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Top 10 Best Android Smartphones Buyers Guide: December 2015 Edition

December 17, 2015 - Written By Tom Dawson

The year is finally coming to a close, and as we bid farewell to 2015, it’s time to look ahead to 2016 and what the future holds for the Android smartphone world. We have CES coming up during the first week of January and Mobile World Congress in February, so it won’t be long before we see some fresh meat in this list. For now though, we get to look back at some of the best Android smartphones that 2015 had to offer. The list has been shaken up a number of times over the past few months, but some of the bigger names still enjoy their places at the top of these lists, and for good reason.

10. Sony Xperia Z5

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Having reviewed both the Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact, it’s strange for us to put Sony’s flagship at the top of this list. With a great camera, and some of the best battery life around, there’s more than enough to love about the Xperia Z5. However, it’s pretty tricky to get hold of in North America and in regions where Sony do sell it, it’s priced pretty highly, pushing a lot of would-be Sony fans out of the mix. Of course, if you can afford it and live in a well-serviced Sony area, then there’s not much to stop you getting the Xperia Z2. That is if you’re happy with a fairly standard 1080p display in a device that costs more than many others that feature Quad HD displays. Aside from the camera and the battery life, Sony doesn’t put up too much of a fight.

Buy the Sony Xperia Z5

09. DROID Turbo 2

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Motorola have been supplying Verizon with DROID smartphones for years now, and with the DROID Turbo 2, their latest is more of a Moto phone than any of the previous DROIDs. For the most part, that’s a good thing, and the new ShatterShield display is pretty excellent for those prone to accidents and such. With a 5.4-inch Quad HD AMOLED display it has a good balance between size and specifications with a Snapdragon 810 keeping things chugging. With a 48-hour battery life to boot, there’s a lot on offer here. It’s just a shame that it’s not all that affordable and you have to a Verizon user to even think of taking advantage of the extra features a device like this has to offer. Outside of North America however, folks can look for the Moto X Force, yet another Moto X.

08. LG Nexus 5X

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For many, the Nexus 5X is a return to the good old days, where devices weren’t so big and Nexus smartphones were relatively cheap. Still, for a 2015 device, the lack of 3GB of RAM and a higher-resolution display is a sore point for many. While it is a more affordable than the Nexus 6P is, the Nexus 5X doesn’t represent stellar value-for-money, as there are better, cheaper options out there. For someone looking for solid, stock Android with a great new camera and a smaller 5.2-inch form factor though, the Nexus 5X won’t disappoint, as we found out in our review.

Buy the LG Nexus 5X from Amazon

07. OnePlus 2

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The OnePlus 2 has been a great device for some time now, but recently one of the bigger complaints with the device has gone out the window. The OnePlus 2 is now invite-free forever, meaning that so long as the phone is in stock, it’s free for anyone to order. This makes the OnePlus 2 a device with a 5.5-inch 1080p display, an option for 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage available for less than the majority of devices in this list. With a big question mark dangling in the form of a Marshmallow update, and the absolutely ridiculous omission of NFC, there are some problems here. However, with a good fingerprint sensor, good battery life and a solid build there’s a whole lot on offer here, especially given this guy’s price tag, as we found in our review.

Buy the OnePlus 2 from OnePlus

06. LG V10

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It’s all about the camera with the V10, building on what they did with the G4, LG have made this a photographer and filmmaker’s dream smartphone. With an added fingerprint sensor, things seem to just keep getting better and better. However, with a rugged design – that doesn’t promise a shatterproof display – that won’t suit everyone, and a big question over software updates, the V10 is a strong oddity in the world of high-end smartphones. It adds little else to the G4’s formula besides some added software (of which one could argue there was enough of anyway) and with a limited release outside of North America it’s unclear how serious a launch the V10 was for LG.

05. Motorola Moto X Pure

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The Motorola phone for everyone, the Moto X Pure is a 5.7-inch smartphone packed with a much-improved camera and much-improved battery. Building on last year’s device, this large Moto X now works just fine on Sprint and Verizon direct from Motorola, and it’s even more affordable – given the increase in specifications and features. Having said all that, the Moto X Pure alienates some of their previous customers jumping from 5.2-inches to 5.7-inches and the choice of a Snapdragon 808 seems a little odd given its late release and the availability of an improved 810 chip. As we found in our review though, Motorola can still go beyond just specs on a piece of paper and deliver an excellent overall experience.

Buy the Moto X Pure from Amazon

04. LG G4

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The LG G4 was the South Korean maker’s answer to last year’s G3, and it still stands up now as a great smartphone no matter what. With an excellent camera experience, from software to hardware, the G4 is a great all-round device with some extra nice features sprinkled on top. Such as the great 5.5-inch Quad HD display as well the option for leather backs. Still, the software on top of Android is still too much for some users, and the overall design feels samey when compared to older LG devices. Affordable on most networks however, the G4 is a great all-rounder, with a standout camera experience.

Buy the LG G4 from Amazon

03. Samsung Galaxy Note 5

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For years now, the Galaxy Note line of devices have been considered some of the most powerful and fully-featured Android devices you can buy, but this year Samsung took a step back. With just the S-Pen on offer, and no removable battery or expandable storage, the Galaxy Note 5 offers little else on top of the Galaxy S6 formula it’s based upon. With an Exynos 7420 and 3GB of RAM, it has a lot going for it of course, but this year it didn’t feel quite so much like its own device as it did last year and the year before. If you love larger devices, and like the idea of the S-Pen however, the Galaxy Note 5 won’t disappoint.

Buy the Galaxy Note 5 from Amazon

02. Huawei Nexus 6P

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In what was sure to be a surprise to some, Google partnered with Chinese manufacturer Huawei for the follow-up to last year’s Motorola Nexus 6. Boy, what a smartphone it is. With a fresh new fingerprint scanner, thoughtfully worked in to avoid the minimal front design, and an aluminum build that feels great in the hand and looks good too, the hardware has it all. With a 5.7-inch Quad HD AMOLED display and a Snapdragon 810 with 3GB of RAM to boot, it has what it takes on the inside as well. The camera however, is the biggest improvement of all, with a larger sensor that takes clear and detailed images in the vast majority of conditions. While not all that affordable, the Nexus 6P is one hell of a smartphone.

01. Samsung Galaxy S6, Galaxy S6 Edge and Edge+

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Grouping these three devices together seems a little odd, but they all offer the same experience, for slightly different tastes. With the same Exynos 7420 and 3GB of RAM, as well as excellent Quad HD Super AMOLED display that looks great, these are all cut from the same cloth. That in and of itself is what makes the Galaxy S6 range so great, with a good-looking experience for so many different tastes, Samsung have a great combination on their hands. The glass and metal builds all look great, especially in the different colors, and Samsung have toned back their helpful additions to Android in a big way.

Buy the Galaxy S6 from Amazon