Number 10: HTC One M9
Update: It’s 2016! And while we’re waiting for Mobile World Congress and the impending influx of this year’s flagship handsets, we’re still using the best phones from 2015.
That includes the stunning new Nexus 5X and Nexus 6P handsets. But how do they compare to the new iPhone, and where does Sony’s latest, the Xperia Z5 fit in? This update will explain all…
Here at techradar, we check out every phone under the sun, putting the ones that matter through our vigorous testing process to create our in-depth mobile phone reviews.
However, with so many to choose from, we’ve spent hours whittling them down to a top ten, taking into account the power, specs, design and value for money. And we’ll always point you in the direction of the latest handsets – after all, nobody wants to be carting around a phone that doesn’t get any updates in a year’s time, right?
So whether it’s one of the many slick Android handsets, the latest iPhone or one from a range of other cool operating systems, we’ve extensively tested them all so you don’t have to!
Here are our rankings for the best smartphones around, currently available in Australia.
10. HTC One M9
Not quite up the 5 star standard, but HTC still has the most beautiful phone around
OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1920×1080 | Memory: 3GB |Storage: 32GB |Battery:2840mAh | Rear camera: 20.7MP | Front camera: 4MP
HTC has sat comfortably at the top of our charts for the last couple of years, and while it’s not quite managed it in 2015, the M9 is still a phone with the best build quality out there.
None of the old favourites are missing, so BoomSound enhancement still turbocharges the audio and the Sense overlay remains one of our favourites, thanks to its sophistication and power.
The camera has been boosted to 20.7MP, although doesn’t have the impressive snapping power of some of the other phones on the market. The design language still means this is one of our favourite phones to stick in our pocket.
It’s a touch more expensive than before, and doesn’t take a huge leap forward from last year’s model, but that was nearly perfect, so where was HTC to go?
9. Nexus 5X
LG’s Nexus phone builds on the Nexus heritage
OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | Memory: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB | Battery: 2,700mAh | Rear camera: 12.3MP | Front camera: 5MP
Fans of Google’s Nexus devices (which, frankly, should be all Android users) will be happy to know that Google has decided to bring back a Nexus handset with a smaller screen size.
While the Nexus 6P is a behemoth of specifications, Nexus partner LG has managed to cram the best bits of the bigger phone into a smaller body, without sacrificing all the things that make the 6P great.
It’s only got 2GB of memory on board, which is disappointing given the 3GB standard for other Android flagships, but otherwise this phone is a prime example of what Android’s mobile operating system can be.
8. Sony Xperia Z5
Waterproof, sleek and packed with big features
OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5.2-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 3GB |Storage: 32GB | Battery: 2,900mAh | Rear camera: 23MP | Front camera:5.1MP
Sony doesn’t half like bringing out new phones, doesn’t it? The paint’s barely dried before a new one is shooting onto shop shelves – but we don’t mind when they offer fancy new features.
The Xperia Z5 is a big update compared to the Xperia Z3+ from earlier in the year though. It features a fingerprint sensor and has a much nicer design with a frosted glass back.
It still features the latest Snapdragon 810 processor with 3GB of RAM, but there are no overheating issues like before. There are less open than on previous Sony phones – but it still manages to keep its water resistant design. You can drop this in the toilet without fear, basically.
The large 5.2-inch screen looks great thanks to Bravia technology, and the camera has undergone some big changes with a 23MP sensor and new autofocus technology.
7. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
Curving into the future with impressive specs
OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5.1-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | Memory: 3GB |Storage:32GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 2560mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge has all the power and features of the table-topping S6, but includes a little extra, thanks to the curved edges on its sides.
They don’t add a huge amount of functionality, but if you’re going on looks alone, the S6 Edge has them in spades.
The price is a lot higher, though, which is why it doesn’t join its (non-identical) twin at the top of the chart. But if you’re after a phone that’s wildly different from anything else with a great feature set and a tip-top camera, this should be your choice.
6. Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Stunning screen, outstanding camera, and a bonus S Pen are all delivered in style
OS: Android 5.1.1 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Memory: 4GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB | Battery: 3,020mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP
Samsung’s latest plus-sized handset continues the positive momentum that the company started with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.
While the Note handsets have always been pricey, the Note 5’s beautiful glass and metal chassis is the first to feel like it’s worth the extra outlay – it has a far more premium feel than the plastic offered by the Galaxy Note 4.
The 5.7-inch screen is gorgeous, while the Note 5’s record-breaking processor and 4GB of RAM completely outpace Apple, as does its 16MP camera – we’ll be curious to see what September brings.
