2015 was a great year for Android.

Think back to the end of last year – Samsung’s Galaxy S5 left much to be desired, BlackBerry was still making BlackBerry OS phones, and Motorola’s 2014 Moto X, despite its horrendous camera, was one of the best Android handsets on the market. Now flash forward to today and let’s take a look at what’s available. The Samsung Galaxy S and Note lines, while making some controversial sacrifices, really made some huge steps in the design department. Also, BlackBerry created one of the best Android handsets available on the market, and Motorola’s Moto X Pure Edition (aka Style) proved itself to be the perfect marriage of premium and affordability.

Many of the OEMs that were struggling to find the right footing last year made tons of progress in 2015. So what happens next? Today we’re going to take a look at what we’d like to see from each major smartphone manufacturer in the year to come.

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2015 in review: 10 defining moments in the world of Android

December 31, 2015

samsung galaxy note 5 review second batch aa (2 of 15)

Now that you’ve made some progress, don’t start slowing down. 

Samsung, at least when it comes to the extremely popular Galaxy S line, would win the award for “most improved OEM of 2015” if we could give that out. Past Galaxy S devices from the company struggled to find a common ground. A combination of bloated software, semi-rugged hardware and a user interface that looked like a child designed it ultimately resulted in a year of poor sales, which contributed to the company making a drastic change.

Enter: Galaxy S6.

Samsung really came into their own this year with the Galaxy S6. Not only does it boast some killer specs, it’s one of the best looking Android devices – dare I say it – of all time. It’s fast, sleek, and nowadays pretty inexpensive, which is exactly what the company needed to bring its fans – an Android handset with no some compromises that users could actually afford.

Those compromises came in the form of Samsung axing the removable battery and expandable storage via MicroSD, which, up until this year, were two features that were a staple in Samsung’s smartphone philosophy. What I don’t want to do is get into the pros and cons of each of these features. We all know which side each of us have chosen, so there’s no use in getting into an argument here. But I think Samsung fans have made one thing clear. These two features are important to many consumers out there, and maybe the company should think about bringing them back.


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

March 22, 2016

In the case of the removable battery, I’m thinking that Samsung bringing it back with the Galaxy S7 is a long shot. We’ve heard from numerous reports that the S7 will see barely any design changes, and that means we probably won’t see the removable battery return. With that said, I don’t think anyone would be upset if Samsung made the S7 a tad thicker than the S6 if that meant they could include a bigger battery. The S6 measured a mere 6.8mm in thickness, so it might be worth it for the company to add a little thickness.

The Galaxy S7 might launch with expandable storage, which will make many fans happy

When it comes to MicroSD card expansion, though, we might have some good news! According to a few reports, the Galaxy S7 could launch with expandable storage. There’s really no technical reason why Samsung couldn’t do this, and with as much feedback as they’ve gotten from fans, it wouldn’t be surprising if the company didn’t cave on at least one of these features. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 will in fact bring back the MicroSD card slot, while the Galaxy S7 Edge will not.

Aside from those few caveats, the Galaxy S6 was a really nice phone. It made a ton of improvements over the Galaxy S5. One of those major improvements was in the camera space. The S6 still has one of the best cameras on a smartphone out there, and that makes me really excited for the future. This is one thing to watch out for in 2016, particularly when it comes to Samsung. Smartphone cameras (especially on Android) have gotten really good, and we probably won’t see that slow down anytime soon. With that said, now is not the time to drag your feet on the camera front. Keep making progress in this space and you’ll develop a more diehard fanbase in no time.

You got the hardware right this year, now it's time to focus on software.

Another area where the company needs to make some big improvements is in software. At least with the S4 and S5, it seems like Samsung never took into account the phrase “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” I’m not talking about aesthetics (which, in my opinion, still need some work), I’m talking about the sheer number of features and extra Samsung apps that I don’t imagine many people use. The Galaxy S and Note lines, even though they’ve been dialed back this year, are still pretty bloated on the software side of things, so it might be in their best interest to dial things back even more. Samsung got the hardware right this year, now it’s time to focus on software.

Last piece of advice: Samsung, please fix the issue with the S Pen. I don’t care who’s fault it is or how foolish someone would have to be to put a pen in backwards… nobody should be able to ruin their $700 smartphone this easily.


htc one a9 first impressions aa (10 of 45)

Try innovating on your own next time. 

I don’t think it’s too farfetched to say that the HTC One M7 was one of the most beautiful Android handsets of all time. An all-metal build, super loud front-facing BoomSound speakers and an enjoyable software experience really set this phone out apart from the pack. At the time, back in 2013, the M7 was in a sea of plasticky, cheap feeling smartphones that didn’t really differentiate themselves from one another on the aesthetic front. Other OEMs took a liking to this design philosophy and decided to hop on board. This resulted in an onslaught of metal-clad smartphones being released in 2014, and in 2015 alike.

2014 rolled around and HTC mostly decided to stick to the same design. Front-facing speakers and an all-metal build were found on the One M8, only in a slightly rounder and more slippery package. All in all, this was a well received device. While not bringing a ton of new design elements to the table, this was a perfect example of the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” actually working in the company’s favor.


HTC One M9 Review

March 23, 2015

Then in 2015, HTC launched the One M8 One M9. With a design that was a little too similar to the One M8’s (HTC even confused the two in an advertisement), many fans of the One series pointed out that the Taiwanese company was maybe beginning to lose its touch on the design front. Don’t get us wrong, the M9 is a beautiful phone, but it’s just not what the consumers wanted in the end. This similar design coupled with a horrible camera and a lower resolution display than what could be found on other flagships resulted in profit woes for the company.

HTC needed a saving grace, so it launched an iPhone running Android

With overall profits declining drastically and employee layoffs aplenty, HTC needed to do something, so it launched an iPhone running Android. In what HTC claims was their design from the start, HTC went back to its “innovative design” roots and created the HTC One A9. With slightly lesser specs than what was available on the One M9, and a design that literally copied the iPhone 6/6S, the A9 didn’t set out to be different. It was created to win back some of the company’s dwindling profits. “Aren’t happy with iOS but love the design of your phone? Try the One A9.” This is essentially why the A9 exists, and that’s disappointing. It’s disappointing because for years, HTC was the OEM you could look to if you needed an attractive, innovative smartphone. Now that’s changed.

HTC copied a little too much in 2015

What HTC seemingly doesn’t get is that everybody loved the One M7 because it was different and refreshing. And I don’t think I’m too far off when I say that the One M9 and One A9 are neither different nor refreshing. They’re boring, they’re iterative, and they just don’t bring a whole lot to the table you can’t get elsewhere. That’s all this is about, right? OEMs are trying to make smartphones with features you can’t find elsewhere, and HTC unfortunately did too much copying in 2015 to stay relevant in the high-end smartphone space.

With all that said, where does that leave us? In terms of the future, HTC needs to start innovating again. Don’t make another phone that looks identical to another phone on the market. This happened twice in 2015, and it shouldn’t happen again. The M10 (or whatever turns out to be the M9’s successor) needs to look different. It needs to be innovative. For some reason the company thought they completely mastered good smartphone design, and just stopped trying. I’m sure hoping this changes in 2016.


Moto X Pure Edition Unboxing-14

Keep up the good work, but don’t bite off more than you can chew.

Though it may not be the most profitable company in the world, Motorola has been doing some really interesting things in the smartphone space throughout the past few years. It all started with the original Moto X from 2013, which proved that a smartphone can still be considered high-end even if it doesn’t have the best specs on the market. That mindset bled over to the 2014 Moto X as well, which turned out to be one of the better smartphones of the year, despite its atrocious camera and relatively high price point at launch.

The Moto X Pure Edition is cheap and high-end, which is exactly what consumers wanted

Then Motorola did something sort of unexpected. With the launch of the Moto X Style (aka Moto X Pure Edition), the company announced that consumers would only be able to purchase the phone unlocked from a handful of different retailers. Sure, only selling phones off-contract is par for the course with Chinese OEMs that don’t have much of a presence in the United States (ahem, Lenovo), but it was pretty much unheard of for a major U.S. manufacturer to go this route. And to make things even better, the Moto X Pure Edition is cheap, starting at just $399.99 for the base model. For a brand new, unlocked smartphone directly from the manufacturer, this was a killer price, and still is to this day.

Aside from the Moto X line, Motorola’s Moto G and E lines have seen some big improvements as well. The third-generation Moto G came to market with 16GB of storage, 4G LTE capabilities and 2 gigabytes of RAM, which actually put it in the same ring as some of the higher-priced devices out there. Oh, and Motorola also brought Moto Maker support to the Moto G line, which was a big selling point for the device. Prior to that, the second-generation Moto E launched with a few punches of its own as well. 4G LTE was the norm for all Moto E units, and the budget device also excelled in the battery life department.

