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Zero1 Awards 2018 – Smartphones – Android

December 6, 2018 — by Digit0

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Android smartphones of 2018 stood apart from each other for the software optimisations more than the hardware underneath. Words like artificial intelligence were thrown around quite casually. Bezels were shaved off, and textured glass designs with gradient colours and under-display fingerprint sensors became the design choices of the year.

When it came to raw performance though, a handful of Android phones were there to choose from, helping us sort the wheat from the chaff. Consistently good camera performance was ensured, but the battery life, except for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, left us asking for more.

2018 Zero1 Award Winner: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Our winner for the best Android phone is the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Samsung’s most feature-packed phone outperformed all other Android smartphones from this year and is 24 percent faster than the Google Pixel 2 XL which was our winner in 2017. The giant leap in performance helps in Dex mode, or with the S-Pen, or even in gaming. The Note 9 is a phone meant for almost all use-cases.

The giant 6.4-inch Super AMOLED 2K display is the brightest and the most well-calibrated among Android phones. The variable-aperture camera can take sharp photos even when the light isn’t so good. The 4,000mAh battery on the Galaxy Note 9 was the longest running among all other flagships.

Runner-up: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The Huawei Mate 20 Pro arrived just in the nick of time to be considered for this year’s Zero1 Awards. Packed to the brim with features like reverse wireless charging, under-display fingerprint sensor and more, the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is an over-engineered piece of marvel. Its performance is neck-to-neck with the Galaxy Note 9 thanks to the 7nm Kirin 980 chipset. It even managed to beat the Exynos 9810 in multi-thread operations, although it couldn’t match up to the winner in graphics processing.

The Mate 20 Pro also has three Leica-branded rear cameras that took better photos than the Galaxy Note 9. Even with Android 9.0 Pie out of the box, the phone loses out to the Galaxy Note 9 for the display. Not because it’s bad, but the Note 9’s panel is slightly superior.

Editor’s Pick: Google Pixel 3 XL

The Google Pixel 3 XL improves upon everything that its predecessor stood for. It has a considerably better display, a refined dual-tone glass design and an effortlessly good camera. Google relied on software optimisation to make the experience of using the phone much better. The Pixel camera this year makes bold claims and manages to live up to it. The NightSight feature especially goes on to improve low-light photography without relying on additional hardware. Google’s Super-Res zoom that can recover details from objects far ahead, leaving us impressed.

Android 9 Pie’s features tied with Pixel 3 XL’s own AI-based improvements make the Pixel 3 XL adapt to your needs. Its claims to fame continues to be the camera. But this time around, its performance is right up there with the best Android phone. The Pixel 3 XL is a no-nonsense performer that excels in every aspect. Therefore, this ended up being the Editor’s Pick.

Smartphone

Zero1 Awards 2018 – Smartphones – Camera

December 6, 2018 — by Digit0

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Smartphone manufacturers emphasised a lot on photography in 2018, dedicating a significant chunk of their R&D to figuring out how to deliver better photo and video content to the smartphone cameras. The popularity of photo sharing sites and platforms has led to photography becoming the predominant way to express ourselves. This growing trend has forced manufacturers to push beyond the limitations, and 2018 has been the year for that. We’ve seen the surprising implementation of machine learning and even some hardware level changes, all of which has resulted in some amazing smartphone cameras. However, at Zero1, there can only be one winner, who is…

2018 Zero1 Award Winner: Huawei Mate 20 Pro

smartphone camera zero1 awards 2018

Huawei stuck to the basics by improving hardware instead of making software-based improvements. The Huawei Mate 20 Pro brings a triple camera setup with Leica branded lenses, offering diverse focal length options matched by none. We get a 40 megapixel 1/1.7” sensor for the primary lens, a 20-megapixel secondary sensor with a 16mm lens with an aperture of f/2.2 while the third 8-megapixel sensor is paired with an 80mm lens and an f.2.4 aperture. As of now, Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro and the P20 Pro are the only smartphones offering an 80mm telephoto lens.

The resulting images are beautiful in every lighting condition. The large 40-megapixel sensor offers excellent detail reproduction and the smartphone’s camera software takes things up a notch. The stock camera app allows shooting in RAW mode through all three lenses. While the Google Pixel 3 XL’s camera offered impressive HDR-enabled images, the Mate 20 Pro wins the Zero1 Award for the best smartphone camera due to consistent, class-leading performance from all three lenses.

Runner up: Google Pixel 3XL

The Google Pixel 3 XL continues Google’s tradition of proving that the company can bend a lot of rules of imaging using just software. Without increasing the sensor size or adding an additional camera, the Pixel 3 XL achieves the best implementation of Portrait Mode, and also one of the most impressive implementations of in-camera HDR. The Google Pixel 3 XL also jumps ahead of all other smartphones (save the Huawei Mate 20 Pro) thanks to its Night Sight mode which shoots low-light photos as if they were shot using a long exposure.

The Google Pixel 3 XL’s single camera is capable of providing you with the peace of mind that if you were to take a photo with it, it would turn out to be good, at least in terms of colour and contrast. What would pinch many though is the lack of a secondary lens, which would allow users to explore their creativity. The single lens can be incredibly restrictive.

