Hottest Smartphones of 2015: Our Top 5 Picks - InformationWeek
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12/23/2015
11:05 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Hottest Smartphones of 2015: Our Top 5 Picks

From the Samsung Galaxy S6 to the iPhone 6s, here are our picks for the best smartphones of 2015.

Best Mobile Tech Of 2015: Our Top 10 List
Best Mobile Tech Of 2015: Our Top 10 List
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

By the time December wraps up, phone makers will have shipped about 1.43 billion smartphones worldwide. Handsets of all shapes and sizes have flooded the market in record numbers, even if the rate of growth has slowed a bit. IDC predicts 2015 will be the first year to see single digit growth, at 9.8% compared to 2014.

The landscape continues to change with players old and new all trying to find the right balance of features, design, and performance.

Apple and Samsung dominate the industry in terms of overall shipments, but a handful of small Chinese companies are beginning to take a sizable bite out of the goliaths' market share. Some giants of yesteryear have fallen and upstarts are already taking their place. Finding success in the smartphone space isn't assured, and fortunes can go as easily as they come.

[Check out these iPhone apps for the holidays.]

The competitive market is good for consumers, who have an incredible and diverse selection of smartphones waiting at the local wireless shop. Phone makers have to do a lot to stand out. Here are the five smartphones that made the biggest impression as 2015 unfolded.

Samsung Galaxy S6

Samsung took a bold step with the Galaxy S6. The company re-envisioned its flagship smartphone and fielded an attractive, competitive handset made of metal and glass. The phone may not have been the hit Samsung wanted, but it is a remarkable achievement of engineering and design. The phone runs on a Samsung-designed processor and includes one of the best cameras available in a phone.

Apple iPhone 6s

The iPhone 6s may carry over the design of the 2014 model, but Apple changed just about everything else. The A9 chip delivers blistering performance in a user-friendly smartphone that marks the debut of 3D Touch for interacting with the screen. App developers are putting 3D Touch, which can be used to call up secondary menus/actions, to effective use. Toss in the great camera, world-class app selection, and solid build quality, and it's easy to see why Apple sold more than 13 million iPhones the first weekend it was available.

(Image: guvendemir/iStockphoto)

(Image: guvendemir/iStockphoto)

Motorola Turbo 2

Few phones can claim to have a shatter-proof screen. The Motorola Droid Turbo 2 is one of them. Motorola spent years engineering an all-but-indestructible smartphone that won't break when dropped repeatedly. The Droid Turbo 2 is a great smartphone for klutzes who can't manage to keep anything in their hands. Motorola took it a step further by giving the Turbo 2 incredible battery life, a solid camera, and the ability to customize its appearance via the Moto Maker tool.

LG V10

The V10 is a bit of an oddball, but it makes a strong case for our list thanks to a balanced set of features. The V10 has a secondary screen above the main display that can reveal notifications and other information without draining the battery. LG tread new ground with the V10 as far as the design is concerned by adding metals for the first time. The phone is rugged, to a degree, and has one of the best cameras available.

Huawei Nexus 6P

This google-branded smartphone is a great value. The quad HD screen, swift performance, excellent fingerprint sensor, and stock Android 6.0 Marshmallow make it an excellent choice -- especially at $500. The Huawei-designed smartphone is slim, attractive, and powerful. It showcases Android at its best.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio
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progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2015 | 6:58:32 AM
Re: top 5
Some of those Moto designs never go out of fashion though. I know I still have a Startac floating around in my garage somewhere :)
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
12/30/2015 | 6:57:31 AM
Re: top 5
Very interested to see the new HTC UI, and I in no way feel obligated to Samsung (although techinically I guess I kind of am for the next 22 months now...)
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2015 | 10:44:22 PM
Re: Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
The IPhone 6S is an amazing phone. Better than the previous versions of IPhone. Thank god they went for the bigger screen. I hate sub 5inch iPhone models. Also the 3D touch was nice, but I would trade functionality with beauty and niceness. Surprisingly my design vote goes to the LG V10 and the Nexus 6P. They look so powerful.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2015 | 10:41:48 PM
Re: Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
@Yalanand: The Note 5 was awesome indeed, but the camera performance fell sharply below the Galaxy S6. What I didn't like with the Galaxy S6 was how less its battery size was. Lesser than the S5. Granted it has fast charging but so what? You cannot carry the charger everywhere can you?
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2015 | 10:39:23 PM
Re: Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
@progman2000: The form and functionality was a major hit for Samsung. They made the new design and knew how the public would find the new design usable when the S6 series of phones were in beta testing. Samsung really caters for their fans from time to time.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2015 | 10:36:30 PM
Re: top 5
@Progman: I really liked Moto Turbo. Other than that I don't really like the design in Motorola phones. Its 2015 for God's sake. Don't make the designs look like they are smartphone from 2005.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2015 | 10:33:06 PM
Re: top 5
@progman: Yes. The HTC Sense is it is cluttered with unnecessary design changes that don't suit the needs. But I hear their HTC UI will take a major turn at the newest M10 showcase.
SachinEE
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SachinEE,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2015 | 10:31:33 PM
Re: top 5
@Mak63: HTC reported a sales hike after they introduced the M9. Handsets like A9 are also helping to move around HTC in a forward direction. HTCs UI is just plain boring. Yes a scrolling down menu isn't all that popular, but Google has popularized it with their Google Launchers. But HTCs look unpalatable because of their UI design and representation.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2015 | 11:58:55 PM
Re: top 5
I'm sure that changes month to month though and the other vendors will be launching competing flagship phones.

Well, we have to wait for MWC 2016 for that. I love those shows.

And about HTC, I read that it will present the M10 there. Let's see if the company can regain some ground with it.
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2015 | 8:29:13 PM
Re: top 5
This - it was really the HTC UI that killed it for me. Although some of their hardware looked very nice!
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