back to article Bah humbug. It's Andrew's Phones of the Year

When a blind chimp with a shopping strategy based around a pack of darts can come out of Carphone Warehouse with a decent phone - is there any point giving out awards? I've seen dozens of shiny new things this year - and I do wonder why reviews need to be longer than a few words. Maybe they don't need words at all. Perhaps …


  1. jason 7

    LG G4...

    ...I get plenty battery out of my £350 LG G4. Three days if I don't use it like a Gameboy and interact with other adults like we did in the old days. Not a problem. Usually the ones that moan about battery life are the total phone fiddlers that load up their phones with battery optimisation bloat and all sorts of crap they don't need. I run 100% stock. Go looking for help on XDA? All you'll find there are people who mostly don't have a clue and spend all day looking for ways to cripple their phone.

    Great phone.

  2. Bassey

    Security Updates

    Whilst I've had plenty of phones from Manufacturers who don't update their phones (Huawei being the worst) Sony have been fantastic of late. I've had the Xperia Compact Z1 since release nearly two years ago. I've lost count of the number of updates since then. It is currently on Android 5.1.something. The amazing thing is, though, that despite the fact Sony have not put it on the list of phones receiving an update to 6.0 (and I didn't for one minute think they would) it IS still receiving security updates. I've had two in the last few months, the last just a couple of weeks ago. For a phone that has already been superseded a couple of times and is no longer receiving OS upgrades I think that's worthy of praise.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    1. iPhone 6s Plus

    2. iPhone 6s Plus

    3. iPhone 6s Plus

    4. iPhone 6s Plus

    5. iPhone 6s Plus

    6. iPhone 6s

    7. iPhone 6s

    8. iPhone 6s

    9. iPhone 6s

    10. iPhone 6 Plus

    Honourable mention:

    11. IPhone 6

  4. graeme leggett

    all filler, no killer

    And that's just the article...

  5. W Donelson

    Not impressed with S6 edge plus

    My wife got one of these about 6 weeks ago, brand new. It refused to boot and was sent back. The new unit took 2 weeks to arrive "from Salford UK" and seemed great.

    But when she was playing games, she found two severe problems. Touching things near the right edge was fine, but SWIPING down or up did not work. Others on the internet report the same.

    Also, on the keyboard, the letter O would not work unless the phone was in landscape orientation. We installed updated Android OS, latest. Took it to Vodafone shop 3 times, no joy.

    So we sent it back for a refund and wife got an iPhone 6S plus. Three week now, no problems at all, she Loves it.

    I used to be very impressed with Samsung hardware (never fond of Android though)

    Now I'm not so sure....

  6. Martin Summers Silver badge

    It used to be so clear cut which phone was the best and which was going to be my next upgrade. Now I really don't know and to be honest with the overwhelming choice bundled with lack of differentiation, I'm also starting to feel I don't really care any more. It used to be exciting getting a new phone, now it's not and that's sad. Maybe I'm just old and cynical now.

  7. Ian Emery Silver badge

    Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

    I will be trying diligently to wean SWMBO off of Apple when her old 4S battery dies (sometime soon); I was hoping the new Xiaomi Note 3 would do the trick, but Xiaomi seem to be going all Apple and pushing style over substance, so the Honor 7 is top of my radar screen right now.

  8. Andres

    Flagships are sinking

    I don't think I will ever pay more than £300 for a phone again when you can get so much for less. Having said that, Vodaphone have the LG G4 for £240 on PAYG!! So I am off to buy one before they sell out.

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

      Re: Security Updates

      This is the main reason I got a Nexus: I know that the device will be supported. Unless and until we start seeing major leaps and bounds on the hardware side again, support is what will differentiate phones from each other.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

      Is there anything fundamentally wrong with the 4S?

      Getting a new battery would be a lot cheaper than buying a new phone.

      Or is there some ideological reason to want to get rid of an Apple Phone?

      At least the 4S is still getting updates. How many Android devices that old are doing the same eh?

      Like one other poster here, I went over to the dark side after my 6 month old Android stopped getting updates. Well it only had one before they stopped.

      IMHO, Google should put their foot down and force any company using the Android software to commit to at least two years of updates. The lack of updated plays right into Apple's hands.

      Until then, the alternatives are what? Apple or Microsoft?

      Make your choice.

