The year 2015 was indeed an exciting one, especially for us smartphone enthusiasts. Hundreds of smartphones were released in the market this year, but only some have managed to grab our attention. A lot of consumers shifted from feature phones to smartphones for the first time in their lives. To target such audience, which has a huge market potential, smartphone brands from around the world launched well-specced devices. Heck, Google even rolled out the latest Android 6.0 Marshmallow update to modestly-specced Android One devices before it did to some Nexus devices.
However, it doesn't mean that the mid-range and high-end smartphone market didn't see enough competition. We saw brands like OnePlus, Motorola, Xiaomi, and ASUS launching great mid-range smartphones that can even shame some high-end smartphones in terms of specifications. The OnePlus 2 and the ASUS Zenfone 2 with 4GB RAM being priced below Rs. 30,000 was a feat in itself. Apple and Samsung, as usual, battled it out in the high-end segment. As the year 2015 is nearing its end, we thought that we could compile a list of the best Android-based smartphones of the year.
Note that I've used most of these smartphones, if not all. I've placed these smartphones in separate price brackets to give you a better idea of what to expect from smartphones in each price range. This will also help you sort down and shortlist your potential purchases. It is a fact that there could be no one smartphone in a price range that can defeat all its competitors on all fronts, so you can understand why I've listed a bunch of them in every price category. Every smartphone in each price list is good at something or the other from its competitors, thereby earning its place in the list.
Below Rs. 10,000
1. Micromax Canvas A1 AQ4502 (8GB ROM)
Even though Android One smartphones provide very satisfying software experience, they got lost in the flood of smartphones launches due to their modest specifications. A big mistake from Google in the Android One lineup was to use just 4GB of internal storage.
Even after Android 6.0 Marshmallow update was released to these phones, where users have options to format microSD card slots as internal memory, it was hard for users to not feel the urge to have higher internal storage. However, Micromax did a great thing by launching a variant of the Canvas A1 with 8GB ROM.
2. Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime - Rs. 6,999
If you are looking for good hardware specifications and camera performance with a budget of around Rs. 6,000 to Rs. 7,000, the Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime could be a good smartphone pick. There's an HD IPS LCD display at this price point, and the combination of an 8-megapixel primary camera with 1080p video recording and a 2-megapixel secondary camera is the absolute best in this price range. Moreover, it also features dual-SIM card slot with 4G LTE connectivity, an ample 16GB ROM, and a 2,200 mAh battery.
3. Xiaomi Redmi Note Prime - Rs. 8,499
After the dual-SIM variant of Xiaomi's first budget phablet was forced out from the Indian smartphone market due to patent licensing issues, the Chinese smartphone brand recently launched its slightly modified variant. The Xiaomi Redmi Note Prime, which is available exclusively through Amazon, features specifications similar to the original Redmi Note, but comes with a better Snapdragon 410 processor and dual-SIM card slot with 4G LTE connectivity.
4. YU Yureka - Rs. 8,999
Micromax-backed YU Televenture's first smartphone, the YU Yureka, grabbed a lot of consumer interest since it offers very good specifications for its price and it comes with Cyanogen OS. This smartphone comes with 'Moonstone' finish, similar to OnePlus One's Sandstone finish.
It features a 5.5-inch HD IPS LCD display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection, a 13-megapixel primary camera, a 5-megapixel secondary camera, and a 2,500 mAh battery. It is also equipped with an octa-core Snapdragon 615 processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, dual-SIM connectivity with 4G LTE, and will be upgraded with Android 6.0 Marshmallow soon.
5. Coolpad Note 3 - Rs. 8,999
Fingerprint sensors are becoming a norm in the high-end smartphone category. They provide an extra level of security to your smartphone and the sensitive data that's present in the device. If you desire for a smartphone with a fingerprint sensor, but don't have more than Rs. 10,000, you are in luck.
You can get the Coolpad Note 3 for just Rs. 8,999. Not only does it give you a touch-based fingerprint sensor at its back, it even comes with Android 5.1 Lollipop, a 5.5-inch HD display, a 13-megapixel primary camera, a 5-megapixel secondary camera, 4G LTE (dual-SIM), and a 3,000 mAh battery in this device.
6. MEIZU m2 note - Rs. 9,999
If you can't stand the design of the Coolpad Note 3 or the Lenovo K3 Note, the MEIZU m2 note might be a device suited to your needs. Its unibody exterior is easy on the eyes, thanks to its unibody design.
