Meet the 10 most impressive smartphones we've reviewed in 2015 so far

Few years in recent history have been as plentiful as 2015 when it comes to major releases, with dozens upon dozens of truly admirable devices making their way to the market before ending up in users' hands. From Samsung through Apple, Motorola through LG, the full list of notable 2015 smartphones is almost complete. In fact, save for Microsoft's new Lumia 950 and 950 XL and Sony's Xperia Z5 lineup, it seems like 2015 is pretty much closed for business now.

This gives us a rare respite, and an opportunity to once again highlight and give a nod of approval to a select number of smartphones that not only satisfied the recommended requirements of our review process, but in fact emerged out of it with flying colors. Flagship-level or not, it's not every day that we rate devices at 9 stars out of 10 or above. So if you're looking to treat yourself to a Christmas present, these would be among our top recommendations.

Let's get this started going from least (relatively speaking) to most impressive!

#10: LG G4

Another year, and another great LG flagship. The G4, like the G3 before it, proved a meaningful successor and a competent all-round device that excels in areas such as camera performance, whilst delivering extras like a vegetable-tanned leather back, a microSD card slot, and a removable battery. Sure, we later found out that the leather covers aren't particularly well suited for life in the real world, but that's sometimes the price of style.

Of course, not everything is great with the G4, with its average battery life being a top concern, though we wouldn't have said no to a better calibrated display, either. Still, as mentioned, and especially at the price LG is selling those nowadays, it's one of the year's most solid smartphones.

#9: Meizu m2 note

Well, what do you know, we have an outsider in our top 10! The Meizu m2 note is doubly interesting, as while the Chinese company's flagship scored poorly overall, this budget phablet proves a great bang for your buck!

Indeed, starting with an excellent screen that tops out at over 500 nits and a good-looking and well-crafted body, through speedy performance and great camera and battery life, down to the salivating price tag, the m2 note is one of the greatest offers of the year. For the sake of objectivity, we should add that not all is well with Meizu's value phablet, with software niggles being the most infuriating of problems. Hopefully, Meizu has had time enough to iron these out by now.

#8: Motorola Moto G (2015)

Meizu isn't the only company to land an affordable, but high quality product this year, not so long as Motorola has anything to say about it anyway. With the Moto G (2015), the company reaffirmed its leading position as the meanest low-cost player in town — at least when talking about mainstream, global brands. That's good to see, and proves wrong the naysayers that predicted that Lenovo's ownership of the exalted maker would bring quality down. Not at all, judging by the latest Moto G.

There are quite a few things to like about this budget beast, starting with its water resistance, wealth of customization options courtesy of Moto Maker, and near stock Android experience. While the Moto G won't win any races any time soon, it nevertheless proved to be a snappy performer that rarely experiences lag, and one that can go on and on and on. All of that, for just $180 (as of July)? Impossible to beat, as it turns out.

#7: Samsung Galaxy Note 5

The public's seemingly favorite phablet, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 proved that when it comes to big-screened smartphones, the South Korean giant still got it. Taking inspiration from its smaller brother, the Galaxy S6, the Note 5 is the first in the line to really class it up with a fusion between glass and metal.

The Note 5 is not just a pretty face, though — far from it — and offers a better S Pen than ever, along with a camera to-die-for and one marathoner of a battery. That's not all — we're also treated to a snappier version of the company's proprietary TouchWiz interface, a significantly improved fingerprint scanner, and better general performance than ever. On the off side, Samsung did sacrifice part of its identity by ditching the signature microSD card slot and removable battery of devices past — much to the dismay of fans. And that glamorous glass on the back sure is one nasty fingerprint magnet. Still, on the whole, few devices have gone through as much polish as the Note 5.

#6: Motorola Moto X Pure (a.k.a X Style)

Depending on where it is you call home, Motorola's 2015 flagship will be known to you either as the Moto X Pure (US) or Moto X Style (EU). For all intents and purposes, however, it's the same phone. And what a phone it is!

We gave the Moto X Pure a score of 9.1 out of 10 for its highly customizable, water-resistant design (thanks, Moto Maker!), excellent display, light, near-stock software overlay, and most of all: $400 outright price tag. For that kind of money, even those among us that would usually have to settle for a mid-ranger can experience a flagship-level device that disappoints in only a few areas — like battery life and graphics performance. Sure, the camera could've also been a little better, specifically in low light scenarios, but we can't complain much when Motorola undercuts other mainstream competitors by nearly a half.

#5: Samsung Galaxy S6 Active

If you're looking for a device that's suitable for both work and play, your choice would typically be limited to lower end devices, or, alternatively, an investment into a fat and rugged case. But why would you want one of those when Samsung gives you both power and protection?

Indeed, the Galaxy S6 Active was among the most pleasant surprises of 2015, and we still feel its score is well-deserved. Sure, the design of the thing isn't exactly conventional, but it has its appeal, especially considering the body of the phone is water- and shock-resistant. Add to that an amazing camera and one of the longest-lasting batteries we've ever tested, and you can see why we gave the Galaxy S6 Active a score of 9.2 out of 10.

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#4: Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Whatever your Android friends might say, Apple delivered with the iPhone 6s Plus with the unprecedented number of improvements it managed to pack into what should've been yet another, comparatively dull, mid-cycle upgrade. From the innovative 3D Touch screen that can recognize a light from a strong tap adding another layer of functionality, through the often underestimated appeal of Live Photos, down to the much stronger, 7000-series aluminum used with the body and crazy-powerful A9 chipset, the 6s Plus is among the very best money can buy in the phablet segment.

What we didn't like? Its weight, the fact that the base option is still just 16 gigabytes, and the lack of more meaningful, custom-tailored phablet features in iOS 9. The rest, however? Just peachy.

