Hottest Smartphones of 2015: Our Top 5 Picks - InformationWeek

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Mobile // Mobile Devices
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12/23/2015
11:05 AM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
Commentary
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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
12/27/2015 | 8:27:51 PM
Re: top 5
I wanted to like the HTC and the Motorolla when i did my upgrade. I actually went to a physical VZW store (gasp) and held each one. Right now nothing held a candle to the Samsung (or iphone is you like them). I'm sure that changes month to month though and the other vendors will be launching competing flagship phones.
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2015 | 8:25:56 PM
Re: Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
It is a gorgeous phone for sure. They made such subtle differences to the form factor but it's usability went up 200% from the Note 2. It's so weird. And there is no way I can go with a smaller screen now!
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2015 | 8:24:42 PM
Re: Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
I got both of my kids iPhone 6Ss for Christmas. They are beautiful phones and have a great form factor. Still wouldn't trade it for the Galaxy Note 5 thought. Not. In. A. Million. Years.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2015 | 12:52:46 PM
Re: Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
@Progman: Using the Note 5 was a treat. I have really liked and owned the Note 4. But the Note 5 was simply an awesome experience. It's so beautiful and neatly packed to make the core features more usable. The best part? Continuous screenshots !!
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2015 | 12:50:51 PM
Re: top 5
HTC needs to bump up its game. The HTC UI feels so one dimensional and boring. No wonder they are not in any top 5 list.
yalanand
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yalanand,
User Rank: Ninja
12/26/2015 | 12:49:04 PM
Re: Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
@Joshua: You should probably try out the Note 5 and see why Samsung is so popular. That phone is extremely usable. It makes life easier by just having the S Pen.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2015 | 11:50:56 PM
top 5
Aren't you guys tired of hear Apple vs Samsung all the time? I'm glad to see some new names in the competition, like Huawei and Motorola for a change. What happens to HTC though, not in the top 5?
JoshauCouture
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JoshauCouture,
User Rank: Strategist
12/24/2015 | 7:25:00 AM
Re: Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
I would also go for Apple 6 series as they are always front runner in smart phone industry. Every other company always try to copy from Apple while claiming to be unique. Furthermore Apple product's body and design is also better than its rivals.
Susan Fourtané
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Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Author
12/24/2015 | 6:31:07 AM
Re: Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
progman, 

I would say the iPhone 6 Plus or iPhone 6 have a more beautiful screen. :) 

-Susan
progman2000
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progman2000,
User Rank: Ninja
12/23/2015 | 1:48:36 PM
Samsung Fan here, went with the Note 5 this year though...
Had the Galaxy 6S in my hand, and it just looked too small compared the the Note II I was used to.  Love the Note 5 though - hard to imagine there is a more beautiful screen on the market.
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