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Top 15 Smartphones In The World Today

Forbes logo Forbes 15-01-2016 Jay McGregor, Contributor

The best smartphones in the world today? Try these 15 out for size. 

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1. Galaxy S6 Edge

The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Credit: Jay McGregor© Jay McGregor/Forbes The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Credit: Jay McGregor

Price: from $499.99

Display: Curved 5.1 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (577 ppi) Super AMOLED

Battery size: 2600 mAh

Camera: 16MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)

Platform: Android with TouchWiz

Features: Samsung Pay, wireless charging, heart rate monitor, and powerful camera

In practically every area, the S6 and S6 Edge excel. The S6 Edge is not only an excellent device, but breaks new ground with its gorgeous dual-edged display.

More: 5 Reasons To Buy The Samsung Galaxy s6 Edge

Its Exynos 7420 chipset comfortably beats out most of the competition in speed tests, and its real-world speed is eye-wateringly fast. The 2K Super AMOLED 5.1-inch curved display provides vibrant colours and reaches an incredible level of brightness. Similarly, the S6 Edge’s 16MP camera with a new f1.9 lens is, quite simply, excellent: its rich colours, instant shutter speed and sharp detail make it comparable to the best smartphone snappers of 2015.

But, as I said, the S6 Edge practically excels in every area. The most frustrating drawback of Samsung’s flagship is its questionable battery life. In its crippling obsession with weight loss, Samsung trimmed down the S6 Edge’s battery – in comparison to the S5 – which obviously means significantly shorter lasting power.  And, of course, there’s the furore over the missing expandable storage.

2. Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium display. Image credit: Jay McGregor© Jay McGregor/Forbes The Sony Xperia Z5 Premium display. Image credit: Jay McGregor

Price: from $673

Display: 5.5-inch 2160 x 3840 pixels (806ppi) IPS LCD

Battery size: 3430 mAh

Camera: 23MP (Rear), 5.1MP (Front)

Platform: Android with Sony UI

Features:   4K display, fingerprint sensor, and quick battery charging (Quick Charge 2.0)

The world’s first 4K display on a smartphone. Someone had to do it and Sony was the first one to cross the finish line. In that 4K display is a resolution of 2160 x 2840, with a ridiculous 806 pixels per inch. Although little content is actually displayed in 4K – in order to save battery – but the 4K footage that’s available looks astonishing. Fortunately, typical HD content is upgraded by Sony’s X-Reality engine that’s also used in its TV range.

MORE: 5 Reasons To Buy The Sony Xperia Z5

When it comes to the camera, Sony went back to the drawing board and atoned for previous mistakes by making the best smartphone camera of 2015 .  The 23MP sensor picks up an incredible level of detail, has a fast 0.03 second autofocus, reduced quality loss zoom and good low light performance (a feature that escaped previous Xperia handsets). Add to that a waterproof design, expandable storage, a reasonably quick fingerprint scanner and you have a very capable handset.

The Xperia Z5 Premium is not without some flaws. In ploughing all its efforts into the 4K display, Sony has neglected the software, which, with Android 5.1 and a Sony UI, is no different to the previous model. The battery life doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of two-days without a charge either (no Xperia device has since the Z2, despite what Sony claims), which is unsurprising considering the screen technology.

3. iPhone 6S Plus

iPhone 6S Plus (right). Image credit: Gordon Kelly© Forbes iPhone 6S Plus (right). Image credit: Gordon Kelly

Price: from $749

Display: 5.5-inch 1080 x 1920 pixels (401 ppi) IPS LCD

Battery size: 2750 mAh

Camera: 12MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)

Platform: Apple IOS 9

Features: 3D Touch, 4K video, and full HD display  

In an untypical Apple fashion, the iPhone 6S Plus is larger and heavier than its predecessor. In typical Apple fashion, it’s not really noticeable.

So why the extra width and bulk? The answer lies in the iPhone’s new taptic engine, which powers the iPhone 6S Plus’ biggest feature: 3D Touch. For the uninitiated, 3D Touch brings an extra dimension of control to the iPhone’s display, allowing users to register soft and hard presses on the screen. It’s a smart addition that genuinely enhances the iPhone experience and isn’t the gimmick I thought it’d be. There’s also an improved 12MP camera that shoots 4K footage, as well as a stellar battery life: the iPhone 6S Plus is one of the longest lasting smartphones of the year.

