We’ve had smartphones in our hands and pockets for quite some time now since Apple “reinvented the phone” with the iPhone back in 2007 and made handheld supercomputers mainstream.
Our smartphones have basically become an essential, everyday part of life. Because of that, we already know what to expect every year — a flashier screen, a thinner and lighter profile, crispier photos and videos, and ever so slightly better battery life.
Of course, every year smartphones are indeed different, but every year they’re also actually quite the same. In 2015, smartphones have become faster, lighter, thinner and more powerful than previous generations, and as such, there’s never been a better time to make that upgrade.
Since the holidays are coming, these are our favorite smartphones this year, besides of course, Apple’s iPhone and even Samsung’s Galaxy S6.
Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P
Coming in late but hot into the year, Google’s Nexus 5X and especially the Nexus 6P are revelations of the company’s staying power in the industry despite still not manufacturing their own devices like the Pixel C or Google Glass.
Regardless, Google has chosen winning partners with LG and Huawei as its latest batch of Nexus devices continue to offer high-end specs with affordable-enough pricing. The LG-made Nexus 5X sports a 5.2-inch, 1,080p resolution screen, a 12-megapixel rear camera, a Snapdragon 808 processor, 2GB of RAM, and a beefy battery for its size. The Huawei-made Nexus 6P features larger specs: 5.5-inch screen, QHD display, 12.3-megapixel camera, version 2.1 of the Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM, and a 3,450mAh battery in the back.
Huawei Ascend G7
Moto X Style
The best smartphones, however, don’t have to cost an arm and a leg and neither must they always have the latest high tech specs. Motorola’s Moto E is a prime example. A throwback to yesteryear’s phones with its 4.5-inch screen, the Moto E is the best phone for someone looking to buy their first smartphone. More about function than form, the budget device can still handle high-end games, runs on Android 5.0 Lollipop, and connects via 4G with battery that still last well into two days.
Needless to say, Motorola does have its bases covered. On the opposite end from the Moto E, the Moto X Style is the bigger, badder brother of the Moto family. With a huge 5.7-inch QHD screen, a gargantuan 21-megapixel camera, a Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB of RAM and 3,000mAh battery, the Moto X Style does offer both form and function albeit at a higher price.
Overall, it’s the OnePlus 2 that offers form and function at a well-balanced price. It may not have the high profile of an Apple or Samsung device, but it does have nearly the same features with equally great build quality. In fact, it’s best to consider the OnePlus 2 a midrange-priced phone with flagship features as it is one of the best all-around handsets on the market this year.
A yearly consistent competitor, LG G series continue to combine style with an impressive camera. The LG G4 wasn’t the follow-up we expected to last year’s fantastic sleeper hit, the G3, but it still brings the goods. With genuine leather backed rear covers, the G4’s camera captures 16-megapixel pictures with optical image stabilization and laser focus.
Blackberry’s Android-powered Priv was certainly a welcome surprise to the market this year, and a welcome return to the list of best phones every year. Android users missing Blackberry’s signature keyboard feel will feel right at home with the Priv. Its physical keyboard smoothly slides out an even doubles as a useful touchpad. It’s quite expensive though but Blackberry users are used to paying the company’s prices.
Samsung Galaxy S6
Finally, no list is really complete without the year’s bestselling phones – Apple’s iPhone lineup and Samsung’s Galaxy family.
This year, Samsung went all out on design and finally ditched all forms of plastic in all its flagship devices, specifically the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5 (and all their Edge variations). It is, however, Samsung’s Edge variation that is literally of a different cut. Though more aesthetically pleasing on the eyes and in the hands than more useful, the Galaxy S6 Edge and Edge+ still feature the highest-end of specs with an extremely high price to match.
iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus
Last but definitely not least, Apple latest iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus feature the Cupertino company’s latest innovations. Notably different this time around (besides the usual internal upgrades) is the addition of 3D Touch in the iPhone display. This feature has the potential to once again change the way we interact with our screens just as multi-touch once did long ago. In addition, this could also spell the beginning of the end of the iPhone’s iconic menu button, too. We’ll just have to wait until 2016 for next year’s best of the best.