Best Buy: Samsung Galaxy S9

Samsung’s big smartphone camera-centric innovation this year was the dual aperture for the wide angle lens which would enable better control over ambient light. Additionally, Samsung’s smallest flagship sports a smartphone camera that has impressed us with both its colour reproduction and the amount of detail it captures. The smartphone produces images with good colour reproduction and enough contrast for the images to appear tack sharp. In low light, the images are noise-free, but at the cost of some detail. Given the level of performance offered by the Samsung Galaxy S9’s camera for the price, it becomes our Best Buy recommendation for Zero1.

Smartphone

Zero1 Awards 2018 – Smartphones – High-end

December 6, 2018 — by Digit0

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As flagship phones became exorbitantly expensive, the high-end smartphones rose to fill the vacuum. The high-end phones of 2018 have borrowed enough to offer almost the same level of raw performance as premium smartphones of this year, if not more. We also stood dumb witness to the polarising display notch becoming mainstream in phones across price-ranges.

OnePlus remained the most popular choice in that segment but other incumbents posed a strong challenge. It made choosing a winner quite difficult for us. As the cutting edge shifted to an adaptive, personalised device, raw performance was all for grabs for the modestly priced high-end smartphones this year.

2018 Zero1 Award Winner: OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is not just the most powerful phone among the ‘mid-range’ flagships, it’s among the fastest Android phones launched this year. Despite having the same hardware as the OnePlus 6, the OnePlus 6T is three percent more powerful than its predecessor. Also, to put things in perspective, the OnePlus 6T is a whopping 25 percent faster than the OnePlus 5T. The 5T was last year’s Zero1 winner for this category. The phone feels blazing fast with slick animations. It also houses a polished UI that is both minimalist and functional at the same time.

Software optimisations also go a long way in ensuring the phone hardly ever slowed down even after months of use. It’s also the best smartphone to play games on right now with PubG Mobile maxing out at a constant 40 frames per second. There are no major discernible flaws in the OnePlus 6T save for the features it skips. These include water resistance and expandable storage that’s there in other phones competing in that price range. Yet, the value for money the OnePlus 6T offers over other premium flagship without compromising on the performance in any way makes this our Zero1 winner for 2018.

Runner-up: Asus Zenfone 5z

It’s impossible to ignore the value for money proposition of the Asus Zenfone 5z. While it looks like a carbon copy of the iPhone X, it also scored nearly the same as the OnePlus 6 in our performance tests. The Zenfone 5z incorporates the same hardware as flagship phones. It makes use of the Snapdragon 845’s AI Engine to the fullest. Every aspect of the phone is now governed by machine learning-based actions.

It’s the underdog no one expected and differentiates itself by offering an ultra-wide angle camera on the back and as such. Its only major drawback in comparison to the OnePlus 6T is the heavily customised UI. The UI not only takes some time to get used to but also slows down the performance by just a hair.

Best Buy: Poco F1

The Poco F1 is a flagship phone under the hood, but a mid-range offering from the outside. Xiaomi’s new sub-brand created quite a stir by being the most affordable phone with flagship hardware. This included the Snapdragon 845, 8GB RAM and 256GB storage. It also houses a liquid-cooled copper pipe inside the chassis for better heat dissipation. Performance benchmark scores peg the Poco F1 right up there with other premium flagships. However, certain trade-offs like a polycarbonate body, thick bezels, and buggy software indicate that corners were cut to keep the price low. Nevertheless, at Rs. 20,999, it’s easy to mark the Poco F1 as the Best Buy.

Smartphone

Zero1 Awards 2018 – Smartphones – Flagship

December 6, 2018 — by Digit0

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The year 2018 saw flagship smartphones differentiate themselves from those which offered the same top of the line processor at a much lower price. This was achieved by incorporating high-resolution HDR enabled displays, the incorporation of IP ratings and the overall use of design language that sets them apart from the rest.

However, Zero1 Awards are where we award the one best performing smartphone and that will emerge from a perfect marriage of cutting-edge hardware and beautifully optimised software. While everyone continued to use the 10nm process-based Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 chip, Apple and Huawei pushed beyond with new 7nm based processors. We tested every flagship smartphone that was released this year to settle the debate of who the best performer was.

2018 Zero1 Award Winner: Apple iPhone XS Max

Apple’s product line-up saw an unexpected change this year in pricing strategy, with a starting price of nearly a lac. Apple may have increased the price, but they did the same to performance as well. The new A12 Bionic process manufactured on the breakthrough 7nm process impressed greatly. In our benchmark tests, the iPhone XS Max with its 4GB RAM blazed past every android phone by a considerable margin. In some tests, the iPhone came out as 5 percent faster than the second fastest (non-iPhone) smartphone, and in some cases, twice as fast.

On average, the iPhone XS Max is mostly 20-30 percent faster across the board, thanks to the harmonious optimisation of the hardware to Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS 12. For the year 2018, the Apple iPhone XS Max is hands down the top performer of the year. The only downside to the Apple iPhone XS Max is its `1,44,990 price tag for the 512GB storage variant, which is a very steep price to pay just for enhanced and peak performance.

