2015 Gift Guide: Smartphones That Will Rule the Holiday Season

By on October 26, 2015


Smartphones are the most personal and long-suffering of all gadgets. They’re with us at all hours of the day, enduring our boring conversations and clumsy drops on the asphalt, tile, hardwood… For all of their perseverance, we pay them back with love (and accessories). Then we tire of our beloved phones and toss them into the recycle bin. And upgrade. The end.

Well, not the end. It’s just the beginning, because it’s now time to find a new phone! Most of us like to stay in the same phone ecosystem for years (iOS, Android, fight!). But phones are funny that way: as much as we want the familiarity, we crave the coolest, newest, whiz-bang gadget ever. The best phones expertly balance both familiarity and innovation.

In 2015, it’s these magnificent seven that rule the world of smartphones. We’ve also included their Mini-Me’s, the “Plan B” if you don’t feel like going full on smarty phone (read: they’re cheaper).

Buy This Gift for Captain Obvious: Apple iPhone 6s

The iPhone 6s is the mother and father of all smartphones. It has no equal in the Reality Distortion Field™. In real reality, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6s is a solid phone without glaring weaknesses. Plus, your fingerprint is saved in Apple’s servers for all time. (iOS) You also have the option of stepping up to the iPhone 6S Plus, ideal for anyone that wants the larger 5.5-inch screen.

  • Current MSRP: $649 for iPhone 6S ($32.45 / month with Apple annual upgrade) / $749 for iPhone 6S Plus ($37.45 / month with Apple annual upgrade)
  • Lowest Price on Ben’s: $639 for unlocked version
  • Mini-Me: iPhone 5s. (16GB: $0 with 2-year contract)


Check Ben’s for iPhone 6s Deals

Buy This Gift for Someone Who Doesn’t Like Apple: Samsung Galaxy S6

The Samsung Galaxy S6 is the anti-iPhone and has played its role exceedingly well. It’s the best-selling Android phone and second best-selling phone in the world behind… guess who. Now five years since the release of the first version, the flagship Galaxy S phone has matured into a powerful, feature-packed super-phone. The 5.1-inch Galaxy S6 is a classic example of that saying, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” (Android)

  • Current MSRP: $580 ($24 for 24 months on Verizon, $19.50 for 30 months on AT&T)
  • Lowest Price on Ben’s: $380 (no contract)
  • Mini-Me: Samsung Galaxy S5, previous generation model. ($200 no contract) 


Check Ben’s for Samsung Galaxy S6 Deals

Buy This Gift for Someone Who Loves Photography: Motorola Moto X Pure

The new Moto X Pure from Motorola has received attention for the 21 meg-pixel internal camera as well as 4K video shooting capabilities. But like any other gadget, the 5.7-inch Moto X will rise and fall on the sum of its parts, instead of where or how those parts were put together. One of the Moto X’s biggest selling points is its extreme customization: all four major carriers in the U.S. now offer over 250 possible combinations of colors and accents. (Android)

  • Current MSRP: $399.99 
  • Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
  • Mini-Me: The 4.7-inch Moto X. ($180, no contract)


Check Ben’s for Motorola Moto X Deals

Buy This Gift for Someone With Giant Hands: Samsung Galaxy Note 5

Two years ago, the first Galaxy Note ushered in the age of that horrible portmanteau: “phablet” (phone + tablet). In spite of the moniker, the Note has become a wildly successful phone, and the Note 5 improves upon the series in all the right places, with a trimmed-down case but even larger display — now an eye-popping 5.7 inches. If you wear skinny jeans, you’d best move on. This is a business phone in form and function. (Android)

  • Current MSRP: $696 ($29 for 24 months on Verizon, $24.67 for 30 months on AT&T)
  • Lowest Price on Ben’s: 32GB, $570 (unlocked)
  • Mini-Me: Samsung Galaxy Note 4 ($300 unlocked)


Check Ben’s for Samsung Galaxy Note 5 Deals

Buy This Gift for the Windows Die-Hard: Microsoft Lumia 950

A Windows phone… wut? Yes, and it’s becoming more powerful than you can possibly imagine. The sleek 5.2-inch Lumia 950 is one of the best phones on the market, even if it’s not an iOS/Android phone. The biggest challenge it faces is unfamiliarity, but Windows 10 is very capable. Almost all the major apps you know and love (like Netflix or Instagram) are now available for Windows phones. (Windows 10 Phone)

  • Current MSRP: $549 (November 2015 Release)
  • Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
  • Mini-Me: The low-cost, 5-inch Lumia 640 ($60 no-contract).


Check Ben’s for Nokia Lumia Deals

Buy This Gift for the Trendsetter: Google Nexus 6P

The Nexus 6P, the latest smartphone in Google’s budget-friendly Nexus series, is once again a strictly no contract phone (GSM) with a straightforward price tag. Launching with with the latest and greatest Android 6 OS (Marshmallow) before anyone else, this 5.7-inch phone is powerful despite its nondescript appearance; complete with 4K video and a speedy USB Type-C charger. (Android)

  • Current MSRP: 32GB, $499 (Google Play)
  • Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
  • Mini-Me: Google Nexus 5X ($379)


Check Ben’s for Nexus Deals

Buy This Gift for Someone Who’s All Class: HTC One M9

As far as looks and build quality go, the HTC One either comes close to or exceeds the iPhone, depending on which side you’re on. Smartphone junkies have praised its sleek aluminum exterior, edge-to-edge display, and ergonomically curved back. It’s also got Dolby Audio stereo speakers behind retro-styled grills above and below the screen (for landscape viewing). The 5-inch HTC One is also powerful on the inside with quad-core processor, NFC and DLNA support and 2GB of RAM. (Android)

  • Current MSRP: $648 ($27 for 24 months on Verizon, $23.64 for 30 months on AT&T)
  • Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
  • Mini-Me: HTC One (original). ($150 unlocked)


Check Ben’s for HTC One Deals

About Joe Warner

I'm the senior editor of The CheckOut. I am an aficionado of shiny gadgets and classic Hollywood movies and can also tell you the names of the late '80s Swedish Davis Cup team members.

One Comment

  1. CarolP

    December 1, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Love the Samsung Galaxy. My next one will be a Note!

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