I was trying to come up with my list of the top smartphones of 2015 and my mind started going in circles. It’s not that there weren’t any good phones released this year. However, none of the smartphones were truly innovative like they were in 2014.
Last year, I named the Galaxy Note 4 as the No. 3 overall tech product of the year. The phone was a big leap from the Galaxy Note 3 in that if finally offered a metal rim on the outside and offered a brilliant Quad HD screen on the inside. It also had an optional virtual reality headset, the Gear VR.
Flash forward one year later and we have the Galaxy Note 5, which feels more like an iPhone. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a great phone and — perhaps — the best one on the market today. But where is the removable battery that Samsung has always been known for? Where is the microSD card slot that Samsung has always been known for? Where is the 4K screen that was promised?
Then, there are the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, perhaps Apple’s most disappointing iPhone update yet. The iPhone 6s kept the same 1334 x 750 screen resolution as the iPhone 6, which is so 2012. The iPhone 6s Plus kept the same 1980 x 1080 screen resolution as the iPhone 6 Plus, which is so 2013. Both added capabilities to shoot 4K videos, but clips still only offer monaural sound.
Before the new iPhones came out, there were the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge. These smartphones were pretty big upgrades for Samsung and the Galaxy S6 Edge was innovative with it’s curved-edge display on both sides. The screen looks absolutely futuristic at first. However, after using the S6 Edge for a couple months, I wished the screen was straight since the sun often reflected on the edges. I also missed the removable battery and microSD card slot of the Galaxy S5.
The HTC One M9 was an underwhelming update from the HTC One M8 that solidified the HTC One brand. Thank God the camera was given a boost to 20.7MP, but the pictures still feel inferior to other smartphone cameras, especially ones taken in low-lit situations. The BoomSound speaker enhancement is good, but in an era where high quality Bluetooth speakers are much better than anything you can get built into a smartphone, that hardly matters.
The smartphone industry has grown tremendously over the past five years. Perhaps, it grew so much that it had to slow down this year. Let’s hope 2016 brings us a year to remember for the smartphone industry.