Smartphone Highlights of 2015: From Improved Displays to Windows 10

 
 
By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2015-12-04
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    1 - Smartphone Highlights of 2015: From Improved Displays to Windows 10
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    Smartphone Highlights of 2015: From Improved Displays to Windows 10

    Smartphones continued to evolve in 2015. Among the smartphone highlights were a shatterproof display from Motorola and an LG phone with dual displays and front cameras.
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    2 - Motorola Introduces Super-Tough Moto ShatterShield Display
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    Motorola Introduces Super-Tough Moto ShatterShield Display

    Motorola unveiled quite an innovation in late 2015 for smartphone owners—a special shatter-proof five-layer display in its latest Droid Turbo 2 smartphone that includes a four-year guarantee against screen cracking or shattering even when dropped onto a hard surface. The 4G LTE smartphone has a 5.4-inch AMOLED quad HD display, a 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 octa-core processor, 3GB of LPDDR4 memory and a 21-megapixel rear camera.
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    3 - BlackBerry Unveils Its First-Ever Android Phone, the Priv
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    BlackBerry Unveils Its First-Ever Android Phone, the Priv

    This fall, BlackBerry introduced its first smartphone that runs Android, rather than the company's BlackBerry 10 OS security- and enterprise-focused operating system. The BlackBerry Priv is a privacy-first phone that includes both a 5.4-inch curved glass touch-screen display and a slide-out physical keyboard, as the company tries to make it attractive to a wide range of users.
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    4 - Dual Displays, Dual Selfie Cameras on the LG V10 Smartphone
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    Dual Displays, Dual Selfie Cameras on the LG V10 Smartphone

    LG's latest V10 smartphone has two interesting innovations, including a main 5.7-inch quarter-high-definition display that also features a smaller second 2.1-inch display for frequently accessed information. Also included are dual front cameras that give different viewing angles in photos. The second display can be set up as an "always-on" display to show the weather, time, date and battery icon when the main display is off. It can also be used as a launching area for shortcuts or favorite apps when the main screen is being used. The V10 is also ruggedized and built with high-grade stainless steel and a silicone skin that meets military MIL-STD-810G standards for drops on concrete.
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    5 - The BlackBerry Leap Lacks a Physical Keyboard
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    The BlackBerry Leap Lacks a Physical Keyboard

    For years, BlackBerry smartphones and devices have been equipped with physical keyboards with keys that click with authority when touched. The company's Leap phone, which was announced in March, ditches a physical keyboard and replaces it with a 5-inch HD touch-screen display that BlackBerry hopes will boost its adoption by younger business users.
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    6 - Apple's iPhone 6s, 6s Plus Gain Improved Displays, Cameras
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    Apple's iPhone 6s, 6s Plus Gain Improved Displays, Cameras

    Apple again unveiled impressive displays and cameras in its iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus models, which hit the market in September. The iPhone 6s has a high-performance 4.7-inch display, while the 6s Plus has a 5.5-inch display. The cameras on both models also received a major upgrade with the addition of an all-new 12MP iSight camera that has 50 percent more pixels than earlier devices. Both phones are also now capable of 4K video and include new 5MP FaceTime HD front cameras.
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    7 - The Next-Gen Blackphone 2 Privacy-Centric Smartphone Arrives
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    The Next-Gen Blackphone 2 Privacy-Centric Smartphone Arrives

    Built to keep users' work and personal lives separate on their smartphones, the $799 Blackphone 2 is built with security and privacy in mind for users and the companies that employ them. The Blackphone 2, which is offered by Silent Circle, protects users by providing full device encryption by default using Silent Circle's Silent OS operating system and Android technologies. The smartphone features a 5.5-inch Full HD display, a Qualcomm Snapdragon octa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage and a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera.
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    8 - Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5 Lose Removable Batteries
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    Samsung's Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5 Lose Removable Batteries

    For years, Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners could carry a spare battery or swap out a memory card in their devices to extend the use of their phones or add storage. Not anymore. The new Galaxy S6 Edge+ and Note 5 flagship handsets delete both options now that they are covered in glass and metal bodies instead of plastic rear covers. While it makes the phones thinner, tougher and more stylish, it drops two features that helped the company's phones stand out in the marketplace.
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    9 - Motorola Refreshes Its Smartphone Line With 2 U.S. Models
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    Motorola Refreshes Its Smartphone Line With 2 U.S. Models

    In July, Motorola unveiled several unlocked international smartphones, including the Moto X Style, a 4G LTE phone known as the Moto X Pure in the United States, to give new options to buyers. The devices have universal LTE banding so they can work on any mobile networks. The Moto X Style/Pure has a 5.7-inch qHD display and a 21-megapixel rear-facing camera, while the Moto G 4G LTE handset includes a 5-inch HD display, a waterproof design and a 13MP rear-facing camera.
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    10 - Windows 10 Comes to Microsoft's Latest Lumia 950, 950XL Smartphones
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    Windows 10 Comes to Microsoft's Latest Lumia 950, 950XL Smartphones

    Microsoft's Lumia 950 and 950XL smartphones are the first of the company's smartphones to get the latest Windows 10 operating system. Launched in October, the Lumia 950 and 950 XL share 20-megapixel PureView main cameras that include triple LED flash and 4K video capture capabilities. The Lumia 950 has a 5.2-inch quad HD display, while the Lumia 950 XL uses a 5.7-inch QHD display.
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    11 - Emergency Smartphone Powered by an AA Battery
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    Emergency Smartphone Powered by an AA Battery

    In November, AT&T began selling its latest no-contract GoPhone, the SpareOne, a very basic cell phone that is designed to be stored for long periods until it is needed as an emergency phone. The SpareOne runs on a replaceable lithium AA battery that can be stored for decades. The device can be useful in the event of a sustained power outage when traditional smartphones and cell phones can't be recharged due to a lack of electricity. The SpareOne Emergency phone costs $59.99 and requires an annual service plan for $25 that includes 120 minutes of domestic U.S. talk time and the use of a built-in Locate and Alert service.
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    12 - Motorola Opens Its First Moto Shop Pop-up Boutique
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    Motorola Opens Its First Moto Shop Pop-up Boutique

    Motorola opened its first temporary Moto Shop boutique in Chicago in November where smartphone and smartwatch buyers can try out the company's products in person before buying them. The Moto Shop is an "experiential" store where consumers can learn more about features in the devices as well as personalize, order and purchase the company's smartphones and smartwatches. Shoppers can even test the company's new shatterproof smartphone display by dropping it on a concrete surface inside the store. The shop, open through May 2016, is at 108 N. State St.
 

Smartphone features are always changing, with some adding to the desirability of new handsets and others subtracting a bit from a model's allure. In 2015, it was another year for cool features and some backward steps as well. On the positive side, Motorola introduced an innovative and potentially ground-breaking feature with the super-tough Moto ShatterShield display in its latest Droid Turbo 2 smartphone. The shatterproof five-layer display includes a four-year guarantee against screen cracking or shattering even when dropped onto a hard surface. Also interesting this fall was BlackBerry's first-ever Android phone, the Priv, which includes a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and a touch-screen display. Apple, of course, brought out new iPhone 6s models with brighter displays and improved cameras and other features, while Samsung back-tracked a bit in sealing its latest flagship smartphones in glass and metal, making them no longer able to change out storage cards or batteries on the fly. Peruse this eWEEK slide show for more of 2015's highlights and changes in smartphones.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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