In 2015 every smartphone-maker had to raise its game. Some managed it with aplomb. Others served up devices that just didn't cut the mustard in a world where it seems everyone and his uncle is an app obsessive or a tech spec expert.
So, which smartphones made the grade this year? Here’s our pick of the five best handsets of 2015.
1 Apple iPhone 6S
So–called ‘tock’ years, when Apple sticks with the same iPhone design and merely improves its phone's internal features, don’t usually bring much to get excited about for tech fans.
Not so the iPhone 6S. It's unquestionably the best phone of the year, with a suite of new features that are genuinely first-rate and brought some much needed innovation back to the smartphone world.
3D Touch, which detects how hard you press the screen and serves up shortcuts to key functions, makes using the iPhone 6S snappier than its predecessors. And meant users were actually interacting with their handsets in brand new ways.
Live Photos, which 'animates' your snaps by recording a few seconds of video footage just before and after the point of image-capture, and a revamped camera make Apple's 2015 flagship phone a worthy replacement for a compact snapper. And video recording in lush 4K (that's four times as detailed as HD) means it's great for mini movies too.
Improvements to the iOS 9 software that powers the phone make everything look sleeker, while the new A9 processor means the iPhone 6S is on a par with any Android phone when it comes to raw power.
Pick up the iPhone 6S here: iPhone 6S deals
2 Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus
Between some tepidly received phones and disappointing sales, Samsung didn't have a vintage year in 2015. But the excellent Galaxy S6 Edge Plus was a definite high point.
Demand for the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, and its smaller screen-toting sibling the standard S6 Edge, has been huge. And it’s not hard to see why.
The curved screen is stunning and a real talking point, while the camera is every bit as good as the iPhone 6S. And it records ultra crisp 4K video and streams like a dream when you want to watch your footage back on a 4K-capable TV.
The design is first-rate and Samsung has resisted the urge to use up valuable storage by filling the phone with unneeded apps.
It all adds up to a highly impressive device. And in our opinion, it's the best smartphone Korean giant has ever made.
Pick up the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus here: Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus deals
3 Motorola Moto X Style
The 'Style' variant of the Moto X is reassuringly hefty and is powered by a stripped down version of Android without any needless, fussy apps that have in the past blighted phones from the likes of HTC.
The screen is astonishing, it's second-to-none in the speed-stakes and its 21-megapixel camera is a marked improvement on the distinctly average snapper on last year’s Moto X.
Motorola is making phones to shout about again. The excellent marriage of, ahem, style and substance that is the Motorola Moto X Style is proof positive.
Pick up the Moto X Style here: Moto X Style deals
4 Google Nexus 6P
Chinese smartphone-maker Huawei was chosen by Google to manufacture 2015's top-of-the-range Nexus phone on its behalf. It's not hard to see why.
This huge handset, which doubles up as a tablet replacement as well as a top–end smartphone, is laden with features.
The most obvious selling point is the fact it runs the latest Marshmallow version of Google's Android software out of the box and is guaranteed to get new editions of Android before any other phone.
The 12-megapixel camera is amazing, especially in low light, while the stunning design and affordable price tag combine to make it one of the year’s best handsets.
The inclusion of USB–C, a cable technology that makes it faster to transfer data and is fast becoming standard on high-end smartphones, means the Nexus 6P is future-proofed too.
Pick up the Google Nexus 6P here: Google Nexus 6P
5 Vodafone Smart Ultra 6
It's by no means the fanciest smartphone on the block. But any end-of-year countdown that doesn't include Vodafone’s own–brand Smart Ultra 6 would be seriously incomplete.
When it comes features, it's more than a match for more expensive handsets. Not only is it 4G-capable, it also offers the option to boost storage by up to 64GB by adding a microSD card. And it runs the latest version of Android, with a battery that won’t die after a day’s use.
The price? RRP is £125.
Pick up the Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 for £115 from Amazon here: Vodafone Smart Ultra 6 deals.