So everyone and his dog has a flagship smartphone out and available for purchase in South Africa, and you could be asking yourself which one is the best of the lot.

That’s what we’ve set out to answer with this month’s Supertest, where we’ve pitted high-end phones from several big-name manufacturers against one another to see which one rightly deserves to have your flagship fund spent on it.

On to the phones!

Samsung Galaxy S6

From R8 999

Samsung Galaxy S6 Display

After years of disliking Samsung phones on the whole and having to find things to like about them, the Galaxy S6 has reversed our opinion. We like the Galaxy S6, so much so that we would buy one with our own money if the need arose.

We would complain about the battery life, its lack of waterproof-ness and some of the software but we love so much of the phone that those concerns just aren’t important – unlike its new, Gorilla Glass-covered surfaces, the gorgeous metal edging and its truly astounding general performance. This is a phone that takes the idea of upgrading over its predecessor really seriously, and has done a great job of providing many good reasons to take the plunge.

In short; if you like Samsung phones then buy the Galaxy S6, because it really is the best one they’ve ever made. If you like Apple phones then this still won’t make you switch because, really, nothing will. But if you’re still on the fence, then this is the phone for you.

Details

Price: From R8 999
Display: 5.1 inch 1 440×2 560 resolution Super AMOLED display (577ppi)
Operating System: Android 5.0.2
Processor: Samsung Exynos 7420 quad core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & quad core 2.1 GHz Cortex-A57
Memory: 3GB RAM
Storage: 32GB/64GB/128GB non-expandable storage
Battery: 2 550mAh non removable battery
Camera: 16 megapixel rear camera with optical image stabilisation, 5 megapixel front facing camera
Networking: dual band 802.11 ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, LTE
Dimensions: 143.4mm x 70.5mm x 6.8 mm
Weight: 138g

Galaxy S6 Revised Revised Score Box

Huawei Ascend P7

R5 999

Huawei-Ascend-P7-Main-658x368

In isolation the Ascend P7 is a great phone, due in large part to its phenomenal build quality. A lacklustre processor and an irritating Android skin hurt its overall scores, but a superb battery life and a very good front-facing “selfie” camera manage to claw back some of its appeal.

It’s what you’d call a very competent Android smartphone, if not a particularly thrilling one. At over R3 000 less than the Samsung Galaxy S6 16GB, the Ascend P7 offers more than enough reasons to choose it over the competition.

There will always be those who want the absolute best and are willing to pay a premium for it, but for those who cannot justify the added expense, the Ascend P7 is perfect as it delivers a great blend of performance, quality and features for a very attractive price.

Detail

Price: R5 999
Display: 5 inch, 1080×1920 resolution full HD IPS LCD display (441 ppi)
Operating System: Android 4.4.2 with Emotion UI 2.3
Processor: HiSilicon Kirin 910T 1.8GHz quad core processor
Memory: 2GB RAM
Storage: 16GB expandable by up to 64GB with microSD cards
Battery: 2500mAh non-removable
Camera: 13 megapixel rear, 8 megapixel front-facing
Networking: Dual band 802.11n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 and LTE

Ascend P7 Score Box

Sony Xperia Z3

R6 999

Sony Xperia Z3 Compact Display

The Xperia Z3 has us battling to pinpoint the major reason you should not buy one that isn’t “But it’s not a 2015 flagship phone!”

The Z3 is the best smartphone Sony has made in years, and it represents enough of an enhancement over the Xperia Z2 in aesthetics to justify its existence. If you’re stuck between the two sizes of the iPhones 6, then the Xperia Z3 may just be the salve to your ache for something in the Goldilocks region between the two.

The display, battery life and camera are all fantastic and its hardware is more than fast enough to keep it chugging along nicely for the next two years until an inevitable upgrade is due.

The Xperia Z3 was, when it launched, good enough to win out over almost every other phone we’d seen up to that point. Today, however, it can’t go toe-to-toe with the S6 or iPhone 6 when it comes to performance or features, but its cheaper price due to its relative age goes a long way toward making it a mighty tempting offer indeed.

It is, until the Z4 comes out, the best Android phone Sony has made, so if you’re a fan of Sony’s work, you can’t really go wrong here.

Details

Price: R6 999
Display: 5.2 inch, 1 080×1 920 resolution IPS LCD display (441ppi)
Operating System: Android 4.4.4
Processor: 2.5GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor
Memory: 3GB of RAM
Storage: 16GB expandable by up to 128GB with a microSD card
Battery: 3 100mAh non-replaceable battery
Camera: 20.7 megapixel camera
Networking: 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE
Dimensions: 146mmx72mmx7.3mm
Weight: 152g
Other: IP68 certified dust proof and water-resistant at depths over 1 meter for 30 minutes

Sony Xperia Z3 Updated Score

HTC One M9

R9 999

HTC One M9 - Header

HTC has refined what worked so well in the M8’s design for the M9, and the result is this very good but not particularly revolutionary phone. That said, if you’re not looking for something that reinvents the wheel, it’s a great choice.

What it isn’t, though, is an S6-killer – by most accounts Samsung’s latest is definitely its greatest – but it’s a phone that delivers performance in the S6’s range. It’s slightly more costly, though, which is a problem as you don’t get enough extra for the cash to have us recommending it over the S6.

