the first Android phone designed by Google to run with its software. In other words, it was built for speed.

But more than that, Google's hyperbolic claims of the Pixel XL having the best camera on the market seems to have been true — or at least true in most situations. Daylight, poor light, motion and even selfies, this phone consistently takes some of the best photos we've ever seen from a mobile sensor. Combine that with Google's mastery of software stabilization and you have a device you can rely on to get that perfect shot almost every time.

Elsewhere, the Pixel XL excels where you'd expect: it's actually a good phone, able to connect to nearly every network around the world with no configuration; it's got features, like Move gestures and Google Assistant, that make a meaningful difference to the way you use your phone; and it's well-built, with a well-proportioned combination of metal and glass. It may lack the expandable storage and water resistance of the Galaxy S7 edge, but it more than makes up for those shortcomings.

Best for features

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

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There's no question that Samsung hit a home run with its Galaxy S7 line. We already think the smaller GS7 is one of the best phones on the market, and the edge takes everything we love about the smaller phone and makes it bigger — but not too much.

This water-resistant phone is comfortable to hold, and even to use in one hand, while the internal specs are some of the best in the business — Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 in the U.S. and an Exynos 8890 internationally — with 4GB of RAM and a standard 32GB of storage. But it's the dual curved display that is so arresting, with an infinity pool experience that really stands out amongst a sea of flat smartphones. That curvature also has a purpose, allowing for quick access to favorite contacts, apps, web pages, and more.

Around back, the 12MP rear camera competes with the best in the business; many other devices have been released since the Galaxy S7 edge came out earlier this year, and only the Pixel XL appears to have dislodged it from that top position. And just underneath that camera, a massive 3,600mAh battery keeps things moving all day.

Bottom line: The Galaxy S7 edge takes Samsung's beautiful hardware design and adds useful curves that work well with the company's ever-improving software suite.

One More thing: This highly-rated device is available at all four major carriers in the U.S., but if you'd rather live dangerously and contract-free, Samsung offers an unlocked model that also works overseas.

Best at many things

OnePlus 3

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The OnePlus 3 does everything well — that's what you need to know first. It's a huge upgrade over the OnePlus 2, and its all-metal chassis doesn't feel overly large despite the ample 5.5-inch screen size. And that's what you're looking for in a big phone: one that doesn't feel like a brick in your hand.

OnePlus did a great job improving the internals in the OnePlus 3: the 5.5-inch Full HD display is vivid and bright, and the quad-core Snapdragon 820 paired with 6GB of RAM makes the phone a formidable performer — even more so when you consider the $399 price point. While it lacks the little things that add up to justify the S7 edge's extra cost — water resistance, expandable storage, and a high-quality QHD display — the OnePlus 3 is without compromises, which is something we're really happy to see at this price tier.

Bottom-line: With a big, bright 5.5-inch screen, a great camera, excellent build quality, and loads of nice software touches, the OnePlus 3 is one of the best smartphone deals you can find today.

One more thing: The OnePlus 3 has a 16MP camera that does a lot more than just shoot great photos — it supports 4K video, slo-mo, and excellent panoramas.

Best for doing more

Moto Z

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The Moto Z is an interesting phone. Yes, it doesn't have a headphone jack, but there is so much more to the story than that. It's extremely thin — under 5.2mm to be exact — and light, but is made of strong stuff, including aluminum and stainless steel. And while the Moto Mods story is the one that most people are telling, even without add-ons the Moto Z is one of the best Android experiences on the market. It has a great 5.5-inch QHD display, the specs you'd expect from a $699 phone, including an excellent 13MP rear camera and some fantastic software, but when paired with a Moto Mod, the story becomes more interesting.

Those Mods, which range from inexpensive battery adds-ons to more expensive projector and camera options, add a considerable amount of functionality to the device, and are well worth the investment.

Bottom-line: It may not be cheap, but Motorola, under Lenovo's ownership, has proven that it is still one of the most innovative companies in phones today.

One more thing: You can buy the Moto Z unlocked directly from Motorola, as well as through Verizon under the Droid name.

Conclusion

There are so many smartphones out there today. It's not easy picking the right one, especially when tasked with choosing a phone at a certain size. This bracket, between 5.3 and 5.6 inches, appears to be the sweet spot for many people, which is why an increasing number of flagships are settling in it.

The Pixel XL is the clear winner here, with an attractive design, incredible performance, bloat-free software directly from Google (and updates before anyone else), and a camera that outclasses even the Galaxy S7 edge in most situations. Moreover, its battery lasts all day, and the addition of Google Assistant — currently a Pixel exclusive — is an AI-powered bonus.

Best overall

Google Pixel XL

See at Google See at Verizon

It came as a surprise to us, too, but it became apparent quickly after its release that the Google's Pixel XL is the best phone under 5.7 inches you can buy. While the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge comes with a number of additional software features, in addition to sporting expandable storage and water resistance, the Pixel XL makes up for those shortcomings with the potent combination of speed, battery life, screen quality and camera performance.

Of course, it takes a lot to dethrone the king, so Google made sure to give its Android software — the latest version, Android 7.1 Nougat — some additional kick, with Google Assistant and 24/7 support. And because Google engineers Android itself, the Pixel is all but guaranteed the quickest software updates, with the latest features. Right now, Android 7.1 boasts improvements to notifications, multitasking and the home screen, with features that make a meaningful difference to users' lives.

Bottom line: The Google Pixel XL is probably the best phone you can buy today. Not only is the camera incredible, the software simple-but-powerful, and the performance unparalleled, but Google's 24/7 support and quick software updates are unmatched in the Android ecosystem.

One more thing: The Pixel XL also has a smaller sibling, the Pixel, which shaves some screen size and resolution for some one-handed love.


Note: This list is of phones between 5.3 inches and 5.6 inches. We already have a list of the best phones 5.2 inches and under, and the best phones 5.7 inches and above.