Want to know the best Android phone of 2015? The answer entirely depends on your criteria. Some people are looking for a status symbol, while others are serious bargain hunters. Battery life might be of utmost importance to one person while camera performance is for another. For that reason, we've taken a different angle to the usual 'top ten phones' lists. We know you all look for something in particular, so with that in mind, we've broken down our best Android phones list into categories. These are our picks for the best Android phone in 2015.
The absolute best: Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
It was hard to pass up Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge+ as our top pick. There are many opinions on what makes a phone the best on the market at any given time, but the staff at AndroidPIT agree on one thing – we haven't tested a better smartphone or phablet.
The S6 Edge+ isn't a device for everyone; it's big and expensive. But it goes beyond what other smartphones can offer. From a straight specs viewpoint, the S6 Edge+ has top-of-the-line everything.
From Samsung's insane octa-core processor, to the 16 MP rear camera that we can't fault, to the gorgeous QHD display that's so large and so densely pixelated that it's more immersive than any other phone, the reasons to recommend the S6 Edge+ are almost endless.
But what makes the Galaxy S6 Edge+ the absolute best Android phone right now is the design. It shares some hardware with the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, but aside from its bigger screen size, price and construction, the design of the S6 Edge+ is what makes it stand out from its smaller brethren.
Enveloping the curved display are beautifully crimped edges, machined to a soft line, that look and feel better than those on the S6 and S6 Edge. With its more angular appearance, and the larger, deeper-looking edges flanking the display, the S6 Edge+ is Samsung's most successful design expression yet. It really is quite a thing to behold.
Best all-rounder: Samsung Galaxy S6 / S6 Edge
It may seem strange to recommend two phones for this title, but the all-round quality of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge – and their similarity to each other – means they both deserve it.
After a couple of years of resting on its laurels with the 'S' series design, Samsung created a phone with the looks to match its next-generation hardware. It's an elegant, glossy combination of glass and metal that eradicates the memory of Samsung's previous plastic flagships.
Samsung has bravely done away with a microSD slot and removable back cover, which is a powerful way of saying that everything you need in a phone is already contained within the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge.
A non-removable battery seems all the braver given the phones' QHD displays, but it does a great job, and is boosted by the phone's one-hour fast-charge function. The S6 duo are also far and away the fastest phones in the world thanks to the latest model of Samsung's octa-core Exynos chipsets.
The S6 Edge differs from the S6 by way of its screen, which curves down onto both sides of the phone, offering its own unique set of features, notifications and apps design. It also has a slightly bigger battery, but only by 50 mAh.
Top quality comes at a price though. The Galaxy S6 price starts at US$699 / £599, while the S6 Edge starts at US$899 / £699.
Best price/performance ratio: Honor 7
When it comes to the price/performance ratio, things get interesting. If you can afford to pay close to a grand for a phone, it's easy to get an incredible device, but what if you have a lower price point in mind? How do you make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck?
You weigh up the benefits and features of a phone against its price and make a judgment call on what gets you the best performance and features for the lowest figure, with the fewest compromises.
We've been blessed with several low cost devices this year that have been really impressive performers, but none more so than the Honor 7. Despite being in the sub-US400 price range, this thing looks like a US$700 flagship. Huawei, the parent company behind Honor, knows how to put together a nice-looking phone at any price point.
But the Honor 7 is more than just a pretty face. It also delivers solid performance and a bunch of premium features, including a fingerprint scanner, an all-metal build, excellent battery life and a front-facing camera with an LED flash – a rarity on smartphones in any price bracket. Add to this a great 20 MP main camera, and you can see why this phone is such good value.
Best for battery life: Sony Xperia Z3
There have been several new models in the Xperia Z series since the Z3 came out, but it is still our top pick for best battery life. Battery life is the most important consideration for many smartphone buyers and the Xperia Z3 has proven itself against not only other Xperias, but against the whole crop of 2015 flagships.
