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The 6 biggest tech flops of 2015

2015 saw a lot of amazing gadgets launch. We had the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, with their 3D Touch user interface, drones galore and enough smartwatches to kit out an army. But what about the other gadgets, the ones we’d rather forget? Sadly they couldn’t all be winners. Take a look at some of the worst tech of the last 12 months.

The 6 biggest tech flops of 2015

1. Ouya


It may have launched back in 2013, but this was the year Ouya put itself up for sale. The Android-powered console raised $8.5 million in what was at the time one of the biggest Kickstarter campaigns ever. But, as we have learned, that’s no guarantee of success.

Back in the spring of this year, it had run up a crippling debt and was desperately in need of a buyer. Razer stepped in and snapped up the name and game catalogue, effectively stripping it for parts. You can still buy the console, but you’d be better off with an Apple TV or Roku streaming box.

2. Microsoft Lumia 950


The 950 and 950 XL were the first phones to arrive running Microsoft’s shiny new Windows 10 operating system. With such high expectations, you’d think Microsoft would pull out all the stops. You’d be wrong. Instead, it delivered a pair of distinctly average phones that felt a lot cheaper than they actually were.

Plastic bodies? Stiff, tacky-feeling side buttons? Come on Microsoft, we expect better. The OS was sorely lacking too, with laggy performance and plenty of bugs. Microsoft has a lot of work to do if it wants to convince us of Windows 10.

3. Sony Xperia Z5 Premium


This was the first phone to feature a 4K screen. Yes, that’s 4K as in the insanely high resolution that’s seen on crazily expensive TVs. Its 3,840×2,160-pixel resolution gave it a pixel density of 806ppi (pixels per inch), which is way more than the 326ppi seen on the iPhone 6S.

So what went wrong? It turned out that only certain content could be shown in 4K, with most videos and images only available in standard 1080p HD. Couple that with the fact there’s not much 4K video around anyway, as not many people own compatible TVs, and what there is isn’t optimised for mobile, and you have a seriously overpowered but largely redundant phone. Nice try, Sony.

4. iPhone 6S Smart Battery Case


A late entrant, this. Apple only unveiled the accessory in December, but it prompted howls of derision as one of the worst cases of the year. The idea was sound. Apple basically admitted its phones’ batteries don’t last long enough, and so brought out a case with a battery built-in. The problem? There are dozens of alternatives already available, and they’re cheaper and better looking than Apple’s official version.

Our advice is to plump for a third-party alternative. Shop around online, and you can pick up Mophie’s Juice Pack Air for much cheaper. It also boasts a bigger battery than Apple’s, giving you much more cluck for your buck.

5. BlackBerry Leap


Why would you buy a BlackBerry in this day and age? Two reasons: the keyboard, and the enterprise-level security features.

For the Leap, BlackBerry decided to ditch the keyboard, which is an interesting business decision, and that’s putting it politely. The Leap didn’t so much leap as stumble onto the scene with far fewer apps than rival operating systems Android and iOS. BlackBerry all but admitted as much later in the year, when it launched the Priv, which runs Google’s Android. It brought back the physical keyboard too, albeit in a slide-out mechanism. Hopefully it’s learned its lesson.

6. Ubuntu Edge


You’ve got to admire its ambition. Back in 2013, the Ubuntu Edge was supposed to be a new type of smartphone, one that ran a dual boot of Google’s Android mobile operating system and Ubuntu Touch, a version of the Ubuntu operating system optimised for mobile devices. It would also work as a desktop PC when plugged into a monitor, a feature now found in Windows 10. The Edge took to crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, and sought to raise a ridiculous $32 million in one month. As we say, ambitious.

In the end, it raised $12.8 million – a huge amount by anyone’s measure, but less than half its goal. This year, Ubuntu showed the handset off at phone fair Mobile World Congress, though there’s still no sign of it actually going on sale. This has to be some kind of record – it could’ve won flop of the year three years in a row.

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