These are the best smartphones you can buy in 2015, whittled down from our in-depth mobile phone reviews. Whether you're after a compact, budget mobile or a flagship, 5in+ smartphone, we have a recommendation for you.
No longer just used to make phone calls and send text messages, our smartphones have become pocketable multimedia powerhouses, used for listening to music, watching movies, controlling our AV systems, browsing the internet and more. So choosing the right one is crucial.
It’s been a busy few years for the smartphone market, as Apple’s iPhone has had to make way for a flurry of the best Android phones we've ever seen, and a few Windows Phone handsets. But which are the best smartphones on the market, and which of the new 2015 smartphones should be on your radar? Read on...
Best smartphones 2015
Five stars - Best smartphone up to 5in, Awards 2014
The new iPhone 6 is a clear sign that Apple has succumbed to the desire for bigger screens. Gone is the 4in screen of the iPhone 5S, being replaced by one measuring 4.7in.
On paper it shouldn't be able to come close to anything in the Android camp, but when you actually use one, you'll realise that better specs doesn't necessarily mean better overall. For this is not only the best iPhone ever, but one of the best smartphones released in 2014.
Apple has given the iPhone a complete overhaul and made improvements in pretty much all areas. It's slimmer and has a more premium finish; it was always going to be hard to better the quality of the 5S but Apple has managed it. The iPhone 6 still doesn't have a Full HD screen, but that doesn't mean it can't produce a clear image, on the contrary, images are sharp, detailed and colours are natural. Audio quality is as excellent as ever, and the camera produces clear, detailed images.
iOS 8 brings with it a heap of new features that allow you to sync up with other iDevices and Macbooks. Overall, it's a far better experience than before and a well-deserved winner of a What Hi-Fi? award.
MORE: Read our full Apple iPhone 6 review
Five stars, Best smartphone 5in+ Awards 2014
With the rise in the number of smartphones with screens bigger than 5-inches, we had to create an Award for them. The Sony Xperia Z3 is the first winner of the prize, and for good reason.
Released just some six months after its Z2 predecessor, Sony has managed to improve all the bits that needed to be, producing a superb smartphone.
The whole design of the phone has been refined, making it much easier to hold in everyday use. The screen meanwhile has been kept at Full HD 1080p, rather than opting for 2K like some rivals. But with image tech taken from its TV range, the Z3s picture is sharp and punchy.
High-resolution audio makes an apperance once again and tracks are delivered with plenty of bite with dynamics being on point. The camera is good once again, being able to produce decent shots in low light. But one of the stand-out features of the Z3 is the battery life. Sony claims it can last two full days through normal use, and in our tests, we came just short of this.
Quite simply, if you're after a big phone and you're a loyal fan of Android, this is the phone to get.
MORE: Read our full Sony Xperia Z3 review
Best alternative smartphones 2015
The HTC One M8 took everything that was good with the HTC One, added some extra features and made it great. The One M8 is as lovely to hold as is it to use thanks to its 90% metal body and a processor upgrade and addition of a microSD card slot are welcomed with open arms. If you're after one of the best Android phones currently on the market, then look no further.
MORE: Read our full HTC One M8 review
The G3 arrived on the smartphone scene with incredibly big shoes to fill. But fill them it does. With a stonkingly sharp Quad HD display, lightning fast processor and a fantastic camera, the LG G3 is a vast improvement over the G2, which is certainly saying something. One of the best smartphones available at the moment, the G3 definitely warrants your attention.
MORE: Read our full LG G3 review
While the Z3 may now be on the market and king of the Android crowd, the Z2 is still worthy of your consideration, and now available at a more affordable price.
The Z3 features slight improvements and refinements, which means the Z2 is still a very capable smartphone.
MORE: Read our full Sony Xperia Z2 review
The Samsung Galaxy S5 was officially revealed at MWC and... well, we're a little underwhelmed.
There are clear improvements, refinements to the OS, improvements to the specs, the addition of some new features, but the plastic casing remains and despite a finger scanner and heart rate monitor, we hoped for more innovation.
MORE: Read our full Samsung Galaxy S5 review
Best budget smartphone
It might be nearly a year old, but we're still big fans of Google's Nexus 5. A recent re-test saw it lose its full five stars to become a solid four, but if you're looking for a budget smartphone there's still a lot here to like.
Running Android's latest 4.4 KitKat iteration, the Nexus 5 offers the purest form of Android, an experience that was much revered on its predecessor, the Nexus 4, and we love it here too.
It's slick and easy to use, picture quality is good and we love its way with music. If only it's camera was a little bit better... but at this price, we can forgive it.
