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5 smartphones from 2015 that still matter

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Whenever we get asked whether to buy a current midrange smartphone or a similarly priced flagship from last year, we normally suggest the latter. After all, they were once the pride and joy of their respective brands, and buying them below the original retail price is a great deal.

For this list, we take a look back at the high-end phones we loved in 2015. Now that all of this year’s flagship devices are out, we can tell for certain which handsets of yesteryear matter the most.

Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 5 is, without a doubt, the best stylus-equipped smartphone you can buy right now, and that’s primarily because of the Galaxy Note 7’s unfortunate downfall. If you must have a digital pen attached to your phone at all times, there’s really no better option than finding Samsung’s fifth-generation flagship.

It’s easy to forget, but before the Galaxy Note 7 came into the picture, its predecessor was widely considered to be the best smartphone money could buy, even when 2016’s best began rolling out. To this day, you can’t argue against the Galaxy Note 5’s speedy in-house Exynos chipset, optically stabilized rear camera, and stunning 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED display.

Sony Xperia Z5 Premium

This had to be the most polarizing flagship of 2015. It sought to answer the question: Do we really need a 4K display on a pocket-sized smartphone? The conclusion was mostly no, but the Xperia Z5 Premium was more than its overbearing screen resolution.

More importantly, it was the final torchbearer of Sony’s long-running Z series of water-resistant smartphones, and the last Xperia we could truly call premium. It had Qualcomm’s best processor in the Snapdragon 810, a high-resolution 23-megapixel rear camera, and fingerprint scanner conveniently placed on the side.

LG V10

In a year that sorely lacked groundbreaking smartphone innovations, the LG V10 definitely stood out. As much as we liked the V20’s aggressive features in our recent review, it’s no V10; the pioneering V-series flagship made better use of its rugged image and secondary LCD display.

Another feather in the V10’s cap is the use of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 808 chipset. If you recall, the higher-end Snapdragon 810 processor that most flagship smartphones had last year was prone to overheating to the point of automatic shutdowns. LG evaded the issue by employing a more efficient hexa-core processor without compromising performance.

Apple iPhone 6s

Considering the minor cosmetic differences between the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6s, last year’s model is still a fantastic deal. You don’t lose out on much; features like waterproofing and optical image stabilization for the camera aren’t must-haves unless you’re a travel photographer seeking a secondary pocket shooter.

Despite being a year old, the iPhone 6s’ A9 chipset is nothing to sneeze at; it can easily outpace every other phone on this list. You can also expect timely firmware updates for the next few years. And let’s not forget: You get to keep the 3.5mm audio jack!

Google Nexus 6P

With the release of Google’s new line of Pixel phones, the Nexus brand is effectively shelved, making the Nexus 6P a new-age collector’s item. What makes it so alluring is its continued support for the latest Android updates. You can enroll in Android’s beta program for version 7.1 of Nougat right now, and experience the best of the operating system before everyone else — except Pixel users, of course.

On top of that, the Nexus 6P has features other phones continue to envy, such as the front-facing stereo speakers, beautiful 5.7-inch Quad HD AMOLED display, and highly accurate fingerprint scanner. Its camera, despite having no image stabilization or fancy extra lens, can still hold its own against today’s best.

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Galaxy S10

Instagram photo challenge with the Samsung Galaxy S10

Hands-on with all three versions!

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Samsung’s newest Galaxy S devices have just been announced and we’re blessed with three versions: The Samsung Galaxy S10e (small), the Galaxy S10 (big), and the Galaxy S10+ (big big!).

Each phone is equipped with a number of cameras so you know what that means: IG photo test!

In our Her GadgetMatch video, we check out what’s so cool about the new Samsung phones and test what the cameras can do. Spoiler: They do a lot!

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

SEE ALSO: Samsung’s new LED light cover is the phone case we’ve always wanted

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Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 Hands-On

Does it live up to the hype?

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Infinity-O Display, five cameras, in-display fingerprint reader, next-generation wireless charging: these four features define Samsung’s new Galaxy S10.

When you take its features apart like this, it makes it seem like what we have is yet another underwhelming phone with no new groundbreaking feature. But to look at the S10 that way does the phone an injustice. It’s one that needs to be taken as a whole, not a sum of its parts.

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Galaxy S10

Samsung Galaxy S10 Hands-on: A refinement of everything

A decade of Galaxy S phones

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Samsung‘s latest installment of flagship phones is now official. Instead of just two phones though, we were immediately given three choices. Interesting move, but can they keep Samsung on top of all the great Android phones in the market?

As mentioned, there are three Galaxy S10 phones: the regular Galaxy S10, the bigger and better Galaxy S10+, and the supposedly budget-friendly Galaxy S10E.

Without further ado, let’s dive into our hands-on the Galaxy S10 series.

Nothing new, just polished

The Galaxy S10 series is a testament to Samsung’s leadership in Android phones for almost a decade, despite the decline. How so? Everything there’s to want in a smartphone in 2019 is present here, with some reservations for the Galaxy S10E, of course.

The first thing you’ll appreciate about the Galaxy S10 phones is their displays. All three models come in different sizes. The display of the Galaxy S10E is the smallest at 5.8 inches followed by the regular version with a 6.1-inch screen. The Galaxy S10+, being the Plus variant, has the biggest at 6.4 inches.