The biggest drawcards the phone has is HTC’s by-now-traditional all-metal chassis that has a very pleasant heft to it, and its excellent BoomSound speakers that are brilliant for those times you want to watch a movie without headphones or show off a cool new tune to some mates. If it’s solid design you’re looking for, the One M9 has plenty of it.

The phone itself is very competent when it comes to the important bits like performing well, flying through the interface and running apps and games fluidly, so there’s definitely a place for it among the flagship phones of 2015. Just not at the very top of the list.

Details

Price: R9 999
Chipset: Qualcomm MSM8994 Snapdragon 810
CPU: Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 & Quad-core 2 GHz Cortex-A57
GPU: Adreno 430
Display: 1080p Super LCD3 Capacitive Touchscreen, 16m colours
RAM: 3GB
Storage: 32GB, expandable via microSD
Operating System: Google Android 5.0.2
Communications: AC-class WiFi, Bluetooh, GPS, NFC, Infrared Port, MicroUSB with MHL 3.0 TV-out
Network: GSM/LTE/HSPA
Battery: 2 840maH
Cameras: 20.7MP Primary @ 5 376×3 752 with dual-LED flash, 4MP secondary
Audio: Stereo speakers with BoomSound and Dolby tech
Weight: 157g
SIM Format: Nano

HTC One M9 Revised Revised Score Box

LG G4

R 8 999

LG G4 Supertest

If you’re looking for a phone that delivers where it’s important – camera, screen, general performance – then the G4 is a strong contender for your cash.

Its leather backing feels wonderful to touch and lends the G4 an air of sophistication lacking from other phones in the segment, and the fact that it can be opened, its battery replaced and an SD card inserted scores the G4 big points for people who don’t like that the S6 does neither.

LG’s strong focus on the camera has resulted in one of the finest smartphone cameras yet made, with plenty of manual options to tweak and explore but also plenty of automatic ones that capture great pictures without much effort required from you. The camera a little sluggish at times, though, owing to all the fancy processing it does, and Samsung does a better job of showing an accurate preview of your shots, but overall the G4’s shooter is definitely up there with the best of them.

And that screen… it’s razor sharp at 538 pixels per inch and its colours accurate thanks to its eye-watering resolution of 2 560 x 1 440 and LG’s stunning IPS Quantum Display tech.

But little gripes with its Optimus UI looking a bit dated as well as its 3 000 mAh battery that should last longer than it does, prevent us from recommending the G4 unreservedly as the best flagship phone out there.

It’s still very good, and the best LG phone to date, it’s just not top-of-the-class good.

Details

Price: R8 999
Display: 5.5 inch 1 440×2 560 resolution IPS Quantum display (538ppi)
Operating System: Android 5.1
Processor: Snapdragon 808 Dual-core 1.82 GHz Cortex-A57 & quad-core 1.44 GHz Cortex-A53 with Adreno 418
Memory: 3GB RAM
Storage: 32GB with microSD slot (up to 128GB)
Battery: 2 550mAh non removable battery
Camera: 16 MP, 5312 x 2988 pixels, laser autofocus, optical image stabilization, LED flash, 8MP secondary
Networking: dual band 802.11 ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.1, LTE
Dimensions: 48.9 x 76.1 x 6.3 – 9.8 mm
Weight: 155g


LG G4 Verdict

Apple iPhone 6

R9 399

Apple iPhone 6 Main

Once the undisputed leader of the smartphone pack, Apple has lost a lot of ground to its competitors who have innovated their way to much better hardware and software over the last few years.

The iPhone 6 is indeed the best iPhone Apple has ever made, and there isn’t a fanboy out there who would not be thrilled to get one. The iPhone 6 does everything exceptionally well, and while it still suffers from some of the same bugbears that we have had with previous iPhone generations, we can’t deny that it’s easily one of the best smartphones we’ve ever reviewed.

That said, if it were our money, we would not be buying an iPhone 6 because of its poor battery life in comparison to that of the Sony Xperia Z3, which is far superior.

We would, however, spend every single day using another phone wishing that Apple would just license the TouchID fingerprint sensor into every piece of technology that is made on earth, because it is simply that fantastic.

Details

Price: R9 399
Display: 4.7 inch 750×1 334 resolution IPS LCD display (326ppi)
Operating System: iOS 8.1
Processor: 1.4GHz dual core Apple A8
Memory: 1GB of RAM
Storage: 16GB/64GB/128GB non expandable storage
Battery: 1 810mAh
Camera: 8 megapixel camera
Networking: dual band 802.11ac WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE
Dimensions: 138.1mmx67mmx6.9mm
Weight: 129g
Other: TouchID fingerprint sensor

iPhone Scores

A Winrar is you

It’s a good time to be a phone fan, because no matter what you choose you can be assured of getting a fast, good-looking phone with a battery that lasts, at the very least, a full day.

But of the phones in our Supertest lineup, there’s a clear winner in the flagship category: Samsung’s Galaxy S6. Not only is it beautiful to look at, it’s the very best Galaxy phone Samsung has released, and a phone with mass appeal.

Gone are the plastic finishes that kept the S5 from feeling truly high-end, replaced by gorgeous Gorilla Glass, and the overall performance of the phone is astounding no matter the task. It truly is a good upgrade over its predecessor even if the S6 isn’t waterproof this time around.

If it’s the best of the best you want in a smartphone, get the S6. But even if you choose something else, if it’s on this list a winrar will still be you.

Samsung Galaxy S6 (10)
Pictured: Winners.
Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.