A popular feature every year, here’s our ‘Top 10’ phones from the Android world at Christmas 2018. Yes, CES and MWC are just around the corner in 2019, but for now here’s the best of the best in our (team opinion), presented in reverse order to err…. increase suspense! Factoring in functionality and value, there’s something for everything below…
Author Archives: Steve Litchfield
Having reviewed the standard sized Pixel 3 already here on AndroidBeat, you’d think that a review of the XL version would involve a lot of copy and pasting – but that’s not entirely true. The XL involves several design and spec decisions that are well worth talking about. Why the delay in looking at the Pixel 3’s larger variant? Because the Pixel 3 XL has been decidedly buggy until a day or so ago, when the December 2018 update hit from Google. At last we can review this properly.
The new Google Pixel 3 is, in theory, a well balanced phone that provides just about everything the discerning Android user needs, in a surprisingly small form factor. And it gets extra kudos for this, in today’s phablet-dominated world. However, despite the use of pure Android, Google-style, a great camera system, and blazing performance, it’s not easy to fall in love with. The blame for this? At least one unambitious component choice and a marketing-driven price that’s patently crazy.
This is a futuristic smartphone with many highlights…and also a single significant disappointment. This is the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and is arguably the highest specified phone the company has ever made. In theory it ticks every box, in the hand it feels like a million dollars, yet its biggest Unique Selling Point – its imaging – is, I argue, currently fundamentally flawed.
Conventional wisdom says that smartphones in 2018 are little more than glass slabs with similar features and, while the discerning enthusiast knows that this is not true (there are plenty of differentiators), the new OnePlus 6 is a great example of a ubiquitous ‘slab’ with little real character or star quality. Other than value, since it retains the OnePlus tradition of offering flagship chipsets at a relatively affordable price.
The months and years roll by and Huawei and Honor smartphones evolve… slowly. Each is – genuinely – better than the last, but the glossy mass of glass, the avalanche of Emotion UI and bundled software, the dual camera ideas, much also stays the same. Is there enough new for the Honor 10? Actually yes, mainly through the AI in the camera, though there are quirks, plus a surprisingly low price point.
It’s not often that an accessory is perfect. Yet this Mophie design gets as close as it possibly can, building inexorably to something of a huge caveat: its price. But hopefully this look through the tech and design will convince you that this is worth $100 or so, if you occasionally live on the ragged battery edge…
One complaint about general phone reviews has been that they focus(!) too much on the cameras – most of us only take a handful of photos per day, yet quite often a third of a phone review is talking about its camera. However, remember that you may only take a few photos and use your phone for a few minutes each day, but the shots it produces are memories and will stay with you for years to come, while the hours you spend in Twitter and Facebook are utterly ephemeral.
Starting with a (ahem) mock drama set in Samsung’s boardroom, I present my assessment of the brand new Galaxy S9 (and, by extension, the S9+, since most of the hardware and software are identical). It’s perhaps the ultimate do-everything smartphone for the man in the street, and Samsung knows its market – this will sell by the tens of millions. Is it perfect? Not quite, as you’ll see, but it’s darned good and worthy of heaps of praise here.
Attending Honor’s big event this week in London, I couldn’t help shake the feeling that despite their claims about innovation, and a few software tweaks aside, all they really did was copy what has already been done and make it cheaper to end users. From the 2:1 display – understandable – to a new, upcoming front camera projector and ID system, teased for 2018, that’s set to be a carbon copy of what the iPhone X does – complete with Animoji. However, like most of us, I’m all for making things cheaper, and I loved last year’s Honor 6X – really decent specs and capabilities in a premium-feeling phone that cost around £220 or so. Amazing. Can the 7X live up to the same billing?