#1: Apple's iPhone 6s and Samsung's Galaxy S6 and S6 edge

Well, what do you know! We have three whole devices matched for the number one spot this year, and it should come across as no surprise that they call Apple or Samsung their maker.

With Apple, we've got the iPhone 6s, which we still consider to be slightly superior to its bigger brother, the 6s Plus, despite the two offering a nearly identical package, sans display real estate. On the Samsung front, we were quite impressed by Samsung and the culmination of its long-rumored Project Zero, which gave us the Galaxy S6, but also the even more extravagant Galaxy S6 edge. While we can't claim that the latter's dual-curved display offers much in the way of meaningful functionality, we do like the way it rounds up the design of the phone, which, by the way, looks better than any previous Galaxy S line device. Here's what we liked and disliked about each in turn:



1. dil2abu

Posts: 315; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

S6 Edge, G4, IPhone 6s are best imo..

9. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

G4 Sucks, Just Sayin.

25. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

You should've said "in my opinion" in the end

27. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I Would've Said That, If I Just Thought It Was Bad But The G4 Just Flat Out Sucks.

41. roldefol

Posts: 4745; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

It most certainly does. That's what it's supposed to do.

42. mawi2013

Posts: 67; Member since: Oct 18, 2014

You're forgetting that the G4 costs half as much as most of these, plus had removable battery and micro SD.

48. Mxyzptlk unregistered

I agree the G4 is a terrible phone.

53. roldefol

Posts: 4745; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

I wouldn't say terrible, just not impressive. It's more of a G3s.

107. FrankUnderwood2

Posts: 243; Member since: Oct 01, 2015

Why? I am asking seriously, 'cause soon planning to buy one.

109. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Do not ask advice from those very biased guys.

119. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Tell Me What You Like In A Phone And Your Highest Price Point. I'll Be Happy To Help You Decide What Phone Is Best For You.

108. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I also thought that too, until I used my officemate's G4. The G4 has it's strengths and weaknesses, and doesn't appeal to everyone, so it is still subjective.

91. dil2abu

Posts: 315; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Camera is awesome dude.. And for the price it's a steal..

101. chenski

Posts: 789; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

I wouldnt say terrible, but its not as good as i had expected so i wont be upgrading from my g3 which was an awesome 2014 device

113. tuminatr

Posts: 1179; Member since: Feb 23, 2009

Before the last software upgrade I would agree with you, bluetooth had issues, camera had issues, GPS had issues, however the last software upgeade fixed all the problems I had with this phone. I have owned a bunch of phones and I actually like this G4 better than my Note 4, I have also recently owned a iphone 5s, 6s, a Nexus 6, and a Galaxy s5 YMMV but i think its a nice phone

118. chenski

Posts: 789; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Why this comment get so many likes? People must be stupid

120. roldefol

Posts: 4745; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

People here have very strong biases.

125. chenski

Posts: 789; Member since: Mar 22, 2015

Yes I've noticed that

110. engineer-1701d unregistered

i love how pa always puts the ios pros in like they are selling it for commission and then you have 4 pros for samsungs lol its funny how hard they push every apple pro to sell it as being worth the money you pay for it.

111. runzlord

Posts: 245; Member since: Oct 13, 2013

Well I don't. PA has issues in sorting out its pros and cons. First how is "the base model should be 32GB and not 16GB" a disadvantage?????????? People still buy it and it means great business for them. 16GB is more than enough for some people you can use urself to judge!!! My mom still use 4GB on her galaxy grand 1 no SD Card!!! She has never needed 1 for 2 years. If she wants to buy an iphone, why can't she buy the 16GB model? Does she need to spend more to buy memory she does not need? Please its by choice and people still buy it!!!!!! If they don't, its not you that would tell Apple, they are smart enough to know. Secondly. The issue of removable battery and sd card slot! This is not a disadvantage too!!! Its about choice!!!!!! Just put it under a new category, not cons. I personally prefer phone with no removable battery and no sd card. I can do with 64GB. Its very enough to me. I don't store movies or long videos on my phone, they are all in my laptop. Phones with removable battery and SD card are quickest to have issues, not surprisingly these kinds of phones are toping you own list!! Yes they turn out better in overall performance. So please sort this out.

112. runzlord

Posts: 245; Member since: Oct 13, 2013

I'm referring to phones without sd card slot and removable battery when I said "these kinds of phones"

124. NFSHesham

Posts: 297; Member since: Feb 04, 2014

I'll tell you why... Because it won't differ in terms of cost on Apple itself but it would differ greatly in terms of usability , some places only offer the cheapest variant so some people couldn't buy a 64 Gb even if they wanted so and also some people only buy the cheapest variant so apple can help them by offering 32 Gb at no extra cost to manufacture or to sell

2. dil2abu

Posts: 315; Member since: Nov 09, 2011

Z5 Premium would have made in this list if it was released..

26. KushielAOC

Posts: 31; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

It is released. I just received mine today.

45. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

What color did you get? How do you like it? I'm still waiting for delivery..

49. KushielAOC

Posts: 31; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

Chrome baby. Ready to make some fingerprints! Hazahh! Already have my Clear Phone case to protect from that :D

52. Xperia14

Posts: 1208; Member since: Sep 01, 2015

I ordered the chrome one as well. Enjoy!

50. PopeFrancis

Posts: 111; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

It's PhoneArena, they clearly have something against Sony.

57. Bernoulli

Posts: 4364; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

I can't take you seriously with your avatar.

73. roldefol

Posts: 4745; Member since: Jan 28, 2011

Could be worse. Could be Benedict.

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