29-Apr-2016   |     |   0

The Top 5 Smartphones on the Market Today, Vol. 1

Today, these devices have changed the way the world accesses information. In fact, more actual computing is done using smartphone technology than any other method. More people own a smartphone today than have ever owned a personal computer in world history. Think about that for a minute. Over two billion people currently use a smartphone and some experts expect the smartphone market to reach over 70 percent of all human beings by 2020.

As a result, manufacturers have been producing new devices annually, or even bi-annually. Often times, they are manufactured more frequently to meet consumer demand. In this three part blog, we will go through today’s top smartphones, some of the amazing new devices that are in development, and some more affordable devices for the value-seeking smartphone consumer.

Part I – Today’s Best Smartphones

Apple iPhone 6s
The iPhone is credited with starting the smartphone revolution, and in many ways it did, but that was almost a decade ago. In the interim, Apple has been the world’s most profitable company and has been making devices that consumers rush to get the minute they are released (sometimes paying for the devices months prior to launch). The iPhone 6s is no different. The second iteration of the totally redesigned iPhone 6, the 6s was released in September of 2015. It is also available in a larger 6s Plus model.

The iPhone 6s and 6s Plus feature Apple’s newest “A9” processor, which improves the speed of the device by over 60 percent over the iPhone 6. The biggest benefit of the newer model, however, is the addition of the 3D Touch user interface. The new interface works with all native Apple apps, and according to Apple, it allows the user to navigate their device much faster and with less mistakes than any other current interface. It runs on Apple’s new iOS 9 operating system that utilized the boost in processing power to the users’ advantage with an enhanced Siri, upgrades to the Apple Pay platform, built-in news, and dynamic improvements to the note and search features. The retail price for a new iPhone 6s depends on the amount of storage you purchase. An iPhone 6s costs between $650-$850, with 16, 64, and 128 GB models available. The iPhone 6s Plus, which features a larger display, retails from $750-$950. Both devices are available in space gray, silver, gold, and rose gold.

Apple iPhone 6s/6s Plus
Materials – Aluminum
Weight – 5.04 oz (6s Plus, 6.77 oz)
Display – 4.7” Retina display (6s Plus, 5.5” Retina display)
Resolution – 750 x 1334 {~336 ppi} (6s Plus, 1080 x 1920 {~401 ppi})
Operating System – iOS 9
Chipset – Apple A9
CPU/GPU – Dual-core 1.84 GHz Twister/Power VR GT7600
Onboard storage – 16GB, 64GB, 128GB
RAM – 2GB
Expandable storage – No
Cameras – Rear: 12 MP; Front: 5 MP.
Battery – 2,750 mAh
Features – Fingerprint scanner, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, Siri, iCloud integration

Samsung Galaxy s7/s7 Edge
Samsung has been an industry leader for quite some time, and in March, they unveiled their newest device, the Galaxy s7, and its sister device, the Galaxy s7 Edge. Samsung’s last two Galaxy s-model phones have been two of the most popular smartphones that have run the Android OS. The Galaxy s7 should be no different. It seems to have taken the world’s most popular mobile device and improved on it.

The most prominent change is that they have made a concerted effort to complete the waterproofing process. The s7/s7 Edge is now IP68 compliant, meaning that it is completely dust resistant and can be immersed in liquid up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes. Some other improvements Samsung has managed to make include re-integrating expandable storage and adding a larger battery to ward against the device running out of juice with normal use; both of which were points of consternation with the Galaxy s6. The s7, and the larger Galaxy s7 Edge, can be purchased for $670 and $780, respectively.

Samsung Galaxy s7/s7 Edge
Materials – Gorilla Glass with Aluminum
Weight – 5.36 oz (s7 Edge, 5.54 oz)
Display – 5.1” Super AMOLED (s7 Edge, 5.5” Super AMOLED)
Resolution – 1440 x 2560 {~511 ppi} (s7 Edge, 1440 x 2560 {~534 ppi}
Operating System – Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Chipset – Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 820
CPU/GPU – Dual-core 2.15 GHZ Kryo and dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo and quad-core 2.3 GHz and quad-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53/Adreno 530 (s7 Edge – Dual-core 2.15 GHZ Kryo and dual-core 1.6 GHz Kryo/Adreno 530)
Onboard storage – 32GB, 64GB
Expandable Storage – Yes
RAM – 4GB
Cameras – Rear: 12 MP; Front: 5 MP
Battery – 3,000 mAh
Features – Fingerprint scanner, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, heart rate, SpO2, fast charging, wireless charging, NFC, Google Now, and Google Drive support

Google Nexus 6P
For the past several years, Google has been spreading the wealth around in device manufacturing circles. Over that time, they’ve had LG, Motorola, HTC, and Samsung manufacture their Nexus brand of smartphone. Their newest flagship smartphone, the Google Nexus 6P, is manufactured by the Chinese company Huawei and is, by all intents and purposes, the best Nexus to date.

