Standing Out Part 2: seven more smartphones with differentiating hardware
Like the five phones that we talked about last week, the following devices either come with unique hardware or are the undisputed leader as far as a certain measurement is concerned.
Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of the products that debuted a feature. Instead, the following is a discussion that involves special hardware capabilities in areas of significant interest to most smartphone users.
The Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is anything but a generic handset. Part Android smartphone, part compact camera, the Galaxy K Zoom comes with a 1/2.3-inch 20.7MP primary camera sensor with Xenon flash and optical image stabilization.
Although smartphone makers often focus on marketing the resolution of the cameras, this added detail comes at a significant disadvantage. As you cram in more pixels inside a compact camera sensor, each pixel becomes physically smaller. A smaller pixel can hold in less light compared to a larger one, which means that the low-light performance of the camera drops as the resolution increases.
The best way to compensate for this effect is to create physically larger sensors. This is where the Panasonic Lumix CM1 comes into play. As the smartphone with the largest primary camera sensor currently available (the 1-inch 20MP primary sensor on the back), the Lumix CM1 behaves beautifully in a range of low-light situations.
The Oppo N3 may be a one-year-old handset, but the phone is still notable in the context of this article thanks to Oppo's swiveling camera system.
Originally introduced with the Oppo N1, the swiveling camera mechanism lets the user turn the primary camera into a selfie shooter through a quick flick of the sensor. Since selfie shooters are usually not as good as the primary cameras, this seems to be a perfect solution to the discrepancy in sensor quality.
Unfortunately, the quality of the Oppo N3 camera isn't as good as it should have been. We're sure that Oppo is probably working on a successor, and we hope that the sensor will be significantly improved with the next iteration in the Oppo N line-up. Read our Oppo N3 review for more details.
Although the first smartphone with a curved edge was the 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note Edge, the Galaxy S6 edge and the Galaxy S6 edge+ took matters to a whole new level. Both phones come with dual-curved edges that not only look great but can also be used to display secondary information.
The LG G Flex 2 is unique in more than just one way. First, the phone comes with a unique horizontally curved screen. Second, the handset can actually be flexed by pressing on its back with no damage being brought to the display. As if that wasn't enough, the LG G Flex 2 also comes with a back cover that magically heals itself from minor scratches.
In the past few years, the screen-to-body ratio of the average smartphone has evolved considerably as manufacturers trimmed excess fat and equipped their handsets with ever thinner bezels. If you're looking for a smartphone with a large display but a manageable form factor, the Sharp AQUOS Crystal X features an unrivaled screen-to-body ratio of 82.18%. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S6 edge - which is still one of the most compact smartphones relative to its screen size - features a screen-to-body ratio of 72%.
For many, battery life is very important when balancing the overall smartphone experience. Last week, we pointed towards the Blu Studio Life as the smartphone with the longest battery life. This time around, we'd like to mention the Asus ZenFone 2 as the fastest-charing smartphone.
The ZenFone 2 lasted for 7 hours and 34 minutes in our battery benchmark test, which is a good but not impressive battery life. However, the Zenfone 2's killer feature is that it can amazingly charge from completely dead to 100% in just 58 minutes. For comparison, the Samsung Galaxy S6, which is the third fastest smartphone in this test, was fully charged after 78 minutes.