Year Round Up: The Best of 2015

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on December 15, 2015, News

It’s getting close to the end of the year, and that means it’s time for our yearly round up. So, just what have we seen in 2015? Whilst we didn’t quite get the huge leaps in mobile tech that we might have wanted, there have been a few exciting developments. So, if you haven’t been following the mobile news this year, here’s what you might have missed…

The Big Hitters…

Big Hitters

For the last few years the mobile market has been dominated by Apple and Samsung, and this year was no different. We saw the launch of the new iPhone models (the 6s and the 6s Plus), as well as the latest Samsung Galaxy (the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge). Both names made a good showing on top phone lists and are the top sellers with all UK networks, which is probably no surprise.

What maybe is a surprise though is HTC. In 2014 and 2013 the HTC flagship model gave the iPhone and Samsungs a real run for their money. This year’s release, however, the M9 has made little impact, and been criticised for its weighty price tag. A disappointing performance from HTC leaves Samsung and Apple to duel it out for brand of the year…

The Best New Technology…

3D Touch

We’ve seen three interesting kinds of new tech on the mobile market this year. The first is that new 3D touch screen on the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Basically, the phone’s display can now differentiate between a tap and a solid push, bringing up different menus depending on what you do. Pretty innovative, and fairly useful too.

Coming from Samsung we’ve seen two new things. The first is the Edge, on that Galaxy S6 Edge model. The right hand side of the phone’s screen curves around the body, leaving an Edge that can be used for all kinds of things (the controls for your music player, for example, or your camera controls), leaving your main screen uncluttered. The idea is nice, though how useful the Edge actually is is a question of debate…

And then there’s VR. Samsung’s announcement that their new VR headset is going to retail for around US$100 is kind of a big deal. And the headset itself, designed to give you an immersive viewing experience with your Galaxy S6, is very, very cool. First reviews say that this could be the Christmas gadget of the year, so we’ll wait and see on that one.

The Most Unexpected Release…

BlackBerry Priv

Okay, unexpected might not be the right word, but this release is a strange one. We’re talking about the Blackberry PRIV. For years Blackberry have depended on their own RIM operating system, and as their market share continued to fall, and fall, and fall, they continued to depend on RIM. Right up until 2015 with the release of their first Android phone. Is the world ready for an Android keyboard phone? It remains to be seen whether Blackberry’s fall from grace was due to their operating system, or due to the fact that they still use an outdated keyboard phone design…

The Biggest Scare…

Stagefright

Perhaps the biggest mobile scare this year was the Android Stagefright virus, a bug spread through infected MMS messages and even embedded videos. For a while there, we were all panicking, but Android have been working hard to patch the security flaws and it looks like we’re all safe after all. But Stagefright still provides an argument for why running an antivirus on your mobile might not be a bad idea…

The Biggest Mobile Operator News…

BT EE Merger

2015 has been a quiet year on the UK mobile operator front, with not a great deal of change happening, which is probably a good thing. The only real news story was the February announcement that British Telecom had agreed to buy mobile operator EE for a stunning £12.5 billion. However, BT are still waiting for regulatory approval on that one, so we’re not going to get a solid yes or no until early 2016.

The Operating Systems…

Operating Systems

All three major mobile operating systems released updates in 2015, with Marshmallow from Android, iOS9 from Apple, and Windows 10 from Microsoft. Any big changes? No, not really. Though all three systems are more stable and secure, there was a disappointing lack of big new features this year, so we’re keeping our fingers crossed for 2016 updates.

The Most Interesting Stories

Project Fi

There have been three stories that we took great mobile interest in this year. The first is a recent one, the fact that mobile data traffic in the UK has risen by an astonishing 65% this year, mostly thanks to Netflix and YouTube. It looks like we’re all watching our videos on the go these days, maybe thanks to the whopping big screens we’re seeing on phones today.

Second up was the release of Google’s Project Fi, the company’s attempt to build their own, interconnected, wireless mobile operator. So far, things are looking good, with users in the US reporting great service and low prices. Sadly, it doesn’t look like Fi is going to launch in the UK, but that doesn’t mean that Google aren’t working on something new for us…

Finally, just a couple of weeks ago, LiFi got its first real world test in Estonia. LiFi is the next step up from WiFi, promising data speeds a hundred times faster. No word yet on expansion, but the initial testing went well, and we’d all like faster data speeds, right?

The Most Ridiculous Rumours

iOS 9 Waterproof

Last up, we’ve got to mention some of the strangest things we’ve heard. Rumours abound on the mobile market, but some prove more worthy than others. The most ridiculous we’ve heard this year are fairly stupid. The first is a rumour started that said a discharged mobile could be charged in a microwave. This resulted in several people, well, exploding their phones. Needless to say, you cannot charge your phone in the microwave…

Second, an ugly rumour spread in the last few months is that the new iOS9 iPhone update would make your iPhone waterproof. Again, a fair few mobiles have been damaged this way. And, um, no, an operating system update cannot possibly make your hardware waterproof, we promise…

So there you have it, the highs and lows of the 2015 mobile year. And what about 2016? Well, we’re looking forward to the new flagships, obviously (the iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7), but there are more rumours. A nice, bendable, foldable screen would be a good addition to a mobile phone, we think…