We don’t think about it, but we Android fans are very lucky. Every end of the year, we get to look back and say “wow, what a year is has been!”
In 2015, the vibrant Android ecosystem reached new heights. Phone makers launched amazing flagships with stylish designs and impressive features. Budget buyers were spoiled with quality devices at low prices. It’s never been easier – and cheaper – to stay on the edge of technology, opening possibilities with a profound impact on our lives and society.
With so many good Android smartphones – each of them special in their own way – coming out in 2015, it’s pretty hard to single out the best phone of the year. That’s why we launched two initiatives designed to surface the best Android phones of 2015, as seen by the AA team and by you, our dear readers. These are Best of Android and Smartphone of the Year: Readers’ Choice. And here’s the wrap-up!
Best of Android 2015
With Best of Android, we started from the devices that we felt are the most representative for the high-end Android landscape. We picked the phones that stand out from the crowd through their design, quality, and user experience. That doesn’t mean that only the six phones we included are worthy of your attention, not by a longshot. However, because we wanted to test in-depth the best phones of the moment, we had to limit ourselves to these flagships: LG V10, Moto X Force, BlackBerry Priv, Galaxy Note 5, Nexus 6P, and the Xperia Z5 Premium.
We went up close with these phones, throughout a suite of tests and comparisons. We looked at specific metrics like display brightness and battery charging times. We also weighed in on more subjective topics, like photography and software.
We don’t claim that the comparisons were perfect: it’s been a learning experience, and you can bet that next year’s Best of Android will incorporate the lessons we got from this year’s feedback.
We do hope that we provided a valuable comparison for all Android fans out there. And, in 2016, the technical knowhow we acquired from these hands-on tests will help us create better reviews, comparisons, and up-close looks at all Android devices.
And the winner is…
Without further ado, here are the winners from each test:
- Display: After analyzing the brightness, color accuracy, and white balance of our contenders, as well as assessing the overall image quality, we crowned the BlackBerry Priv as the winner, followed by the Note 5, and the LG V10. Read the full comparison.
- Audio: We employed a combination of measurements and listening tests to find the clearest, most accurate, and most pleasant audio experience. At the end of the day, the LG V10, with its 32-bit DAC, took home the title, followed by the Note 5 and the Xperia Z5 Premium. Read the full comparison.
- Performance: We put our flagships through a series of benchmark tests and hands-on tests where we tried to simulate real life usage scenarios. The Galaxy Note 5 won by a margin, followed by the Z5 Premium and the Nexus 6P, which were very close. The Snapdragon 808-powered devices were a little slower. Read the full comparison.
- Battery: Great performance and dense displays are great, but they’re nothing if your phone dies when you need it the most. In our battery tests, we looked at which phone has the longest battery life in standby mode and with heavy usage. The Note 5 came on top again, followed by the Moto X Force and the BlackBerry Priv. Read the full comparison.
- Camera: Increasingly, users demand cameras that can handle even difficult lighting conditions, so we paid close attention to this section. We put the devices through a shootout and then the entire team voted their preferred devices for each comparison. The Nexus 6P got the first place, followed closely by the Galaxy Note 5 and the LG V10. Read the full comparison.
- User experience: This was probably the hardest comparison to do, simply because you can’t quantify things like the usefulness of software features or the impression left by a design element. We ran through the main hardware and software features and we voted on which device is the best. With the disclaimer that this ranking is admittedly subjective, the AA team preferred the Nexus 6P, followed by the Note 5, and the Moto X Force. Read the full comparison.
Tallying up the votes across comparisons, the Galaxy Note 5 comes across as the undisputed leader. Samsung’s device ranked consistently among the best; it captured the first place in two comparisons and the second place (and not far behind the leader) in the others. Across precise measurements and subjective tests, the Note 5 showed it’s still the king of the Android world.
Following up, the Nexus 6P confirmed that this year’s Nexus generation is truly the best one yet. Google finally made a device without glaring flaws, and more impressively, one with a great camera, a first for the family.
LG’s V10 gained the third place, helped by the audio performance and a generally decent showing across comparisons.
So there you have it: our Best of Android flagship of 2015 is the Note 5. What about your favorite?
Best smartphone: Readers’ Choice
We wanted to give you a say in the selection of the smartphone of the year, and a chance to win the device that takes home the laurels.
The 2015 Readers’ Choice poll was open for almost ten days, and in this time, we tallied over 12,000 votes. We kept the voting results anonymous, so votes aren’t influenced by the current ranking of each device.
Drawing the line, it’s clear what Android Authority readers consider the best Android smartphone out there, and that’s Google’s own Nexus 6P.
The 6P gathered almost 30% of the votes, and almost double the votes of the second place, the Galaxy Note 5. Samsung won another place on the podium with the Galaxy S6/Edge, confirming its standing as the top Android manufacturer. The LG V10 came in a respectable fourth place, in another decent, if not amazing performance.
Here are the full results.
There you have it. The results of our in-depth testing and the popular vote show that the two top smartphones of the year are the Galaxy Note 5 and the Nexus 6P. Without doubt, these phones have set a very high standard for the entire ecosystem, and, particularly if you prefer large phones, you can’t go wrong with either of them. The V10 also made a strong showing, as did the Moto X Force (Turbo 2). The Xperia Z5 Premium did not score a top position in our testing, but it’s clearly a fan favorite.
And with that, we thank you for reading through Best of Android and invite you to join us in 2016 for more in-depth analyses of the Android world. What do you think about the winners?