2015 was (and still continues to be) the year of innovation in mobile technology. Android phones as well as iPhones and Windows Phones have advanced to another level, one which some expected, others didn’t. We got releases that blew our minds this year, as well as devices that aren’t as impressive as others. Some companies failed to get out of the rut they were in while others made huge progress in the industry. IoT got a big boost this year and mobile development is headed for new frontiers. Windows 10 has introduced universal Windows apps and Android will be doing the same – as soon as it becomes a cross-platform OS like Google recently announced.
The biggest advancements in the mobile industry, or rather the most popular ones, were made in the smartphone industry. Android phones have come a long way and this year, many up comers as well as veterans of the industry demonstrated that Android can be the future as much as Apple or Windows can be. Without further ado, here our picks for the best Android phones of 2015, in no particular order. No matter which of these phones you’re thinking about getting, know that you’ll be getting top-notch everything in them.
This best Android phones of 2015 top aims to sum up the best smartphone releases in the flagship, mid-range and budget categories, so there will be different phones in this list with different features that set them apart from the crowd. Each smartphone on this list will have its pros and cons, but ultimately, it is considered by the tech community and by us, as one of the best Android phones of 2015.
OnePlus X – The OnePlus X is the first on this list because it is the latest release from a company who has amazed people with the OnePlus One and even the more recent OnePlus 2. The OnePlus X is part of the mid-range section of Android phones and is already considered one of the best smartphones of 2015. OnePlus did a hell of a job making the OnePlus X into a premium smartphone that can rival in the mid-range and flagship categories equally well. While its performance belongs in the mid-range department, its appearance and design belong in the flagship department. This is the first premium smartphone from the company and while they do emphasize its experimental nature, OnePlus is ultimately confident about this phone and with good reason.
The OnePlus X comes with a glass construction and a metal frame, and while it’s missing a fingerprint sensor, it boasts with a premium design and comfortable footprint that make its body as appealing as an iPhone. There’s a 5-inch OLED FHD panel up front, covered by Gorilla Glass 3. Under the hood, there’s a Snapdragon 801 CPU, 3 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage, with a microSd card slot available for expansion. OxygenOS is on top of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, with a Marshmallow update inbound for next year. The handset comes with a beefy 13 MP camera on the rear and a wide-angle 8 MP on the front.
The whole thing is powered by a 2525 mAh battery, which should provide two days of regular use. The OnePlus X doesn’t boast with stellar specs, but its price point is what makes this one of the best Android phones of 2015: $250 unlocked. The invite system will cost the OnePlus X points with Android fans, but if we consider the quality and price of the handset, it’s truly one of the best mid-rangers ever launched.
Galaxy S6 Edge – Samsung made strides this year with the Galaxy S line-up, replacing the condemned Galaxy S5 with its first truly premium smartphone that blends glass and metal into one sexy smartphone body. The edge displays of the Galaxy S6 bring the innovation that the company made with the Galaxy Note Edge to a new level, and while functionality isn’t the same, the Galaxy S6 Edge adds a decidedly premium and fashionable look to anyone’s tech portfolio.
Samsung made a lot of changes when it launched the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge and managed to get ahead of Apple this year when it comes to the revenue it made from smartphone sales exclusively. That’s a big step for Samsung who might become the first company to surpass Apple’s iPhone revenues. Although the Galaxy S6 Edge can be more expensive than the iPhone, Samsung fans appreciated the new design language immediately and praised the South Korean smartphone manufacturer.
The Galaxy S6 Edge is actually one of the most impressive Android phones of 2015 in terms of design and functionality and points our eyesight towards the future. The handset features a neat 5.1-inch QuadHD display of the Super AMOLED kind, a fingerprint sensor in the home button, Samsung’s own Exynos 7420 CPU backed by 2 GB RAM and 32, 64 or 128 GB internal storage. The camera setup is comprised of a 16 MP OIS sensor on the rear and a 5 MP camera on the front. The battery within is a 2600 mAh one which is capable of fast charging and wireless charging. Android 5.1 Lollipop with TouchWiz on top are running the show and providing the Galaxy S6 Edge with great performance. The Galaxy S6 Edge price starts at about $550 for the 32 GB model on Amazon, so it’s not that expensive. Samsung certainly turned their flagship for the year into one of the best Android phones of 2015, or even the best phone – as some might say.