MORE: 5 Reasons To Buy The iPhone 6S Plus 

Is it worth buying? If you’re an iPhone 6 Plus owner, probably not. There aren’t enough shiny new things here that warrant further indebting yourself for. If, however, you’re coming from an older iPhone, you’ll be impressed by the leap in technology.

4. Galaxy Note 5

Image credit: Ian Morris© Ian Morris/Forbes Image credit: Ian Morris

Price: $696

Display: 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (518 ppi) quad-HD Super AMOLED

Battery size: 3000 mAh

Camera: 16MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)

Platform: Android with TouchWiz UI

Features: wireless charging, S Pen stylus, fingerprint sensor, 4K video and Samsung Pay

Perhaps a controversial choice, given the backlash the Galaxy Note 5 received from some loyal long-time Note users. There is, however, no denying the Note 5’s excellence. With a slick and premium design, the Note 5 brings the Note range into adulthood.

The Note 5 represents the best that Samsung can offer: one of the best displays in the industry, an excellent camera, wireless charging, Samsung Pay, slimmed-down OS and a feature-packed stylus- just remember to insert it in the right way.

The lack of a removable battery and expandable storage might be forgivable on the Galaxy S6, but on a device that’s marketed as productivity tool? Less so. Also, I’ll repeat, don’t insert the stylus backwards.

MORE: 5 Reasons to Buy The Samsung Galaxy Note 5

5. Nexus 6P

The Nexus 6P's camera lip. Ian credit: Ian Morris: The Nexus 6P’s camera lip. Ian credit: Ian Morris© Ian Morris/Forbes The Nexus 6P’s camera lip. Ian credit: Ian Morris

Price: $499

Display: 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (518 ppi)  quad-HD  

Battery size: 3450 mAh

Camera: 12.3MP (Rear), 8MP (Front)

Platform: Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Features: fingerprint scanner, USB-C fas t charging, and Android Marshmallow pre-loaded

The best smartphone of the year? I certainly think so. The Nexus 6P’s shortcomings are few and far between. Who’d have thought we’d be applauding Huawei planting its flag at the top of the smartphone summit?

Where do I start? The camera is fast, sharp and has good low-light performance. Design-wise it’s all-metal body oozes premium (I think the camera bump adds some character) and its 3450 battery comfortably lasts a full day. Camera, design and battery: this is the smartphone trifecta.

The 6P owes a lot of its success to Android Marshmallow, Google’s most accomplished and clever OS yet. The redesigned app drawer, Google Now on Tap, improved battery management and new app permissions are all fulfilling their full potential in a device that proudly runs stock Android.

Like I said, there’s little to complain about in the 6P. But the lack of wireless charging is a disappointment, especially when it charges via the non-universal USB-C. So, you know, keep that USB-C charger close when you’re out and about.

MORE: 5 Reasons to Buy The Nexus 6P

6. Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

Image credit: Jay McGregor© Jay McGregor/Forbes Image credit: Jay McGregor

Price: [/entity] $649

Display: 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (519 ppi) quad-HD AMOLED

Battery size:  3340 mAh

Camera: 20MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)

Platform: Microsoft Windows 10 mobile

Features: Continuum, Windows 10 mobile, wireless and fast charging, removable battery, liquid cooling, and expandable storage up to 200GB

The Lumia 950 XL brings good, unique, ideas to a smartphone market beleaguered by identikit-syndrome. Features like Continuum (which allows users to plug their Lumia into a display and use it like a PC), Windows Hello and bundled Office 365 for mobile makes the Lumia a ready-to-go phone for business.

There’s also a very capable 20MP triple LED Flash PureView rear camera that takes sharp pictures out of the box and has an impressive suite of manual controls.
MORE: 5 Reasons to Buy The Microsoft Lumia 950 XL

The obvious major issue is the lack of apps – the ‘app gap’ – needs to be fixed. Microsoft, for its part, is trying to bridge the gap by making it easier to port Android and iOS apps to Windows Phone, but that hasn’t shown any meaningful results yet.

The device itself suffers from some annoying bugs. While this is to be expected with a new OS, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Check out my full review here.

7. LG G4

LG G4 display. Image credit: Ian Morris© Ian Morris/Forbes LG G4 display. Image credit: Ian Morris

Price: from $422.50

Display: 5.5 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (538 ppi) quad-HD  

Battery size: 3000 mAh

Camera: 16MP (Rear), 8MP (Front)

Platform: Android with LG UI

Features: 2K display, high-grade camera, removable battery, fast and wireless charging, and microSD slot

With a bright and crisp quad-HD display, a camera with exceptional manual controls and a unique, leather-clad design, the LG G4 was a breath of fresh air in musky cloud of identikit smartphones.  

