The year 2018 started slowly as far as phones are concerned. But by the time it reached December, and now we are about to close it, we saw phones that brought fresh new technologies and trends not only in 2018 but would be shaping the phones of 2019 as well. This year, we have seen phone companies shift from regular physical fingerprint sensor to in-display fingerprint sensor — OnePlus 6T is a prime example — and devices with seamless displays and front cameras that pop-out when needed. Then, there were trends that picked pace this year even if they started in 2017. The main example of such trends is the dual-camera setup that adorned even the mainstream and under Rs 10,000 phones this year.
In fact, some companies tried to put more and more cameras in their phones. Samsung and Oppo went up to the extent of bringing not just three but four-camera smartphones. Then there is HMD Global that is reportedly working on a five-camera phone for 2019, which is most likely going to be the Nokia 9 Pure View.
But apart from the new technologies, which were the best phones this year? Now, when we say best we don’t mean best hardware. Or best software. We mean the phones that made the most impact, the phones that stood out. Here is the list. See if you use any of them.
Redmi Note 5 Pro
Xiaomi recently launched the Redmi 6 series of phones including the Redmi 6A, Redmi 6, Redmi 6 Pro and Redmi Note 6 Pro, but none of them seem to be in as much demand as the Redmi Note 5 Pro which was launched in the beginning of this year. Reason? It was a great all-rounder phone, available for less than Rs 15,000 and consumers couldn’t get enough of it. The phone came with solid build quality, a nice almost bezel-less display, outstanding battery life and a camera that clicked pretty great pictures with good amount of details and punchy colours. The only areas where I believe the Note 5 Pro could have been slightly better were software and the design as in it had a boring design.
Realme 2 Pro
Despite being a new brand, Realme has done an exceptional job this year. Oppo introduced Realme in the beginning of this year and in a short span of time the company has managed to take on the likes of Xiaomi and HMD Global, which sells Nokia phones. Realme has launched four phones this year and the best of the lot is the Realme 2 Pro, which is a worthy competitor to the Redmi Note 6 Pro. In our review, we called the Realme 2 Pro to be a powerhouse. It is also one of the best looking phones under Rs 15,000 and offers a bright and vivid display. Additionally, it is a fast phone. Sure, all good things come with a flaw and the Realme 2 Pro could also have been better. We believe the software and the low-light camera performance of the Realme 2 Pro could have been better.
Xiaomi Mi A2
There’s no doubt that the Mi A2 is a phone with one of the best cameras under Rs 20,000 in India. This Android One powered phone from Xiaomi captures detailed and vibrant pictures in both daylight and as well as in low light, for example in a room. Besides the camera, the Mi A2 offers several other noteworthy features. The phone comes with a stock Android interface and is fairly fast in dealing with day-to-day use that involves switching between apps, scrolling through Facebook, sending emails and so on and so forth. The Mi A2 can also run all sorts of games easily and it is one of the handful of phones that now support Android 9 Pie. All in all a really great package in a phone that often sells for under Rs 20,000.
The Nokia 8.1 is one of the best phones launched by HMD this year. The glass design finish not only make the phone looks good but also gives it a premium touch. Overall, as also mentioned in our review, the Snapdragon 710 enables the Nokia 8.1 to run handle the day-to-day task easily and smoothly. In the Nokia 8.1 review we mentioned, “While the Nokia 8.1 breezes through day-to-day tasks like messaging, social media browsing and loading apps, it’s the gaming performance that is really impressive.” Besides the performance and the design, display is another factor where the Nokia 8.1 stands out from its competitors.
OnePlus had a great year in India in 2018. The company launched two flagship phones in 2018 — the OnePlus 6 and the OnePlus 6T — and both of them are great value for money. In fact, if you don’t factor in the value for money aspect, the OnePlus 6 and the OnePlus 6T are great phones. Period. In our OnePlus 6T review we had mentioned, “At a price of Rs 37,999 for the 6GB RAM and 128GB variant, the OnePlus 6T is an excellent choice.”
Apple launched three iPhones this year including the iPhone XR, the iPhone XS and the iPhone XS Max. Out of the three, the iPhone XR is the one that really leaves a mark. Why? This is because the iPhone XR packs almost all the important features found in the iPhone XS like the 12-megapixel primary sensor, A12 Bionic chip, and 7-megapixel TrueDepth front-facing camera, yet is more affordable and rounded package compared to the iPhone XS or the iPhone XS Max.
Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Huawei Mate 20 Pro is “one of the best Android flagships this year” we mentioned in our review. The Mate 20 Pro should be your next phone if you have got the money. The phone is an all-rounder and it comes with a stunning design, bright and vivid display, stellar cameras and impressive battery life. The only areas were we believe Huawei could have worked upon a little more for the Mate 20 Pro is the price and also the in-display fingerprint sensor, which tends to get a little iffy at times. In India, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is selling for Rs 69,990.