Best Android smartphones flagships x 2

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!

Don’t miss:

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.

Best Android smartphones flagships x 1

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.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Best Android Phone of the Year

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.

Congratulations to Paulo J. from Portugal who won in our Readers’ Choice Vote & Win giveaway. Enjoy your Nexus 6P, Paulo!

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.

Nexus 6p Best of Android-Readers Choice 2015

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.

readers choice android

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.

Now read:

Samsung Galaxy S7 rumor roundup: release date, price, specs, features

March 22, 2016

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?

  • AMD718

    Thanks for putting in the effort to conduct a methodical review of these phones. Highly informative and coupled with the community poll, paints a clear picture of the two best.

  • i_say_uuhhh

    A really well thought out assessment of 2015’s top phones. I liked every article, now that I think of it, I wonder if google can start using Samsung s processors which seem a TON more efficient than the 810.

    • Gabriel Bonfim

      “Samsung s processors which seem a TON more efficient than the 810.” Damn true bro.

    • Dusan

      Except that Exynos SoC is not popular among people who root/make roms.

      • Armaan Modi

        Yes!Samsung +CM13/MIUI= Pure Awesomeness.

      • A tech god

        So not true

      • MatthewPDX

        Only AOSP ROMs. There are plenty of custom ROM makers that are making TouchWiz ROMs.

    • Airyl

      810 is incredibly shitty.

  • Degus Jacoby Pradana

    Dont forget, Note 5 also King of sales in Android world, deal with it!

    • Armaan Modi

      Sammy is awesome!!

    • Airyl

      Do you seriously feel the need to be superior that badly?

      • Degus Jacoby Pradana

        I must tell the truth bro

  • I knew from the begging that the Note5 would win.

    • T.J.

      2nd place*

      • I think you need helmet mate. Look up.

      • Degus Jacoby Pradana

        Nexus 6p is second place , read again

    • Airyl

      I’m not sure if you actually mean begging or beginning.

  • Gabriel Bonfim

    I bought a Note 5 this week ^^

    • Luka Mlinar

      Lol, so did I :D

  • Dusan

    I bought S6 Edge Plus. I analyzed Note 5 and kinda leaned towards it as I owned Note 3 before, which was and still is the best phone I owned, but decided to get something new/fresh.
    Let’s hope for Note Edge in 2016 :)

  • 1213 1213

    The note 5 and nexus 6p are both great phones. But I see the note as just better by quite a margin..

  • Paul

    I’ve had the note 5 for 2 weeks or so after being seriously pissed with not having an sd slot and more importantly a changeable battery. I had to import it to uk from ae as Samsung kindly didn’t allow us mere mortals in the UK to receive a factory UK model. Cheers! However I’ve loved every minute of ownership. It’s faster smoother and better looking than the note 4. Also slightly less wide making it easier to handle. I hope Samsung bring back the key features they removed. ‘only’ 64gb max doesn’t really allow for it to be a power user device.

    • D C

      Get an OTG USB drive, there are some that come in very small sizes now you won’t even notice it was there.

      • Degus Jacoby Pradana

        Yup i use it too, so easy and not lag at all

    • Gabriel Bonfim

      Are you going to use the smartphone or swap batteries?

  • moyagoub

    I’ll never compromise in SD card and removable battery.. Thanks LG

    • MatthewPDX

      What if LG gets rid of both?

      • Degus Jacoby Pradana

        They will, with next G5

        • MatthewPDX

          That wouldn’t surprise me.