    3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Security Updates

      Sony's problem is that they aren't giving me a convincing reason to replace with a newer model. Though if VR and Cardboard (or an equivalent) do come to anything this year I will be awfully tempted by the Z5 Premium when the prices come down a bit, because that 4k screen can display two 1080p images side by side for a largely pixel free stereo/vr experience.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

        Provided your new phone is no worse than the old one, if you have invested in the system by buying things from the itunes/Play/Store then it makes sense to keep with same.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Security Updates

        My Xperia z5 is supported very well, its bang upto date with security patches, and its M update is due in the next month. Sony support older models very well too, easilly as good as Google themselves (if the chipset vendor sdk supports it, Sony and Google support it).

        You csn make an experia look and behave very much like a Nexus device (but one that has a SD card). For me, that makes it the best phone (and tablets) money can buy.

      3. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: Security Updates

        > This is the main reason I got a Nexus: I know that the device will be supported

        Completely agree. Why one would want to use a non patchable portable computer holding a trove of personal information is beyond me. You can literally still buy phones that can be pwned by MMS messages (that you don't even have to open BTW); phones that will never see a fix.

        /Posted from my 2013 Nexus 5 running 1 December 2015 patch level on 6.0.1

        1. ZSn

          Re: Security Updates

          However a 2012 nexus 7 can also be pawned. They're not updating it whereas an old winphone 520 is still being updated. Google and Apple aren't the only shows in town...

      4. BenR

        Re: Security Updates

        Sony's problem is that they aren't giving me a convincing reason to replace with a newer model.

        Bang on.

        I had a Z1. Loved it. Couldn't upgrade to the Z2 or the Z3 due to contract lock, but didn't feel the need as beyond minor battery life improvements and a slightly bigger screen, there was nothing worth upgrading for. Waited and waited and waited and waited for the Z5 hoping for a 5.4" screen, 2k, 3Gb of RAM and a 15-20MP OIS camera. Figured that wasn't far off the specs of every other flagship going so there was a decent chance.

        What did i get? Three models that are *IDENTICAL* except for screen size and, in the case of the hellishly expensive Z5 Premium, a 4k screen that slurps so much power it isn't even used all the time. No OIS on any of the camera modules - instead a lot of noise about the speed of focus which doesn't really matter most of the time. If you're trying to take pictures of something that is moving so quick and happening so fast that you need focus times in the microseconds, then you shouldn't really be using a cameraphone to do it.

        I'm all for incremental improvements - Apple have been doing it for years with the iPhone - but you have to at least make the increments big enough so that 2 generations down the line there is a noticeable difference!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surely

      More likely

      1. Anything but an iPhone

      2. Anything but an iPhone

      3. Anything but an iPhone

      4. Anything but an iPhone

      5. Anything but an iPhone

      6. Anything but an iPhone

      7. Anything but an iPhone

      8. Anything but an iPhone

      9. Anything but an iPhone

      10. Anything but an iPhone

      Honourable mention for still beating the latest iPhone

      11. Samsung Note 3

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        Re: Surely

        I'd have thought the Yotaphone 2 would get the honourable mention for wrapping the back of the device in extremely low power consumption eink epaper stuff, whilst still being a halfway decent phone.

        1. Robert E A Harvey

          Re: Yota

          I nearly bought one till I saw the price

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Yota

            I know, should have called it 'Yowza!'

        2. Phil Kingston Silver badge

          Re: Surely

          I nearly bought one, but then read the camera reviews.

          Maybe the next one.

    5. cambsukguy

      Re: Security Updates

      Amazing... that you think that is amazing. My old WinPhone, in the hands of one of my sprogs, still gets updated - with OS changes, I am unsure what you mean by these 'security updates'.

      Moreover, the same phone and my later, but still two-year-old phone, will receive updates after that update for some considerable time - of that I am sure.

      One of the main reasons I stick with it, that and the camera, UI, reliability, lack-of-malware...

    6. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

      Someone who says they are "trying diligently to mean SWMBO off of Apple" is obviously doing this for his own reasons, so trying to talk him into anything that doesn't end up with his wife switching to Android is going to fall onto deaf ears.

      I wonder what her feelings are in the matter, he was silent on that subject...

      1. Ian Emery Silver badge

        Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

        Some of us have a life outside of the forums, so now is the first time I have logged in since my posting.