2015 showed us the downside of having so many great devices

Of course it’s not all good. Not long ago most of the major OEMs announced which of their devices would receive Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the latest version of Google’s OS. Among the pretty long list of eligible devices, a few notable ones were missing from Motorola – namely all U.S. carrier versions of the Moto X (2014) and all versions of the Moto E (1st and 2nd Gen). The company later updated the list to include the second-generation Moto E in Latin America, Canada, Europe and Asia, but still no sign of any U.S. Moto E variants. This is likely due to carrier trouble in the U.S., but this is still a big deal.

For the past two years, Motorola has made it a point to release timely software updates. In fact, the company even pushed out Android 5.0 Lollipop to the Moto X and G before Google brought it to Nexus devices. That might have been an extremely buggy version of Lollipop, but this still shows the company’s commitment to fast software updates.

So what happened? Well, Motorola is now owned by Lenovo, and it’s entirely possible that their priorities have changed. And part of the reason they’re having trouble updating their phones might have something to do with the fact that Motorola released more versions of the Moto X line than we’ve seen in the past. The Moto X Play, Style, Pure Edition, Force, Droid Turbo 2 and Droid Maxx 2 were all released this year, and many of those phones are the exact same, just rebranded a bit differently for different regions. Motorola seems to be having trouble updating their devices, and I’m really hoping that stops in 2016. The company needs to slim their product line down in 2016 so they can focus on what users really care about. It’s okay to have a few devices that hit all the important pricing tiers, but not if they need to stretch themselves thin to do so. They’re losing sight of what made people love their products again, and I hope that doesn’t stay the case for 2016.


LG V10 Vs LG G4 Quick Look-12

A more cohesive software experience will make your customers happy. 

I don’t think I’m too far off when I say that the LG G4 and V10 were two of the best Android handsets produced this year. In some ways, these smartphones surpassed the flagship offerings from Samsung, Motorola and HTC, and I think that deserves some credit. Starting off with the G4, the company’s first flagship of 2015, there’s certainly a lot to like. It might not be as pretty as the Galaxy S6 or the One M9, or as customizable as the Moto X Pure Edition, but LG got a lot right with the G4. It has a really nice Quad HD display that seems to be the perfect size for most people, a powerful Snapdragon 808 processor with which we personally haven’t had many problems, one of the best (if not the best) smartphone cameras on the market, and it has it’s own design language that sets it apart from the pack. Oh, and it employs two very notable features that Samsung’s latest flagships decided to forgo this year – a removable battery and expandable storage.

There's one main thing LG needs to work on for 2016, and that's software

Everything I just said about the G4 is also true for the LG V10. Plus, the V10 comes with dual front-facing cameras, a frame that’s composed of SAE grade 316L stainless steel, a 32-bit Hi-Fi DAC electronic processor, a fingerprint sensor embedded in the rear-facing home button, and it’s the first smartphone on the market to employ Manual Video Mode. Sounds pretty great, right?

So is there much wrong with LG’s 2015 flagships? For the most part, not really. LG listens to its customers, and that’s very telling when it comes to some of the features the company packs into these devices. There is one main thing LG needs to work on for 2016, though, and that’s software.

More specifically, user interface. LG has struggled to find its footing in the software space since before the LG G2 era. This was somewhat excusable back then, as many companies were having trouble finding out how to make their software cohesive, powerful and attractive. Since then, HTC, Motorola and yes, even Samsung have made some huge improvements in this area, and LG is still playing catch up. The stock user interface on the G4 and V10 is bloated, to say the very least. The icons look too big, blocky and mismatched, almost like they’ve all been compiled from different icon packs. Of course, this is all subjective, but I don’t think I’m alone when I say LG’s software could use some work. 

We should expect more from LG on the user interface front

This all got slightly better with the G4 and V10, I’ll give them that. But from a manufacturer that can produce such nice hardware, I think we should expect more out of them on the user interface front. LG makes some of the best smartphones available on the market, and now it’s time for the company to load software on those devices that doesn’t look bad.


sony xperia z5 & z5 compact & Z5 premium aa 5

Try something different this year. 

Sony may not be the first manufacturer you think of when talking about smartphone OEMs, but that doesn’t mean the Japanese tech company produces bad products in the slightest. Its flagship lineup for 2015 offered up some great hardware and software, but there’s still a ton of work to be done.

Starting off with the best of the best, Sony’s Xperia Z5 Premium has one of the most high-end processors and cameras on the market, and (sometimes) the best display. It’s the world’s first smartphone with a 4K display, sporting an impressive pixel density of 806ppi. Even though the display doesn’t show 4K content at all times, this is still quite a feat for mobile device engineering. On top of the killer display, the Z5 Premium comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 gigabytes of RAM, microSD expansion, a big 3430mAh battery and a really good 23MP rear camera.

And if you aren’t looking to spend upwards of $650 on the Premium, Sony has a few other offerings for you. The Xperia Z5 proper is a smaller, lesser-spec’d version of the Premium. It has a 5.2-inch display, and comes with most of the same specs as the Z5 Premium, only with a slightly smaller battery. And if you’re looking for an even smaller/cheaper option, the Z5 Compact offers a similar experience with lesser specs and an even smaller price point. The Compact comes with the same processor, camera and internals as the higher end offerings, but with, again, a smaller battery and a lower resolution display. The moral of the story is – no matter which of these offerings you choose, you’ll probably end up being pretty happy.

So, if Sony can produce smartphones as nice as the Z5 line, then what’s the problem? Shouldn’t that be enough?

Too much of the same is never a good thing

Looking back a few years, it was clear Sony achieved “the winning formula” back when the Xperia Z1 first launched. That phone was great – it came with a premium build, top-of-the-line specs and some killer software features for its time. However, it seems as though Sony took the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality way too far. The Xperia Z1 paved the way for similar looking smartphones from the company, and that’s not a good thing.

If Sony’s flagship lineup from the past two years was placed in front of one of us today, odds are, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between most of them. Sure, you’d probably be able to distinguish the older models from the newer ones, but that’s about it. Sony has not made any notable changes to the design of its flagship products for the past two years, and that’s a problem. From the glass front and back panels, metal edges, button layouts and more, virtually every smartphone in the Xperia Z line is borderline indistinguishable from the others.

Consumers want to see change, and Sony is not giving it to them

Consumers want to see change. Remember the HTC One M9? It was very similar to the One M8. People didn’t buy the One M9 because HTC didn’t give customers a reason to buy it. We’re seeing the same thing here. Small, minute changes every six months or so with new iterations of the same exact product isn’t going to bring back the die hard Sony fans. It’s innovation that will bring them back, and we haven’t seen much of that over the past two years.

There are a few exceptions, however. Sony is the first smartphone maker to bring 4K to a mobile device. This is a really big selling point for the Xperia line and might actually bring some customers back to the company. For 2016, Sony needs to stick with 4K. This is the biggest innovation the company has let out the door in the past few years, and they can’t let this one go. Keep improving, keep bringing people in with this technology.


oneplus x first look aa (27 of 47)

You’ve hit your stride, now don’t mess it up.

OnePlus has come a long way since it first became a company back in 2013. At the start, it was most widely known for holding sexist and wasteful contests that would give some “lucky” consumers the chance to purchase a OnePlus One, the company’s first smartphone. Since then the company has done a few things to redeem itself, and thankfully has ceased putting on offensive contests.

Looking past OnePlus’ horrible marketing strategy, things are much different nowadays. The company has now launched three smartphones, two of which are really good options in today’s market. For starters, the OnePlus 2 is the successor to the company’s One. It sports a big 5.5-inch Full HD display, a powerful Snapdragon 810 processor, 3 to 4GB of RAM, a fingerprint reader and a pretty sizable 3300mAh battery. While it doesn’t come without its caveats (more on those later), it’s still a great bargain at just $329.

Then back in October, OnePlus announced a new smartphone that was taking aim at the budget-friendly market. It’s called the OnePlus X, and it’s just glorious. It comes with a 5.0-inch Full HD AMOLED display, a Snapdragon 801 processor, 3GB of RAM, microSD expansion, a great 13MP rear camera, and a metal/glass build that makes it seem like a much more expensive device than it actually is. The OnePlus X can be purchased starting at just $249.99, which is just crazy. It’s one of the best budget devices you can buy right now, and that’s even considering the Moto G (2015) and the ASUS ZenFone 2.

2015 was a year of growth for OnePlus, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. Considering the company has only been around for two years, there’s still a lot for them to learn. It started out making headlines for the wrong reasons, and that’s changed tremendously. OnePlus is small, new and tough, and that’s pretty apparent so far. But it’s almost like the company is so one-sided and big-headed that it makes it seem like there’s no room for improvement. There is, though. Trust me.

One of the biggest caveats that comes with buying a OnePlus device is that you might have some trouble actually buying one. At least with newer products, the company puts in place an invite system, in which interested folks can sign up to wait in line for the opportunity to buy a new device. And it makes sense why this is in place. OnePlus can’t produce as many smartphones as their customers want, so instead of having a constant “Out of stock” sign on their website, they control how many units leave the warehouse with the invite system. It’s easy to understand why this is in place, but ultimately, it’s a terrible experience for the user. Please, OnePlus, in 2016, try to get rid of the invite system for good. You’re doing a great job with slowly opening up sales for the OnePlus 2 and the OnePlus X every Tuesday, but axing the invite system for good is definitely something to work towards.

