The best smartphones in the world today? Try these 15 out for size. For more in-depth reviews, click the links and watch the videos littered throughout the article.
Galaxy S6 Edge
Price: from $499.99
Display: Curved 5.1 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (577 ppi) Super AMOLED
Battery size: 2600 mAh
Camera: 16MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)
Platform: Android with TouchWiz
Features: Samsung Pay, wireless charging, heart rate monitor and a powerful camera
In practically every area, the S6 and S6 Edge excel. The S6 Edge is not only an excellent device, but breaks new ground with its gorgeous dual-edged display.
More: 5 Reasons To Buy The Samsung Galaxy s6 Edge
Its Exynos 7420 chipset comfortably beats out most of the competition in speed tests, and its real-world speed is eye-wateringly fast. The 2K Super AMOLED 5.1-inch curved display provides vibrant colours and reaches an incredible level of brightness. Similarly, the S6 Edge’s 16MP camera with a new f1.9 lens is, quite simply, excellent: its rich colours, instant shutter speed and sharp detail make it comparable to the best smartphone snappers of 2015.
But, as I said, the S6 Edge practically excels in every area. The most frustrating drawback of Samsung’s flagship is its questionable battery life. In its crippling obsession with weight loss, Samsung trimmed down the S6 Edge’s battery – in comparison to the S5 – which obviously means significantly shorter lasting power. And, of course, there’s the furore over the missing expandable storage.
Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
Price: from $673
Display: 5.5-inch 2160 x 3840 pixels (806ppi) IPS LCD
Battery size: 3430 mAh
Camera: 23MP (Rear), 5.1MP (Front)
Platform: Android with Sony UI
Features: 4K display, fingerprint sensor, and quick battery charging (Quick Charge 2.0)
The world’s first 4K display on a smartphone. Someone had to do it and Sony was the first one to cross the finish line. In that 4K display is a resolution of 2160 x 2840, with a ridiculous 806 pixels per inch. Although little content is actually displayed in 4K – in order to save battery – but the 4K footage that’s available looks astonishing. Fortunately, typical HD content is upgraded by Sony’s X-Reality engine that’s also used in its TV range.
MORE: 5 Reasons To Buy The Sony Xperia Z5
When it comes to the camera, Sony went back to the drawing board and atoned for previous mistakes by making the best smartphone camera of 2015. The 23MP sensor picks up an incredible level of detail, has a fast 0.03 second autofocus, reduced quality loss zoom and good low light performance (a feature that escaped previous Xperia handsets). Add to that a waterproof design, expandable storage, a reasonably quick fingerprint scanner and you have a very capable handset.
The Xperia Z5 Premium is not without some flaws. In ploughing all its efforts into the 4K display, Sony has neglected the software, which, with Android 5.1 and a Sony UI, is no different to the previous model. The battery life doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of two-days without a charge either (no Xperia device has since the Z2, despite what Sony claims), which is unsurprising considering the screen technology.
iPhone 6S Plus
Price: from $749
Display: 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 ppi) IPS LCD
Battery size: 2750 mAh
Camera: 12MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)
Platform: Apple IOS 9
Features: 3D Touch, 4K video, and full HD display
In an untypical Apple fashion, the iPhone 6S Plus is larger and heavier than its predecessor. In typical Apple fashion, it’s not really noticeable.
So why the extra width and bulk? The answer lies in the iPhone’s new taptic engine, which powers the iPhone 6S Plus’ biggest feature: 3D Touch. For the uninitiated, 3D Touch brings an extra dimension of control to the iPhone’s display, allowing users to register soft and hard presses on the screen. It’s a smart addition that genuinely enhances the iPhone experience and isn’t the gimmick I thought it’d be. There’s also an improved 12MP camera that shoots 4K footage, as well as a stellar battery life: the iPhone 6S Plus is one of the longest lasting smartphones of the year.
MORE: 5 Reasons To Buy The iPhone 6S Plus
Is it worth buying? If you’re an iPhone 6 Plus owner, probably not. There aren’t enough shiny new things here that warrant further indebting yourself for. If, however, you’re coming from an older iPhone, you’ll be impressed by the leap in technology.
