My Take on the Best Smartphones of 2017

The year 2017 is almost over now. I was just thinking at the number of devices I was playing around this year and thought to list out my experiences and feedback with smartphones this year. Without much ado, here we go!

Let me start with my most favourite topic, Camera.

Google Pixel had a great camera; probably the best this year. Google made people understand that, its not always the hardware but software that can make great difference to the picture. Without a dual camera setup, Google was able to achieve great portraits with its AI based algorithms. However, things weren’t all that green with the Pixel. Along with the LED screen issues. I also heard about the performance flaws on the Pixel 2 XL. Hopefully, Google can fix it via a software update. According to me, the Pixel 2 was a better bet than the Pixel 2 XL in terms of performance and hardware. I really wished Google had chopped these bezels and made just one Pixel 2 this year. Would’ve made life so simple. Pixel was a great camera for Pictures, especially portraits.

The most practical flagship for me was the Apple iPhone 8 Plus. Looked very similar to the earlier iPhones, nothing great on design; bur still performed the best when compared to other Android flagships and iPhones. The A11 Bionic was slick. The 8 Plus stood slightly lower in terms of the camera when compared to the iPhone X. However, when you consider the price and the extra ‘plus’ features, it won it over. The iPhone X is a great phone, but definitely not worth a lac. The iPhones this year has the best cameras for videos, especially the slo-mos.

The Samsung Note 8 is a clear winner; probably the best smartphone of this year. Its amazing on how this company pulled off especially after that debacle of the Samsung Note 7. Great optics, IP68, Stylus and most importantly, less forked android made this a winner. Samsung Pay was great for the company this year. Probably, the 3rd most thing I used on the Samsung phone after camera and screen.

Out of all the devices I tried this year, one device that caught my attention was the MiA1 from Xiaomi. This device was so totally off the Xiaomi strategy. With Mi A1, the company offered stock android along with their nifty add-ons to make this device a worthy re-entry to the Android One segment in the country. Well, as much as I wanted the stock android experience, using it on a Xiaomi device felt totally different. MIUI has been the most important component to Mi Phones that makes it stand out from its competition regardless of the segments the devices belong. Sometimes this also made me wonder if Xiaomi is a software company or a hardware one. The MiA1 had Great Optics and was a good all around performer in the segment.

Introducing Mi Mix 2 in India was a brave attempt from Xiaomi India. I honestly wished they do well in this segment because that would open up more opportunities for the company to introduce flagships in India close to the global launch dates. Further, it also opens up the segment for them.

While the Redmi phones were the clear winners in the budget segment, it was nice to see brands like 10.or (Brand name owned by Amazon) and Comio play in the segment with interesting devices up their sleeve. While 10.or brought in stock feel android phones in this segment, Comio was pretty aggressive with their focused marketing. Hope we will see more in the coming days from them.

It was Impressive to see Huawei India introduce some great models this year. The Honor brand phones were aggressive and one has to appreciate their strategies to bring devices quick to India. They were audible all through the year and brave in pitching through various channels. Probably only brand that leveraged not just tech bloggers to reach more people. I really wished we saw the Huawei P10 or the Mate series in India. Leica is love.

The LG V30 is a great phone. The DAC on the phone is worth a mention.Wonder why it doesn’t get a worthy mention whenever someone wants to recommend a flagship to friend or foe; maybe, its because of the software and lack of its optimisation. Also, the price game that LG plays every time – Launch at a price, reduce it in a week, reduce it even further in few weeks.. the cycle just goes on.

Well, OnePlus was the winner in affordable tech. Not once, but twice this year. Both the OnePlus 5 and OnePlus 5T were brilliant phones. Great optics, good screen and decent software. They have almost become a brand everyone recommends. Flagship Killer? well may not be. I don’t think, even they claim that title anymore. So lets spare this topic going forward. The OnePlus5T was probably my Best All around phone in India. I’m still amazed at how blazing fast the Face Unlock worked. Of-course, worth mentioning that it is a convenience feature and not a security one.

Summing up, this was just my experience with these devices and I hope, we see even better smartphones coming up next year. Till then, wish you a very happy new year. Do let me know your thoughts and comments.

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