Stop making headlines for the wrong reasons

Also, we need to talk about bad press. The company may have put the kibosh on offensive contests, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Take, for instance, the launch of the OnePlus 2. Don’t get me wrong, the OP2 is a really nice phone, but it’s pretty clear that this was the most overhyped piece of technology that launched this year. The “2016 flagship killer” is what OnePlus called it, and to be honest, it really struggled to be a 2015 flagship killer. There is such thing as overhyping a product, and OnePlus did just that with the OP2.

The OnePlus 2, in 2015, was an Android phone that launched without a few notable features that really stuck out like a sore thumb. It came to market without NFC, which means new mobile payment services like Android Pay would never be available on the smartphone. OnePlus claims that OnePlus One owners “never used NFC”, so it was pointless to put it on the OP2. This isn’t the way the company should be going about deciding which features do and do not make it onto a smartphone, though. I never use the flash on my smartphone’s camera, so would you take that out too? Probably not, because this is a staple to a smartphone camera, no matter how often users actually take advantage of the feature. The same goes for NFC – it’s extremely cheap to put NFC on a smartphone, so just do it next time. Mobile payments are the future, and you’re crippling yourself by not including the proper hardware on your device.

OnePlus needs to stop overhyping its products

All of the features OnePlus left out of the 2 (wireless charging, quick charging, removable battery, expandable storage) would be entirely excusable if the smartphone wasn’t so overhyped. Looking past the completely false “2016 flagship killer” nickname, OnePlus slowly unveiled the OnePlus 2 (and One, for that matter) over the course of a few months, releasing a new specification about every week or so. This was great press for the OnePlus One – which, when it actually launched, exceeded the expectations of many – but the same can’t be said for the 2. I’m not saying the 2 was a bad phone, but it was completely overhyped, and that’s how you let your fans down. Think of OnePlus like Apple – the Cupertino-based company drills it into our minds that they’re the best, and that every product released by them is damn near perfect. But when there are blatant design and user experience flaws in their products, it’s important to hold the company to the same standard in which they keep telling us to. The same can be said for OnePlus. Don’t overhype your products and admit fault when necessary, or users will come down harder on you than ever before.

If OnePlus would just stop focusing on making headlines, they might one day be considered a top smartphone OEM rather than the talented, yet troublesome teenager that just needs some direction.


nexus 6p review 2 aa (2 of 30)

Now is your time to make a move!

This was a really great year for Huawei. The Chinese smartphone OEM has come a long way over the past two years or so, and we saw most of the company’s progress take place this past year. With that said, there’s still a lot of work that has to be done.

The Mate S proved that Huawei is capable of producing a great Android handset

Huawei released a handful of smartphones this year – the Mate S, Honor 7, P8, P8 Lite and SnapTo – all of which have very compelling features. The latest handset (or, at least the latest that’s been released to global consumers) to come from the company is the Mate S, which boasts some great specifications, a premium build and a pair of cameras that aren’t too shabby. The Mate S proved that Huawei is capable of producing a great Android handset, at least on the hardware front. The problem is, the company’s software, called Emotion UI (EMUI), still has some catching up to do. It’s not bad, per se, but at this time, it’s just not at the same level as the company’s hardware.

And that brings us to the Nexus 6P. This year, Google decided to go with two Nexus devices – one made by LG, the other, Huawei. The higher-end Nexus 6P is pretty widely regarded as the best Nexus device of all time, and it’s certainly one of the best Android smartphones available on the market. So what makes this phone so special? A couple of things. For starters, this is the first Nexus handset produced by a Chinese manufacturer. It’s also the first Nexus to be produced by a company with a small presence in the United States. Taking the wonderful build quality of the Mate S into account for a moment, it’s no wonder why, in combination with Google’s stock Android, the Nexus 6P is proving to be the best Android device around.

So why isn’t the Mate S as compelling as the 6P? One thing stands out, and that’s software. EMUI isn’t bad, it just needs a little reworking. A few of the features seem a tad half-baked, and nothing really looks like it belongs together. Aside from just UI woes, though, Huawei has never really been all that great at pushing out timely software updates. This is an area in which more and more manufacturers are putting focus, and it’s time for Huawei to do the same.

This is a really important time for Huawei. Now that they’ve successfully created their first Nexus device, more folks around the world (and especially in the U.S.) are taking notice. We’ve already heard a few reports stating that the company plans to bring the Mate 8 and a few other devices to the U.S., so it’s important that the company does everything with caution. As long as the cost of their smartphones stay low and they get better at software updates, I really think Huawei could make a lot of progress in 2016.


blackberry priv review aa (1 of 32)

Keep making Android phones. Keep improving on those Android phones. 

Before BlackBerry released the Priv, it was clear that the company’s only real mobile presence was geared towards the workplace. The company has really done mobile security right in the past, and that’s why it’s perfect for enterprise customers. Security is one of the only benefits to choosing a BlackBerry OS device over an Android or iOS device, though, which is why the company decided to do something different – something that we really didn’t expect them to do.

BlackBerry launched its first Android-powered handset in 2015. The Priv, which stands for privilege and privacy, proved to be much more than a standard Android handset. For starters, it was the first Android flagship smartphone in years to sport a physical keyboard. It also boasted a mostly stock version of Android, a really nice camera, and an all around premium build.

2015 was the year BlackBerry reinvented itself in the mobile space

For the most part, BlackBerry made a killer Android smartphone on its first try. In fact, it was one of the best smartphones released in 2015. The fact that the company can release a solid Android offering without ever having made one before shows us that there’s still tons of potential for the former top dog of the smartphone world. With that said, there are still some things that need improving. In our full review, we told you that the Priv missed the mark on a few things that would have made it the best Android smartphone of 2015. For instance, the powerful Snapdragon 808 processor was bogged down by the lack of software polish, and BlackBerry’s own applications needed to be updated to better suit the consumers’ needs. In addition, battery life proved to be only slightly above average, the camera was missing a few notable features and there was no fast charging on board. Aside from these caveats, there’s only one thing that stands in the way of more customers buying the Priv, and that’s pricing.

The Priv is just too expensive

Over the past year or two, we’ve seen more and more smartphone manufacturers diminish the price of their smartphones, making it easier for consumers to buy unlocked (without a contract). Google with the latest Nexus devices, Motorola with the latest Moto X line and many others are now selling their smartphones directly to consumers, which means there’s no carrier intervention. This is a very good thing, but it seems as though BlackBerry isn’t following suit quite yet. If you want to purchase a BlackBerry Priv unlocked, you can do so for a hefty $699.99. To be honest, this is way too much money for what the smartphone offers its users.

Overall, the Priv seems like an unfinished smartphone. That’s fine, but then it needs to be sold at a lower price point. It’s BlackBerry’s first time making an Android phone, though, so I’ll give them a pass. But next year, I think I can speak for everyone when I say that I’d like to see a sub-$500 flagship in 2016.

I don’t want BlackBerry to stop making Android phones. They’re really good at it. But in order to sell more units, they need to polish the software experience and lower the price point.

So, what are your thoughts? Is there anything you’d like to see from these manufacturers in 2016? Let us know your opinions in the comment section below!


Best Android phones (December 2015)

3 weeks ago
Jimmy Westenberg
Lover of all things Android, Star Wars, dogs, coffee, and music.
  • Jeff Martinez

    I’ll be happy to see Micro SD card expansion back in the S7, but for the sake of build quality and design, leave the battery built in Sammy.

    • tanjiajun34

      I am okay with having it or not but please don’t drop 128gb internal storage.

      Internal storage is just getting more and more significant. Applications getting bigger and bigger especially since ART runtime takes up more space.

      • Autobot1

        yet and the same time they charge you $900 for a 128gb Galaxy S6 and $1100 for a GS6 Edge..nope…leave it at 32gb+Sd card..alot cheaper…Also Android 6.0 lets you combine SD card with internal.

    • My idea for them

      While I think removable battery is important because I want to change my battery into EXTENDED battery,
      I’m willing to buy S7 or Note 6 if they have BIG battery (bigger than 5000mAH).
      So, I hope samsung will make (at least) 2 version of each of their flagship.
      The normal S7 with 2500mAH & the fat S7 with 5000mAH
      The normal Note6 with 6000mAH & the fat Note6 with 6000mAH

      • My idea for them

        …. correction

        While I think removable battery is important because I want to change my battery into EXTENDED battery,
        I’m willing to buy S7 or Note 6 with non-removeable battery if they have BIG battery (bigger than 5000mAH).
        So, I hope samsung will make (at least) 2 version of each of their flagship.
        The normal S7 with NON-REMOVEABLE 2500mAH & the fat S7 with NON-REMOVEABLE 5000mAH
        The normal Note6 with NON-REMOVEABLE 6000mAH & the fat Note6 with NON-REMOVEABLE 6000mAH

        • Avieshek Rajkhowa

          You can edit comments

  • Lim Ming Quan

    Best article I’ve seen on AA to date. OEMs really should use this as a guide.