Where the Xperia Z3+ had too many issues to warrant the upgrade and the Xperia Z5 doesn't seem to handle the jump to QHD so well in terms of battery life, the Full HD Z3 keeps chugging along with the same great battery optimizations we came to love in the Xperia Z2.
Quick Charge 2.0 also means you get speedy charge cycles and the Z3 has the largest battery capacity out of all recent Xperia phones: Z3 (3,100 mAh), Z3+ (2,930 mAh), Z4v (3,000 mAh) and Z5 (2,900 mAh).
If you want to get best battery life from your phone, you could certainly have a worse starting point than the Xperia Z3. But if you apply all those battery saving tips you've learned over the years to a Z3, you'll be sitting pretty while everyone else is scrambling for a charger.
Best for photography: LG G4
When the LG G Flex 2 arrived back in January we were amazed at how good its camera was. LG had already made great gains in the camera department on the LG G3, but the G Flex 2 was a quantum leap forward. Jump ahead a few more months to the LG G4, and the camera and its software had been improved upon yet again.
While it can be said that the Galaxy S6 or S6 Edge have a better camera than the G4, the difference is very minimal and you'll pay a lot more for an S6 or S6 Edge. The LG G4 offers one of the very best cameras on Android for several hundred dollars less than its closest competition, and that earned it the 'best for photographers' crown.
The LG G4 has a 16 MP primary camera, equipped with an unbeatable laser auto-focus module, which provides outstanding low-light performance and super-fast and accurate focusing. Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), manual mode, RAW support and fantastic camera software round out the G4 nicely.
Best under US$400: OnePlus 2
The sub-$400 price bracket is hotly contested, and in 2015 it's included more awesome phones than in any other year. As flagships have gotten more expensive, mid-range phones have stepped up in terms of quality and features, but haven't adopted the higher prices that go with them.
The OnePlus 2 represents a flagship experience at half the price of most current flagships. Sure, you will miss out on NFC, fast-charging and wireless charging, but that's about all the OnePlus 2 lacks.
It's one of the most hyped phones of all time, and that naturally comes with a little backlash when the phone is actually released. But the reality is that the OnePlus 2 is a very accomplished phone that hits almost all the targets it set out to hit. The invite system will stop taking new reservations on October 22, so if you're interested in a OnePlus 2 you need to act fast.
Best under US$250: Moto G (2015)
If we drop down to the next price bracket – the sub-US$250 range – we still have a very impressive group of phones to choose from. Even at a third of the price of many flagship devices you can still get a lot of great features and hardware. But it's Moto G (2015)'s impressive combination of price, features and update speed that gets it to the top of our list.
The Asus ZenFone 2 and Huawei P8 Lite are close runners-up in this category for us, but the near stock Android interface and super fast update speeds of the Moto line gives the third generation Moto G the edge it needs to creep ahead (the P8 Lite is only just getting Lollipop whereas the Moto G is about to get Marshmallow).
Best small handset: Sony Xperia Z5 Compact
Not everyone likes a 5.5-inch phone in their pocket. For some, the sub-5-inch display diagonal is the ideal size. The only problem is that pickings are pretty slim. Most Android phones with a display diagonal of less than five inches are pretty hopeless. Even Samsung and HTC seem to have given up on that particular niche.
Fortunately Sony offers the Xperia Z5 Compact. The company took a different approach to the small phone concept – where other manufacturers watered down their flagship specs for their mini devices, Sony simply put flagship components into a smaller body. It's proven to be a winning formula and the Z5 Compact is worthy of our 'best small handset' title.
Sony clearly made the right choice, because its compact line is still going strong. HTC stopped after the One mini 2 a year-and-a-half ago, and it looks as though even Samsung has given up on minis, given that pictures of the Galaxy S6 Mini leaked back in July, yet never materialized into market availability.
Which category do you fit in? What is your pick for best Android phone of 2015? Let us know in the comments.