LG V10 – LG hasn’t been one for weird designs lately, although the LG G Flex and LG G Flex 2 are pretty unconventional. However, the company changed its aesthetics a bit this year and released the LG V10, a phone like none other. With an auxiliary display atop the main display, the LG V10 adds functionality that is similar to the Galaxy Note Edge and Galaxy S6 Edge, S6 Edge +. The auxiliary display can be used to display information or actionable shortcut buttons to apps.
The LG V10 is one of the best Android phones of 2015 in the phablet category, competing against the iPhone 6S Plus, Samsung Galaxy Note 5 and Samsung Galaxy Note Edge+, and even the new Nexus 6P. The handset features a premium design, a pretty high price tag and specs that can put to shame many smartphone manufacturers that released handsets this year. The LG V10 features a 5.7-inch main IPS display with QuadHD resolution, military shockproof certification, a Snapdragon 810 CPU backed by 4 GB RAM and 64 GB internal storage, with a microSD card slot available for extra expansion.
The camera setup includes a 16 MP OIS camera on the rear and two 5 MP cameras up front. The handset runs on Android 5.1.1 Lollipop and has extra Gorilla gLass 4 up front for protection. The LG V10 power supply is a 3000 mAh battery that features fast charging. LG’s unconventional handset found its place quickly with Android fans, becoming a crowd favorite. It’s already being called the best of Android phones of 2015, even though it’s not widely available yet. The LG V10 price is around $700 on Amazon, but carrier plans are also available. It’s a pretty price device, but it’s one my favorite Android phones of 2015.
Nexus 6P – Google recruited Chinese smartphone maker Huawei this year to make one of their new Nexus phones. Nexus phones are supposed to be the best Android phones in 2015, and Google pretty much nailed that with the Nexus 6P.The Nexus 5X, which is made by LG, is also a very impressive device, but it doesn’t boast with the upgrades the Nexus 6P boasts with. While it is a very cheap option and a great stock-Android smartphone, it falls in the mid-range category where we have better smartphones available for friendly prices.
The Nexus 6P however is one of the best Nexus phones released so far and many in the Android community have dubbed the phone the best stock Android smartphone of the year. The Nexus 6P bears the design language of Huawei, but also sees influences from last year’s Motorola Nexus 6, a beast of a device. While the Nexus 6P isn’t that big, it’s still a very large phone and qualifies as a phablet. There’s a massive bump where the camera is, which might be a deal-breaker for some, but it’s not as bothersome as it appears to be. The front of the device is home to a huge 5.7-inch QuadHD AMOLED panel protected by an oleophobic coating and Gorilla Glass 4. The display is stunning and worthy of such a large device, and with Android 6.0 Marshmallow in its stock state on board, power management and performance are smooth even with a resource-hungry display.
The Nexus 6P has a fingerprint reader below the camera, a trait familiar to many Chinese smartphone connoisseurs. Under the hood, Google and Huawei chose the Snapdragon 810 CPU backed by 3 GB RAM and either 32, 64 or 128 GB internal storage. The camera setup is comprised of a 12 shooter with laser-autofocus on the rear and an 8 MP camera on the front. There’s a 3450 mAh battery on board with fast charging included and the handset comes with a USB Type C connector. All its features as well as its design and rather decent price tag make the Nexus 6P one of the best Android phones of 2015 in the phablet category of devices. Stock Android also plays an important role in the appealing nature of the Nexus 6P, mind you.
Motorola Droid Turbo 2 aka the Moto X Force – Motorola really made headways this year with their smartphones. Flagship devices like the Moto X Style improved significantly upon predecessors without losing the design language and familiar near-stock Android OS that is representative of the company. Software updates have been a bitch for Motorola customers since the Lenovo takeover, but that is bound to change starting next year. The Motorola Droid Turbo 2 is the Verizon-exclusive version of the company’s first shatterproof smartphone while the Moto X Force represents the international version of the handset, the one most are after nowadays.