  • rock1m1

    I thought this year was disappointing thanks to manufactures relying solely on Qualcomm to produce the soc, and they didn’t deliver it one bit. I really hope mediatek, Samsung exynos and Google’s first soc venture happens next year.

    • trwb

      I agree, Qualcomm made some garbage processors this year. I went back to a 805 phone myself.

    • Autobot1

      The 808 was a good SOC

      • Garrett Lee Reyman

        “Good” being key. The GPU was weaker than the 805 which was a 2014 soc.

        • Autobot1

          Slightly only but 808 is 64 bit vs 805 32 bit…big difference….

          Also 808 is 20nm vs 805 28nm…alot better overall SOC..

        • Karly Johnston

          The GPU is faster if using the newer version of OpenGL, which is most everyone that is updating their apps.

          • pjtpjt

            Prove it.

  • D13H4RD2L1V3

    A lot of great things happened in 2015, but a lot of bad things also happened.

    That said, 2016 is here, and I’m excited for the next wave of devices.

    Here’s my message to all OEMs: Give it your best shot. Listen to our voices and make the best thing you can come up with this year. Impress all of us.

  • trwb

    Get the LG G4 if you want a ton of dropped frames, lag and throttling, coupled with inconsistent battery life.

    • D13H4RD2L1V3

      Mine doesn’t lag and hasn’t dropped frames.

      Battery life is another story, however. It’s not bad, but it’s average.

      It’s running Marshmallow, however, so that might be a contributing factor.

      • trwb

        I think the main problem with my G4 is the different software releases we get from Verizon each month. Most of them were bad. Got one decent release. Touchscreen issues were fixed for me but dropped frames and some pretty bad throttling were pretty consistent for me. I factory reset, cleared cache, etc. Nothing helped. Hopefully it’s fixed in the future but having an 808 in it doesn’t help either imo. My Moto Nexus 6 and Nexus 7 both run more smoothly than my G4. Maybe it’s just he Verizon version of the G4.

        • cd1p

          One of the biggest benefits of an iPhone, no carrier crap-ware and monitoring junk. That’s why all of my Android phones are unlocked. I have the G4 H815 on Cricket and it is easily the best phone I have used in the past two years. The camera, oh that camera!
          Also, a lot of people don’t like the UI design on the phone and I think the only issue LG has is that they use circle icons everywhere except the square application icons. I modified them on my home screen to circle icons and the UI looks much more uniform.
          Overall, In the last two years I have used 6 or 7 phones (including an iPhone) and this is the best phone by a long shot.

          • trwb

            Maybe the unlocked version does run better and its just software issues with Verizon G4. I wouldn’t recommend the Verizon version of the phone to anyone though.

          • Keygrant25


          • Autobot1

            I had the G4 H815 for one month and it started to lag on me..I sold it and got the Moto X 2015..been 3 month and it doesn’t skip a beat. LG put to much crap on their G4. The LG skin is also horrible.

    • Diego

      Get the galaxy note 5 if you want extreme samsung lag and blote.

      • trwb

        That’s why I switched to a moto Nexus 6 instead

      • Tom-Helge Andersen

        I have the Galaxy S6 edge+ which is almost indentical to the Galaxy Note 5 except for the S Pen and it’s extra features.

        My Galaxy S6 edge+ is buttery smooth and 3 days ago, i had a ‘screen on time’ (SOT) of a little over 6 hours. Basicly, it has an awesome battery life. The only issue (that is known) the phone have is the memory management under multitasking. But that’s more of an Android 5.x.x issue as other brands have the some of the same issue aswell. Other than that, theGalaxy S6 edge+ is pretty much perfect.

        So what you are saying is nothing more than flat out lie.

        EDIT: But yeah, some of the apps that comes with the Galaxy Note 5 or Galaxy S6 edge+ isn’t really needed. But you can disable most of them though.

        • Diego

          Well, in my experience with the note5, I had a bad experience.
          Phone slowed down when I had tasks running in the background, the phone used 3gb of ram, and don’t get me started with the battery life.
          Just terrible.
          I ended up returning the phone.
          TL;DR, I’m never buying sammy again.

          • Tom-Helge Andersen

            Your experience is most likely because of poor apps running in the background that eats up the battery and not because the battery or the performance on the phone is bad.

            Because my phone that is like I said, is almost identical to the Note 5. My phone is buttery smooth and it have an awesome battery life.

            And in fact, my phone never gets slow because apps are using up most of my RAM, it just reloads the apps sometimes under multitasking instead of slowing the phone down. Ofc, that is not the best way of handling apps, but it’s luckily not as bad on the Note 5 and Galaxy S6 edge+ as it is on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 edge with 3 GB of RAM.

          • Diego

            Thats funny.
            I keep the same tasks running on my v10.
            Better battery life and performance.

          • Tom-Helge Andersen

            Even more funny is that i most likely have a much better batterylife on my Galaxy S6 edge+ over what you are getting with your LG V10.

            I would like to see an LG V10 getting around 6 hours and 20 minutes of screen on time (SOT).

            I personally have never seen an LG V10 with near that much of screen on time.

            However, i use both Greenify and i also use the inbuildt app optimization feature (that are under Battery settings) that are in TouchWiz that Samsung made. It’s working the same way as Doze does for Android 6.0.

            If you could have used at least the inbuildt ‘app optimization’ feature or even both of those things, you would improve your battery drasticaly on your Note 5.

    • Keygrant25

      Pick a good carieer next time

      • trwb

        You have a point, but they have the best coverage and I only pay $45 for vzw 2gb prepay.

        • Keygrant25

          Try att they are ok but i just wish companies did not throttled

  • DBS

    I don’t want Sony to change designs. Their design isn’t broken.
    HOWEVER I want them to just actually put a bloody good camera on their flagships. The Z5 camera sucks compared with the competition from Samsung and specially LG. It’s not admissible that Sony, who created the sensors to those cameras, can’t offer one as good if not better on their phones.
    I want to see them embracing other basic stuff like Qi charging, IR blasters etc. Qi is a pretty basic thing you’d think a waterproof smartphone would have. And an IR blaster would just make sense of you consider Sony’s other divisions (TVs, audio etc).

    I’m just afraid though that, for me, Sony won’t fix anything in time. With Nokia’s impending return this year the time frame Sony has to win me back is very very small.

  • David Dickerson

    The only way Samsung will ever get my business again is they must return to removable batteries and Micro SD cards. Otherwise they have lost me….. I will have to find another source that understands what I require in a phone / phablet

    • My idea for them

      While I agree with you on both count.
      If Samsung put Micro SD card on Note 6
      and have an optional Note 6 model w/ (at least) 6000 mAH battery, eventhough this battery is NON-removeable,
      I will buy it.

      • David Dickerson

        See that still doesn’t work for me because I’m a power user that streams Netflix on my phone and I also keep my phone much longer than some people because I have to pay full price in order to keep my unlimited data plan…. Over time most batteries degrade eventually making the phone useless to me. I’m staying with my Note 3 till I see a viable option worth buying.

  • My idea for them

    To all manufacture:
    1. Bigger battery, at least BIG battery as an option…
    … i.e. Galaxy S6 w/ 2500mAH battery & Galaxy S6#fat w/ 5000 mAH.
    2. Multiple flagship size like Sony did with Z5 compact, Z5, Z5 Premium…
    … because some want small phone, some want medium phone, some want big phone.

    To Samsung:
    * With Android M supporting adoptable storage, please put SD-card back, and please don’t do half-baked-solution such as must choose between SD-card & SIM 2
    * If you don’t want do multiple battery size for your phone like I suggest above, please offer removable battery.

    To Sony:
    * Perhaps try to redesign the Z series to be waterproff with removeable battery. Or perhaps, offer BIGGER BATTERY version of your Z series.
    … i.e. Z6 mini, Z6 compact, Z6, Z6 plus, Z6 ultra… w/normal battery
    ……… & Z6mini+, Z6 compact+, Z6+, Z6 plus+, Z6 ultra+…. w/ double or triple the battery.

    To HTC:
    Try see what others did. Your phone always missing some specs & priced non-competitive compared to major premium brand…. (The price is too high compared to samsung/sony/LG, but the high price doesn’t offer extra value)

    To OnePlus:
    Cut the theatrical drama, and create a real flagship device that people dream of…

    To LG:
    Spec wise & price wise your product is competitive. Perhaps you should offer something more spectacular that other don’t have. How about dual Micro-SD-card. There’s a company called saygus, with their dead product V2 that promise a dual micro-SD card but failed to deliver. Perhaps you should copy this idea because with Android M supporting adoptable storage this would be cool. One ext-SDcard for adoptable storage, the other one for swapping files. and… bigger battery please, or made 2 version….

    To Blackberry:
    Be honest, don’t sell fancy dream. No one care about “my device is more secure”. Secure don’t make money. That’s why your product undesirable in the first place. That’s why Good Technology were in trouble (and you buy it cheaply).

    • I agree mostly, HTC needs to improve on the camera sensor and image processing though. Other than that, I agree with this and what AndroidAuthority wrote.