In terms of specifications, it runs the company's own Flyme OS v4.5, which has a minimalistic UI design. It is equipped with a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, a 13-megapixel primary camera, a 5-megapixel secondary camera, a hybrid dual-SIM card slot, and a 3,100 mAh battery.
7. Lenovo K3 Note - Rs. 9,999
The Lenovo K3 Note was one of the most successful smartphones in its price range, and that's due to completeness of its specifications list. It comes with a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, a 64-bit Mediatek MT6752 octa-core processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB internal storage, microSD card slot, and a large 3,000 mAh battery.
There's a 13-megapixel primary camera with 1080p video recording and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. Dual-SIM card slot with 4G LTE connectivity and Bluetooth v4.1 are present as well. It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, but is poised to receive Android 6.0 Marshmallow update as soon as Q2 or Q3 2016 (depending on the market).
Rs. 10,000 - Rs. 20,000
Xiaomi Mi4i (16GB) - Rs. 11,999
Xiaomi's first smartphone that's specially made for India, the Mi 4i, comes with a 5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, a Snapdragon 615 processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB storage, a dual-SIM card slot with 4G LTE connectivity, and a 3120 mAh battery.
Powered by Android 5.0 Lollipop-based MIUI 7, it comes equipped with a 13-megapixel primary camera with dual-tone LED flash and a 5-megapixel secondary camera. If you want a compact and inexpensive smartphone with a good screen and a good camera, this could be it.
Motorola Moto G Turbo Edition - Rs. 14,499
Motorola launched an improvised version of the Moto G (3rd Gen) last week. The Moto G (3rd Gen) was already a great phone, thanks to its great build quality, satisfying software performance, spash-resistance, and long-lasting battery life. The Moto G Turbo Edition keeps all those good points, and comes with a faster Snapdragon 615 processor and a better IP67 water and dust-resistance.
It has a 13-megapixel primary camera with dual-tone LED flash and a 5-megapixel secondary camera. Those who want a solidly-built and consistently performing smartphone that is also water-resistant, the Motorola Moto G Turbo Edition could be the best choice.
Samsung Galaxy J7 - Rs. 14,999
The Samsung Galaxy J7 shows how this South Korean smartphone giant is trying to improvise itself to the changing mid-range smartphone market. It comes with a large 5.5-inch HD Super AMOLED display, an octa-core processor, a 13-megapixel camera with ƒ/1.9 aperture, a 5-megapixel secondary camera with front-facing LED flash, dual-SIM 4G LTE, and a large 3,000 mAh battery.
People might think that Samsung smartphones come with the same old, clunky, and slow software, but the Galaxy J7 is different. It comes with a newer, cleaner, and faster Android 5.1 Lollipop-based TouchWiz software. Moreover, the Galaxy J7 has a really long-lasting battery life.
ASUS Zenfone Selfie (3GB RAM) - Rs. 16,999
Are you selfie-obsessed? The ASUS Zenfone Selfie could be a great choice for you. It comes with a really good 13-megapixel front-facing camera with autofocus and dual-tone LED flash. Yes, even the front-facing camera has a large sensor as well as autofocus and a dual-tone flash.
Other specifications include a 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, a quad-core Intel processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, 4G LTE, and a 3,000 mAh battery. Moreover, ASUS has announced that it will release Android 6.0 Marshmallow update for this device.
OnePlus X - Rs. 16,999
Want a compact, slim, and stylish smartphone with fast hardware? The OnePlus X looks like a good bet with its OnePlus One like specifications but in an attractive metal-and-glass build, an AMOLED display, a dual-SIM card slot, and a microSD card slot. However, the battery life isn't that great, so make your choice with your eyes open.
Gionee Marathon M5 - Rs. 17,999
The Gionee Marathon M5 is a good smartphone pick for those who don't care about anything else as much as they do about battery life? It comes with 6,020 mAh battery that can last three to four days, and you can watch videos for around 24 hours continuously on a single charge.
MEIZU MX5 - Rs. 17,999
The best features of the MEIZU MX5 are its metal unibody, its colourful 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display, clean software design, and the fingerprint scanner. It performs well in all conditions, its 20.7-megapixel camera produces good images and 4K videos, and its 3,150 mAh battery easily lasts an entire day.
Motorola Moto X Play (32GB) - Rs. 18,499
The Motorola Moto X Play is for consumers those who want clean software, a good camera, and a long-lasting battery. Sure, it won't last as long as the Gionee Marathon M5, but it also comes with stock Android-like UI and front-facing stereo speakers. Moreover, it will get Android 6.0 update within a few weeks.
