Price: Rs. 16,999
The OnePlus X continued to charm me long after I took it out of its box and started using it. Sure, it’s slippery, thanks to glass on both its front and back, but its size — not too big, not too small — makes it a pleasure to hold. The sharp metal ridge running down the sides add some subtle bling to its otherwise subdued appearance.
Inside, the OnePlus X has 3 GB RAM and a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor. It runs like a beast, and the 13 megapixel camera takes pin-sharp images. There’s also expandable storage to stuff it full of video, music, apps or anything else you want. Overall, the pretty little piece of glass and metal craftsmanship managed to exceed my expectations — and only a few phones have managed to do that this year. On the flipside, the battery barely lasts a day, but given how battery life isn’t a strong suit of most modern smartphones, I’m willing to put up with it. —Sanshey Biswas
Price Rs. 9,499
The Microsoft Lumia 550 is the cheapest way to take Windows 10 out for a spin. Assuming that Windows 10 is also your desktop operating system of choice, the latest budget Lumia offers some great incentives to make up for the lack of apps in the store.
Cortana is a sweetheart since, if you ask her to remind you something on the desktop, she’ll remind you on the phone too. The Edge browser works on both PC and phone, keeping the list of articles you saved for a later read and annotations available even on the move. Microsoft’s OneDrive make sure that your documents are available all the time and everywhere you have access to the Office suite (pre-installed), while keeping photos organised and synced as well. And one feature that only Microsoft has had the thoughtfulness to include is the unification of the notification centre between your computer and phone.
Besides that, with all the universal apps being ported to Windows and making their way to the Windows store, it shouldn’t be long before it has all the apps that you’d wish for. —Sanshey Biswas
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge
I was floored and was quite surprised in a good way when Samsung launched its S6 Edge to kill the criticism about the same design of its phones across all price bands. The Edge surpassed all my expectations and turned out to be a better smartphone than I expected. I was worried about the utility of the curved edged-screen but Samsung placed interactive menus making navigation or jumping to apps easier.
The gaming performance on the phone was superb, better than a few phones I have used that comes with Snapdragon 810 processor, although it did get heated up a little on prolonged gaming sessions but would cool down equally fast.
The Edge also brought in a lot in terms of camera satisfaction and biometric sensor (the fingerprint scanner). I could easily edit and share photos and videos from the phone itself rather than having to move them to a PC or a laptop. The fingerprint scanner also added needed security to the premium-priced device. —Anirban Ghoshal
Samsung Galaxy Note 5
Go ahead call me a Samsung fanboy but you cannot hate me for liking the Note 5 or for that matter any Samsung Note smartphone. I have been an ardent follower of the Note series as Samsung was the first to introduce the stylus back on a phablet and help make it a productivity tool.
I like the Note 5 as it comes with the off-screen write feature that allows me to scribble anything on the screen and later save it to a memo which I can share over e-mail, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Another advantage of using the phone is its 5.7-inch quad-HD display – a lot more space to write and also enjoy digital content on the phone.
Although holding the device for long periods was a problem as it was little bulky and heavy, the Note 5 experience for me was the most powerful as the phone came with Exynos processors coupled with a 4GB RAM. The Note 5 shares the same camera DNA as the Galaxy S6, so there is no need to further explain how good it is. —Anirban Ghoshal
iPhone 6S Plus
Price: Rs. 71,999
Before you start throwing brickbats at me for recommeding one of the most expensiev phones in the country, hear me out. Yes, it’s true that you can take a small vacation, or buy a souped up MacBook Air for the price of a single iPhone 6S Plus. Yes, it’s true that there are cheaper alternatives out there, including dozens of high-end Android flagships and Apple’s own iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.
But money aside, the iPhone 6S Plus is the best phone you can buy, period. If you haven’t experienced 3D Touch, Apple’s pressure-sensitive display on its latest phones, I recommend that you head over to you local Apple premium reseller right away. 3D Touch adds a whole new dimension to the way that you use your phone. With a gentle press, you can preview incoming email without actually opening them. Press deeper if you want to reply or forward the email. You can also 3D Touch a still image taken from the iPhone’s camera and watch it come to life with Live Photos.
Features like these will no doubt come to other phones in 2016. But Apple has a reputation for being the first to take a lot of groundbreaking technology mainstream and it keep it up with the 6S Plus. —Pranav Dixit
Qiku Q Terra
Price: Rs. 19,999 (with an invite), Rs. 21,999 (without an invite)
It takes a lot for an Android phone to wow me, and if money’s no bar, I always recommend iPhones over even expensive Android flagships like Samsung’s S6 Edge or the Galaxy S6. Which is why, when Chinese brand Qiku — pronounced Chee-ku -- came to India earlier this year with its 6-inch Q-Terra smartphone, I was prepared to dismiss it pretty much instantly. That’s until I actually held it in my hands.
The Q Terra costs just under Rs. 20,000 with an invite (it’s slightly higher if you just want to buy it outright), but looks way more premium. It’s an all-metal body and an enormous display with very little bezel. If there’s one thing that I want Apple to copy from an Android device, it would be this nearly edge-to-edge screen. And boy what a gorgeous screen it is! Reading ebooks, binge-watching YouTube, and playing games is a terrific experience, and straight up blows my (admittedly dated) iPhone 5S out of the water.
On the back, the Q Terra has a superfast fingerprint sensor that instantly unlocks the phone. It runs Android Lollipop, now Marshmallow, although Qiku says that an update is coming in the next few months.
The Q Terra is near-unbeatable for its price and if you want a fast, good-looking phone, I highly recommend it. —Pranav Dixit