The end of the year brings a much-needed period, however brief, of rest and reflection. And if you’re as tech-obsessed as we are, you probably spend a little bit of that time to think about the best gadgets that have been introduced over the past year. Each year, tech companies big and small introduce innovative devices and fun gadgets, from smartphones to wearables to computers. Read on to check out our favorite gadgets from 2015, and get a glimpse of what we’re hoping lies ahead in 2016.
1. Samsung Galaxy S6
With a premium metal and glass build, an impressive 16MP camera, a bright and beautiful quad HD display, and fast charging, the Samsung Galaxy S6 is one of the best Android phones to be introduced in 2015. We liked the S6 so much that we’re already excited to find out what Samsung has planned for the phone’s successor, the Galaxy S7.
2. Nexus 6P
The Huawei-built Nexus 6P features a substantial metal body, a quad HD screen, and an all-new, incredibly fast fingerprint sensor. Best of all? It runs Android Marshmallow, the latest version of the operating system, without any of the added apps or interfaces you’d see on a third party’s phone. We’re looking forward to finding out how Google will improve the Nexus line even further next year — in an ideal world, perhaps by manufacturing Nexus phones itself.
3. iPhone 6s
While the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus are updates to last year’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, they introduced some great new features. Apple introduced 3D Touch, an updated version of the Force Touch technology that debuted with the Apple Watch, and added an upgraded 12MP camera that supports 4K video recording. We already have plenty of ideas about what Apple could improve with the iPhone 7, but for now, we’re watching how developers are exploring the potential of 3D Touch and implementing the feature in their apps.
4. LG G4
LG’s 2015 flagship gained a lot of attention for its 16MP camera, which features a maximum aperture of an impressive f/1.8, built-in optical image stabilization, its ability to shoot RAW files, and its manual mode. But even if you aren’t big on mobile photography, the G4 is a great phone to consider thanks to its inclusion of user-friendly features that fall in and out of vogue among Android smartphone manufacturers, like a removable battery and a microSD card slot.
5. Apple MacBook
The new MacBook, which features a gorgeous Retina display and excellent battery life, doesn’t sacrifice power to be thin and light. A few of Apple’s design choices did cause some controversy, like the furor over the inclusion of a single USB-C port and the redesigned keyboard. But we were still impressed by the new laptop, which is not just thinner and lighter, but also incorporates smart new features like a Force Touch trackpad.
6. Microsoft Surface Book
The Surface Book is the clearest illustration of Microsoft’s vision of a converged tablet and PC yet. It runs Microsoft’s brand-new Windows 10 operating system, an update that’s ushered in a new era for the software, and you can use it as either a tablet or as a laptop.
7. Apple Watch
While a smartwatch still isn’t a universally useful device that we’d recommend for every user, the Apple Watch does have undeniable appeal for tech lovers — even if it just points to a future in which wearable devices are more and more capable (and everyone you pass on the street will be talking to a device strapped to his wrist). We’re interested to find out exactly what Apple will change with the second generation of the device, expected to launch early in 2016.
8. Samsung Gear S2
You don’t have to be an Apple fan to have found an excellent smartwatch to try out this year. The Gear S2 runs Samsung’s Tizen operating system, and while you control the Apple Watch with the Digital Crown, you navigate the interface of the Gear S2 by rotating the bezel.
9. Amazon Echo
The Amazon Echo is a definite favorite among users who want a better way to interact with the devices they have around their home. The Echo combines a Bluetooth speaker with Alexa, Amazon’s own digital assistant, to enable you to play music, get headlines, check the weather, or control a wide range of smart home devices with simple voice commands.
10. Samsung Gear VR
Most of the virtual reality headsets we’ve been hearing about for years haven’t yet become a reality. But Samsung’s $99 Gear VR headset enables you to experience virtual reality now (and without a prohibitively high price tag). The third-generation version this year fixes some of the bugs that users experienced with the first two versions, and you can use the headset with the Galaxy S6, the Galaxy S6 Edge, the Galaxy S6 Edge+, or the Galaxy Note 5.