Update, 14 February 2017: Our top pick remains unchanged. The Galaxy S7 edge is the phone to get if you want a high-end phone with a microSD slot. We removed BLU's $100 R1 HD, and slotted in the Honor 6X in place of the Moto G4. The Huawei Mate 9 also makes its debut on this list.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Galaxy S7 edge gold

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The Galaxy S7 edge is the total package. The phone features a stunning metal-and-glass exterior backed by an excellent 5.5-inch display. The dual curved display is easily one of the best you'll find on a phone, and differentiates the S7 edge from the pack. The handset is powered by Qualcomm's beastly Snapdragon 820 SoC, and offers 4GB of RAM along with 32GB storage. The 12MP camera is outstanding, and the 3600mAh battery ensures you get at least a day's worth of usage from a full charge.

Best of all, Samsung reintroduced the microSD slot after leaving it out on the Galaxy S6 series. The phone accommodates microSD cards up to 256GB, which should be more than sufficient for all your movie or music needs. If all that isn't enough, the S7 edge is water resistant with an IP68 rating.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is one of the best smartphones you can currently buy.

One more thing: If you don't want to be tied down to a contract, Samsung has started selling the S7 edge unlocked in the U.S. The unlocked model has global LTE bands, making it compatible with several carriers overseas.

Why the Galaxy S7 edge is the best

A gorgeous phone loaded with features.

Samsung was criticised in years past for launching boring phones, but the manufacturer responded magnificently with the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. The Galaxy S7 edge is an evolution of that industrial design, with the phone featuring rounded edges and a curved back to go along with the dual curved display, allowing it to nestle comfortably in your hand.

The 5.5-inch QHD Super AMOLED display is one of the best in the business, offering deep blacks and excellent contrast levels. Then there's the microSD card, which allows you to store up to 256GB, more than enough to take your media collection along. Samsung decided to not incorporate Marshmallow's Adoptable Storage feature, which treats an SD card volume like internal storage. Instead, when you insert an SD card into the S7 edge, it is mounted as a separate volume.

Samsung is known to throw in gimmicky features (Air View, anyone?), but this time around the South Korean manufacturer has shown restraint and focused on utilities customers will actually end up using. Water resistance is one such feature. The S7 edge is dust-proof, and the IP68 certification allows the phone to be submerged in up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) of water for 30 minutes without any issues.

Talking about software, Samsung has been proactive in rolling out monthly software patches. The phone has picked up the Nougat update in several regions around the world.

The 3600mAh battery lasts a day even on heavy usage, and on occasions when you need a quick top-up, you can rely on Samsung's Adaptive Fast Charging. The phone also offers wireless charging, and is compatible with both Qi and Powermat charging standards.

Phablet-sized

Huawei Mate 9

Huawei Mate 9

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Huawei's Mate 9 is one of the most feature-rich phablets available today. The fact that it's available unlocked for $599 makes it that much more attractive. The 5.9-inch Full HD display has excellent contrast and brightness levels, and what it lacks in resolution it makes up in sunlight legibility. The phone is powered by Huawei's latest Kirin 960 SoC with four Cortex A73 cores, and it offers 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, and a 4000mAh battery. The microSD slot lets you slot in memory cards up to 256GB in size.

The standout feature on the Mate 9 is the Leica dual camera setup at the back, with a 12MP RGB sensor augmented by a 20MP monochrome sensor. The monochrome sensor adds fine detail to images while the RGB sensor adds color-related data. With both sensors working in conjunction, you get stunning photos from the camera on the Mate 9. The phone is also the first Huawei device to run the company's Nougat-based EMUI 5.0 out of the box.

Bottom line: For $599, the Mate 9 offers an enticing package with high-end internals, incredible camera, and all-day battery life.

One more thing: The Mate 9 is fully compatible with AT&T and T-Mobile, but it will not work on Verizon or Sprint.

With Adoptable Storage

HTC 10

HTC 10

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HTC hasn't fared well in the high-end segment over the last two years, but the HTC 10 represents a return to form. The phone sports a gorgeous aluminum unibody design with a beveled chamfer that circles the back. The curved back ensures that the phone fits comfortably in your hand, and the 5.2-inch screen size allows for one-handed use. From a design standpoint, the HTC 10 is one of the best phones you can buy today.