  • Roxy

    Interesting article – NOT!
    Comparing phones on a level playing field would be the criteria for a fair unbiased result. The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium has only been out since the end of November and is not readily available in the biggest market, the USA.
    The Note 5 was launched in August and the Nexus 6P launched in September and both are being sold in the USA.
    Let’s look at some of the advantages of the Xperia Z5 Premium:
    IP68 – water & dustproof
    2160×3840 pixel display
    Memory upgradeable to 200Gb via microSD
    23 megapixel camera
    Quick charge capability
    Stereo speakers with high res audio
    (the latter 2 items are also on the Nexus 6P)
    As I own several cellphones and have owned several more (Note 5 & Nexus 6P included) my advice would be to go to a cellphone dealer and compare for yourself! If you are intending to keep the cellphone for a while (2 year contract?) make sure the device can grow with you. There’s nothing worse than having to start deleting apps/data because you have run out of memory space.
    I currently have a HTC One M8, M9 and M9+, Sony Xperia Z5 Premium and Oppo Find 7.
    My favourite has to be the Z5 Premium with its fine resolution display the renders it’s colours in an almost true representation of what the eye sees

    • Degus Jacoby Pradana

      First, z5 was your fav not all have the same taste,
      Second, u act like sony sales who try so hard sell the phone, cuz u know sony only have 5% marketshare in the world
      Third, no one give a fck with your opinion dude, u explain your argument w biased opinion

    • Airyl

      But it’s so goddamned expensive.

    • Man no one cares about the Z5. Its boring and dull. Don’t be a butt hurt fan boy

    • Tina E

      I have had an xperia z2 phone, xperia z2 tablet, xperia z3 tablet, and bought the z4 tablet while my z3 was being repaired under warranty for self cracking screen.
      My only complaints with Sony are that they are hard to get in the USA and their screens seem fragile. Other than that, I love them. Oh yeah, and since their tablets have calling capabilities I’ve had to activate my LTE tab as a phone which costs a bit more.

  • Dennis Lui

    I was going for the v10 for my new phone, well never mind now.

    • You don’t want an LG phone. TV, yes.

    • Tina E

      Because it came in 3rd or 4th? So you only want what people tell you is the best? Go with what works for YOU not everyone else. If music is important, if storage is important, if swappable batteries are important, Note 5 and Nexus 6P don’t compare.
      I have the LGV10 and I like it. It’s pretty tough too. Carrying with no case, had a couple drops and no damage.

  • bichar

    Great series!!!!!! I loved it. And it is pretty much true the 6P has a cult following hahaha. But the Note 5 always either places second or first in every single one of them. Both are great phones nonetheless but thank you for actually having a winner. And being unbias. Truly hope you dont change these series!

    P.S. please next time just remove the s6 edge+ as it is pretty much a Note 5 w/o the S Pen and it is pretty much same device its just Note 5 has the Pen and the S6 Edge got the curves… I think that kind of added to the split between Note 5 and S6 Edge+ as it would have won… but nonetheless excellent poll.

  • Daniel

    All hail the Nexus 6P! The PEOPLE have spoken!

  • Jeroen Derks

    All these reviews, then come with what is the best phone ARE ALL FAKE, CRAP, ETC.

    I see very often people vote like a Samsung device as best etc, sure they do perfect when they are brand new, or not 1 month old, but what about durability tests etc. Samsung is the worst phone brand regarding durability etc. I like to use a phone without issues for 2 years (as that is my contract from my provider).

    I had a Samsung S3, start crashing, hanging, not function proper after 1 year old. My wife had a Samsung Note2 back then. The same thing happened to her Samsung Note2, hanging every 5min, crashing, battery life over the time didn’t last for 5 hours.
    I decided to switch brand after my experience, my wife was stubborn, she bought another Samsung (Note3).
    Again but now only within 6months she started lag, battery life draining fast, crashing / hanging at least once a day.
    She moved on over to Iphone. I use Sony phones now. I can easily use my Sony phones 2 years, had a Z1 for 2 years, and now Z3 for 1 year and 3 months, no issues at all.
    My colleague has a Samsung Note4, and he needs to charge his phone every 5 hours, yeah Samsung sure deserves to be called BEST PHONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (NOT)

    I want a phone that is durable, and reliable. So I find these BEST android phone tests always CRAP.

    How can you vote a certain brand as best phone 2015, yet the life span of the phone is 1 year only.

    PS: My provider even told me, that Samsung’s are known not to be reliable. This is a marketing trick of Samsung, so people tend to buy a new phone every year…..

  • CJ

    Can’t stop blushing while reading this. Proud Note5 owner here :)