Some of the best new changes to the new Google Nexus 6P is the actual build of the phone itself. It is much thinner than the massive Nexus 6, and offers flat sides that makes it easier to hold than their previous device. It’s made from aluminum with a premium build and features the cleanest version of Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) with the new “Now on Tap” interface.

The Google Nexus 6P is a premium device that, in true Google fashion, is priced hundreds of dollars below other top smartphones. Google has even gone ahead and slashed $50 off the MSRP, and now can be had with 32GB of flash storage for $449.99.

Google Nexus 6P
Materials – Aluminum
Weight – 6.28 oz
Display – 5.7” AMOLED display
Resolution – 1440 x 2560 (~518 ppi)
Operating System – Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Chipset – Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810
CPU/GPU – Quad-core 1.55 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57/Adreno 430
Onboard storage – 32GB, 64GB, 128GB
Expandable Storage – No
RAM – 3GB
Cameras – Rear: 12.3 MP; Front: 8 MP
Battery – 3,450 mAh
Features – Fingerprint scanner, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, fast charging, Google Now, NFC, Google Drive support.

Microsoft Lumia 950
Windows Phone hasn’t made a significant move in the smartphone market in some time, but with the Lumia 950, consumers can begin to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Not to say that this piece of hardware should be considered top of the line, but with the integration of the Windows 10 OS, it makes what amounts to an average device, a device that is worth wanting to own.

The Lumia line of phones, originally from Nokia, were known for their superior build quality. The Lumia 950, now manufactured by Microsoft (after a corporate merger of the world’s leading software company and the smartphone division at Nokia), is simply not built as well as previous Lumias. This one is built more like one of their economy models, like the popular 520 and 640 models. Many analysts do not see this device as a flagship Windows 10 device, but the first in what will ultimately turn out to be the birth of a computing platform.

The Microsoft Lumia 950 is also available in an XL model that features a much larger display. Time will tell if Microsoft has what it takes to make up the enormous amount of ground they’ve given over the past decade. Integrating Windows 10 into their smartphone products is a good start. The Microsoft Lumia 950 retails at $499.99 for the unlocked, 32GB model.

Microsoft Lumia 950/Lumia 950 XL
Materials – Plastic, Gorilla Glass
Weight – 5.29 oz (XL – 5.82 oz)
Display – 5.2” AMOLED (XL – 5.7” AMOLED)
Resolution – 1440 x 2550 (~564 ppi); 1440 x 2560 (~518 ppi)
Operating System – Microsoft Windows 10
Chipset – Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808 (XL Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810)
CPU/GPU – Dual-core 1.82 GHz Cortex-A57 & quad-core 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53 (XL – Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2.0 GHz Cortex-A57)
Onboard storage – 32GB
Expandable storage – Yes, up to 200 GB
RAM – 3GB
Cameras – Rear: 20 MP; Front: 5 MP
Battery – Removable 3,000 mAh (XL – Removable 3,340 mAh)
Features – Iris scanner, NFC, accelerometer, gyro, quick charging, proximity, compass, barometer, sensor core, Microsoft OneDrive integration

Blackberry PRIV
It’s no secret that it’s been a relative nightmare for Canadian smartphone manufacturer Blackberry over the past few years. Once the world’s most prominent smartphone company when it was known as RIM (Research In Motion), Blackberry Limited is now looking to third-party software, and what amounts to a hardware gimmick, to get back into the conversation in the smartphone hardware market.

With their newest flagship device, the PRIV, Blackberry wants to stand out for their “privilege and privacy.” The Priv is powered by Android. That’s right. The Priv comes standard with Android 5.1 Lollipop, and promises to see an update to the current platform sometime in 2016. The biggest differentiator that the Priv has over other flagship devices is its slide-out Qwerty keyboard. This design not only provides the user interface that many Blackberry users are used to, it’s the first Android smartphone in a while to be built with a tactile keyboard. The keyboard also acts like a trackpad that allows users to scroll through apps without ever touching the screen.

The Priv does come with some very impressive specifications, and may be just what Blackberry needs to provide its loyal customers the value they once did. The problem is that while Blackberrys are known the world over for their ability to provide a secure user experience, the Android interface does most of the securing. An unlocked Priv retails for $649.99.

Blackberry Priv
Materials – Plastic, soft-touch backing
Weight – 6.77 oz
Display – 5.4 inch AMOLED
Resolution – 1440 x 2560 (~540 ppi)
Operating System – Android 5.1 (Lollipop) w/ Blackberry apps
Chipset – Qualcomm MSM8992 Snapdragon 808
CPU/GPU – Dual-core 1.8 GHz Cortex-A57 & quad-core 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53/Adreno 418
Onboard storage – 32GB
External Storage – Yes, up to 200GB
RAM – 3GB
Cameras – Rear: 18 MP; Front: 2 MP
Battery – 3,410 mAh
Features – Accelerometer, altimeter, gyro, ToF proximity, compass, slide out QWERTY keyboard, Google Drive integration.

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