The Best and Worst of 2015: XDA Edition

The Best and Worst of 2015: XDA Edition

The year is almost at an end, but it doesn’t look like Android’s dominance will subside anytime soon. Although we all share the experience of running an Android device here at XDA, each and every one of us will have a unique Android experience based on his or her device, region, carrier, and more.

But there are some aspects to the Android experience that can result in a shared common experience. That’s why we asked you, our readers, your thoughts on the best and worst aspects of Android throughout the year. Let’s start off with the bad news first, shall we?

The Worst

S810 Benchmark

Heat map of various 2015 flagships

You guys voted, and the results were very clear. The Snapdragon 810 won the “worst of 2015” vote by a landslide. Some commenters were wondering how the Snapdragon 810 is related to Android. It’s a valid concern, given that the chipset is by no means exclusive to Android devices. Yet, the SoC has shown up in so many 2015 Android flagships that it’s hard to separate the “Android experience” with Snapdragon chipsets.

In particular, this beast of an SoC has been engulfed in controversy since the release of the LG G Flex 2 and the HTC One M9, both of which suffered from overheating issues. In addition, Sony’s Xperia Z3+ and Z4 were confirmed by the company to experience the same thermal problems. So what went wrong, and who’s to blame for the poor experience of early Snapdragon 810 devices? We’ve discussed the issue in depth before, and what it comes down to is an issue that both Qualcomm and the OEMs needed to fix.

It simply was not a good year for Qualcomm. In January, the announcement that Samsung was ditching the Snapdragon line in favor of its own Exynos chipset plummeted Qualcomm’s market value. Many in the Android tech scene claimed that the Snapdragon 810 was to blame for Qualcomm losing its biggest customer, but Qualcomm of course denied this allegation. The company released a statement featuring many of its partners showing their intent to continue implementing the 810 in their flagship devices. However, by this point many consumers saw Qualcomm’s defense of the 810 as simply damage control.

In Qualcomm’s defense, it really does seem that the performance issues of the 810 SoC were a bit overhyped (although the GPU performance still left a lot to be desired, particularly on high-resolution displays). Qualcomm’s third iteration of the 810 solved some of the thermal and performance issues plaguing the chipset. We’ve seen that devices such as the Sony Xperia Z5 and Google Nexus 6P were able to tame the 810 beast, while devices like the OnePlus 2 were unable to do the same. The variation in how the later 810 devices turned out gives some credence to the idea that OEMs were partially responsible for the poor performance of early 810 devices. In the end, what really killed the 810 was the marketing fiasco surrounding these early 810 devices that led consumers to lose trust in the company. Qualcomm desperately needs to nail the 820 chipset, especially with the looming threat of competitors such as Huawei’s Kirin and MediaTek entering the market once dominated by Snapdragon.

The Best

Qualcomm might have disappointed many of us with the 810, but this year wasn’t all that bad. Many commenters noted that the mid-range market has been killing it lately.

2015 is the year where “cheap android phones became good and good android phones became cheap.” – user Aeonia.

If you’re a consumer looking to grab a new smartphone, then you no longer have to shell out top dollar for a high end smartphone. Devices such as the Moto G 2015 and OnePlus X offer decent Android experiences for users looking to upgrade their device at a low price. On the other hand, the prevalence of e-commerce is also driving down prices on the high end market. Long gone are the days when you had to go directly to a carrier to purchase a flagship phone. Instead, you can cut out the middle-man and save money by purchasing straight from the manufacturer.

Motorola, OnePlus, and Honor take advantage of this sales model to offer you great phones without the inflated in-store price. And if offerings from those manufacturers don’t interest you, thankfully deals and bundles are being offered at a fairly high rate these days, so tech savvy Android enthusiasts should have plenty of opportunities to grab even the most expensive smartphones at a discount. All in all, it’s a great time to be upgrading your smartphone given the plethora of available options.

Here’s to a better 2016, one with many great deals and not plagued with overheating smartphones!

Let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments below.

About author

Mishaal Rahman
Mishaal Rahman

I am the Editor-in-chief of XDA. In addition to breaking news on the Android OS and mobile devices, I manage all editorial and reviews content on the Portal. Tips/media inquiries: [email protected]