The only downsides was how quickly the removable leather back wore: it ended up looking quite shabby. The device also slowed down quite a bit after a few months of use.

MORE: 5 Reasons to Buy The LG G4 Over The Samsung Galaxy S6

8. Moto X Pure 

Moto_X_Style_Black_Front_Back: Price:© Forbes Price: Price: from $399.99

Display: 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (520 ppi) quad-HD IPS LCD

Battery size: 3000 mAh

Camera: 21MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)

Platform: Android

Features: faster charging, microSD, front-facing speakers, cheap, and non-removable battery

The Moto X Pure follows Motorola’s tradition of cheap, powerful and nicely designed smartphones. There’s a quad-HD display here, a 3000mAh battery that can power up to 10 hours of battery life after 15 minutes of charging and the all-important stock Android, which means faster Android updates. All for a very respectable $399.

Motorola’s raison d’etre has always been to build stock Android devices that perform way better than their low price suggests (if you ignore the Nexus 6). The Moto X Pure is no different.

5 Reasons to Buy The Moto X Pure



9. HTC One A9

HTC's One A9 features its new stock Android-like UI. Image credit: Ian Morris.: HTC’s One A9 features its new stock Android-like UI. Image credit: Ian Morris.© Ian Morris/Forbes HTC’s One A9 features its new stock Android-like UI. Image credit: Ian Morris.

Price: $499.99

Display: 5 .0 inch 1080 x 1920 pixels (441 ppi) full HD AMOLED

Battery size: Non-removable Li-Ion 2150 mAh battery

Camera: 13MP (Rear), 4MP (Front)

Platform: Android 6.0 with HTC Sense

Features: BoomSound, fingerprint scanner, all-metal unibody

Where the M9 fell down, the A9 stands tall. The 13MP camera is significantly better than the M9’s and includes optical image stabilization, plus some extra functionality in the camera app. It also runs a paired-down version of Sense Home, which is much closer to stock Android, meaning faster upgrades and less bloat.

What HTC did take from the M9 was the excellent audio playback: BoomSound returns and there is now also support of supports 24-bit audio output with the A9’s built-in DAC, as well as the chance to upscale 16-bit tracks. There’s also that all-metal unibody build that caused such a fuss and a rapid fingerprint scanner on the face of the device.

Beware, though, this is still a mid-range device. Which means not to stellar battery life and a slightly below par performance. Also, given its mid-range status, HTC has bizarrely priced the A9 exceptionally high.

10. HTC One M9+

HTC One M9 Plus: Price:© Forbes Price: Price: (Unavailable in US)

Displa y: 5.2 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (565 ppi) quad-HD

Battery size:  2840 mAh

Camera: 20MP (Rear) 4MP (Front)

Platform: Android + Sense Home

Features: Ultra pixel front-facing camera and rear camera with secondary depth sensor, fingerprint scanner which supports AliPay

The M9+ from HTC is not only a bigger and better version of its predecessor, the M9, but also more exclusive: it’s currently only available in China.

Whilst the M9+ has the same 2840 mAh battery and 3GB of RAM as the M9, there are some key differences: a larger 5.2 inch display, with a better quad-HD resolution; a 20MP camera with secondary depth sensor; an ultrapixel front-facing camera; and a fingerprint scanner like the A9, which supports the Chinese mobile payment system AliPay.

11. Honor 7

Image credit: Jay McGregor© Jay McGregor/Forbes Image credit: Jay McGregor

Price: from $430

Display: 5.2 inch 1080 x 1920 pixels (424 ppi)

Battery size: 3100 mAh

Camera: 20 MP (Rear), 8 MP (Front)

Platform: Android

Features: dual-sim card, microSD slot, fingerprint scanner,and voice control  

Another underdog in the running for this year’s best smartphone. Despite its pricetag, the Honor 7 is a solid competitor. Highlights include the slim all-metal design, 1080p display, the (in-house developed) HiSilicon Kirin 64-bit chipset,  which, with 3GB of RAM, means the device is pretty much on par with the LG G4 in terms of performance.

The device also has some quirky features that make it stand out: you can take a screenshot by double-tapping the display with your knuckle, while screen re-sizing is easily done by swiping left to right. There’s also the touch-based fingerprint scanner which worked nicely, aside from when in my pocket.

There are, however, some features that do verge on gimmicky: the device’s camera is inundated with modes such as ‘Good Food’ and ‘Beauty Shot’, when more time should’ve been spent developing the camera itself. But, if you’re into taking selfies and pictures of your avocado on toast for Instagram, this may not be a problem- the camera is still decent.