    • Noel

      HTC definitely need a boost in the size of battery they put in their marquee devices. Yes the X9 looks lovely from the back but HTC needs to beautify the face of the device or future top devices with slimmer bezels with a screen to body ratio of 75+% even with front speakers

      Will love to see LG make a smaller 5.5″ QHD screen V10. I don’t care for the second screen but a bigger 4000+mAh battery will be welcomed and a slimmer designed front firing speakers will be nice. As always a higher 75+% screen to body ratio will be welcomed. Oh hope LG can implement their Amoled screens already cuz i really love the screen on the Note 4 just wish it was a 5.5″ screen device.

  • Densmac

    How comes Sony is the manufacturer of best camera sensor (even used by Samsung), yet still make garbage camera?

    • pjtpjt

      Also how about the official bootloader unlocking from the Sony homepage this time would not destroy the camera.

    • Stoffsprenger

      Because of the better software.
      But the Z5 Premium has cought up in the meanwhile. It’s a really good camera with a good auto mode

    • Keygrant25

      Budget cuts

    • MaxPower

      To make good pictures optics are more important than software and sensors.
      Sony,Samsung and Omnivision make equally good sensors.

      The difference between phones is on the camera module used.

      There are companies like Samsung or Xiaomi that use both Samsung and Sony sensors at random on their phones (due to the scarcity of Sony sensors) and the quality of the picture is comparable.

      This also explains why two different phones with the same sensor make pictures with different quality.

  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    #Adopt AMOLED screens

    • Jehan Kateli

      Definitely agree on that. AMOLED should be the standard.

  • ConCal

    I just wish all phone makers would stop putting those awful skins on top android.

    • bklm1234

      LG’s skin is excellent, lots of conveniences without slowing down the phone, at least not noticeable. I actually can’t stand not being able to tap and hold on any quick toggle and be brought to the corresponding settings. Double tap to turn on and off the screen, keyboard clipboard, configurable soft buttons, etc

      • ConCal

        You can tap and hold on the quick setting in Stock Android to get to the setting. The rest if the things you mentioned are just features that can be done without giving android a whole new skin.

        • Filly Jnr

          The features are killer, they should keep those, and add new ones,
          However no skin, and maybe one or two apps that are needed, and only if theya re needed, Ala Motorola with some more features

      • FlipJumpman

        The features are nice but looks awful.

    • STZ .

      I agree. I have a Nexus 6P and a OnePlus X. Honestly the small little things that OnePlus adds to stock android is just right. It looks almost the same. I actually prefer to use the OPX sometimes just for the tap to wake. This feature needs to come back to stock android. If my nexus 6P had tap to wake and the notification slider(why don’t all android phones have this?) of the OPX, it would be a perfect phone!

    • 29

      Or at least try t make them look good

    • FlipJumpman

      Keep it like Oneplus and Motorola do!

    • Noel

      Or at least give users the option to revert to pure Android or make it dual boot.

    • thereasoner

      Those “awful skins” do much more than provide variety, they add a bevy of useful features many of which eventually find their way onto stock Android. Perhaps even more important than that, they allow for a collective in the Android development effort and that’s a good thing imo. The last thing an Android user wants is everyone making ONLY Nexus devices and leaving Android development just to Google alone.

      Produce more GPE versions of varous flagship phones to satisfy the skin haters who only want stock Android, otherwise not only should we leave the skins and the Android development that goes with them alone, we should encourage these efforts!

      • Autobot1

        Nope they don’t. It’s all gimmicks to me. All those “features” you call get boring after a week or 2 or use.

        • thereasoner

          You need to read read the “15 touchwiz features” article on PhoneArena, Google gets many of its core functions for stock Android from other OEM skins and/or the Mod community.

          I’m not talking about the junk Samsung puts on its phones like Samsung apps that only duplicate standard Android features or Samsungs app store etc. I’m talking about the actual useful stuff that eventually becomes a part of future stock Android versions.

          • Autobot1

            Give me a link….

          • thereasoner

            You can’t Google “15 touchwiz features…. ?

          • pjtpjt

            1. Multi window: I used it once or twice. You can switch it on on Marshmallow, but I just turned that off.
            2. One handed mode: It can be useful. But Apple’s solution to drop the top part down is even better. Yet in the pas almost year nad half that I switched from TW to cm to AOSP, I only would have needed it a couple of times. Handy, but not crucial.
            3. Call minimizing: Don’t care
            4. App drawer sorting: That’s launcher territory, don’t care
            5. App hiding: Also launcher territory, Trebuchet does it, don’t care
            6. Instantly accessible quick toggles tray: Matter of taste, can come handy
            7. Customizable quick toggles: Marshmallow has it
            8. Close all recent apps: Stock Android’s still missing it, but all AOSP ROMs have it, because it’s only one word change: false to true. :D
            9. Calculator history: Couldn’t care less. Some might need it.
            10. File manager: I really don’t like Samsung’s file manager, to me it’s in the con column.
            11. Easily accessible volume sliders: Already in stock
            12. Power saving modes: Also coming to stock Android
            13. Power button menu: Yeah, funny how it’s still missing. The first thing every custom roms starts with
            14. Swipe to call/text: This was what I actually used, and it’s also easy to implement, so I don’t know what Google didn’t.
            15. Text selection [S-Pen]: 99% of the phones don’t have a pen, and half of them are Samsung phones. So not really a general option.

          • thereasoner

            Why does your particular need or like supposed to matter? Do you actually believe that these aren’t useful to others like me or are you so delusional that you think Android is being developed strictly for you?

            As for any you do like or have used or in particular , ones you wonder why Google /Android doesn’t have it already or ones you need launchers for. There have been lots of features people wanted on stock Android over the years, the fact that someone came up with those ideas first and implemented them before Google could makes my point that skins, mods etc add to the development of Android and that’s a good thing!

          • pjtpjt

            You love Touchwiz. I get it. Well, good for you! It’s a nice hobby, doesn’t harm anyone, and it’s legal. But when you ask if my particular need matters or not, the same applies to you: Why does your particular need or like supposed to matter? Do you actually believe that these are useful to others like me or are you so delusional that you think Touchwiz is being developed strictly for you? Because much more people think that what you propose as improvements upon stock Android are in fact plain and simple gimmicks that make phones slow and laggy.

            “There have been lots of features people wanted on stock Android over the years, the fact that someone came up with those ideas first and implemented them before Google makes my point that skins add to the development of Android.”
            Is cyanogenmod a skin? Because it added a lot of new features to stock Android, and a couple of features did get implemented by Google as well.

          • thereasoner

            Nope, no particular love for Touchwiz, in fact I never buy from the same manufacturer twice in a row, I simply like trying new stuff and getting new experiences. So Samsung won’t even be my next choice considering I rock a GS6 now.

            I’m not proposing any one of these features for stock Android, I simply made the point that SOME of those features found on skins first eventually make their way onto Android over the years .

            My particular needs have nothing to do with my position, it’s about a want in my case that covers no particular feature. I just want the collective of minds, resources and companies currently involved in the development of Android to continue, what’s so wrong with that?

            You are jumping to invalid conclusions about what I’m proposing. I’m on record as saying that it would be great if OEM’s made more Nexus like GPE versions of their popular phones for skin haters, I just want the collective effort in Androids development to continue because it good for Android users.

            Honestly, the only people I can think of that want every Android OEM to make ONLY stock Android phones are Google hating ifans who recognize the developmental advantage Google has with all their Android OEM partners chipping in. Those guys obviously would like to see Google go it alone and Android users go without the features OEM’s come up with first hence their over the top rants over modified Android. Otherwise why not just argue for more stock Android GPE devices and leave skins alone for those who want them?

          • pjtpjt

            “Nope, no particular love for Touchwiz”

            Well, after you insisted twice for everybody to check those 15 TW features, you can’t blame me for “misunderstanding” your stance on TW.

            Also, I think you are confusing added features with skins. Skins are made to look different, and they don’t automatically mean new features. cyanogenmod ads a plethora of new functions to stock (a bit too much IMHO), but still looks like stock, and if you want it to look different, there’s the theming engine. You can even have TW lookalike themes.

            While Samsung added a lot of good new functions to stock Android, IMHO it feels like the focus was on for it to look different, and the gimmicks like air gestures, the camera watching you eye, and your favourite, the multiwindow which is still incompatible with apps, like Kindle which can’t be in a window, or YouTube which still stops sound if it looses focus.
            I was using TW roms since my S II (then S3, then Note 3), and I was never complaining about lags, never really cared. But in retrospect there were no real TW functions I’d swap for the speed of a clean stock Android. (And what I have now, it’s not that stock either, I made my own additions to AOSP, I’ve developed from scratch.)

            Anyway, if phone manufacturers concentrated on new features instead of making “awful skins”, i.e. concentrated on making their roms look different in the first place, have a lot of useless gimmicks in the second place, and adding useful functions only in n-th place, then they would really contribute to the development of Android.