        To clarify;

        Other than SWMBOs iPhone, the house is Windows/Android/Ubuntu.

        SWMBO is Chinese, so it is very difficult to sort out her phone problems when the phone is displaying Chinese text, ESPECIALLY if I am not familiar with the Apple OS.

        It doesnt like playing with Windows, at least not when the PC is also in Chinese; we had big problems just getting it to recognise her phone network, needing a 3rd party program to override the OS (I forget the name, but it came from Australia).

        Getting photos off of it can be a biotch, the easiest way is for her to upload them to QQ or WeChat and then for me to download them.

        To be fair, the battery is still nearly as good as when she got it 2 years ago, but that "good" isnt very good, it spends more than half its life plugged into a 10,000mAh power bank.

        If it wasnt for Xiaomi going all Apple, I would have been buying her one as a replacement, at least she could get support in Chinese.

        I would also like to point out that Xiaomi update my phone every week, even though it is now 3 generations old (RedMi Note 3G). Depending on how you want to run it, you can have monthly stable updates, weekly beta updates, or nightly "developer" updates.

        1. dave 76

          Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

          "SWMBO is Chinese, so it is very difficult to sort out her phone problems when the phone is displaying Chinese text, ESPECIALLY if I am not familiar with the Apple OS."

          My son runs his iPhone in Japanese and if he needs help with it, he switches the language to English and hands it to me. It's one setting to switch the iPhone fully from one language to another.

          That happens to be the reason my wife brought an iPhone instead of an android. We looked at a number of phones but the switching languages and keyboards was a bit of a pain on android. We even went to the Samsung flagship store to ask if there was an easier way that we were missing. That was a couple of years ago now so probably much better not, but at the time it was a deal killer.

      2. Ian Emery Silver badge

        Re: Since Xiaomi have lost their way, Huawei is "it"

        Sorry, missed the bit about her feelings.

        She is OS agnostic, she likes the iPhone, but also likes her friends Lumia 9xx and the Samsung Galaxy 5.

        I got her to play with my RedMi a few nights back, and she was quite happy with it; you get 75% of the equivalent Samsung Galaxy Note for 25% of the price

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "I got her to play with my RedMi a few nights back..."

          Requesting permission to snigger!

          1. Ian Emery Silver badge

            Requesting permission to snigger!

            Not sure why you would snigger, you dont rate the phone??

            Yes, RedMi is slang, the phone is a HongMi in Chinese and Red Rice in English; I like to mix the two.

    7. Pristine Audio

      Re: Not impressed with S6 edge plus

      S6 edge plus - best phone I've ever had. Replaced my Note 3 with one in September and absolutely no regrets. Swype keyboard works perfectly, BTW...

    8. dotdavid

      Re: LG G4...

      "the total phone fiddlers that load up their phones with battery optimisation bloat and all sorts of crap they don't need"

      Like the manufacturers do? Or are you claiming I need this McAfee antivirus app on my LG G3?

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: LG G4...

      My LG G4 was regularly getting two full days of battery. In fact if I wasn't using it much I was losing less than 10% over the normal day.

      However, just before the Marshmallow update the battery life went downhill (still get a day but much worse than before). The Marshmallow update didn't help much.

      I'm pretty sure it is an app that is doing it but I rarely load new apps on, so it could be just an update to an existing app. I'm struggling to track down the exact cause but I don't think it is the phone itself. I'm probably going to factory reset soon and do a gradual install of apps from scratch to see if I can find the culprit.

      I think that battery life issues are often not down to the phone itself.

      1. jason 7

        Re: LG G4...

        Oh you get rid of that crap too. But most of what the folks on XDA do is total crap too. There are probably 5 or so that know what they are doing and do a valuable job but the rest just dick around thinking they are tech gods but just making it worse. They think that the only way a Smartphone should run is to stuff as many tweaking apps as possible on it and then wonder why they only get 3 hours of SOT rather than the 6+ if they left it stock.

        But you can't leave a phone stock cos that means you don't know anything about tech or smartphones.

    10. hammarbtyp Silver badge

      Re: Flagships are sinking

      Many would consider £300 excessive for a phone nowadays. Got Daughter and wife a Motorola G 3re Gen for about £110 each and it does pretty well everything you want to do with a phone in a pretty neat package.