The lack of expandable memory (or a 128GB option) and a changeable battery may put long-time Note fans off, but this is the best smartphone with a stylus. Actually, it’s one of the best full stop.
5. Apple iPhone 6S Plus
Apple’s second big screen phone is another stunner
OS: iOS 9 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 2GB |Storage: 16GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: around 2750mAh | Rear camera: 12MP |Front camera: 5MP
On one hand, this is just a larger iPhone 6S. That’s no bad thing, as that phone is one of the best around at the moment. But this second Apple phablet has a number of elements that make it a great phone in its own right.
The screen is Full HD and really packs some stunning colour reproduction. The camera on the back features optical image stabilisation, which means better low light video and photography.
The iPhone 6S Plus once again has something that’s eluded iPhone fans for years: a really good battery, with Apple using that extra space to cram in a few more mAh units.
It’s one of the most expensive phones around, and is bettered on spec by a few other phablets – but if you’re an Apple fan looking for a ‘bigger’ experience, this is the phone for you.
4. LG G4
Luxury leather on a smartphone that tries to please everyone
OS: Android 5.1 | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Memory: 3GB | Storage: 32GB | Battery: removable 3,000mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 8MP
LG has tried to focus on what everyone actually wants out of a smartphone, a great looking design, colour rich display and the great camera for photos – but it doesn’t quite deliver as impressively as we’d hoped.
Don’t let that put you off though. There’s a lot going on with the LG G4, and for the most part it’s rather positive indeed. The leather back is much nicer than the plastic option, and it will make your phone stand out among the swath of glass and metal offerings.
Its large, expansive screen is one of the best on the market, the 16MP laser auto-focus camera takes some cracking shots and the rear buttons are easier to hit on a handset this size.
As a complete package, it offers more than the Xperia Z3 and One M9, but it doesn’t quite match the slickness and design of the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S6.
3. Nexus 6P
Google partners with Huawei for a special device
OS: Android 6 | Screen size: 5.7-inch | Resolution: 2560 x 1440 | Memory: 3GB | Storage: 32GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 3,450mAh | Rear camera: 12.3MP | Front camera: 8MP
Google’s Nexus platform has always been about partnering with different manufacturers to deliver the best possible handset for the time, and for the Nexus 6P, Huawei has stepped up to the plate.
With Android Marshmallow singing on the device’s 5.7-inch screen, and the included rear-fingerprint scanner set to help Android deliver unified mobile payments a reality, this truly is the best Nexus handset ever made.
Incredible battery life and quick charging make up for the handset’s lack of optical image stabilisation, but the fact remains that both front and rear cameras excel even without it.
2. iPhone 6S
Bigger, better, sleeker and faster than the iPhone 6
OS: iOS 9 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 1334 x 750 | RAM: 2GB |Storage:16GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 1,715mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 5MP
What can you say about any new iPhone? Most people are already decided about whether they’re going to buy the new model before it’s even announced – but that hasn’t stopped us giving it a thoroughly good going over.
The good points are the same as usual: a hugely powerful phone, a great camera and the new 3D Touch interface is genuinely useful, and will only continue to get better as time goes on.
The chassis is identical to the previous iPhone 6, which will irk some and might force them to wait for the iPhone 7, but it’s still well-designed. The battery life is actually a little shorter (to fit in the motor for the 3D Touch method) and is the the biggest issue with the phone.
That said, it’s still a brilliant iPhone, the phone that loads of users are desperate to get their hands on, and Apple’s not done any harm at all with this upgraded model.
1. Samsung Galaxy S6
A brilliant phone that shows Samsung still has what it takes
OS: Android 5 | Screen size: 5.1-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 2560 | Memory: 3GB |Storage:32GB/64GB/128GB | Battery: 2550mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 5MP
While last year’s Galaxy S5 was nothing special, this year Samsung’s started from the ground up to make a truly wonderful smartphone.
The camera is superb, the audio and video quality brilliant and the QHD display crammed into the 5.1-inch screen is the sharpest on the market – although it does suck down the battery rather a lot.
The design finally feels good in our hand (contrasting with the plastic cheapness of last year), and the refined TouchWiz overlay is much nicer to use.
It’s pretty expensive, mind, so make sure you’re after a truly A-grade experience before buying. But if you do take the plunge, rest assured, you have the best phone on the market.
If a phone isn’t in the top 10 best phones in the world list, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth giving two hoots about.