          • thereasoner

            I didn’t mean to confuse, I just meant to show some of the things that either have already showed up in Marshmallow or could possibly show up in later versions of stock Android. Personally, while I think TouchWiz is much improved over the version I tried back in 2013, I think that there’s plenty more improvements to be made still.

            I understand that most all features added don’t require the look of Android to be changed but OEMs are naturally going to want to differentiate the look of their devices. Users can always can alway choose to change the look themselves anyway and I’ve always, in my experience, found the lag arguments over blown. There was more of it in my old GS3 than I have in my GS6 but it really wasn’t that bad to begin with. They could do better jobs like HTC did with the Sense version I had on my HTC ONE M7 , that phone was excellent and I did notice that it was smoother than the GS3 I had before it but again, it was not that big a deal really imo.

            The eye tracking tech was awful but as someone who works with their hands I appreciate the ability to wave my mucked up paws over my device to answer a call. Obviously and probably especially in Samsungs case, not all these features work well or are even welcome additions if they do (gimmicks) to some, I’m just glad that there are as many minds as possible taking a stab at trying new features for Android. As you pointed out, some things are incompatible at first, same goes for Googles Now on Tap feature and Apples 3D touch but these things improve over time and to me it’s more important that new features are being introduced. In other words better clunky at first than to have no new features at all imo.

            Personally I don’t care what manufacturers do to the look of Android, my device never looks the same for more than 2-3 weeks at a time anyway because I’m always tinkering with it. The options with the theme store are endless and I like the fact that if its just the icon pack you like about a particular theme, you can still choose your own wallpaper. That said, I understand those who want to see gimmicks gone but I also understand that one persons gimmick is a neat feature for someone eles, even if it doesn’t work perfectly at first. I like Samsungs current approach in TouchWiz because it caters to both by allowing the user to delete or disable and hide things they don’t want much better than before .

            I don’t think we will ever see All OEMs use the stock Android look as a starting point, it’s just too important to differentiate from other brands, in particular brands that don’t do well or are not well known. I like what Motorola is doing by going near stock with a stock like look but I understand why they all won’t do that. For competitive purposes alone manufacturers will always want more than just the hardware to set themselves apart. So for that reason I suggest that skin haters are best served by complaining about the lack of GPE versions of phones rather than skinned phones, that argument will only fall on deaf ears. Also , buy in large numbers the GPE phones that are available or the Nexus devices themselves, that would surely get the OEMs attention and provoke change. So would significant sales increases to Motorola and their near stock take on Android, until then skin haters options will be limited unfortunately.

          • pjtpjt

            “until then skin haters options will be limited unfortunately.”

            LOL :D I don’t deny that there are some fanatics, who really hate skins, but most people, including me, couldn’t care less what Android looks. I liked how Froyo looked, I like how my Note 3 looked, I like how my stock Nexus 6 looked, but i like my new personal built rom the most. :D
            IMHO what people don’t like about skins is what they represent, and not what they actually are.

      • ConCal

        What features are added that require a skin? You can add any number of feature without having to water down the design.
        I think most consumers do want a consistent unified design. By far the biggest reason why phone makers keep “skinning” is to differentiate their brand/product from other android phones. This is little benefit to.the consumer, just props up the brand.
        And I don’t understand your point about it helping android development? I can only see it increasing “fragmentation.”

        • thereasoner

          If everyone wanted the same looking UI the things like wallpapers, various launchers and, in the case of Samsung, theme stores wouldn’t be so popular. It’s quite the opposite for Android users actually, they like to personalize their devices as do manufacturers for obvious competitive reasons.

          You’re right about many of the features though, some don’t have to be tied to a skin but until Google adopts those features for Android that are hardware related, things like fingerprint sensors and quick launch cameras, or things that work better embedded into the OS via a skin like multi screen or one handed use software tweaks then OEM’s will include them in the skins they use for these reasons as well to differentiate from each other.

        • nasznjoka

          man go back to galaxy s3 and look in the features TUI brought and look at mashmallow and see it for your self. This vanilla thing is for the minority, the majority needs some personalization of their phones. quit with this childish claim man!

          • ConCal

            I don’t why you would call me childish. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what happens to the android’s UI. But if you get this bent out of shape over it, you need to probably take a step back from these blogs.

      • Sergei Garcia

        Nobody dislikes manufacturers adding more features to stock android. What people despise are performance affecting skins. I wouldn’t have sold my Note 4 had it not been because touchwiz was using 2gb of ram of it’s 3gb of ram on idle. They should Follow motorola’s approach of adding features without affecting the stock android implementation.

        • thereasoner

          It’s just never going to happen, manufacturers will differentiate because they need to. It’s one thing if stock or near stock Android device were the biggest sellers, then we would see more OEM’s doing stock or near stock devices. Until then you will not see OEM’s making their devices to look like less popular brands, it just won’t happen.

          Particularly in Samsungs case it’s even more unlikely that they follow Motorola and not just because Samsung doesn’t want to be associated with a less popular company but also because of Tizen and Samsungs apparent desire to one day use this OS to break free from Android /Google. The Nexus devices are doing really well this year and Motorola is making some of the best devices now. If their increasing sales catch other OEM’s attention as they will if they are big enough, then you will see more OEM’s go the route of Motorola but not Samsung.

          Unless Samsungs sales get so bad that they lose their #1 OEM status we will not see them stay as far away as possible from stock Android. They are improving TouchWiz however and to the point that it is very good on my blazing fast GS6. I did have some minor issues on my old GS3 that were really highlighted when I switched to the super smooth and very lean skinned HTC ONE M7 and the GS3 did carry even more bloat than my GS6 believe it or not. That said, it’s much easier to get rid of bloat on this version of TW with the ability to delete/disable and hide things made much easier. It’s not perfect, in my case I found the need to delete 4-5 apps and disable another 9, for others maybe more is done or less depending on wants and needs.

          As for your case with the Note 4, I can’t speak for that device in particular as I’ve never had use for a phablet sized device, much less one with a stylus. It sounds like you are leaving a bunch of background processes running. Even after clearing the recently used apps tray about half the RAM will remain in active use but not as much as you’re saying unless something else is running besides Android services etc in the background. I’m not sure if the Note 4 has it but the newest version of TouchWiz has a handy Smart Manager app to deal with, among other things, those pesky apps that continue to drain resources even after they have been closed off and removed from recent apps. It even informs you of the worst resource/RAM hogging apps still running in the background while you’re not aware. My banking app is horrible for this, they really do need to up date their app and fix that and I would presume that some of the apps you run are doing the same.

          BTW, many do complain about features added, one person’s gimmick is another person cool new feature and they often blame feature overload on performance issues as well.

    • RTM_Beta

      Do you guys think Jimmy is qualified to speak for us?
      Nah, I doubt it too.

      Let’s see:
      Some random ramblings by some dude that is blogging his mind aloud with some random toughts, but that’s pretty much it.

      Where is the beef?
      This article needs to be rewritten by Andrew next time.

      I want my 5 minutes back Jimmy. :(

  • Avieshek Rajkhowa

    #Bring an interface thats simple and uses dark interface with ‘true-black’ colour.

  • Toukale

    The single biggest problem for each and every android oem’s is they are building their houses on someone else’s land. We have the pc industry as to what happens when that’s the case. No need to set ourselves for disappointments and unrealistic goals we know deep down they won’t be able to deliver for some reason.

    • Keygrant25

      Exactly i agree. No one wants to really pay a lot for a phone for things a pc can do. And pc are cheaper

  • chodaboy19

    It should be 2017.
    2016 models are already done and being manufactured.

  • Dano

    Software experience still leave alot to be desired for LG, Samsung and to a lesser extent HTC. (Sense just needs to go material design)

    Google’s apps like messenger are still off the pace. Textra outclasses Messenger all day.

  • Keygrant25

    To me phones are already fast and good whats the point of making more

    • Android Developer


      • Keygrant25

        In the future smartphones may became useless

        • Android Developer

          maybe. it will probably be replace with something else.
          but for now. money is why companies build more phones.

          • Keygrant25

            Smartwatches and ar glasses

          • Keygrant25

            It will get replace with ar by 2017

          • Android Developer

            i think it will be very hard for people to try out something that will replace smartphones, no matter what it is, and no matter which company will try to push it.

          • Keygrant25

            Well if you research it apple is secretly making ar glasses. And ar(augmented reality) is basicially a smart phone in glasses like smart glasses. And with an apple watch equipped, (which apple watch might be getting bigger screens), you have a new generation of smart technology. Bye bye too phones and tablets and hello ar and watches.

          • Android Developer

            maybe all will be together. I don’t know.

    • Tom-Helge Andersen

      But as long as they can get faster at everything, then the developement of the phones won’t stop.

      • Keygrant25

        If u think about it how faster does it really have to be. Wifi can help with that.

        • Garrett Lee Reyman

          I don’t know if you’ve quite grasped how this technology works.

      • Keygrant25

        Probably will when ar and vr hit

    • Marty

      Agreed. They should’ve stopped at the iPhone 1… ?

  • Stoffsprenger

    Every OEM should have one flagship device that’s running stock Android!


