By James Peckham Last updated
2015 has been one of the most exciting years in the mobile phone industry so far - as you'd expect, of course. We've seen new screen technology, faster processors, the best cameras ever in a phone, and some actual improvement to battery life.
Releases throughout the year have continued to impress, but sadly 2015 hasn't been without its smartphone low points - but largely phone fans the world over will look back over the time since last Christmas and marvel at what we've seen.
So sit back, grab a sherry and enjoy reminiscing about a year that changed things up in the world of phones.
LG G Flex 2
LG kicked off the year with its G Flex 2, announced in the first few days of January at CES 2015. It's the second attempt from the company at making a flexible phone, and it's quite clear this is just an experiment in new screen technology.
But the fact you can actually bend this phone further than you can the original G Flex proves LG made steps in the right direction.
If you sit on the 5.5-inch phone, it'll bend along with your backside. Plus it's a great talking point in the pub when you whip it out and bend it on the table. It'll make your entire group of friends gasp... or just entirely ignore you for being such a dweeb.
- Read our review of the LG G Flex 2
Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge
After a lacklustre 2014, Samsung hit back hard with its two flagship phones. In March, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge joined the smartphone game and proved to be two of the most exciting devices of the year. .
The Galaxy S6 Edge had the most visually appealing screen technology we've seen for quite some time. It has a flexible screen, like the G Flex 2, but instead of being able to bend it yourself, it just gives you curved edges along the side of the phone.
Largely useless as a feature, but the Galaxy S6 Edge still proved to be one of the best looking phones on the market all year. If you wanted the coolest looking phone in 2015, the Edge was certainly that - and the 'normal' S6 was still a popular handset too.
- Read our review of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
HTC One M9
Despite being nowhere near as exciting as the HTC One M8, 2015's One M9 was still an impressive set up. The design of this phone is still beautiful, but it went for a sharper look that didn't really excite Android fans when the Galaxy S6 Edge was so different to what had gone before.
The BoomSound speakers still impressed and the Full HD display on the front was stunning once again. The uprated camera did offer some strong shots (although not always), but it was a shame the battery wasn't up to scratch.
- Read our review of the HTC One M9
In April eyebrows across the world rose when the LG G4 was announced. Instead of the plastic, metal effect back panel we saw on the LG G3, the company decided to opt for a leather one instead. It's still not something we can get behind though and a lot of people agree.
The plastic version of the LG G4 is a decent, well-packaged device though and it featured one of the best screens we've ever seen on a phone. It's a 5.5-inch QHD offering that looks as pin-sharp as anything else on the market right now.
Plus the excellent camera (again) from LG shows once more that we've seen huge bounds forward in smartphone snapping prowess in 2015.
- Read our review of the LG G4
The follow-up to the OnePlus One back in July wasn't quite what some people were hoping for. There just weren't enough new “flagship killer” specs to make it a worthwhile upgrade in the eyes of many fans.
It even lost NFC support which means you won't be able to use Android Pay on the phone...when it launches in the UK.
But the phone still sold well, and at the end 2015 the controversial invite system was dropped so you can buy it whenever you want. It'll be interesting to see what happens with the inevitable OnePlus 3 next year too - can the brand keep its promise of super cheap super phones into 2016?.
Don't forget the brand diversified too, into the even cheaper price bracket this year with the OnePlus X that came in under £200.
- Read our review of the OnePlus 2
iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus
Every year we know it's going to happen, and 2015 was no surprise. The new iPhones. Apple's addition to 2015.
In September, we saw the next iterative update to the iPhone in the form of the 6S and 6S Plus. As predicted it wasn't as exciting as the iPhone 6, but it did come with a few highlights.
The coolest step was introducing the Force Touch technology from the Apple Watch onto the iPhone 6S display. Here it was called 3D Touch and meant you can press down harder and get different functionality compared to a normal tap.
There were also some camera improvements as well as the introduction of Live Photos that film little clips before and after you press the snapper. It's smart as it means you always record video and you won't miss important moments - but let's not kid ourselves, it's hardly revolutionary.
- Read our review of the iPhone 6S
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Galaxy Note 5
Samsung decided to launch two new phones at the tail end of this year, but only one made its way to the UK. We still haven't seen the Galaxy Note 5 hit our shores, but we're hoping in January it'll make it to the UK.
We did get the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+ to make up for it though – the most complicated phone name known to man. It was essentially a larger version of the S6 Edge we saw earlier in the year with a bigger display, more power and a better battery.
Functionality on the edge displays still don't prove all that useful, but it's a gorgeous looking phone. Having those curved screens on a phablet was a great choice from Samsung and continued its strong run in 2015.
- Read our review of the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge+
Sony Xperia Z5 series
Sony's whole Xperia Z5 range was launched in September this year and it predictably brought about some of the best phones we've seen from the company. The Xperia Z5 'normal' model in particular has had some big design changes, including the frosted glass back and metal edges.
Then there's the Xperia Z5 Compact that comes with a 720p 4.6-inch screen. It's a great size for anyone with smaller hands, but the resolution of the screen still is crying out to be upgraded to Full HD.
The Xperia Z5 Premium is the headline member of the family though, as the first phone to ever feature a 4K display. There's barely a single file out there that this phone can't render sharply - in fact, the problem at the moment is it's difficult to actually find any 4K content to watch on it.
- Read our review of the Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X
There's no denying the Nexus 6 from 2014 wasn't a classic phone from Google. Motorola's attempt at making a phablet turned out to be too thick and paired with a lacklustre design, no-one was that interested.
So Google went back to the drawing board and brought in LG and Huawei to create a follow-ups. It took the form of the 5X, but the real headline phone was the Nexus 6P.
The first phones to run Android 6 Marshmallow, both already an easy sell. The Nexus 6P in particular was a solidly designed handset and packed some incredible specs on board to make it one of the best phones of the year.
- Read our review of the Nexus 6P
2015 showed that BlackBerry still had enough about itself to show it could still be relevant in the smartphone world. The Passport was a confusing phone for so many last year, so the company decided to switch to Android as it sought to make a decent handset.
The BlackBerry Priv was the first slider phone from the company for quite some time, and still came with the iconic QWERTY keyboard as well as all the normal Android smarts.
The fact BlackBerry ditched BB10 software this year and gave into Android is a great step. Android 5.1 Lollipop software is on the device right now and it makes it feel totally different to anything else BlackBerry has created.
- Read our review of the BlackBerry Priv
Microsoft Lumia 950 XL
The last phone release of the year was from Microsoft. After having a successful year with the launch of Windows 10, we finally got the first phone from the brand to actually show it could work on a smaller screen too.
Forget the Lumia 950 though; it's all about the Lumia 950 XL. It's a phone with a great screen, strong camera and using one of the best processors we've seen in a flagship phone this year.
Problem is it's still running Windows 10 software and though it claims to act much like a computer, there are still some big issues that haunt, with one of the big ones being the lack of apps.
- Read our review of the Microsoft Lumia 950 XL