Picking a flagship can be hard, especially in 2018 where the standards are just so high. The displays are sharper, though there are a lot more notches floating around. Performance is no longer a concern if you can afford to pay a premium with the very capable 7nm processors being aided by RAMs ranging from 6 to 8GB.
The batteries have become bigger, there’s faster charging and even faster wireless charging. Of course, the cameras have improved drastically on flagships; some offer excellent photos even with a single camera, others have three sensors at the back.
Here’s our list of flagship phones that impressed us. This includes phones in the Rs 40,000 and above price bracket, and are aimed at users for whom price is no bar.
One best overall phone: Galaxy Note 9
This was the year in which many good phones were launched. But when it came to picking the best phone of the year, we chose the Galaxy Note 9 because it has a distinct advantage in comparison with other flagships. The Note 9 has a 4000mAh battery, which is still rare in flagships though the Mate 20 Pro offers something similar. Still, the Note 9’s big battery solves the biggest pain point for smartphone users.
For a flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 9 also offers outstanding performance and a great camera. Even if all this puts the Note 9 at par with other phones, it still has the S Pen that gives it a distinct edge over any other smartphone out there.
Runner up in overall phone: iPhone XS Max
The iPhone XS Max was perhaps the most anticipated phone this year. It is certainly the best Apple has offered so far, and in some ways is an improvement on the iPhone X. The iPhone XS Max is a near perfect phone that is powerful and stable at the same time.
The A12 Bionic process is powerful enough to bring AI, ML and AR functionalities to the device without depending on the cloud. It has the best camera ever on an iPhone and one that can click photos that will awe you all the time. And yes, the best facial recognition on any phone.
Best Android flagship phone: OnePlus 6, 6T
OnePlus 6 and then the OnePlus 6T set the benchmark on what a no-nonsense Android flagship should be. It also reiterated the fact that a good smartphone does not have to cost the earth. The latest OnePlus flagships offered superior performance, great cameras and a software that was both clean and innovative.
With the OnePlus 6T, the startup pushed an in-display fingerprint scanner that worked every time you touched it. And now it even has a 10GB RAM variant in India in partnership with McLaren. No wonder OnePlus has started dominating the premium segment in India.
Runnerup Android flagship: Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Huawei Mate 20 Pro has been one of our favorite flagship smartphones of 2018. It ticks all the boxes: a large OLED panel, Kirin 980 processor, triple rear-facing cameras, beautiful glass back and front, in-display fingerprint scanner, FaceID-like 3D depth facing cameras, and a massive 4,000mAh battery.
The camera technology, in particular, is unique on the Mate 20 Pro series, and builds on the success of the Huawei P20 Pro, which was also an excellent device from the company. Out of the premium phones that launched this year, Mate 20 Pro was one that really stood.
Best flagship phone with camera: Google Pixel 3
Google Pixel 3 remains the top camera in our review, simply because of what it offers despite coming with a single lens. The Night Sight mode truly does transform images, SuperZoom is excellent as well and in Portrait mode, Pixel 3 remains ahead, even better than some of the phone with 2-3 sensors.
With Pixel 3, one can see that software is really going to drive the future of the smartphone camera. The Pixel 3’s camera requires minimal effort on part of the user to give stunning results, and that’s really what you want in a phone at the end of the day.
Runner camera phone: Apple iPhone XR
The iPhone XR was Apple’s bid to offer a more affordable option in its lineup without users having to pick an older device. The iPhone XR does not compromise on power, as it is powered by the same A12 Bionic processor that Apple has put on its flagships this year.
However, this phone offers just a single lens at the back and not the dual camera set up in the iPhone X series. But despite that this phone has emerged as a great clicker with results are similar the iPhone XS.
Though the iPhone XS Max is still a much superior camera, the fact that the XR does what it does with one lens makes it our pick for runner-up.
This was a truly bezel-less display phone with notch, motorised cameras and unique look and design. It had also flagship level specifications and a performance to back it up as well. The camera performance was also impressive on the Oppo Find X. Hopefully, we will see more of these truly bezel-less and notchless displays in 2019 with improved camera technology.
Vivo Nex also had a motorised camera at the front.
Vivo Nex was another phone to offer a truly bezel-less display without a no notch. The device also offered an in-display fingerprint sensor and a motorised selfie camera. The phone impressed us with the overall performance, the camera was also good, and for its price, Vivo Nex did stand out in the market, pitching something unique to the consumer.