The year 2017 was when we finally saw bezel-less displays on smartphones go mainstream. For the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple released the iPhone X, where the X stands for 10, with a revamped design and full frontal glass display. But there’s no denying that Apple was just following the industry trend of a bigger and taller display. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus and LG G6 were among the first few devices of 2017 that came with the full display and top end specifications. Overall, for a smartphone to be seen as a worthy flagship for the year 2017, that ‘bezel-less edge-to-edge’ display was a must.
In our list for today, we will be looking at the best flagship mobile phones of 2017. Flagships here are in the price range of above Rs 30,000, and we are looking at those devices which were reviewed by our team at indianexpress.com. These are all devices, which made their way to the Indian market and went on sale here.
The best smartphone of 2017: Apple iPhone X
Apple iPhone X is our best smartphone for 2017, given the overall package and what this device represents. Make no mistake, there’s a lot of interest and hype around the 10th anniversary iPhone; it was the second most searched consumer tech term for 2017, just below the iPhone 8 which it overshadowed quite easily. Apple iPhone X wins because it drastically changed user expectations from the series. It comes with a full, edge-to-edge display, Face ID for unlocking, payments on device, Animoji, Portrait mode on the front camera and more.
Apple opted for a 5.8-inch OLED display on the iPhone X with an all-glass and metal design. However, the edge-to-edge display meant the iPhone X is actually smaller in dimensions compared to the 5.5-inch Apple iPhone 8 Plus. The iPhone X is also the first to get an OLED display, and the bigger screen meant the end of the iconic round home button on the front. Instead Apple added a slew of hardware on top, aka the infamous notch with a TrueDepth sensing camera, Infrared sensor, etc to support its FaceID feature.
Navigation on iPhone X is all new experience as well, thanks to all the swiping up and down. On the camera front, iPhone X has improved performance for low-light photos and there’s better video and image stabilization thanks to the dual OIS feature. As we noted in our review, the iPhone X is the best from Apple in the market and “also the most innovative Apple has been in a while.”
Read our Apple iPhone X review here
Samsung Galaxy S8 series launched in the first half of 2017, and the company’s first flagship phones after the debacle of Galaxy Note 7 from 2016. Samsung made a comeback with the Galaxy S8 series and introduced the new ‘Infinity Display’ on its phones, which has now appeared on Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy A8 (2018). The Galaxy S8 Plus sports a 6.2-inch display with 2K resolution and an 18:9 aspect ratio, but the bezel-less design means it is closer in dimensions to many of the 5.5-inch phones in the market.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus also saw the introduction of the voice-assistant Bixby from the company, which aims to be a challenger to the Google Assistant, Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Samsung stuck with a single camera at the back, but added improvements to 12MP sensor.
In our review, we said the camera on the Galaxy S8 Plus pushed the boundaries of low-light performance, and this is still one of the best in the market. As we noted in our review, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus is “top-end Android phone” and meant for those “who want the best.”
Read our review of the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus here
The best camera on a smartphone for 2017: Google Pixel 2 series
Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL did not have the most auspicious start thanks to all those launch issues, but in the camera department, they beat the competition hollow. Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL showcased how the camera on a smartphone can be taken to another level without relying on dual sensors. Both phones come with a portrait mode on the front and back camera, all powered by Google’s powerful software.
In low-light performance, Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are capable of delivering some stunning results and really shine. In our own use case, we saw the least noise in pictures taken with the Pixel 2 series, and in some scenarios, it was evident these phones were outdoing the iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X, no matter what the lighting conditions. Google’s HDR+ mode is turned on by default in Pixel 2 series and the new phones now come with EIS and OIS as well for improved video recording. The original Pixel series had no OIS on board.
Still, one cannot overlook that Pixel 2 series had a rough start, especially the display issue on the bigger device. As we noted in our review, Google Pixel 2 XL was an answer to Apple’s iPhone X and iPhone 8 Plus, and Samsung’s Galaxy S8, Note 8, though it came with a spate of problems and the full potential of the series is yet to be realised.
Read our review of the Google Pixel 2 XL here
Honorable mentions in the flagship category: Price is above Rs 30,000
HTC might be struggling to remain a relevant OEM, but in our minds that U11 was one of the top flagships of 2017. The ‘metallic liquid’ look along with the HTC Edge ‘squeeze feature’ (later added to the Pixel 2 series) and a camera that is easily one of the best in the market, makes this a worthy flagship. HTC U11 as we saw in our review, is a top-end flagship with premium features and performance and a design unlike any other phone on the market. Read our review of the HTC U11 here
Samsung Galaxy Note 8
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 deserves a mention for its successful comeback. Thankfully, this one did not face any battery troubles and this is Samsung’s first flagship to sport dual rear cameras. The Galaxy Note 8 also got the same Infinity Display as the S8 series along with Bixby voice assistant and a lot more features on the SPen. Read our review of the Galaxy Note 8 here
OnePlus was back with its flagship killer and the company introduced a dual rear camera on its phone for 2017. Later, we got the OnePlus 5T with a bigger, 18:9 bezel-less display, and this one has a ‘Star Wars Edition’ as well. OnePlus 5 remains one of the best smartphones in the market for its price, considering the reliable performance, great battery life coupled with Dash Charging. OnePlus 5T just improves on this reliability with a bigger display. Read our original OnePlus 5 review here
Mi Mix 2
Xiaomi’s flagship Mi Mix 2 finally came to India and this one has a bezel-less display as well, though it was one of the first to start the trend. Mi Mix 2 is unique in that it sports a ceramic back, all glass on the front and a metal frame holding all of this together. Mi Mix 2 comes with top-end specifications like Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, and while the design and performance is impressive, the camera we would rate as average, especially in the flagship range. Read our review of the Mi Mix 2 here
LG V30+ was launched in India just recently, but this is one premium-looking flagship. Yes, the Full Vision display as LG calls it, is present here as well. The dual rear camera has a wide-angle option, the overall performance gives no cause for complaint, and it is does sport a stunning display. Read our review of LG V30 + here