91mobiles Awards 2015: the best smartphones of the year

“Here are the smartphones that made the cut in 2015”

2015 has been a stellar year as far as the Indian smartphone market is concerned. The boom continues unabated, with more international brands making their way to our shores and new Indian ones popping up to claim their share of the pie. The Chinese incursion has grown stronger, and trends like exclusive online retail, flash sales, and even the invite-based selling system have matured and become commonplace up to a point where no one raises an eyebrow at their mention. Incumbents have pulled up their socks and rolled up their sleeves to tackle the competition, coming up with compelling options and innovative strategies to lure customers. The so-called ‘flagship killers’ available these days understandably offer much more than they used to, while specs and features such as high amounts of RAM, high-resolution screens, meaty batteries and fingerprint scanners can be had without spending a bomb. It’s a buyer’s market, more so than ever before… and consumers have a smorgasbord of options available across different price bands.


As the year draws to a close, it’s time for us to look back and acknowledge the phones that rocked our boat. Recognising brilliance across different categories, here’s the second edition of the 91mobiles Awards. Adjudged by the 91mobiles editorial team, these awards represent the best phones of the year 2015, and here they are. For details on the first set of awards, please click on the award names to check out who the nominees and runners-up are. We’ve mentioned the names of the winners for easy reference.Best Budget Smartphone of the Year

  • Winner: Xiaomi Redmi 2 Prime (review)

Best Value-For-Money Smartphone of the Year
  • Winner: Motorola Moto G 3rd-gen (review)

Most Innovative Phone of the Year
  • Winner: Apple iPhone 6s / 6s Plus

Sexiest Phone of the Year
  • Winner: Samsung Galaxy S6 edge (review)

Best Debut of the Year
  • Winner: YU

Best Camera Phone of the Year
  • Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note5

And finally, the most coveted award, the Phone of the Year…

Phone of the Year


Apart from being communication tools, smartphones accomplish a variety of tasks – click photos, help us find our way, act as productivity tools, entertain us on demand and so on and so forth. For our Phone of the Year award, our attempt is to look at smartphones that score the highest on all parameters – style, performance, features, camera quality etc – and come across as true all rounders. These are devices that you’d be proud to own, and promise not to let you down in any scenario. As usual, this category was the subject of heated debates before we finally arrived at the winners. Goes without saying that all the nominees in our list are superb all-rounders, and while it’s lonely at the top and there can only be one winner, each one of these is a solid bet if you’re looking for the best. Here are the nominees for the 91mobiles Phone of the Year award.

OnePlus 2


As the sequel to one of the best value-for-money phones of 2014, the OnePlus 2 had a lot resting on its shoulders. And it delivered. Apart from the fact that the OnePlus 2 is the first mainstream smartphone to feature a USB Type-C port, it scores very high on the VFM aspect and offers specs that are unbeatable in its price range. The phone offers a solid build, smooth performance and good shooters, and as far as we’re concerned, has what it takes to be part of this elite club.



LG’s flagship for the year, the G4 is a really compelling smartphone. The leather-backed variant of the G4 is one of the most stylish and premium-looking phones we’ve seen in a long time, but it has lots more to offer apart from just looks. With its powerful hardware, smooth performance is a given, but what really clinches the deal is its superb snapper. The G4 has a very capable shooter that offers lovely images in almost all lighting conditions. The battery life may be the weak link in the chain, but that doesn’t really take anything away from the fact that this phone is one of the best that came our way his year.

Samsung Galaxy Note5


The Note range from Samsung has been special right from the beginning, and keeps getting better with each iteration. Marking a major shift in its design ethos, Samsung moved to metal and glass construction with its flagships this year, and the Note5 adopts the same sexy design. Superlative performance and awesome camera image quality (the Note5 is the winner of the Best Camera Phone of the Year award, in case you haven’t noticed) are yours for the taking, along with a myriad list of features such as a fingerprint sensor, heart rate monitor and what not. The functionality added by the new and improved S Pen is what takes it to another level.

Apple iPhone 6s Plus


Apple and phablet were two words that didn’t go together, but the iPhone 6 Plus changed that last year. Apple’s flagship this year, the 6s Plus, sticks to the same design, but along with its smaller sibling, the 6s, brings a very notable innovation in the form of 3D Touch. The tech not only changes and enhances usage, but looks like a potential game changer that could change the way we use touchscreen devices. That apart, the 6S Plus also brings in tons of other hardware improvements and a welcome bump in camera capabilities… and just like the previous years, stands out as one of the most loaded and coveted phones of this year.

Google Nexus 6P


Phones entrusted with carrying the Nexus lineage forward have always been special, and do we really need to tell you why? Acting as the showcase for the latest and greatest from Google, these smartphones have been the darlings of Android aficionados since the beginning. This year, we saw Google launch not one, but two Nexus phones, and the Huawei-made Nexus 6P is the more premium of the two. While the specs are loaded as usual, the Nexus 6P shines with its metal build, buttery-smooth performance and cameras that are almost on par with the best. The latest iteration of Android, viz. Marshmallow, is the star of the show, and that’s why, the Nexus 6P is one phone you can’t ignore.

And the winner is:

Deciding the winner for the Phone of the Year award was a tough task, and one look at the list of nominees is enough to tell you why. Each of these phones is a strong contender for the title, but as we mentioned previously, there can only be one winner. We’ll start by announcing the runners up first.

Runners up: Apple iPhone 6s Plus

Apple’s best may be second in our list, but rest assured that it’s really second to none when it comes to what it brings to the table. With the latest, most loaded iPhone in your hand, you can be sure of drawing eyeballs wherever you go, but flaunt-worthiness apart, it’s got everything one wants in a daily driver. 3D Touch may have added an extra layer of complexity to iOS, a platform that has always been known for its intuitiveness and fluidity, but the content and accessories ecosystem available for iPhones is unmatched. 3D Touch is a worthy innovation by itself, and we can’t wait to see how it progresses from here.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note5

Just leave that S Pen on the side for a bit, and consider the Note5 without its hero feature. It stands out in terms of design, comes loaded with features (both hardware and software), offers a lovely, high-res screen and won’t let you down when it comes to performance. The camera image quality is the best in the business, but throw the S Pen back into the equation, and things change quite a bit. The S Pen is a powerful tool, enhancing usage in a significant way when used to its fullest. This makes the Note5 a very compelling package, and also the winner of this year’s 91Mobiles Phone of the Year award.

This wraps up the 91mobiles Awards for 2015, but if this year’s any indication, 2016 promises to be even better. So here’s to exploring the cool gadgets lying in store for us… together.

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