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Our top picks from MWC 2015!
MWC 2015 has wrapped up and our team is now getting ready to pack up and head home. Before MWC even began, we knew it was going to be a stellar show, with our eyes locked on HTC and Samsung in particular. It’s true that the spotlight shone brightest on HTC and Samsung this week, but honestly there were a ton of great devices showcased and at least a few surprises as well, such as the exceptionally attractive Huawei Watch and the eye-scanning ZTE Grand S3.
As is our tradition, we have now spent some time going over the many great products we saw over the course of the last several days and have picked out nine devices which we feel are worthy of being showcased as Android Authority MWC 2015 top picks.
Samsung Galaxy S6
Easily one of the biggest announcements of MWC 2015, the Samsung Galaxy S6 finally brought the world a much needed infusion of premium materials, melding a glass back with a metallic frame. The design may have required a few sacrifices, such as the lack of microSD and a non-removable battery, but the latest member of the Galaxy S family certainly takes things up a notch when it comes to looks.
On the hardware front you’ll find an Exynos 7420, no Snapdragons here. You’ll also find 3GB RAM, a 5.1QHD display, and internal storage options that begin at 32GB and go up as high as 128GB. Samsung hasn’t just changed up the aesthetics and given us a hardware upgrade, the software side has also received improvements including a new theme system, a dramatic reduction in bloatware and several other improvements that should make the Galaxy S6’s software the fastest iteration of TouchWiz to date.
The Galaxy S6 finally brings Samsung’s design language a bit more on par with premium devices like those from HTC and Sony, and, for the most part, the device seems to have been well received by the tech world at large. We’ll certainly be diving in deeper with the Galaxy S6 in the months to come, but there’s no doubt in our mind that the latest Galaxy is worthy of being deemed an AA top pick.
Learn more about Galaxy S6:
- Samsung Galaxy S6 vs iPhone
- Samsung Galaxy S6 vs S5
- Samsung Galaxy S6 color comparison
- Samsung Galaxy S6 fingerprint and themes feature focus
- GS6 Hands on and first impressions
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
Announced alongside the Galaxy S6, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge might not be dramatically different from its standard-screened brother, but its unique dual-curved display helps it stand out from the crowd. The Galaxy S6 Edge packs the same specs as its brother, with only a few minor changes like a slightly larger battery. That means you get a 5.1-inch QHD display, a 64-bit Exynos 7420 processor and 3GB RAM. One area that the Edge does stand out from the GS6, aside from aesthetics, is when it comes to the software.
The Galaxy S6 Edge offers two special features. The first of these is People Edge, which lets you assign colors for up to five contacts, and when you put the phone face down, you can know who is calling because you see the colors from the right edge. The other special feature is the ability to show notifications and bits of info on the edge, giving users a quick way to see texts, calls and more, without the need to open the case.
For those that are impressed by what Samsung did with the Galaxy S6, but are looking for a product that will stand out in an even bigger way, you can’t go wrong with the Galaxy S6 Edge. And that’s why it’s no surprise we chose the Galaxy S6 Edge as a top pick.
Learn more about Galaxy S6 Edge:
- Samsung Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge announced
- Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge color comparison
- Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge first look
HTC One M9
The HTC One M9 might not have seen the aesthetic enhancements some were hoping for, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a device worthy of your attention. Further refining the design language started with the M7 and arguably near-perfected with the M8, the M9 takes what we loved about its predecessors and infuses the experience with a few coats of extra polish.
Gone is the much criticized UltraPixel rear cam, replaced with a 20MP shooter. Other improvements include the jump to a Snapdragon 810 with 3G RAM, and several software improvements introduced with Sense 7.0 including HTC themes and more. HTC One M8 owners might find the device too similar to be worth an immediate upgrade, but M7 owners and those new to HTC will certainly be tempted by the stylish One M9 and its 2015-level specs.
Could HTC have done more to set the One M9 apart from the M8, aesthetically? Arguably so, but don’t be fooled, this is still one premium device with quite a bit of raw power under the hood.
Learn more about HTC One M9:
- HTC One M9 officially announced
- HTC One M9 Dot View Case first look
- HTC One M9 hands-on and first impressions
- HTC One M9 vs HTC One M8 quick look
Before MWC we heard at least a few rumors and whispers about Huawei’s plans for wearables and for Android Wear. At MWC 2015 the Huawei Watch became a reality, and what a stunning looking watch it is. The new wearable stands out as the most “watch-like” smartwatch to date, bearing a full circle display like the LG G Watch and Urbane, but within a less bulky package. The Watch also offers a 1.4-inch AMOLED display with a resolution of 400×400 that’s protected by a sapphire crystal display, and the body is equally durable thanks to 316L corrosion-resistant stainless steel.
