2018 in rewind: Best smartphones for every budget

Here are the best phones we saw this year across various price segments.

 |  6-minute read |   24-12-2018
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2018 has been a happy year for the Android smartphone industry. During the course of the year, big-name players such as Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi and Nokia announced a number of smartphones that not only impressed with their designs and internals but, in many cases, also ended up redefining the very segments they were launched in with their innovation – and often, their aggressive price tags. 

As we approach the end of 2018, it's time we take a look back at these devices.

Here are the best phones we saw this year across various budget segments. 

Best premium flagship (Samsung Galaxy Note 9)

Over the course of the year, we saw some heavily overpowered smartphones trying to win the bout in the heavyweight segment of the market. The likes of Huawei Mate 20 Pro and the Pixel 3 XL put up a strong fight, but the phone that emerged as the winner here is Samsung's Galaxy Note 9. 

Launched a few months after the Galaxy S9 and S9+, the Note 9 not only attempted improving on the first two Samsung flagships of the year, but also brought some really interesting technologies that helped it fight the much tougher battles against other premium phones in the market. 

In terms of design, the Note 9 borrows heavily from the DNA of its predecessors as it comes with sheets of toughened Gorilla Glass 5 at the front and the back held together by a metal frame.  

note-91-copy_122418035218.jpgApart from the iconic stylus, the Note 9 also brings with it other interesting features. (Photo: DailyO)

For the display, Samsung has used an in-house 6.4-inch QuadHD+ Super AMOLED panel, which, in terms of size, is bigger than the panel fitted on last year’s Note device. Yet, because of Samsung managing to shave off some bezel, the device has managed to keep the same form factor as the Note 8.

The device is available in two variants, with the more affordable 128GB storage one sporting 6GB of RAM, while the expensive 512GB one sporting 8GB of memory. In India, both these variants use the Exynos 9810 SoC as opposed to the Qualcomm 845 platform on the phones being sold in the US. 

The battery too is good with the Note 9 sporting a large 4,000mAh battery – as opposed to the 3300mAh pack found on last year's phone. The phone also comes with a liquid cooling solution to make sure the device runs cool at all times. 

In terms of cameras, the phone comes with a dual camera solution with a 12-Megapixel adjustable aperture lens, paired alongside another 12-Megapixel telephoto lens for portrait shots. Interestingly, the camera setup also supports variable aperture and, as such, affords users the freedom to switch between f/2.4 and smallest-in-class f/1.5 aperture mechanically. 

Best flagship killer (OnePlus 6T)

Next up is the biggest flagship killer of the year, the One Plus 6T. 

Placed arguably in the most competitive segments of the market – the sub-40k bracket – the OnePlus 6T is a device that starts at a price of Rs 37,999 for the 6GB/128GB RAM and storage variant.

In terms of design, it is a stark departure from the previous generation OnePlus phones, and comes with a new design scheme that brings with it a water-drop notch at the top with minimal bezel at the bottom, making it looks very different from the OnePlus phones of the past.

oneplus-6t3-copy-_122418035452.jpegThe OnePlus 6T comes with Snapdragon 845 paired with up to 10 GB of RAM. (Photo: DailyO)

Apart from the notch, the size of the display too is quite interesting as OnePlus has used a 6.4-inch OLED FullHD+ panel, making this the biggest display on a OnePlus phone yet.

Underneath the shiny display is Qualcomm's Snapdragon 845, tasked to run the device paired with up to 10 GB of RAM. Keeping the lights on is a 3700mAh battery pack. 

Coming to the cameras, the phone comes with an impressive 16-megapixel and 20-megapixel camera setup on the back. Though not as great as what you'd find on the Pixel 3 devices, the dual camera setup on the 6T clicks pretty good pictures for a phone placed in the sub-Rs 40 price range.

Under 20k budget smartphone (Xiaomi Poco F1)

This is also another segment which has seen a lot of action all through the year.

We've seen the likes of Nokia, Oppo and Honor announce some really competitive phones on a tight budget, yet, the best of the lot has been Xiaomi's Poco F1.

The device with its disruptive pricing has been a real winner in the segment – and for good reason. 

Starting at Rs 19,999, the Poco F1 brings with it core specs that can challenge the fastest smartphones in the market. 

The device packs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, paired with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage.

Powering the device is a massive 4000mAh battery that promises to keep the phone running for over a day. In terms of cameras, the Poco F1 comes with a dual-camera system consisting of a 12-megapixel sensor and f/1.9 aperture lens and another 5-megapixel camera for depth sensing.

pocof1-copy_122418035512.jpgStarting at Rs 19,999, the Poco F1 brings with it core specs that can challenge the fastest smartphones out there. (Photo: India Today Tech)

Best camera phone

Now, apart from specific budgets, there also exists a section of the audience that wants to buy phones to click great pictures. 

Even though every second smartphone maker claims their phones have the best optics, there's only one device in the Android space that can truly wear the crown. And the device is none other than the Pixel 3. 

The Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3 XL both come with the same IMX363 sensors with 12.2-Megapixel and f/1.8 aperture. However, because the Pixel 3 is a much lighter and more convenient to use point and shoot device, we have chosen to crown the smaller of the two phones as the camera king of the Android market for 2018. 

pixel-31-copy_122418035545.jpgBe it under heavy sunlight, or in dark situations, the Pixel 3's single-camera setup shines. (Photo: Reuters)

Much like its predecessor, the Pixel 3 is great for clicking photos – and this is largely down to the software tricks that Google uses for post-processing the pictures clicked using the phone. The company has introduced a whole host of new features, such as the Super Res Zoom – a new AI backed digital zooming feature – which effectively replaces the need for a secondary lens on the rear camera module.

Be it under heavy sunlight, or in dark situations, the Pixel 3's single-camera setup backed by Google HDR+ technology and all--new Night Sight is ready for pretty much any kind of picture you want to click. 

It is also the best phone for clicking portrait shots. 

As opposed to some of its competitors, you still cannot adjust the level of blur on bokeh shots. But for clicking portrait photos, it still emerges as the best option as it gets the basics right – brilliantly distinguishing the object in focus from the background.

Overall, if you are looking for a phone to click pictures, then Pixel is your best bet.

Also read: Is Asus' ROG Strix GTX 1070 TI good for gaming on a budget?



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