All three phones still use vibrant and splendid Super AMOLED panels. Samsung likes to call them Infinity-O because they have O-shaped holes to house one or two front cameras. The displays are also slightly taller than before and have slimmer bezels all around.

Aside from the screen sizes, what are the differences between the three? The Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+ share a lot in common. Both have curved displays, which is what you’d expect from top-of-the-line Samsung phones, but have squarish bodies like the Galaxy Note 9’s. They have a similar triple rear camera setup, but the Galaxy S10+ has an extra sensor in the front. The two also sport the fastest in-display fingerprint readers I have ever tested.

The Galaxy S10E, on the other hand, has to cut down some of the unimportant features to keep its price lower than its siblings. It doesn’t have a curved display and the ultrasonic fingerprint scanner. Instead, the fingerprint reader is built into the power button on the side. The smaller Galaxy S10E is also noticeably more rounded than its siblings.

What Samsung didn’t sacrifice on any of the Galaxy S10 phones is the quality craftsmanship. With a metal and glass body, no one will ever hold a Galaxy S10 (any of the three) and call it cheap.

Beauty matched with power

Enough about the looks; let’s now talk about specs. As always, newly released flagship phones get the best processor available. In the case of the Galaxy S10 family, it’s rocking either a Snapdragon 855 from Qualcomm or Samsung’s very own Exynos 9820, depending on the region.

The difference between the two chipsets are quite intriguing, but end users won’t feel the difference in daily use. The Snapdragon 855’s 7nm process has a slight edge over the Exynos 9820’s 8nm, but both are capable octa-core chips with dedicated AI brains.

With a minimum of 6GB memory, no member of the Galaxy S10 family is a slouch. If you want, you can have the limited edition Galaxy S10+ with an insane 12GB of memory and 1TB of storage. If you get that, you’ll have a phone that has more memory and storage space than most laptops today.

When it comes to battery, the Galaxy S10E has the lowest capacity at 3100mAh. In the middle is the Galaxy S10’s modest 3400mAh, and of course, the Galaxy S10+ is blessed with a huge 4100mAh battery. The phones support fast charging through wired and wireless means, but Samsung is also introducing Wireless PowerShare, which is essentially reverse wireless charging similar to what the Mate 20 Pro can do.

Samsung’s new One UI is pre-loaded out of the box. It’s already based on the latest Android 9 Pie version. This means you’ll get to experience Samsung’s newest take on Android with its own customization.

Three cameras are better than two?

Apart from having three Galaxy S10 models, Samsung also put in three rear cameras on the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. Samsung calls this “True Vision Multi-Camera,” which is a mouthful but you don’t have to call them that. Basically, the triple camera setup has all the mobile shooters you’ll need.

The Galaxy S10 has a main camera sensor, an ultra wide shooter, and a 2x telephoto lens. The main sensor is a 12-megapixel Dual Pixel camera with optical image stabilization (OIS) and dual aperture mode (f/1.5 to f/2.4). The fun-to-use ultra wide-angle shooter uses a 16-megapixel sensor with a fixed-focus lens, while the telephoto camera has a 12-megapixel sensor and OIS as well.

Aside from the hardware, Samsung also bumped up the software side of things. Thanks to improved AI capabilities, the Galaxy S10 can now recognize up to 30 scenes and can even automatically help you compose the perfect shot.

Check out these samples using the phone’s main camera:

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Since the Galaxy S10 phones are equipped with multiple shooters, they’re fun to use. Each scenario calls for a different camera, so it’s nice to have both wide-angle and telephoto cameras. Here’s how each camera takes a photo from the same distance:

Keep in mind that the Galaxy S10E has just two rear cameras. It can only shoot a normal and ultra-wide photo, but the megapixel count and image quality remain the same as with its more expensive siblings.

As for selfies, the Galaxy S10+ has a slight advantage with its depth sensor for Live Focus, although all three phones can shoot portrait selfies anyway. Like with most phones, there’s a built-in beauty mode to liven up your selfies.

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Let’s not forget about the improved AR Emoji. It’s still subpar when compared to Apple’s Animoji for iPhones, but it can at least detect if your tongue is sticking out this time. There’s also the option to superimpose over your face like Memoji.

Which is your GadgetMatch?

Which of the three Galaxy S10 phones is your GadgetMatch? While I wanted to have more time with the phones to give an elaborate conclusion, I have a general idea on where each one fits.

The Galaxy S10E, which is the cheapest among the bunch, would be best for people who like to have the best specs but in a smaller package. Much like the compact versions of Sony Xperia phones, the Galaxy S10E offers just about everything its bigger siblings offer in a pocket-friendly size.

The regular Galaxy S10 is ideal for the general population with its perfect balance, while the Galaxy S10+ is for those who want (and need) all the features a modern smartphone can offer. Also, the Galaxy S10+ is similar to the Galaxy Note, but without the S Pen.

I wish Samsung had given the prices for each phone while I’m writing this to give a better perspective. After all, the pricing will be a big factor. To be honest, there’s nothing uber-special about the Galaxy S10 family. We already saw most, if not all, features on other devices. Samsung will be selling these phones because they are reliable and trustworthy — not because they are revolutionary.

Samsung wasn’t able to create “the next big thing” here, maybe because we have reached the limit of candy bar-style phones. It’s time to move on to foldable devices, which is something Samsung is also working on. That for sure will be revolutionary; for now, we’ll just stick to what we have.

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