Gear is our job. It streams into and out of our offices in an endless tide of boxes and couriers; it gets photographed and catalogued and crammed underneath desks until we have time to test it. We quantify it as best we can, to share its essence: good and bad, peccadilloes and superlatives. We even pick the 100 best pieces of gear every year. But to close things out this year, we asked each staff member to single out their favorite piece of gear that was new to 2015. We hope you enjoy our little love notes to the gear that made the biggest impact on our lives this year.

When I jumped from iPhone to Galaxy Note, smartphones finally fit comfortably into my life, and it’s all thanks to one feature. I could regale you with anecdotes about the Note 5’s customizability and its breathtaking display (Comixology has never looked better than it does on this thing, and I can’t wait to pop it into a Gear VR) — but the sleeper hit is the screen-off memo.

I despise pulling out phones in social situations. But when someone tells me about something I’d like to look up later, I make a note of it. Now, whenever that happens, I can discreetly pop out the stylus and start scribbling, eye contact intact — rather than looking as though I’m texting someone I’m more interested in. It’s a phone that helps me better engage with the person in front of me for once. I’d sure as hell call that a breakthrough.

Dimensions: 6.03 x 3.00 x 0.30 inches
Display: 5.7-inch Quad HD Super AMOLED; 2560 x 1440 pixel resolution
Memory: 4GB LPDDR4
Storage: 32GB, 64GB
Rear Camera Resolution: 16MP