[/blockquote]We all know new smartphones come out each year, and 2015 was no different. We got to see a mishmash of black slab phones and some pretty interesting leap forward in-terms of design, better battery life and compactness (smaller size) in several smartphone categories. So we’ve decided to give you a one stop shop on picking which 2015 made smartphone makes a great holiday buy in our smartphone awards 2015. For all the smartphones released in 2015, these are going to be the best in each category. We shall give a first place or best overall option and also a second places the runner-up and an honorable mention or two to round it up. Please note that these awards are aimed to recognize the best worldwide and not only smartphones tailored for specific regions. These are the smartphone awards 2015.
1. Best big phone of the year.
Smartphones seem to get bigger and bigger every year and often the top of the line option is huge, but only some of them take advantage of their size. These are the best big smartphone options now. You see how we avoided the terms “Phablet”?
The Samsung Galaxy Note 5
WINNER: This definitely qualifies as a big phone with a 5.7 inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display and really takes advantage of that real estate, packing a big battery, high-end specs and several software features that take advantage of that awesome screen. So, love it or hate it, this is one of the big advantage of a software skin on a phone like this, it’s adding a bunch of productivity, and fun features that stock Android doesn’t have.Check out our Galaxy Note 5 review for more.
This phone scoops the second place of best big smartphone. LG V10 showed up pretty close to the end of the year, but it managed to outshine LG’s own G4 as of the best phones they have ever made. The V10 comes with a 5.7 IPS display and its is definitely a humongous phone with big specs. And, again a lot of the features are similar to Samsungs. Short of that stylus to best take advantage of the extra real-estate.
The Nexus 6P and Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus
These are our honorable mentions in the big smartphone category. Both have over 5.5 inch displays.
2. The best compact smartphone
Phones in the category are must strike a balance of both a true high-end and be compact at the same time. Compact smartphones are becoming a rare breed as most of them are always low-end.
The iPhone 6s
WINNER: The iPhone 6s wins this award because it is still a true flagship phone with no compromises, it is the best Apple has to offer this year and is full of their latest innovations and highest end specs. So even if Apple made some sacrifices to make this phone as thin as it is, there is one thing you can’t deny and that is the ridiculously fast performance thanks to the new A9 chip. So if speed is your thing and you want a really fast and relatively compact smartphone at 4.7 inches, then the iPhone 6s is a good bet.
Sony Xperia z5 Compact
This comes in at a close second place as Sony is doing almost the same stuff, bringing in the high-end features from the Xperia Z5 and Z5 premium into a smaller package.
3. The best camera in a smartphone
This is a category that heated up a lot in 2015. We’ve got a lot of good smartphone cameras this year, and the margin between the first place, second and third place is razor thin. Our bets is that all our mentions below will not disappoint.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
WINNER: If you have used Samsung’s latest devices there is no doubt the company upped its game this year. The Note 5 has the best point and shoot camera on a smartphone now, but as I said the difference with other contenders is hair thin. The camera in the Note 5 is fast, and easy to customize camera app, combined with razor sharp 16 megapixel photos with the signature Samsung punchy colors and solid dynamic range that makes the quality hard to deny. It also takes great 4k video shooter and you will find the same optics in the Galaxy s6, Galaxy s6 edge and the Galaxy s6 edge plus, so you can basically lump those all in this number one place.
This is a close number two, as the LG V10’s camera is right up on par with the Galaxy phones. The V10 camera really shines with its software which also includes a manual video mode making this by far the best choice for someone looking to shoot a lot of smartphone video but it doesn’t hurt that the auto-mode is also pretty great too.
iPhone 6s Plus and Nexus 6P
These two are our honorable mentions. Both these phones have some of the best and quickest camera apps in any smartphone and both take really practical quality photos. And again the margin of difference between the first and 6th best smartphone cameras is not that big.
4. Best budget smartphone
This is a category that also heated up a lot this year as cheap phones got really good and good phones got really cheap to a point where it is hard to define what a budget phone is. Most of the phones mentioned above are launched at above $700. So, we shall consider phones at a less price to be budget phones, whether it is a sub $300 or sub $200 smartphone and remember this is a mix up of both mid and low-end smartphones with good quality.
The One Plus X
WINNER: Whatever debate that there may be about what a budget smartphone is, the One Plus X qualifies as it costs $250 and we think for the build quality of this phone, the material choices and overall experience this phone manages to deliver. At 5 inches with a 1080p AMOLED screen, the display is one of its best features. It has metallic rails on the side, expandable storage, and a custom OS definitely worth checking out.