    No custom skin – less lag, less stutter, less bloat.
    Fast updates.
    Great user experience.
    Neat user interface.
    Costumers appreciate when they’re given more options.
    It’s less expensive for OEM’S (…)

  • I want a flagship Nexus that’s not bigger than 5-inch with particularly great display and cameras (both front and back). That’s all.

    • Marty

      You want too much… ?

      • Is that really too much? If it is, then I’m sad. I really like Android OS but I’m stuck with an iPhone now… :(

        • Marty

          Heh…joke. Sounds about right to me. ?

  • bklm1234

    My wishes are:
    Google: make Android as lag free as iOS. Android has come a long way. But iPhone 6s is faster than Nexus 6P and practically lag free. Come on you can do it. Also figure out how all Android phones can upgrade without the mercy of the OEMs. Apple will eventually kill you if you don’t fix the upgrade and fragmentation issues.
    Samsung: you should be the best Android OEM but you are not. Fix the software, RAM management, put back microsd.and removable battery. Don’t try to be an iPhone. If I want an iPhone, I buy an iPhone.
    LG: you are the darling of Android OEM, very under appreciated. You do Android skin right. A lot of bells and whistles without weighing down Android. Kudos. Also don’t try to be an iPhone. Keep microsd and removable battery. Don’t make the phones any bigger. My daily driver is G4. It’s the best phone I ever owned. I wish it’s faster, as fast as iPhone 6s, but not the end of the world. I’m 10 times more productive on it than on 6s already.

  • Oliver Heady

    My thoughts:

    Oneplus, the two was almost perfect, I would have bought is except that its missing NFC.

    Samsung and blackberry, try and stay more budget friendly while keeping the premium feel.

    LG, your software sucks so much and the flex two was the worst phone I have ever owned because of that.

    Motorola, make a new phone that uses the exact design of the 2014 moto x but with a fingerprint sensor, expandable storage, and dual front facing speakers.

    Huawei, the nexus 6p is perfect. Only improvement that could be made is chopping down the bezels a bit.

    Sony and HTC, start over and follow Huawei and Motorola’s example.

    • Android Developer

      About OPO, what about front facing speakers?

      • Josef

        I think it should either have front facing speakers with the fingerprint scanner on the back or have the flat slate look of the opo in the front and not have an indent where the scanner is

        • Android Developer

          say, speaking of OPO, is it related to OPPO company?

    • Autobot1

      I only wish Moto X 2015 was a 5.2″ phone with 1080p GS5 AMOLED and 3000mah battery…Would of been perfect..

    • Karly Johnston

      The two was laggier than an 810 ever should be.

  • Marco Lorenzo

    There are some really good points made here (although I only read up until LG). Personally, after really struggling with my Note Edge’s software which was the first Samsung phone I have owned, I won’t be going back to them. I know they’ve improved their software with the S6 and Note 5 line but the fact that they didn’t really bring the software of the Note Edge on par with their latest phones through their latest updates even though the Note Edge is only a year old is very disappointing. My girlfriend’s G4 is truly an amazing device though so I sincerely hope LG keeps it up this year. However, I’ve heard rumours that they’re planning on making the battery smaller. This would be unbelievably stupid IMO. I understand that the Snapdragon 820 is supposed to be more efficient but having a bigger battery is always a good thing. We don’t need the phones to be any thinner, certainly not at the expense of battery life.

    • Keygrant25

      Actually i want a thinner phone. Battery and proccessors are dangerous. If a phone fast that good but it needs to be affordable like 200 or lower. It is a device i need to make calls off of and check soical media and music. I need to fit in my hand comfotable. My phone actually overheated in my pants leaving scars on me.

      • Marco Lorenzo

        What phone did that to you? Anyway, larger phones don’t automatically mean overheating, certainly not from larger batteries. I don’t think you understand how phone hardware works.
        Also, you can’t expect to have the fastest phone and still expect to pay less than $200 for it. Good thing is that low-mid range phones are generally fast enough for average use nowadays.
        Phones are getting thinner with each passing year but for me, they already reached a thinness that’s already comfortable to use a couple of years ago.

        • Keygrant25

          My iphone 6s did burn me. And i can use my high speed wifi for a very fast phone so thats why i said phones should cost less. Probably in the near future there will be hotspots everywhere for free and fast processing of data.

          • Marco Lorenzo

            I’m sorry but what does your wifi speed have to do with the speed of your phone? If you’re talking about using the cloud to process information on the phone itself, we are still quite a way off from that happening. If you simply mean you don’t use the phone for anything other than internet related tasks like browsing and email, just get a cheaper phone then, they can all do that. There are plenty of sub $200 phones that will meet your needs.
            And your iPhone 6S burning you would be due to faulty hardware, not because the processor is too fast or the battery too big (it certainly isn’t on the iPhone 6S).

          • Keygrant25

            May i ask what do u so on your smartphone

          • Marco Lorenzo

            May I ask if you understood my point?

          • Keygrant25

            Yeah if cheap smartphones can do everday tasks whats the point in making faster smartphone. What do you do on your smartphone that you cannot do on a cheaper phone?

          • Marco Lorenzo

            First of all, although low-mid range phones have vastly improved these days, there are still moments of lag at times, especially whilst multi-tasking due to lower amounts of RAM. And that’s not even talking about some more intensive creative apps that require more of everything.
            But finally, the point is that phones NEED to get faster as more advanced apps come out or updates of existing apps are released. You can easily see this when you update an old iPhone to the latest supported iOS. Often the same tasks will be slower because newer features were added.
            You can still often do the same everyday tasks with cheaper phones but you might just have to wait a little longer for the device to respond or process information. If you can afford to upgrade and avoid this, why not? If you can’t afford it, the cheaper options are still highly usable.
            Finally, regardless of all the above points, there will always be faster phones for the same reason that there will always be a market for Ferraris, big houses, luxury watches etc. If people can afford it, they’ll want the best that money can buy.
            Why did you get an iPhone 6S if you didn’t want to pay more than $200 for a phone and only use it for simple tasks?

          • Keygrant25

            I got an iphone 6 because AT&T let me trade in my old iphone 5 for an iphone 6 for a dollar. And i had a lg g stylo too a cheap phone that cost 189 dollars. It was much like my iphone 6 and the iphone was a flagship phone. Picture quality was the same 12mp. It played every game in the play store but with my iphone 6 most games crash.(however i do not think phones are meant to do creative or work related task as that is what laptops are for).

          • Marco Lorenzo

            It was much like your iPhone 6 or 6S? I thought you said you had a 6S earlier. Either way, the G Stylo looks like a very capable phone but it’s not in the same league as the iPhone 6 or 6S. The screen resolution for example is only 720p. I’m not saying it needs to be QHD but 720p on a 5.7″ screen is a compromise no matter which way you look at it, not to mention, the panel used does not even come close to the iPhone 6S’s quality. As for the camera, the version under $200 has 8MP and the more expensive version comes with a 13MP camera. Either way, megapixels does not tell the whole story and just because it may even have more megapixels than the 12MP on the iPhone 6S, the differences should be obvious.
            As for running games, its Snapdragon 410 is a respectable day-to-day chip and it probably can run most games in the Play Store but I doubt you’d be able to run more intensive games like Riptide 2 or Fallout Shelter with anything other than low settings. Your iPhone 6S sounds like it has some serious issues if you’re reporting it burning your thigh to the point of leaving a scar and games crashing.
            As for you thinking phones are not meant to do creative or work really tasks, that’s your opinion and choice. Many people do use them and the more powerful phones are highly capable work horses.
            I really don’t see what more can be said about this. You think phones shouldn’t cost more than $200 simply because your needs don’t require it. But there is a market and uses for the higher end phones which offer distinct advantages.

          • Keygrant25


          • Andreas Larsson

            Take good pictures and play demanding games

        • Karly Johnston

          Exactley, the Mi4c is faster than most phones that cost 2-3X as much, and it has better battery life.

          • Marco Lorenzo

            If only I can get my hands on a Xiaomi! I was in China a few years ago and I tried for weeks to get a Mi3 with no luck. Eventually gave up. Hoping to get their MiPad 2 with Windows 10 though…fingers crossed!

          • Karly Johnston

            Just buy it from a reseller with an included one year warranty

    • mcdonsco

      If the note edge is your only experience with Samsung than you should give them another shot with a real flagship as that phone was a gimmicky proof of concept niche and really unsupported phone.

      • Marco Lorenzo

        But the Note 4 is not a niche concept or unsupported and it has the same software at this time as the Note Edge.

  • John Apel

    At this point the only major improvement I am looking for is in battery life. I have the S6 edge, and the phone is excellent except for the battery life. It is fast, looks great, and has a wonderful camera. Unfortunately, these things don’t matter if there’s no juice left to power the device. I would certainly appreciate faster software updates, better performance, and an even better camera, but to me battery life is the most important thing that OEMs need to fix.

    • I got the S6 active and right now I’m on 2 days and 12 hours from a charge. I regularly charge every other day so I hope for double battery life out of it. Fingers crossed.

  • AbbyZFresh

    Improve the damn Android update speed OEMs.

