Shootout: The best flagship smartphone of 2015

By Chester Labaco & James Lu - 7 Jan 2016

Apple iPhone 6s and HTC One M9



Smartphones are one of the most competitive consumer markets out there, especially at the high-end where manufacturers get to showcase their latest and greatest research and development and most luxurious designs. We’ve rounded up six of the best flagship smartphones to find out which is truly the best of the best.

Here are our competitors:

  Huawei Nexus 6P LG V10
  Huawei Nexus 6P LG V10
Operating system
  • Android 6.0 Marshmallow
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810 v2.1 (Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 (quad-core 1.44 GHz & dual-core 1.82 GHz)
Built-in Memory
  • 3GB RAM
  • 4GB RAM
  • 5.7-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (518 ppi) / AMOLED
  • 5.7-inch / 2,560 x 1,440 pixels (515ppi) / IPS
  • Rear: 12.3-megapixel with f/2.0 aperture and laser autofocus
  • Front: 8-megapixel with f/2.4 aperture
  • Rear: 16-megapixel with f/1.8, optical image stabilization and laser autofocus
  • Front: dual 5-megapixel
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac (2.4+5GHz), MIMO (2x2), Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS, GLONASS, USB 2.0 Type-C connector
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, A-GPS, GLONASS, CAT 6 LTE
Storage Type
  • 32 / 64 / 128GB internal storage
  • 64GB internal storage
  • microSD support up to 2TB
  • 3,450mAh
  • 3,000mAh
  • 159.3 x 77.8 x 7.3 mm
  • 159.6 x 79.3 x 8.6 mm
  • 178g
  • 192g


Apple iPhone 6s Plus

The iPhone 6s Plus may look identical to last year's model but once you start using it you realize just how different it is. The biggest addition is 3D Touch, Apple's game-changing technology that we expect to see many brands try to copy and reproduce on their 2016 flagship smartphones.

If you're not familiar with 3D Touch, its a technology built into the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus display that lets it register varying degrees of pressure. With 3D Touch, you can press harder than normal on a homescreen app, and a Quick Actions menu will appear with shortcuts related to that app - like taking a selfie with the camera, or calling one of your favorite contacts. When you’re actually inside an app, you can hard press on web URLs, messages, maps or images to create a ‘Peek’ window that lets you preview that content. Press harder a second time to ‘Pop’ that content open in its related app. 3D Touch is a revolutionary addition to the touchscreen interface that creates a new way to interact with your phone. It makes everything more efficient and convenient and introduces a completely new way to interact with your phone that is both intuitive and incredibly useful. It's the single biggest improvement to the touchscreen since its creation.

And it's not just 3D Touch either, the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus benefit greatly from upgraded cameras and processors, expanded RAM, and better battery life. All of these combine for what is easily the best iPhone ever.


HTC One M9

The HTC One M9 was one of the earliest flagship smartphones released in 2015 (way back in April). As expected from HTC's One line, the phone boasts a combination of luxurious looks and premium materials with a comfortable and ergonomic shape, an excellent display and some of the best stereo speakers available on a smartphone. It's also one of the few flagship smartphones left these days with expandable storage. But for all its good points, there's just nothing particularly exciting about it.

The HTC One's feature set hasn't really grown in two years, and even the Duo camera, one of last year's big features, is missing from the One M9. It's also the only smartphone in this comparison without a fingerprint scanner.

Additionally, areas which HTC have focused on, like the camera and battery life, arguably the two most important features of any smartphone, didn't really impress us, and the M9 isn't even a definite upgrade over last year's model in either of these categories.

Ultimately, despite the lack of innovation or any major upgrades, the One M9 is still a good phone, but it leaves a very big question hanging over HTC's head for 2016. Where does it go from here?