Here’s a few handsets you might want to consider should none of the above tickle your fancy… although you’re clearly VERY hard to please:
HTC One M8
A stunning phone with very few flaws
OS: Android | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB |Battery: 2,600mAh | Rear camera: 4MP dual | Front camera: 5MP
The HTC One M8 has tumbled dramatically out of the top 10 after holding onto top spot for the best part of a year, so why the fall? Well, it’s now pretty old compared to the handsets making up the top ten, and there’s a new kid on the block in the shape of the One M9.
It’s still the same perfectly design handset though, with impressive BoomSound speakers and the short-lived, yet innovative Duo Camera on the rear. The One M9 is almost identical, and just a bit better all round.
There’s been a small price drop, too, since the arrival of the One M9, and you certainly won’t be getting a poor phone if you choose to pick it up. But remember, for just a little more you can have its up-to-date successor. Your call.
Samsung Galaxy S5
A year old, but still very capable
OS: Android | Screen size: 5.1-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB |Battery: 2,800mAh | Rear camera: 16MP | Front camera: 2MP
If Samsung’s latest duo of flagship devices (the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge) are too rich for your wallet then you can always consider last year’s Galaxy S5.
Sure it doesn’t have the same premium design as the current generation, but the plastic body means it’s dust and water resistant as well as giving you a removable battery and microSD slot – all things not available on the S6 range.
The drop in price also makes the Galaxy S5 more attractive, and it’s stuffed full of features, including a fantastic screen that will ensure you have an enjoyable mobile experience.
Nokia Lumia 930
Hey Nokia, (now Microsoft), nice flagship phone!
OS: Windows Phone | Screen size: 5-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 32GB |Battery: 2,420mAh | Rear camera: 20MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
The Lumia 930 comes up short when compared with the competition, but only in a couple of areas. Windows Phone is still a sub-par operating system for most people, thanks to the poorer apps and lower level of control. But then again, for a lot of people the improved Office functionality and simple interface is a boon.
It’s strong in both design and power, although a little last-gen on the latter element. Coupled with a very capable camera, this phone is easy to recommend to those looking for something different.
Windows Phone aside, there’s a great deal on show here to make this a top-rated smartphone. The build quality is excellent and iconic, and the camera is powerful. We like that 32GB is on offer as the base model, and built-in wireless charging is always a nice addition.
A flagship phone for half the cost
OS: Android | Screen size: 5.5-inch | Resolution: 1920 x 1080 | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 16GB/64GB |Battery: 3,100mAh | Rear camera: 13MP | Front camera: 5MP
If you fancy trying something a bit different then Chinese firm OnePlus has a rather enticing proposition. Its first flagship smartphone (and only device to date), the OnePlus One, has the same feature set as 2014’s flagships, but at a fraction of the cost.
You can pick up the One SIM-free from under $450, which is a steal when you consider it packs a 5.5-inch full HD display, Snapdragon 800 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 13MP rear facing camera.
It runs the community backed CyanogenMod version of Android which comes with lots of handy little extras. The design is hardly inspiring and the lack of a microSD slot may put some off, but for the price you can’t really go wrong.
Perfect for fans of the smaller screen size
OS: iOS | Screen size: 4-inch | Resolution: 1136 x 640 | RAM: 1GB | Storage: 16GB/32GB/64GB |Battery: 1,560mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 1.2MP
Remember this? After the furore with the iPhone 6, it’s easy to forget that the Apple iPhone 5S is still alive and kicking.
It’s still a bit expensive, but the iOS 8 software update hasn’t presented any problems, so this slightly cheaper option should appeal to those who like a smaller screen.
Plus, you can use it with the Apple Watch and pay for things on the go using the cunningly named Apple Pay – although for some reason Touch ID won’t be work online, where it will be for the iPad Air 2 and friends.
Physical keyboards FTW, right?
OS: BlackBerry 10 | Screen size: 3.5-inch | Resolution: 720 x 720 | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB |Battery: 2,515mAh | Rear camera: 8MP | Front camera: 2MP
Come again? BlackBerry is still going? Well yes it is, and in the past year it’s launched both the Passport and the Classic.
They certainly won’t be to many people’s taste, but those unable to drag themselves away from a physical keyboard on their phone have the Classic to fall back on.
It takes the best bits of design from the firm’s much loved Bold series and brings them into the 21st Century with the BB10 operating system and improved specs. Great for those always emailing and messaging on the go, just don’t try and play games or watch movies on its 4:3 display.