After a week of furious voting (well, not quite…) we’re pleased to announce the best things of 2015, as voted by Ausdroid’s audience. We’ll be announcing our staff picks next week, but for now, we’d like to take the wraps of what’s the best as voted by you.
We had three major categories this year; best phone, best smartwatch, and best manufacturer. We’ve left tablets off this year, as we’ve previously had quite a bit to say about the quality of Android tablets (and the relative lack thereof). There are other things that we think are fantastic, too, but these are the big three categories that matter, and this kind of thing helps inform our coverage going forward, as well.
So, without further ado, here they are.
Best Phone of 2015 – Huawei Nexus 6P
Runner up: LG G4
Really, there shouldn’t be a surprise here. We’ve heaped praise on the Huawei Nexus 6P and for good reason. It is, without doubt, one of the best phones of the year — it’s powerful, it’s beautiful, it does everything as advertised, and despite a minor hiccup with Telstra compatibility, Huawei demonstrated their responsiveness in fixing the issue in mere weeks.
That LG’s G4 is the runner up isn’t surprising to anyone. It is, in my assessment, the best non-Nexus phone released this year, and by a reasonably good margin, and it is the likely candidate for our staff pick of the best phone of the year. LG picked the best combination of battery capacity, style and functionality, software and camera prowess, and put it into a stunning package.
Samsung’s 2015 Galaxy range came in third place (the results for Note 5 and Galaxy S6 variants were tied), slightly ahead of the LG Nexus 5X.
Best Smartwatch of 2015 – Huawei Watch
Runner up: LG Urbane
What can we say? I think we all agree here that Huawei have hit it out of the park with smartwatches this year, and the Huawei Watch is simply stunning. It combines the best of all features — it looks amazing, it feels amazing on, and the software experience is top notch.
Perhaps one of the reasons the Huawei Watch is so popular by comparison to others is by the things the competition lack, rather than what the Huawei Watch has. LG’s Urbane is a great watch, but delayed availability (and it’s chunky size) let it down. Samsung’s Gear S2 is a great watch too (and one I rather like using), but its rubber wristband and ‘sports watch’ look don’t appeal to those who like to dress it up a little. Motorola’s Moto 360 v2 is a good watch too, in fact its beautiful, but the fact that you can’t even buy it here really wins it no favours, so we didn’t even include it as an option.
Favourite Manufacturer of 2015 – Huawei
Runner up: LG
It’s right about now that we start to feel a little bit like shills for Huawei, but we didn’t vote on this. You guys did, and with Huawei taking out the best phone and best smartwatch, it makes sense they’d be the favoured manufacturer too. They are.
Though the chart above doesn’t show it clearly, the second place goes to LG (the label didn’t export), and they only missed out by three votes. LG have come ahead in leaps and bounds in recent years, and their success has been best demonstrated by the Nexus 5, G4 this year, and more recently the Nexus 5X. LG understand what Android users want, and how to best package it up, and if their trajectory continues, 2016 looks to be an amazing year for them too.
Motorola and Samsung tied in third place on 20 votes each, a result that we’re fairly comfortable with. Motorola have been producing great handsets, but delayed availability of some of their handsets has hurt their success in 2015. Samsung, on the other hand, have cut back from producing a million different handset variants each year, and with a slightly reduced range, the quality of those phones released has definitely increased.
We’re a little surprised to see Sony in fourth place, but it is probably about right; Sony didn’t release much by way of top-shelf Android products until late in the year, and while the Xperia Z5 range is quite good, the late release didn’t leave enough time for consumers to become enamoured with the brand this year. Sony also deserves a big up for releasing the best range of Android TVs currently on the market.
What to make from this?
Huawei are fast becoming fan favourites in the Android world. Though they’ve had a few handsets now, and they’ve been in consumer space for quite some time, 2015 is really the year when they’ve hit it out of the park and shone brightly; the Huawei P8 was an early run on the board, and with the Huawei Watch and Nexus 6P, Huawei really did surge ahead. We’re really excited to see what they bring in 2016, though there are some lessons to be learned too; what works for the Chinese market might not necessarily be successful elsewhere, and Huawei have been – justifiably – criticised for their over-reliance on their ‘Emotion UI’ which isn’t overly favoured in the Australian context.
LG have been in the Android race a little longer, and though they started as a more cost-effective brand, they’ve really made a telling entrance to the top shelf in the last couple of years. The LG G3 really was an order of magnitude ahead of their prior work, and the LG G4 was the same again; in fact, eight months after release, it’s the phone I continue to use today after trying a few others in between. LG deserve their recognition; they’ve delivered the first non-Nexus handset to receive an update to the latest Android release, they’ve packaged in the best mobile camera, and paired it with great battery life and stunning design.
If this is anything to go by, LG’s G5 next year is going to be one amazing handset.