Galaxy Note 5
Display: 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (518 ppi) quad-HD Super AMOLED
Battery size: 3000 mAh
Camera: 16MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)
Platform: Android with TouchWiz UI
Features: wireless charging, S Pen stylus, fingerprint sensor, 4K video and Samsung Pay
Perhaps a controversial choice, given the backlash the Galaxy Note 5 received from some loyal long-time Note users. There is, however, no denying the Note 5’s excellence. With a slick and premium design, the Note 5 brings the Note range into adulthood.
The Note 5 represents the best that Samsung can offer: one of the best displays in the industry, an excellent camera, wireless charging, Samsung Pay, slimmed-down OS and a feature-packed stylus- just remember to insert it in the right way.
The lack of a removable battery and expandable storage might be forgivable on the Galaxy S6, but on a device that’s marketed as productivity tool? Less so. Also, I’ll repeat, don’t insert the stylus backwards.
Display: 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (518 ppi) quad-HD
Battery size: 3450 mAh
Camera: 12.3MP (Rear), 8MP (Front)
Platform: Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Features: fingerprint scanner, USB-C fast charging, and Android Marshmallow pre-loaded
The best smartphone of the year? I certainly think so. The Nexus 6P’s shortcomings are few and far between. Who’d have thought we’d be applauding Huawei planting its flag at the top of the smartphone summit?
The 6P owes a lot of its success to Android Marshmallow, Google’s most accomplished and clever OS yet. The redesigned app drawer, Google Now on Tap, improved battery management and new app permissions are all fulfilling their full potential in a device that proudly runs stock Android.
Like I said, there’s little to complain about in the 6P. But the lack of wireless charging is a disappointment, especially when it charges via the non-universal USB-C. So, you know, keep that USB-C charger close when you’re out and about.
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
Price: from $649
Display: 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (519 ppi) quad-HD AMOLED
Battery size: 3340 mAh
Camera: 20MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)
Platform: Microsoft Windows 10 mobile
Features: Continuum, Windows 10 mobile, wireless and fast charging, removable battery, liquid cooling, and expandable storage up to 200GB
The Lumia 950 XL brings good, unique, ideas to a smartphone market beleaguered by identikit-syndrome. Features like Continuum (which allows users to plug their Lumia into a display and use it like a PC), Windows Hello and bundled Office 365 for mobile makes the Lumia a ready-to-go phone for business.
There’s also a very capable 20MP triple LED Flash PureView rear camera that takes sharp pictures out of the box and has an impressive suite of manual controls.
The obvious major issue is the lack of apps – the ‘app gap’ – needs to be fixed. Microsoft, for its part, is trying to bridge the gap by making it easier to port Android and iOS apps to Windows Phone, but that hasn’t shown any meaningful results yet.
The device itself suffers from some annoying bugs. While this is to be expected with a new OS, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Check out my full review here.
Price: from $422.50
Display: 5.5 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (538 ppi) quad-HD
Battery size: 3000 mAh
Camera: 16MP (Rear), 8MP (Front)
Platform: Android with LG UI
Features: 2K display, high-grade camera, removable battery, fast and wireless charging, and microSD slot
With a bright and crisp quad-HD display, a camera with exceptional manual controls and a unique, leather-clad design, the LG G4 was a breath of fresh air in musky cloud of identikit smartphones.
The only downsides was how quickly the removable leather back wore: it ended up looking quite shabby. The device also slowed down quite a bit after a few months of use.
Moto X Pure
Price: from $399.99
Display: 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (520 ppi) quad-HD IPS LCD
Battery size: 3000 mAh
Camera: 21MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)
Features: faster charging, microSD, front-facing speakers, cheap, and non-removable battery
The Moto X Pure follows Motorola’s tradition of cheap, powerful and nicely designed smartphones. There’s a quad-HD display here, a 3000mAh battery that can power up to 10 hours of battery life after 15 minutes of charging and the all-important stock Android, which means faster Android updates. All for a very respectable $399.
Motorola’s raison d’etre has always been to build stock Android devices that perform way better than their low price suggests (if you ignore the Nexus 6). The Moto X Pure is no different.