Android vs iOS
The phone industry is currently in a state of flux. Android matured as an OS after Google finally understood that the way to win over the phone market is with quantity and quality. Apple surprised us all by adding features to iOS that Android users have taken for granted over the years, while the likes of Microsoft, HTC and Samsung found 2015 to be fraught with difficulties.
It seems making a successful phone is harder work than ever, with Apple dominating the premium end of the spectrum and new Chinese manufacturers catering for the more budget end. Profits may not have been in abundance, but what 2015 has shown is that a phone’s design needs to stand out from the crowd. We've had it all: curved screens, thin chassis and self-healing backs.
The Phone of the Year is always a controversial category. That scream you can hear is a thousand fanboys arguing over the following device choices. But we stick to our list and you still have time to make sure your vote is heard...
HTC One M9
The HTC One M9 is a phone that embodies the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mantra. Taking all the best bits from last year’s all-conquering One M8, HTC clearly reckons what people want is the same thing again… only better.
It’s given it a darn good go: packing the industry’s new chipset du jour in the ultra-powerful, octacore Qualcomm Snapdragon 810, slipping in 3GB of RAM, tossing away the misunderstood Ultrapixel camera and even raising the size of the battery to boot. On paper at least, this is a phone with the power to rule the world again.
The HTC One M9 is a phone that takes the design heritage, DNA and all the other good bits of last year’s phone and, well, does them again.
It’s again shown the rest of the competition how to make a premium smartphone, and if it can iron out some of the wrinkles around battery and speed, it’s another great phone – but the competition is catching up quickly.
HTC has merely polished last year’s model without adding much new – a very good phone, but not brilliant.
Read our HTC One M9 review
Vote for the HTC One M9 in the Phone of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015
Apple iPhone 6
The king is dead, long live the king: the new iPhone 6 is everything we’ve come to expect from the annual Apple smartphone upgrade – new look, retuned OS, and a refined camera.
This time, there are two fundamental differences: the new look is the most stylish it's been in years and OS’s functionality has been buffed within an inch of its life. The genuinely longer battery life that comes with the bigger chassis is nicely unexpected.
It’s an undeniably desirable smartphone – we’d argue back on top of the design league after the HTC One M8 trumped the iPhone 5S last year – that produces the consistent and classy experience you expect from Apple, with increasingly powerful software packed on to a scaled-up modern mobile.
And still grumbling it’s too small? Well, go for the iPhone 6 Plus, which has all of the pros here, with a few more chucked in for good measure, too, if your hands can handle it. Decisions, decisions…
Read our Apple iPhone 6 review
Vote for the Apple iPhone 6 in the Phone of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015
The LG G4 is definitely another step forward for the once-ailing smartphone brand, but it’s a step that puts it further behind the leading pack. Some users will be enticed by the lower price, and some may even love the alternative feel of the leather on the back - and they’ll find a more-than-decent phone in their hands if they do plump for the G4.
But the rest of competition has leapt forward this year, whether it’s Samsung realising that a beautiful phone goes a long way or Apple sorting out its battery life, meaning LG had to do something special to keep up.
This is still a really great phone in so many ways, but there’s nothing extraordinary about it that you can’t find elsewhere - come on, LG, the G5 has GOT to be brilliant, right?
Read our LG G4 review
Vote for the LG G4 in the Phone of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015
Samsung Galaxy S6
The Samsung Galaxy S6 is a phone that the brand should rightly be proud of, and it clearly is. Why else would you release the same phone again but with curved edges in the snappily-named Galaxy S6 Edge?
The design and the power of the 'normal' S6 are the real winners here, and offer a phone that really appeals to the masses and tech-fiends alike. The loss of the microSD slot might irk some users who like being able to plug loads more storage into their phones, but with a 128GB option on board there's something for them too.
The Galaxy S6 is a device that we didn't think would be possible when the plastic fantastic S5 appeared, so we're glad that Samsung has been brave enough to reboot the brand in this way. There's still some headroom for making an even better Galaxy S7, though - the battery could definitely do with a bit of a boost - but for 2015 the S6 is a phone that's set the bar, and set it high.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S6 review
Vote for the Samsung Galaxy S6 in the Phone of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
The Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge boasts the world's first dual curved display, making it unique – but is that enough to prise the cash out of your wallet?
It shares a lot of similarities with its brother, the Galaxy S6: both handsets sport the same punchy octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, choice of 32GB, 64GB or 128GB internal storage, and an impressive 16MP rear camera. The curved display will certainly turn heads, but it comes at a cost.
Aside from the beautiful design, the S6 Edge doesn't provide anything extra over the Galaxy S6 – which is £100 cheaper. Those of us who are less flush will know to look for the best value.
The Galaxy S6 is the better buy it you're looking for an all-round powerhouse, but if you have the extra money and fancy owning a phone your can wave in the face of your iPhone-owning chums, the Edge and has the ability to turn them green with envy.
Read our Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge review
Vote for the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge in the Phone of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015
Sony Xperia Z3 Contact
With the Xperia Z3 Compact, Sony has done an excellent job of showing its competition that you can release a compact version of a flagship smartphone without butchering the specifications. The Z3 Compact more than holds its own against the more expensive Z3, as well as other rival flagship devices.
In fact, we'd go so far as to say that the Z3 Compact is one of the best sub 5-inch smartphones you can currently get. And even though Sony's mobile division isn't in a great shape at the moment, it seems to have hit its stride with its latest release.
The Z3 Compact isn't perfect, however, with the camera disappointing us despite its fancy specifications. The handset's habit of getting hot when in use is also a shame. We know that Sony is already working on the Z3 Compact's successor for a 2015 launch, which will bring an improved camera and (we hope) improvements to prevent the phone from overheating.
Read our Sony Xperia Z3 Compact review
Vote for the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact in the Phone of the Year category in the T3 Awards 2015