      Not sure what i would be missing out with for that £200 more

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Flagships are sinking

        Motorola G4 user here, tbh no they are not missing anything.

        Its just the usual differences in hardware, the case is kind of nice (Although I had the wrap around one that likes to not only close the screen but pickup everything with metal in around it (Damn where do these paperclips keep appear from!))

    11. Tim 11

      I'm not looking forward to my next phone and that's a great cause for optimism in my book. The fact that the phone market is maturing is a good thing. It means we'll get more reliable and stable platforms, better usability and fewer dead ends.

      But most importantly, we can get on with our lives in the real world using the phone as a means-to-an-end rather than the phone itself being the object of our attention.

    12. kmac499

      Re: Flagships are sinking

      Torpedoed below the water line I'd say.. Especially when you can get last years Flagship on a virtually zero cost upgrade. My biggest personal gripe is making phones bigger. You can't put a 6 inch in a belt holster; and girls, If you keep sticking 300 quids worth of nickable tech poking out of your jeans back pocket don't be surprised when it get's nicked or bent.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge

        Re: Flagships are sinking

        you can get last years Flagship on a virtually zero cost upgrade

        If you're stupid enough to shell out for a premium price, long lock-in contract. Of course your network'll give you a decent upgrade in that case, it's the profit on the likes of you that gets the CEO his new Merc every year.

    13. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      That should mean you can look at it and go, pfft I'll just spend X pounds on a phone instead of the usual £600.

    14. Andres

      Re: LG G4...

      Just FYI - Vodaphone have it on PAYG for £230! A spectacular deal which I will be buying tomorrow. All I need now is a Vodaphone unlocker..

    15. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Security Updates

      >> since release nearly two years ago. I've lost count of the number of updates since then

      Good that you can get updates, just like those of us using IOS or Windows; but so many updates in less than two years? Either your ability to count is very limited or something is desperately wrong with the quality of software design, testing or implementation. Seems like MS Windows and equally advisable to avoid. Or did you get a beta test version?

      I can understand two or even three (exceptionally) per year updates. But so many in less than two years?

    16. Allan 1

      Re: Security Updates

      Sony phones are great, but their screens seem unusually fragile. I have a friend with a Z3, who dropped it less than 2 inches onto a carpeted floor, and the screen literally exploded into fragments. Other than that minor inconvenience, they are great phones.

    17. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Flagships are sinking

      I can't bring myself to fork out £300 now. And I'm not even paying. I could have an iPhone, but resent the cost, even though the company picks it up. Actually I don't like them either. I love my iPad, but as a phone iOS doesn't quite cut it for me. I don't like the email client, or the address book, or the failure to properly separate my work and personal mail/contacts.

      I admit to lusting after the Galaxy Note. But £150 gets a good Motorola or my current Windows Lumia 735. Although from Andrew's rude comments, I'm suspecting Win 10 may kill my liking for the platform, and drive me to Android (which I find a bit fiddly).

      As I've been saying for a few years though, it's impossible to justify flagship phones costing more than the best tablets. Often by hundreds of pounds from the same manufacturers! Only the weird model of mobile purchasing encourages this madness, and it can't last.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    best value phone

    Honor 7 beats the OnePlusX, Nexus 5x, Moto X Play and Asus Zenfone 2? Is there a compelling reason why its better?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Problematic market...

    I hold no grudge against any brand and I'm also not a fanboy of one, not even mine. I use a Windows Phone and although I enjoy using it I'm realistic enough to realize that it's hardly the best. However, I do worry a little about the market and the dominance on the market. Not from Apple, but from Google. Maybe unfounded, each to his own, but Google's intrusion into our everyday live worries me a little. Especially because they're doing everything they can to expand on that field as best as possible.

    Sure; they're being open about it mostly, but the parts which they like to hide are also those which worry me. Especially because all the courtesy which Google seems to show us stops the very moment when someone has the nerve to pry on, discovers something weird and then asks them about it. Put differently: when you disagree with Google and speak your mind then will you discover just how cooperative Google is. Like those Android developers who didn't got paid and didn't got any responses from Google by e-mail. Resulting in their forum thread to get locked "Please send us an e-mail instead" and eventually it got purged from history alltogether.

