Tried and tested: The top smartphones of 2015

17 Dec 2015

Should we just start calling smartphones simply ‘phones’ is a question that has been asked in this office, demonstrating just how ubiqitous the tiny computers have become.

Around 70pc of Ireland’s population now owns a smartphone and a new smartphone would have been top of many people’s Christmas lists, so we thought smartphone reviews might be something people would be interested in reading.

This year, as almost every year, the most high-profile release came, of course, from Apple, with the release of the iPhone 6s.

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 the previous model.

Battery life and camera performance were also markedly improved, while new 3D touch capability was also a hit, with all these factors leading to the iPhone 6s being crowned our pick for best smartphone of the year.

However, not everyone is a fan of Apple, or its (generally higher) prices, and so we decided we would do a round-up of the other smartphones we got to try out this year, to let you know what you’re in for in the varied world of Android.

Sony Xperia Z5 Compact

The ‘James Bond phone’ (it was the secret agent’s phone of choice in latest movie Spectre) was a bit of a hit with our all-knowing editor John, who praised its compact size, discreet fingerprint sensor and powerful (23Mp) camera.

Huawei P8

Chinese manufacturer Huawei’s efforts to make inroads into the high-end Android smartphone market drew tempered praise from our reviewer. Its big screen, light weight and responsiveness got the thumbs up, but questions were asked as to whether it really stands out in a crowded market.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

First unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in March, the Samsung Galaxy S6 range splashed into the marketplace as a purported rival to the iPhone. Samsung’s smartphone business has been suffering some woes, but, when it comes to product, the Edge was described as “pretty flawless” by our reviewer, with its elegant design and powerful camera coming in for praise. However, its hefty, iPhone-esque price tag was questioned.

OnePlus One

The OnePlus One was released in 2014, but due to OnePlus’ truly odd invite-only system, the phone only became freely available to buy here in the middle of this year. The OnePlus 2 has now been released, and is invite-free just five months after its launch, though we haven’t had a chance to get our hands on it to review it just yet. Our trusted OnePlus reviewer Colm praised the OnePlus One for its amazing value for money, though he reckoned the design was a bit clunky. With the OnePlus 2 more or less just a slicked-up version of its predecessor, it looks like either could be a good shout for the more money-conscious consumer who still fancies a smartphone with high-end level performance.

HTC One M9

The HTC One M9 was a big hit in this office, with it described as “classy, distinctive and powerful”; the BMW to the iPhone’s Mercedes-Benz. Its beautiful design and excellent craftsmanship had it being declared as being close to perfect – were it not for its rather steep price.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+

The latest smartphone to find its way across our desks is the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+, a slick piece of hardware at a seriously high price point that drew praise from our reviewer Gordon for its slick look and decent battery, but despite those positives he still found himself unable to heap unqualified praise on the phone.


Brigid O Gorman is a former sub-editor of Silicon Republic.