    • Marty


  • Make phones for humans.

    While this seems obvious, look at Sony’s slate phones? What form do they fit? None.
    What phones sell well- those that understand that a human has to hold them, use them, touch them, etc.
    What is Blackberry’s big claim- if they are now making Android phones? Sure there’s a bit of security, but it’s the keyboard. A HUI that is tactile.
    What made LG stand out? Moving the buttons to the back where they naturally fit a human hand when the phone is being used.

    Samsung, Motorola, and others, have “active” waterproof phones. Droid Turbo 2 is touted as Shatterproof. Samsung has been making underwater “active” phones for years. Sony too, but lately they took the underwater claim off their phones. A very thin, double sided, glass phone is not anything to have when you have to cover it all up with a case to protect your $700 investment. You end up with a thick phone, with a grippy case, that can withstand a drop, but has a tiny battery because the phone itself was made too thin. If the camera sticks out- the phone is too damm thin. Thicker phone, bigger battery, 2-3 days, and designed to withstand a drop or a splash, and then we don’t need a stupid, bulky, expensive, ugly, case around our cool phone.

    Hey Samsung- you made an active phone… the S6 Active. Great phone. I bought one. But why the hell is it so slippery, while the Note 4 is grippy? The active ought to have a grippy textured surface because THAT helps keep it from being dropped in the first place!

    And there’s an activity button that I have programmed to the two apps I use most. I can also double press the home button to get the camera. It’s tactile direct control of the phone.
    All I can say is MORE PLEASE!

    Voice control is one thing, but it doesn’t work well in a noisy car, the mall, etc. But on the old candybar phones, I could direct dial a contact by pressing and holding a button, and I could find #2 without even looking at the phone. So I could unlock the phone (two buttons), press and hold, and then be talking to my wife without ever having to take my eyes off the road.
    Touchscreens are great, when you can look at them, but enabling some direct phone control WITHOUT having to look at the phone is gold.
    One thing that Apple has done right since the first iPhone is the mute switch. You can walk into a meeting and without having to even take the phone out of your pocket, you can mute it and it buzzes to let you know you’re good. Tactile, easy, convenient- for human use.

    Lastly, FRONT FIRING SPEAKERS. There is zero reason for the sound to go out the back of the phone when the video is coming out the front. Put the phone on a counter, or a soft surface like a bed or couch and you’ve basically put the audio on mute. STUPID. The human is in front of the screen. That’s where the sound needs to go.

    Let’s see all phone companies make the phones more convenient for humans, and less like high technology slabs that require us to bow to the phone’s needs.

  • Neil D’Souza

    Good article….. I agree with the comments regarding the LG, as i have a V10 myself, just not sure why it hasn’t translated into sales though?

  • Say What??

    I don’t think phones need to get any thinner. They need larger batteries that last a day or two. What good is a smartphone if you’re constantly charging it? Also, they need more interface options like a dark theme for those of us who hate all the white backgrounds especially when you’re laying in bed with the phone and your eyes are straining.

  • Josef

    Oneplus has got the design for the 2 down they just need to get support for all the antennas, put nfc back, switch to an amoled screen, and make the front glass a slate like the opo and not have an indent for the fingerprint scanner. Make sure they keep the 4gb of ram, I am a ram hog

  • Autobot1

    Great article…the only phones OEM I trust is Motorola, HTC and Nexus..the rest is horrible…I had the GS6 and LG G4 and both phone started to lag after one month owning them..Never again would I trust those 2 idiot companies.

    • 404

      I can relate to this. My M9, after 3 months of 3+ hours per day usage and heavy gaming does not lag at all, while my brother’s S6 started lagging after 2 months haha


  • SamsaraGuru

    Very good article. I’m thinking someone has activated the Thoroughness Protocol at Android Authority! The levels of insight, understanding and thought the articles of late are evidencing is delightful and does exactly, what in my opinion, a professional analyst doing his or her job well ought.

    Namely, taking apart a complex subject, breaking it down into its component parts, relating the relevance thereof – or not as the case may be – and then drawing conclusions, extrapolating trends that might result or which would be desirable to include or exclude and then summarizing and giving suggestions, rather than waffling in a cowardly lion manner, by foregoing taking a definite stand, while hiding behind the thinly veiled guise of “not wanting to be presumptuous” and “lead us” but let us draw “our own conclusions”.

    The reason one goes to a professional – be it doctor, lawyer or Indian Chief – is because we want actionable, accurate knowledge that we ourselves don’t have the time nor inclination to master the salient, arcane mysteries of; that will then inform our own actions and decisions wisely.

    Good job, Jimmy.

  • thereasoner

    As far as the HTC copying comments go, I agree with HTC. ThE A9 is clearly a blend of its own M series designs with its Desire line up. Other than the Samsung like home button on the A9, HTC added no design characteristics that it wasn’t already using and no one would be saying that HTC copied Apple if Apple hadn’t copied HTC in the first place !

  • Thomas Waznis

    I don’t worship metal and glass. Materials can all have good reasons for good uses. Samsung software has not been bad for years; get a grip.

    • Marty

      It isn’t about “worship”. It’s about quality.

  • Hashim

    Anyone of you guys.. Or all of you…. Send this article to all of those companies by email if you can ,,, that would be a great idea because we didn’t know if they know that about themselves also….

    Even us should be to make our move ?

  • Vincent Amadeus

    no words for xiaomi? i use mi4i and mi pad, no regret… everything good here lol

  • Faux Restes

    I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 and will buy a new phone this year.
    I would have bought a Samsung Galaxy S series phone but it does not have a removable battery and micro sd card slot.
    If the S7 has these, I will probably buy it, else I will buy an LG phone (G4 or G5)

    • Marty

      I don’t understand the need for a removable battery. If people plan to carry an additional battery with them, why is it unthinkable to carry an external battery?

      • Faux Restes

        The thing is that after 2-3 years, the battery’s performance starts to go downhill…
        This is not a big issue if you have a contract with a network who will provide you with a new phone every 2-3 years.
        In my case, the reason I need a removable battery is that I use my phone for work and keep my old phone as a ‘backup’.
        I currently have a 3 year old Galaxy S3 (and recently changed its battery) but I still have my old Nokia N85 in a drawer just in case.
        I will probably buy a new phone this year and will keep the S3 as a backup.

        Also, what is the purpose of sealing in the battery???
        I understand that in some cases, they need to seal in the battery to make a phone water resistant or splash proof (e.g. in Sony phones). But otherwise, what does it add to a phone???

        • Marty

          Fair enough. But the purpose manufacturers have ever reported for sealing the battery in was for a slimmer profile, stronger build and better water tightness.

  • I just wish to be able to unlock the bootloader on my LG G4 H815K, or win the Nexus 6P.

  • osm

    Larger batteries, especially in 5″ phones, is all I care about really.

    If manufacturers continue insisting on making super thin phones, I wish they would give us a choice:
    – One skinny aesthetics-focussed model with ~2,500 mAh battery.
    – One thicker battery-focussed model with > 4,000 mAh battery

  • Marty

    Wow…it’s not even been 10 years yet since the iPhone was released. So much can happen in such a short period of time. ?

  • chillin2025

    Bigger batteries, optimizations, and SD cards

  • Gaurav

    Samsung has reached that spot where it is not just Another Smartphone Manufacturer. It is THE Smartphone Manufacturer. In terms of Camera, Software Experience (it had multi-tasking capabilities in a multi-window layout in the Note 1 and 2 itself).
    Therefore, it should Consider Integrating Target Audience Specific Phone Features. Like for Indie Filmmakers it should have a 4k shooting camera where Heat dissipation has been dealt with in a major way, and unlike Snapdragon 810, their Exynos Processor (8890?) doesn’t suddenly have issues with heat amd processing. Also, they need a Faster Lens (f1.0 would be Absolutely Path Breaking but f1.4 would do great too, with a Built-in ND filter) for Low Light and Night Shooting. Also they should work closeby with Smartphone Accessories Makers like Joby and Rode and get out Accessories SPECIFICALLY made for Samsung. Like attachable bluetooth mic systems for lapel and shotgun mics. Samsung should sell Their Own Micro SD cards that are fast enough for High Bitrate 4k shooting.

    The Motorola X does something almost no other smartphone does out there. It records 4k, at HDR and Digitally Stabilised so well, that it looks like a steadycam shot. This apart from a host of other great, though smaller talents. It’s 21MP camera was good during daytime. In low light and at night, it was almost a piece of Junk. They need a faster lens for that sensor. Also, Moto X needs a Faster Processor. Referably a Samsung Exynos 7422, that has no insane heating issues and that can push in far more information, and not just for short bursts.

    I think HTC should get a new Tech Team and their Camera Team also needs to be replaced.

    Nexus dis a terrible job of saving a few dollars on their Nexus 6p and 5x, by Not Installing an Optical Stabiliser. That make the phone ruin a superb camera sensor. That, plus some terrible software image processing.

  • mobilemann

    everyone but samsung, “start making money so that you will still be in this business in 2017 should be major one.