    As said I don't hold a grudge. Because in general Google does play a fair game. Control needs 2 sides afterall: controllers and people allowing themselves to be controlled. Which is exactly what is happening, and it's understandable too: I mean you'd be a fool if you didn't recognize Google's huge potential and the tremendous ease of use which they provide. I most certainly am not questioning that.

    What I do question is the price we pay for all those goodies. Because if there's one thing which us geeks should know: digital freedom doesn't really exist. Most often there's some kind of price attached. A free download? Cool, but they "only" want your e-mail address. That's not free. A free to build and hosted website? Cool! Of course you will get banners and the domain name you get to use isn't yours either. That's not free.

    To me the phone market is no different. Cool: when my phone gets stolen then Microsoft provides me with the option to remote-fry it (I prefer the term ghost-burn, from GiTS). But that comes with a price; they're into contact with my device the whole time and can get all sorts of info from it. Most of that is opt-in (so I'm led to believe) but how sure can you be?

    And that's where I'm getting worried. Less players on the field means less competitiveness which means that the options for market dominance are much easier. Players simply agree to apply $unpopular_feature together and all the consumers can do is to accept it. Its not fully related but still comparable: XBox vs. Playstation. Playing multiplayer games on the Playstation was always free or charge, on XBox you always had to pay a fee. And so we've reached a point where none of them are free anymore. Microsoft and Sony dominate the market and thus they dictate the rules. All the more reason for me to postpone the idea of getting a PS4: instead I'm considering to get a gaming PC and then hooking that up to my TV.

    Phone of the year? I'd say brand of the year and it can only be Android. I'm still using my Windows Phone and if the time comes then I'll definitely try to find something else which isn't Android. Not because I think Android is bad, quite the opposite, but because I think Google is way too intrusive.

    Heck... My browser of choice right now is Opera, I know it's build upon Chromium which is basically the "Google Chrome do it yourself kit". And already some Opera users have noticed a few times that "weird connections" were made with Google's network. It never got confirmation but of course it does. I mean: you get to use the browser for free, but freedom in the digital world? Yeah right!

  11. Cameron Colley

    Just give me a frikking keyboard!

    All these "app stores", fancy screens and the like are fabulous for those who want them but, please, somebody, just make a fucking physical keyboard! As it is I'm on a now obsolete BlackBerry Bold because the thought of using one of these glass slices for email and text chat (my main mobile uses) is just too much to bear. Surely physical keyboards aren't that expensive?

    By the way, I am aware that BlackBerry are still around with things like the Classic but since I like to keep a phone for at least 5 years before changing I worry that BlackBerry may not exist when I come to buy a new phone.

  12. phr0g

    Have the Moto X Play. Cost equivalent of around £250.

    I'm not sure where I am missing out in comparison with the premium phones.

    I also have a work supplied S6 edge, which admittedly looks and feels great, is not a "better phone" in any significant way.

    Not a fan of the iPhones. The plus with the same screen size as mine, is way bigger and clumsier. And having owned an iPhone 5, I wouldn't personally want to downgrade to iOS.

    I did use a Nokia 1020 for a time. Pretty nice phone, decent cam (although no where near as good as the fervent supporters would have everyone believe...and WAY too slow).

    I may give Windows phone another chance next time, but for now I'm happy with a "midrange" Android.

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

      I'm more interested in the return of the trackball (or equivalent), which I last saw on a Nexus One. I find that typing on a screen is a much smaller problem than trying to position the cursor. It's almost always just easier to delete and retype than to try to edit when performing basic phone tasks like messaging. I seem to be better on iOS than Android but that's probably only subjective practice.

      1. Ian Entwistle

        Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

        BB Passport... job jobbed, physical keyboard and it acts like a touchpad for positioning the edit box accurately and for scrolling without having your fingers all over the screen. .

        I can't think the last time that I genuinely haven;t got my eye on some new model... this thing is the most productive, intuitive thing I'd owned by far. the hardware is still top spec and best of all the battery lasts two full days of serious use. Add in the Hub for productivity and you can keep your Androids and iphones... I'll stay here quite happily.

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. kmac499

          Re: Just give me a frikking keyboard!

          "I'm more interested in the return of the trackball (or equivalent)"

          Had one of those little doo hickeys on an HTC wildfire. A small glass bead was the optical 'mouse' element in the centre of a press button. Really simple to use, especially useful to navigate within text you were typing.


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