The phone offers the latest internals. You'll find a Snapdragon 820 SoC under the hood, and there's 4GB of RAM and 32GB on-board storage. The 12MP camera is one of the best fielded by the company to date, and there's a 3000mAh battery with Quick Charge 3.0 that gives you a full day on a charge. The handset has a great DAC if you like listening to Hi-Fi audio from your phone. Coming to the software side of things, Sense 8 is one of the best manufacturer skins around. HTC has committed to rolling out the Nougat update to the HTC 10 in Q4 2016.

The HTC 10 also comes with a dedicated microSD slot that can accommodate SD cards up to 256GB. Unlike the S7 edge, the HTC 10 supports Marshmallow's Adoptable Storage, which allows you to reformat the external SD card storage and mount it as a part of the internal system storage. You'll be able to use the entire storage — 32GB internal and a possible 256GB with the SD card — as a unified volume, but the downside is that you won't be able to remove the SD card and use it for anything else.

Bottom line: The HTC 10 gets the basics right, and the fact that it is on sale for $549 makes it an enticing option.

One more thing: If you buy the phone direct from HTC, you get 12 months of HTC's Uh Oh Protection for free, which covers screen cracks, water damage, and switching carriers.

The mid-range option

ZTE Axon 7

ZTE Axon 7

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The ZTE Axon 7 is a standout phone in the mid-range segment. Available for $399, the phone offers a great 5.5-inch QHD display with minimal bezels, resulting in a compact size. You also get stereo speakers at the front, a 20MP ISOCELL camera and a fingerprint sensor at the back, and a 3250mAh battery that runs a day and a half. There's a decent DAC onboard as well if you're looking to listen to high-fidelity tunes on your phone.

Under the hood, the Axon 7 is running the Snapdragon 820 SoC, 4GB of RAM, 64GB storage, and a microSD slot that works with Adoptable Storage. The microSD slot can accommodate a 256GB card. On the software front, ZTE has started rolling out the Nougat update.

Bottom line: The Axon 7 is a compelling device in the mid-tier segment, and is worthy of your consideration.

One more thing: The Axon 7 comes with ZTE's Passport 2.0 protection plan in the U.S., which offers a two-year warranty against hardware defects.

Best budget pick

Honor 6X

Honor 6X

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The Honor 6X doesn't feel like a budget phone in that it has a premium anodized aluminum chassis and dual cameras at the back. The internal hardware is also astonishingly good, with the phone featuring a 14nm Kirin 655 SoC, 3GB of RAM, 32GB storage, and a 3340mAh battery. The 5.5-inch Full HD display is one of the best in this segment, and the main 12MP camera at the back is joined by a 2MP secondary sensor that adds depth information to images, leading to a bokeh effect.

The Honor 6X has a hybrid dual-SIM card slot, which means that the secondary SIM card slot doubles up as a microSD slot. The phone made its debut with the older Marshmallow-based EMUI 4.1, but Honor has committed to rolling out the Nougat update to the phone in March.

Bottom line: The Honor 6X offers a lot of value for its $249 price tag.

One more thing: Like the Mate 9, the Honor 6X will not work on Verizon or Sprint.

Conclusion

If you want a phone that has expandable storage, the Galaxy S7 edge is still your best option. Featuring top-of-the-line hardware, a stunning metal and glass design, and one of the best cameras in this space, the Galaxy S7 edge has a lot in its favor. Water resistance and wireless charging make it an even more compelling choice. Add all that and throw in a microSD slot that supports up to 256GB of expandable storage and you'll find why the S7 edge is the most feature-rich Android phone around.

Best overall

Samsung Galaxy S7 edge

Galaxy S7 edge gold

See at AT&T See at Sprint See at T-Mobile See at Verizon See at Amazon

The Galaxy S7 edge is the total package. The phone features a stunning metal-and-glass exterior backed by an excellent 5.5-inch display. The dual curved display is easily one of the best you'll find on a phone, and differentiates the S7 edge from the pack. The handset is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon 820 SoC, and offers 4GB of RAM along with 32GB storage. The 12MP camera is outstanding, and the 3600mAh battery ensures you get at least a day's worth of usage from a full charge.

Best of all, Samsung re-introduced the microSD slot after leaving it out on the Galaxy S6 series. The phone accommodates microSD cards up to 256GB, which should be more than sufficient for all your movie or music needs. If all that isn't enough, the S7 edge is water resistant with an IP68 rating.

Bottom line: The Samsung Galaxy S7 edge is one of the best smartphones you can currently buy.

One more thing: If you don't want to be tied down to a contract, Samsung has started selling the S7 edge unlocked in the U.S. The unlocked model has global LTE bands, making it compatible with several carriers overseas.