The best smartphone of 2015

30 Nov 2015

A bunch of smartphones, via Luke Maxwell

Another year, another few dozen smartphones released into the wild. But what stands out as the best of the bunch?

Smartphone manufacturers have created an industry that needs annual refreshing, which is a chore for the consumer and a cash cow for the makers. Thus, every year the likes of Apple, Samsung, Sony, HTC and Huawei tend to bring out at least one new device.

The improvements on these vary from marginal to major and, when it comes to 2015, the latter seems to be true.

iPhone 6s

Smartphone of the year: Apple iPhone 6s

Yet again, Apple tops our list of smartphones for the year, with the iPhone 6s earning the crown its s-less predecessor wore with such aplomb.

There are a bunch of things that populate consumers’ top criteria when getting a smartphone. Battery, apps, camera, memory and screen size would be the primary concerns for the majority of buyers.

The 6 range has taken the iPhone up a serious notch, even for non-iOS users like myself, with the first item on that list, battery life, improved markedly. It was true of the 6, and now it is true of the 6s, too.

The iPhone 6s set a new standard in the smartphone world upon its release last September, with the ability to shoot 4K videos and the inclusion of an A9 chip that doubles the processing power of last year’s model.

Key technology advances include the new 3D Touch capability that enables new gestures Peek and Pop to dip in and out of content, switch between pages, peek inside apps and automatically take selfies. Oh, and if cameras are your thing, its 12Mp iSight camera is a 50pc improvement on last year.

The 6s’ screen size is 4.7in, which is still a little smaller than many Android models but, if you rather carrying around something a little more needlessly gigantic, the 6s Plus is 5.5in.

More to life than Apple

Of course, Apple didn’t have it all its own way, despite what fanboys tell you. There were a bunch of other devices well worth a mention.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Egde

First up, we have to doff our hats to Samsung’s premium level Galaxy S6 Edge, bringing in a design that is quite comfortably the best of the bunch. Samsung also brought out the Note 5 at the same time. If you’re an Android user, these might be more for you.

The new OnePlus 2 came out in the second half of the year and, but for yet another round of production delays, it too seems a good bet, with Sony’s Xperia Z5 only just hitting stores in the last few weeks.

If it’s camera quality that drives your smartphone purchasing choices, by the way, Sony is the hands-down winner. Always known for excellent battery life, the new Xperia Z series boast a 23Mp camera, with impressive processing power behind it.

There are actually three devices in the range, the Z5, the Z5 Compact and the Z5 Premium and, having messed around with them a bit I see no reason to jump for the Premium if price is something that concerns you. The Compact is a bit chunky looking, so the Z5 is the one to go for.

Despite this, Sony’s mobile division doesn’t seem to be doing too well, which is surprising when you think of the advertising power behind the brand, and the reputation the company as a whole has for cameras.

Lastly, we have to mention the HTC One M9, something we took a particular fancy to it in the office.

iPhone 6s and Galaxy S6 Edge via Leszek Kobusinski/Nebojsa Markovic/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic