When it comes to the best smartphone, the verdict of Consumer Reports is somewhat surprising. It rules that the best smartphone is neither Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) iPhone 6/6+, nor the Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KRX:005930) (KRX:005935) Galaxy S6 (GS6)/S6 Edge. Indeed, the report instead claims that the year-old Galaxy S5 (GS5) is the most attractive and reliable flagship smartphone.
While the ho-hum plastic body of the GS5 turned few heads, the Consumer Reports comparison highlights some of the device's key strengths. Namely, the GS5 came with a replaceable battery and expandable storage -- two key attributes its successor and the iPhone both lack. Indeed the Consumer Reports deliberately drives home the Galaxy S6-iPhone analogy, writing:
With the new S6 and S6 Edge, Samsung has pulled an about-face on the Galaxy S line's anti-iPhone persona. The new devices are significantly more Apple-like than previous models.
Both new Samsung smartphones are made of glass-and-aluminum. (The S6 Edge’s screen also bends at both edges.) A decidedly more elegant look, but other Apple-like modifications actually hurt these devices in our Ratings—ironically, putting them on-par with Apple's iPhone 6.
For instance, these are the first Galaxy S models with non-removable batteries. Also missing: memory-expansion slots. That means Galaxy S6 owners will have to bring their phone to a service center to replace the battery, or buy a more expensive version of the phone if more onboard storage is needed—just as you do with an iPhone.
The GS6 is also docked for having poorer waterproofing than the GS5. The report offered weak praise for the GS6's battery which it described as "very good", but a "notch below" the GS5. It offered stronger praise for the GS6's "large, ultra-sharp (1440p Quad HD)" and wireless charging options. However, the positives weren't enough to spare the GS6 from receiving an iPhone like rating (a low one).
Ahead of GS6 in second place was the GS5 Active (the new AT&T, Inc. (T) exclusive GS6 Active wasn't reviewed, but would likely rank higher than the GS6 if it had been considered, based on the commentary). Apparently the highest rated of this generation of smartphones was the LG Electronics Inc. (KRX:066570)(KRX:066575) G4. The G4 scored Brownie points for having a removeable battery and swappable external storage -- just like the GS5. Curiously, though, the LG G4 was beat out by the GS5 -- perhaps due to its slightly weaker battery life. A writeup on the report can be found here, but the report itself is paywalled for subscribers only.