As far as internal hardware and software goes, the Huawei Watch should perform similarly to its existing brethern from the likes of LG, Sony, Samsung, Acer and Motorola. There’s a Snapdragon 400 underneath backed with 512MB RAM, and the software is the same stock experience as you’ll find elsewhere, although Huawei is bringing 40 unique watch faces to help set its wearable apart.
Android Wear is still very much in its infancy and while the platform is far from a mainstream success at this stage, devices that push decent specs with excellent aesthetics are exactly what Android Wear needs if it is ever going to appeal to more casual watch buyers and not just the hardcore techies that want and need the latest and greatest.
The LG Watch Urbane was actually announced a bit ahead of MWC 2015, but it wasn’t until this week that we had the opportunity to go hands-on with the latest LG watch. The latest watch features a premium metal design that’s sleeker and more elegant than the G Watch R, though, aside from aesthetics, we’re looking at pretty much the same device.
That means you’ll get a Snapdragon 400 with 512MB RAM, a 1.3-inch POLED 320×320 display and a 410mAh battery. There’s also the same stock Android Wear experience, which, judging by the G Watch R, should fly through the elements with these specs. Whether the Urbane is as attractive as the Huawei Watch, or more so, will largely depend on your own personal tastes, but there’s no denying that LG is continuing to step up its game with each new watch it brings to the plate.
Learn more about the LG Watch Urbane:
Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3
An underlying theme with all the mid-range smartphones featured in this list is that they all have something unique to offer, beyond what their otherwise mid-range nature, and associated price point, would suggest. In the case of the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, that differentiating factor comes in many forms.
Apart from the the fact that this device packs an impressive 13 MP rear camera and an 8 MP front-facing unit that should be a delight for selfie lovers, as well as a beautiful Full HD display, the OneTouch Idol 3 also boasts a fantastic audio experience with dual front-firing speakers featuring JBL audio with Clari-Fi technology, with the built-in MIX music application available to really let the amateur DJ in you shine. All these features are often not available with even far more expensive flagships, which is why the Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3 is deserving of our top pick list for MWC 2015!
Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet
It’s not really a surprise to see the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet make it as our top tablet pick, with every earlier iteration making its way on to a similar list previously. Sony continues to excel in the high-end tablet arena, with the Xperia Z4 Tablet taking everything we loved about its predecessor and making it even better.
Weighing just 389 grams and only 6.1 mm thick, the Xperia Z4 Tablet further refines the already fantastic design language and handling experience, and of course, comes with the bump in specifications you’d expect from a current generation high-end Android tablet. The minimalistic Xperia UI on top of Android 5.0 Lollipop really lets the Snapdragon 810 processing package shine, and media consumption will be a blast on the Quad HD display. Sony staples like water and dust proofing also return with this device, which is just one of the many reasons why the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet is our pick for the best tablet at MWC 2015!
It is easy to mistake the Lenovo Vibe Shot for a slim point and shoot digital camera when looking at it from the back, which is exactly the affect the company hoped to achieve. Premium mid-range best describes the look and specifications of this smartphone, but its standout feature is the 16 MP rear camera and 8 MP front-facing unit, and the overall experience it offers.
A dedicated tactile shutter button is coupled with a physical toggle to easily switch between “Smart” and “Pro” modes, with the latter offering the level of manual control you’d usually get with a regular camera. The 16 MP auto-focus rear-facing camera comes with a 6-piece modular lens, an infrared auto focus, tricolor flash, OIS, and 16:9 BSI sensor, and in our short while with this device, we were certainly impressed with it, and can’t wait to put it through its paces. For all that it offers, the Lenovo Vibe Shot merits one of our top smartphone picks of MWC 2015!
- Lenovo Vibe Shot hands on and first impressions
- Lenovo’s latest camera-centric smartphone launched at MWC 2015
ZTE Grand S3
Even with a couple of huge flagship announcements dominating this year’s event, the smaller players in the world of Android found a way to not get lost in the crowd, mostly due to the unique features they offered. In the case of the ZTE Grand S3, this noteworthy feature was in the form of “Eyeprint ID.”
The device uses the 8 MP optics of the front-facing camera to not only capture a video of how your eyes look, but also see the blood vessels inside of the eyeballs, and further refines the scan information every time you use this feature to unlock your smartphone. It is a first implementation that is sure to get better over time, and this may not be the fastest way to unlock your smartphone, but this remarkable attribute of an otherwise decidedly mid-range smartphone is the reason why the ZTE Grand S3 is entitled to one of our top smartphone picks of MWC 2015!
CES might have been a bit tepid this year as far as mobile is concerned, but at least MWC 2015 made up for, with several OEMs bringing their A-game. While we listed some of the biggest hitters, there were many other products announced at MWC 2015 that helped make this event an absolute thrill to watch unfold.
What do you think about this year’s Best of MWC 2015 top picks winners? Agree, or feel we left anything out? Let us know what you think in the comments.