OnePlus One (64GB) - Rs. 19,999
The OnePlus One, which was the company's first smartphone, is year-and-a-half old now, but it still stands as a strong contender in its price range. It has a large display, fast software, and a long-lasting battery life. It's dual loudspeakers are really loud, and there's NFC and Quick Charge 2.0 compatibility, unlike the OnePlus X or the OnePlus 2 where the company settled with some corners cut.
Rs. 20,000 - Rs. 30,000
Lenovo Vibe Shot - Rs. 23,999
The Lenovo Vibe Shot is a digital camera disguised as a smartphone. Heck, it is even styled as a compact digital camera on its rear. It comes equipped with a 16-megapixel camera with OIS, laser autofocus, and triple-tone LED flash. The front-facing camera has a resolution of 8 megapixels. It clicks sharp and vibrant images no matter what the surrounding conditions are, and that's a really amazing feat to achieve in this price range.
Sony Xperia Z3 Compact - Rs. 24,999
We rarely get to see compact smartphones with high-end internals as well as long-lasting battery life. The Sony Xperia Z3 Compact is one such smartphone. It packs a Snapdragon 801 processor, a 20.7-megapixel primary camera with 4K video recording, water and dust resistance, and a long-lasting 2,600 mAh battery.
OnePlus 2 - Rs. 24,999
One of the best overall smartphones in its price range, the OnePlus 2, brings an improved display, a class-leading 13-megapixel camera with OIS and laser autofocus, dual-SIM card slot with 4G LTE connectivity, and a large 3,300 mAh battery. Yes, there's no NFC, removable battery, and Quick Charge compatibility, but it comes with a fast fingerprint sensor and a customisable OxygenOS software.
YU Yutopia - Rs. 24,999
The Micromax-backed smartphone brand's fourth and its most expensive smartphone to date, the YU Yutopia, was announced last week. From what we can see, it competes directly with the OnePlus 2. It comes with specifications that can shame even high-end smartphones that are leagues above in terms of price.
It runs Cyanogen branded Android 5.1.1 Lollipop, and comes equipped with a 5.5-inch QHD display, a 20.7-megapixel camera with phase-detection autofocus and OIS, and a 8-megapixel front-facing camera. There's a Snapdragon 810 processor, 4GB LP-DDR4 RAM, 32GB ROM, a microSD card slot, and a 3,000 mAh battery.
Samsung Galaxy A8 - Rs. 27,499
The Samsung Galaxy A8 is one of those few premium mid-range smartphones in the market. It comes with a splendid 5.5-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, fast performance through Exynos 7580 octa-core processor, a 16-megapixel camera that clicks decent images, dual-SIM card slot with 4G LTE, and a long-lasting 3,050 mAh battery.
LG Nexus 5X (32GB) - Rs. 29,825
If you longed for a Nexus device with a great camera and compact size, the LG Nexus 5X will make you happy. It has a compact polycarbonate shell, a 5.2-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and a really fast fingerprint sensor at the back. The combination of a hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor and 2GB RAM doesn't deliver performance as fast as expected.
Its 12.3-megapixel primary camera with a 1/2.3-inch sensor from Sony that was meant to be used in camcorders does a really good job of capturing details in images. The phase-detection autofocus that is accompanied by laser autofocus makes this camera even better. However, its 2,700 mAh battery doesn't last till the end of the day even with the new 'Doze' feature.
Rs. 30,000 - Rs. 40,000
Motorola Moto X Style (32GB) - Rs. 31,990
The cheapest smartphone in this price segment, the Moto X Style, offers the best from Motorola. It has a big, bright 5.7-inch QHD AMOLED display, a 21-megapixel primary camera, a 5-megapixel secondary camera with an LED flash, and it has already started receiving Android 6.0 Marshmallow update.
Moreover, the Motorola Moto X Style comes with really loud front-facing stereo speakers, thereby offering a great multimedia experience. However, the camera doesn't do justice to its megapixel or sensor size rating when the surrounding doesn't have enough light. Reason? It lacks OIS, so shutter speed can't go much lower to gather enough light.
LG G4 - Rs. 32,243
The LG G4 is something that attracts long-time Samsung loyalists. Why? LG has decided to offer a large removable battery, a microSD card slot, and even dual-SIM card slot. Its 16-megapixel camera with OIS, ƒ/1.8 aperture, and laser autofocus is as good as the on the Galaxy S6. However, the camera pulls the G4 ahead of the Galaxy S6 in the manual mode as it offers a lot of features.