With a lot of anticipation surrounding the launch, Verizon and Motorola managed to create quite the hype around the new handset. Both the Droid Turbo 2 and Moto X Force are now customizable through the company’s Moto Maker platform and that adds to the appeal of the phone. The screen of the device is its main focus, as it’s a shatterproof screen that won’t break even if you drop it on concrete from a 5-foot height. With an increasing demand for durable smartphones, the Droid Turbo 2 hits the soft spot of many smartphone users who designate the device as one of the best Android phones on the market.
The Droid Turbo 2 features a large 5.4-inch QuadHD display, Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, a Snapdragon 810 CPU, 3 GB RAM, 32 or 64 GB internal storage, microSD card slot, 21 MP OIS camera on the rear, 5 MP camera on the front and a massive fast-charging 3750 mAh battery unit for at least 48 hours of regular use. All in all, the Droid Turbo 2 is one of the best Android phones of 2015 because it blends customizability with durability and performance into a balanced handset. The Droid Turbo 2 or Moto X Force price will sit at around $650 unlocked once it’s available, but Verizon has a lot of plans to choose from if you want to buy the phone with a contract.
Galaxy Note 5 – Samsung’s most recent phablet launched alongside the Galaxy S6 Edge+ cannot be omitted from the best Android phones of 2015 list. The Note 5 encompasses everything that Samsung fans had wanted from the line-up of Note device, aside from the removable battery and expandable storage. With super-fast hardware and processing power, the Note 5 is crowned by the community as the best Android phone of 2015. Although I wouldn’t crown it just yet, the Galaxy Note 5 is truly a powerhouse of a device that deserves the recognition it is getting.
With balance between design and performance and the revamped S Pen stylus, the Note 5 has become a crowd favorite of the Android world. There’s a massive 5.7-inch QuadHD Super AMOLED display up front, protected by Gorilla Glass 4. Samsung is still pushing TouchWiz on top of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, with an update expected to land by the end of the year to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. Samsung used the Exynos 7420 CPU in this handset, backed by 4 GB RAM and either 32 or 64 GB internal storage. On the rear, there’s a 16 MP OIS camera while on the front there’s a 5 MP camera.
The fingerprint sensor, heart rate sensor and SpO2 sensor couldn’t be missing from the handset and add a lot of functionality and features to the S Health platform at the same time. The Note 5 comes with a 3000 mAh battery that supports fast charging marvelously as well as wireless charging. Sporting all the features that you would consider future-proof, encased in a metal and glass design that spark envy even among iOS fans, the Galaxy Note 5 is decidedly one of the best Android phones of 2015 launched in the past few months. The Note 5 price is at around $650 unlocked for the base model, so it’s quite the expensive option.
Sony Xperia Z5 Compact – Sony made a neat comeback this year with the Xperia Z5 line-up. Launching three smartphones at the same time, the company tried covering all the segments of its audience: those who want premium, those who want durable and those who want compact. As such, Sony unveiled the Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Premium and our personal favorite, the Xperia Z5 Compact. Specs aren’t different between the phones, aside from the Xperia Z5 Premium sporting a 4K display that it doesn’t use all the time.
The Xperia Z5 Compact is on this best Android phones of 2015 top because more U.S. customers seem to be interested in the compact variant and it’s also a more user-friendly smartphone with a more affordable price. That being said, it still sports the obvious benefits of the Xperia Z5 in a more compact footprint which seems to be quite popular with Android users. The Xperia Z5 Compact features a 4.6-inch IPS Triluminous display that’s scratch-resistant, a Snapdragon 810 CPU, 2 GB RAM, 32 GB internal storage, microSD card slot, 23 MP camera on the rear, 5 MP camera on the front, stereo speakers, a fingerprint sensor on the side of the device and a 2700 mAh battery. The Xperia Z5 Compact boasts with a metallic and glass design that’s significantly improved over its predecessor, the Xperia Z3+.