Because like its predecessor, the Nexus 5 has a very reasonable price tag compared to other similarly specced handsets, available at £299 (16GB) or £339 (32GB) (or even a little cheaper with a bit of internet searching). Welcome to the 'budget' category of the smartphone world.
While it's had to make way for some better performing handsets in 2014, we can't wait to see what's next for Google's handset. Bring on the Nexus 6...
MORE: Read our full Nexus 5 review
Best Windows Phone smartphone
Windows Phone has had quite the battle on its hands up against the mobile behemoths of iOS and Android, but the Nokia Lumia 925 has done its best to draw users over the WinPho way of life, alongside the likes of the flagship Lumia 1020 and the Lumia 1520 phablet.
In place of the Nokia Lumia 920’s shiny plastic shell, the Lumia 925 has opted for a slimmer, lighter and classier design, with a metal edge and understated matte polycarbonate back panel. Its camera is a key focus too, offering pinsharp snaps with a fast autofocus and natural colour palette.
The Nokia Lumia 925 now has a successor in the form of the recently announced Lumia 930, which we'll be reviewing very soon. This means you can get the Lumia 925 at a better price than ever, making it very much worth a look.
MORE: Read our full Nokia Lumia 925 review
ALSO CONSIDER: Nokia Lumia 1520
Other phones to consider
Here's a selection of more mobile phones that we think are worth looking out for during 2015, complete with links to relevant news stories and hands-on reviews.
Take a look at the long-awaited, much-rumoured "budget" iPhone 5C. A cheap iPhone, it is not, but it is indeed, as the rumours tipped, a plastic iPhone.
The iPhone 5C doesn’t feel like a plastic phone, and as the firm has gone to great lengths to explain, this is different. Rather like the M&S ads in fact, this isn’t just plastic, this is Apple iPhone plastic.
And on first impressions, they might just be right. The iPhone 5C is a quality, and slightly different product – and after playing with it, it's easy to imagine the 5C becoming another Apple hit.
More: Read our hands on iPhone 5C review
The original phablet is back and, Samsung says, better than ever. The Galaxy Note 3, launched at IFA 2013, comes with a new, soft-textured back panel, doing away with the infamous plastic casing and has an even bigger 5.7in screen.
On the inside you'll find, crucially, support for hi-res audio, as well as a new and improved S Pen stylus for tapping away on that big, 1080p Super AMOLED screen.
MORE: Read our full Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review
It has a 6.4in screen, which uses the same Triluminos technology seen in the company's 2013 TVs, and the latest Bravia X-Reality Engine. And despite its size, its a fully fledged 4G smartphone too. Too big? Read our review and decide for yourself...
MORE: Read our full Sony Xperia Z Ultra review
2015 phones coming soon
The first big announcement from Mobile World Congress was the new flagship HTC phone, the HTC One M9. It takes design aspects from both its predecessors, with the M7's more angular build, coupled with the M8's aluminium unibody. The result is a fine looking smartphone.
HTC's kept a full HD display, deciding not to opt for a 2K resolution just yet, but has improved the audio. The One M9 now supports high-res audio and Dolby Audio surround sound processing.
Elsewhere, there's the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage and a microSD card slot for expanding that storage.
The HTC One (M8) was one of our favourite smartphones of 2014, so the One M9 has big shoes to fill.
It seems Samsung has taken feedback from the S5 seriously. Many felt the plastic build didn't justify its price tag, and so the S6 now features a metal and glass construction. And it's the best-looking Galaxy phone yet.
It comes packing a 5.1in Super AMOLED 2K screen and boasting a huge 577ppi. Samsung has decided to use its own Exynos processor along with 3GB of RAM, and there are storage options of 32, 64 and 128GB. This isn't expandable however and there's no removable battery.
After the relative disappointment of the Galaxy S5, the new S6 looks far more promising. Look out for our full review.
Samsung brought a second phone with it to MWC, the Galaxy S6 Edge (pictured). It's identical in terms of hardware to its S6 brother, the only real difference is the screen. The S6 Edge's display curves off at both sides on the front and on the back, and this design feature has been used in a number of intuitive ways.
You can view various notifications such as the weather, time, missed calls and text messages along one edge, adn dismiss them by simply swiping the side. You can also set colours for your favourite contacts and the edge of the phone will light up in this colour to let you know who's calling.
It's certainly an interesting design and shows Samsung willing to push smartphone innovation. You can read our first impressions of how the phone feels and functions in our hands-on review.
See all our smartphone reviews