Otherwise it's closely matched with the Galaxy S6. The G4 runs Android 5.1 Lollipop, and comes with a 5.5-inch QHD IPS LCD display, a 64-bit hexa-core Snapdragon 808 processor, 3GB RAM, 32GB internal storage, a microSD card slot, a 3,000 mAh battery, and 4G LTE. LG has even started rolling out Marshmallow update in some countries.
Samsung Galaxy S6 (64GB) - Rs. 37,990
Samsung turned its design strategy upside down with the Galaxy S6. Gone is creaky, cheap-feeling, plastic exterior. The Samsung Galaxy S6 comes with a glass-and-metal sandwich design that feels strong and looks beautiful. However, the company had to drop the facility to use a removable battery mechanism and the microSD card slot, which definitely angered a lot of long-time fans.
The Galaxy S6 comes with a brilliant 5.2-inch QHD Super AMOLED display, a blazing-fast Exynos 7420 processor, 3GB LP-DDR4 RAM, a fast 64GB UFS 2.0 storage, 4G LTE, and a 2,550 mAh battery. The 16-megapixel camera falls short by a hair's margin when compared to the LG G4's in the manual mode, but clicks better images when used in Auto Mode, and that's what most people use.
I've not recommended the Galaxy S6 edge, which comes with a dual edge curved display, which looks beautiful. Its slopes make the hamburger menu look as if it's coming inside from the slope of the screen. However, it's not practical to use. The slopes on the sides of the display make it very hard to pick up the phone when its kept on a tablet. Also, fingers touch the sides of the display and make it harder while typing on the keyboard.
Above Rs. 40,000
Huawei Nexus 6P (64GB) - Rs. 42,999
If you are an Android purist, and want to buy a high-end phablet, the Huawei Nexus 6P is the best pick for your needs. It comes with Android 6.0 Marshmallow out of the box, a QHD AMOLED display that's sourced from none other than Samsung, and comes with a new set of cameras.
The rear-facing camera uses a 12.3-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor with larger 1.55µm pixels, phase-detection and laser autofocus, and a wide-angle lens with ƒ/2.0 aperture. The image quality is great (not as good as the Galaxy Note 5) even in low-light conditions. It can record 4K videos at 30 frames per second and it can even record slow-motion 720p videos at 240 fps. Even the 8-megapixel front-facing camera clicks clear and realistic looking selfies.
The Nexus 6P might be the best-performing smartphone with a Snapdragon 810 processor as it runs cool and doesn't throttle as much even under heavy workloads. It works well in all types of tasks, be it web browsing or graphic-intensive gaming. It even comes with front-facing stereo speakers and an immensely fast fingerprint sensor. All in all, it's one of the best Android smartphones right now.
Samsung Galaxy Note 5 (64GB) - Rs. 53,490
Samsung was the first smartphone brand to bring high-specced Android smartphone with a big, high-resolution display and a nifty capacitive stylus in the form of the Galaxy Note. Four years later, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is still the undisputed king of the phablet category. Don't get me wrong. The Nexus 6P is really good, but the Galaxy Note 5 is even better.
Why? Here are some of the reasons:
- It comes with the 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display, which is absolutely the best in the complete smartphone industry, be it the colours, contrast ratio, black levels, or brightness.
- The combination of Exynos 7420 octa-core processor, 4GB LP-DDR4 RAM, and 32/64GB of UFS 2.0 storage is faster than any other Android smartphone in the market right now.
- The new and improved S Pen offers a lot of features to crop, copy, cut, paste, scribble, and jot content.
- The 16-megapixel camera with OIS, ƒ/1.9 aperture, and phase-detection autofocus can record 4K videos. In terms of quality it is the best camera in any smartphone right now. Even the 5-megapixel front-facing camera with ƒ/1.9 aperture, QHD video recording, and wide-angle lens clicks some really good selfies.
- The new version of TouchWiz is really good, snappy, and doesn't slow down like the earlier versions. It even gets better with time.
Well, this was a really comprehensive list, and we believe that most readers would be able to find something that suits their needs in the budget that suits their pockets. If you think I've missed out on an important smartphone in this list, do let me know in the comments section below, and we can discuss about it. Also, look out for more 'Year 2015 in Review' stories on our website in the coming days.
P.S. If you find any mistake in the article, do let me know, and we can improve this story collectively so that it could be better for other readers. Cheers!