12. BlackBerry Priv

Image credit: Gordon Kelly© Gordon Kelly/Forbes Image credit: Gordon Kelly

Price: $699

Display: 5.4 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (540 ppi)

Battery size: 3410 mAh

Camera: 18MP (Rear), 2MP (Front)

Platform: Android with Blackberry UI

Features: fast battery charging, optional wireless charging, physical and digital keyboard, and microSD

Who’d have thought we’d be mentioning a Blackberry as one of the best smartphones in 2015. But, the beleaguered company’s work on the Priv cannot be ignored. A nicely crafted design, with a well-concealed keyboard, makes the Priv a pleasure to use. But the best bits happen in the OS.

Blackberry has beautifully dovetailed Android with smart features like the Blackberry Productivity Tab, Hotfix and enterprise-managed updates. But watch out for that laggy performance and erratic battery life.

13. LG V10

Image credit: Ian Morris© Ian Morris/Forbes Image credit: Ian Morris

Price:   from $599.99

Display: 5.7 inch 1440 x 2560 pixels (515 ppi) quad-HD IPS primary display, plus secondary 2.1 inch 160 x 1040 pixels display

Battery size: Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery

Camera: 16MP (Rear) 5MP (Dual Front)

Platform: Android with LG UI  

Features: second screen, dual-front camera for wider selfies, 4GB RAM, MicroSD and 4K video

The headline news is that the LG V10 has two displays, one for notifications and one as the main screen. The dual-screen concept works surprisingly well because your movie watching or gaming isn’t interrupted – perhaps this is a feature we’ll see in LG’s 2016 flagship line. But, with that extra screen, comes the extra cost. The V10 is one of the more expensive devices on the list at $599.

LG has a penchant for the weird and wonderful. Its most recent stab at flipping everything on its head? the dual-screen LG V10.  

With its DuraSkin, the V10 is slip-resistant and drop-resistant. Good thing too, considering the V10 has a lot to smash, with a primary 5.7 inch IPS display, and a secondary 2.1 inch display on top (for pinning shortcuts, status notifications, and personalisation). The idea is that when you’re using the device, notifications will pop up on the second screen, keeping the main display clear. Which is really useful for when you’re watching videos or playing games. As we’ve come to expect from LG, the display itself if typically sharp and bright.

The multifaceted nature of the V10 also extends into the camera: there’s a dual front-facing set of lenses, ideal for the selfie fiends amongst you. At the rear is a 16MP camera with laser auto-focus, optical image stabilization and an LED flash, which provides some pretty sharp snaps.

An expensive, but arguably the most unique, offering from 2015.

14. OnePlus X

Image credit: Jay McGregor© Jay McGregor/Forbes Image credit: Jay McGregor

Price: $249

Display: 5 inch 1920 x 1080 pixels (441 ppi) AMOLED

Battery size: 2525 mAh

Camera: 13MP (Rear), 8MP (Front)

Platform: Android with OxygenOS

Features: MicroSD, OxygenOS

Another mega-cheap handset with reasonably impressive specs from OnePlus. A phone for the budget-conscious, who aren’t troubled by its slightly sluggish performance, or the lack of NFC and fingerprint sensor. But, for $249, you’re getting a very nicely designed iPhone 4-like smartphone that’s more than capable.

15. Nexus 5X

Nexus 5X. Image credit: Jay McGregor© Jay McGregor/Forbes Nexus 5X. Image credit: Jay McGregor

Price: starts from $379

Display: 5.2 inch 1080 x 1920 pixels (423 ppi) IPS LCD

Battery size: 2700 mAh

Camera: 12.3MP (Rear), 5MP (Front)

Platform: Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Features: 4K Video, fingerprint scanner, USB Type-C port

The smaller and more affordable choice of Google’s latest offerings. At 5.2 inches, the Nexus 5X is another budget-friendly powerhouse.

The Nexus 5X isn’t simply a decent phone for its price-range: its 12.3 MP camera (the same snapper in the more expensive Nexus 6P) is one of the best on the market and performs exceptionally in low-light. It’s also super-light, runs stock Android Marshmallow, has USB-C and a rapid fingerprint scanner. Google’s knows the secret formula for making a near-perfect cheap smartphone.
But, as with the Nexus 6P, the lack of wireless charging and inclusion of USB-C means you’ll have to be clever about when and where you charge-up until USB-C is more widely adopted.

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