Although Sony did make the handset look a bit like the iPhone, its minimalist design aesthetic still dominates the appearance of the Xperia Z5 Compact, making it one of the best Android phones of 2015 in terms of design and footprint. Its price isn’t as friendly as other compact handsets, seeing as it costs about $530 unlocked. Regardless, the Xperia Z5 Compact is one of the best Android phones of 2015 thanks to its user-friendly, premium design. Oh, and in case you’re not familiar with Sony, this device is waterproof.
Huawei Mate S – There had to be a Huawei device on this list, aside from the Nexus 6P, because the company recently managed to surpass the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer, Xiaomi, in sales in their home market. Huawei’s push into the international market aims to bring high-quality handsets with affordable prices to the U.S. market and Europe and the Huawei Mate S is the debut. The Mate S isn’t the affordable smartphone we had hoped for, but it is nonetheless one of the best Android phones of 2015. Similar to the Nexus 6P in features and a bit in design, the Mate S embodies Huawei’s vision of a premium handset.
Sporting a metal body, thin bezels and a thin and light construction, it can easily be mistaken for a Note device if you don’t look closely. The fingerprint sensor is on the back of the device while the front hosts symmetrical bezels on the top and bottom, which make the handset seem like a luxurious and fashionable piece of tech. The Huawei Mate S display measures 5.5-inches and comes with a comfortable FHD resolution and Gorilla Glass 4 protection. Under the hood, there’s Android 5.1.1 Lollipop running the show, with a HiLisicon Kirin 935 CPU on board, backed by 3 GB RAM, 32, 64 or 128 GB expandable internal storage and Huawei’s own skin.
The handset comes with a 13 MP OIS main camera and an 8 MP camera up front, with an LED flash to help with selfies. The added feature to the Mate S is Force Touch, which will be available soon enough. The 2700 mAh battery should be able to provide enough juice for two days’ regular use. The Huawei Mate S price will be around $850 unlocked, which is pretty darn expensive for a Huawei device. Nonetheless, the Mate S is one of the best Android phones of 2015 because of its smooth performance, good battery life, multiple future-proof features, Force Touch addition and good camera. Although it’s one of the most expensive devices on this list, it’s definitely worth the investment if you’re planning on using it for a couple of years.
Asus ZenFone 2 and Asus ZenFone 2 Laser – Indeed, this spot is occupied by two great Android phones. These two are the best Android phones in the mid-range category, bleeding through to the flagship genre. The Asus ZenFone 2 is the flagship, while the Asus ZenFone 2 Laser is the mid-ranger. The Asus ZenFone 2 was a hit this year and at its launch time in January 2015, it was the first Android phone to sport 4 GB RAM on board, which gained it a bit of extra fame.
Asus’ smartphone didn’t become popular just because of the extra RAM, but because of its sturdy design, good performance and wonderful price range. The Asus ZenFone 2 features a 5.5-inch FHD display, Intel Atom Z3580 and 4GB RAM for one model and Intel Atom Z3560 for the 2 GB RAM model. There’s a microSD card slot available, and the handset also features a good 13MP camera with dual-tone flash, a 5 MP camera up front and a fast charging 3000 mAh battery inside.
All the ZenFone 2 models on this list run Android 5.0 Lollipop, with a planned upgrade to Marshmallow come next year. The Asus ZenFone 2 Laser has an inferior spec sheet, with a 5.5-inch display that has a lower 720p resolution, a Snapdragon 410 and Snapdragon 615 variant, both backed by 2 GB RAM and 16 GB internal storage. The rear camera is the same, with the added benefit of laser autofocus and the front camera gets extra autofocus, too, compared to the January model of the Asus ZenFone 2. All these models prices range between $180 and $350, depending on the configuration of your choice. As you can probably tell, these phones are among the most affordable smartphones of the year, all the while qualifying to be the best Android phones of 2015 at the same time.