Nexus 5x and One Plus Two
Those two phones take up the second place. The One Plus two comes with several custom software features, solid build and at $389 and the Nexus 5 is your pure stock Android phone even taking the same camera optics from the Nexus 6p and putting them all in a light-weight $329 package.
5. Best battery life
This is one of the most neglected features in a smartphone especially in high-end phones in favor for stuff like thinness and other gimmicky features.
WINNER: Even if we feel the Motorola Droid Max should take this award, it is not a world phone so we shall go with Google’s Nexus 6p. Thanks to the new doze mode found in Android 6.0 and the recent software update, Nexus 6p will get your some of the best battery life with over 5 hours of screen-on time.
LG G4 and LG V10
These two LG smartphones will get an award here because they come with removable battery making it easy for users to swap batteries on the go plus also come with the quick charge feature.
6. Outstanding surprise of the year
WINNER: When Blackberry released an Android phone this year, it came as a surprise to many. The Blackberry Priv is by far the best Blackberry phone ever and the most competitive one in a long time. It’s unfortunately still really expensive and still definitely not for everyone with the version of Android it’s running with a bunch of its customizations and slider keyboard that brings back a bit of nostalgia making it refreshing and outstanding in 2015.
7. Best design of the year
The year came with a bunch of well designed smartphones, and most are unknown to many but some of them are more striking than the others and others are more industrial and we have to reward that.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus
WINNER: The Galaxy s6 Edge Plus takes this home. In a sea of black slab phones, it will be pretty easy for almost any slightly unusual one to stick out, but this one is just too pretty even if it’s not the gold version, the slopping edges and the display melting over right before the metal rails is dope. There is no surprise that I chose this as my daily driver. I hope we shall see another edge phones from Samsung in 2016.
Sony Xperia z5 Premium
The Xperia z5 premium has only been recognized as Sony managed to bet the competition and put a 4K display in a smartphone.
8. Burst of the year
This is an award we hate to give as it is the biggest let down in all smartphones considering all the hype we heard about it before it launched. Obviously there are many crappy smartphone out there and this is award doesn’t go to those. It goes to the most disappointing phone of the year.
HTC One A9
2015 will go down in history as one of the worst years for HTC, it’s the year even me a loyal HTC user abandoned the company’s products after 4 years of consecutive use. When HTC released the HTC One M9 as its flagship phone we were downright disappointed as it couldn’t match up to the competition like the Galaxy s6. Then, later HTC announced that they will be releasing another flagship possibly to make up for the poor M9 sales. Thus, the HTC One A9 was born, even if we ignore the striking resemblance to the iPhone 6, the A9 as a replacement to the M9 is disappointing as it makes a lot of sacrifices. It sacrificed being able to shoot 4k video for a certain lower end chip. It sacrificed the legendary boom sound speakers for a home button. This is one the biggest let down of the year for me. We can’t wait to see how HTC will up its game next year.
9. Smartphone to watch out for
This is a smartphone to watch out for, as it’s a cloud based smartphone. The Next Robin definitely is a new concept and rocks the HTC like polycarbonate that we last saw in the first HTC One smartphones. The phone has 5.2-inch display inside, the circular front-facing stereo speakers that stand out, as do the huge sensors and front-facing camera. On the back of Robin you’ll find four LED lights that look like they’re straight off some weird external battery and will light up when Robin’s doing its cloud magic. The Next Robin gives a sense of the future of smartphones with a cloud first approach and deserves the smartphone to watch out for award.
10. Best Smartphone of the year
Remember these awards are very subjective and the best phone of the year is an all-rounder that ranks high in all the categories. This is the phone one must aspire to have as it seems to have all one would expect from a smartphone.
WINNER: For most of you who have not tried out this Huawei made for Google should give it a try. It comes with a clean build of Android, awesome display, good battery life, great camera, awesome performance and great build quality. This is a complete package from top to bottom and it competes in every category and it’s not even the most expensive one on the list which means best doesn’t always have to be the most expensive.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
This comes close second and we could easily give it the Galaxy s6 Edge Plus, but the Note 5 packs more than the Edge plus and deserves the accolade. The Note 5 is also stacked as we give it best display on a smartphone, best camera on any smartphone and some of the best specs available.
iPhone 6s/6s Plus and Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
We give Apple’s 2015 flagships honorable mentions as these are the fastest phones this year. Apple I don’t know what exactly you did with this A9 chip, but iOS just flies here and we love it. We can’t forget to also give Microsoft some props for the 950 XL, which is by far the best Windows Phone choice of this year.