Runner-up: Samsung Galaxy Note 9

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 has the best display in the market today. It sports a 2.5K resolution and HDR Premium certification which allows playback of HDR content with great accuracy. The numbers from benchmarks for the performance of the CPU/GPU/RAM are exceptional as well. The dual camera setup on the back paired with the front facing AF capable camera delivers very impressive results. The 4000mAh battery means you can use the camera for as long as you want since we found the phone to last a day and a half without any problem. Combining all this and factoring in the price, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 emerges as the runner-up flagship smartphone in 2018.

Best Buy: LG G7+ ThinQ

Until last year, LG’s smartphones seemed to be the embodiment of bad decisions. However, with the LG G7+ ThinQ, the company created a true flagship level smartphone. Top of the line SoC paired with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage meant it quickly found its way to the top tier of our benchmarked devices. The HDR enabled LCD-IPS display was a truly wonderful panel to watch content on. The QUAD-DAC performed splendidly as well. The only two points of criticism for the LG G7+ ThinQ are its relatively small battery and less than stellar performance of the rear cameras. But given the phone’s performance and the price, the G7+ThinQ is our choice for best buy in this category.

Smartphone

Zero1 Awards 2018 – Smartphones – Mid-Range

December 6, 2018 — by Digit0

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Digit Zero1 Awards 2018 - Mid Range Smartphones

This year, the mid-range smartphones (10K-20K) also pushed the boundaries of pure performance. While we saw phones stride into high-end territory with 6GB RAM and 128GB storage, OEMs attempted to stand out with software trickery. AI and ML were two running themes throughout the year.

While that did not necessarily guarantee better performance, new, more powerful chipsets pushed the performance benchmark higher. Things like dual cameras and notched displays became more common and glass was the material of choice for the design. In the mid-range smartphones segment, it’s all about who is compromising the least to keep the costs in check.

The trick to choose the best mid-range smartphone came down to figuring out who is offering the fastest performance as well as features to make use of that. Here are our results.

2018 Zero1 Award Winner: Xiaomi Mi A2

Xiaomi’s second-generation Android One smartphone feels refined, comfortable and can take the best photos among its peers. It’s also quite fast and powerful under the hood, 23 percent more than last year’s winner to be precise. It outscored all other mid-range smartphones in our performance tests, but not by a huge margin though. Since the phone’s software is handled by Google, updates are more or less guaranteed for the next two years. The display on the Mi A2 is also visibly better than most other mid-range smartphones we tested. The phone’s raison d’être is the rear camera that can produce the best images among other mid-range smartphones. It relies on pixel binning to improve photos, something that only expensive flagships have relied upon so far. It’s only Achilles heel is the not-so-impressive battery life, but with fast charging on offer, that didn’t become much of a hassle.

Runner up: Honor 8X

The EMUI interface is not the best-looking UI out there, but the Honor 8X more than makes up for it with raw performance that is just one percent less than the Xiaomi Mi A2. The Honor 8X also outperformed most other mid-range smartphones launched this year on benchmarks, save for the graphics tests. But there too, the Honor 8X compensates with AI-powered GPU acceleration that makes select popular games run much smoother. The Kirin 710’s AI capabilities are used primarily in the camera that isn’t all that reliable, but given good lighting, it can take decently good photos. Save for the aggressive RAM management and an inconsistent camera, this year’s runners-up in the mid-range smartphones segment offers reliable performance without burning a hole in your pocket.

Best Buy: Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1

The Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 offers everything that the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro offers, but at a lesser price. Its value proposition, as a result, is much higher and even on our performance tests, the Zenfone Max Pro M1 came out higher than Xiaomi’s popular Redmi Note 5 Pro. That’s primarily because of the giant 5,000mAh battery that gave a screen-on time of ten hours which is trumped only by the Nokia 7 Plus which is more expensive. The 16+5MP dual rear camera is a tad underwhelming in front of other, more capable smartphones and the design isn’t the most noticeable. The phone has been an underdog in the smartphone market but well-optimised performance combined with a stock Android interface and a humongous 5,000mAh battery makes Asus’ mid-range smartphone an easy one to recommend.

Smartphone

Zero1 Awards 2018 – Smartphones – Budget

December 3, 2018 — by Digit0

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While the average smartphone selling price in India increased to around Rs.11,000, the budget smartphones segment under Rs. 10,000 wasn’t ignored. Budget smartphones were made more powerful with last year’s mid-range chipsets. These phones are never meant to topple more expensive offerings, the best budget smartphones really surprised us with their performance.

There were a lot of phones to choose from this year with brands like Xiaomi, Honor, Nokia, and Asus flooding the market. With features like display notches, dual (or more) cameras, glass designs, this segment saw a lot of action.

Despite a rich set of features, only a handful of phones we reviewed were stable performers. Here at Digit, we look beyond the spec-sheet and focus on performance. While most phones launched in this segment came out as duds, these are the best budget smartphones this year.

2018 Zero1 Award Winner:  Xiaomi Redmi Y2

The Xiaomi Redmi Y2 was positioned as a selfie-centric phone, but while reviewing it we felt it also doubled up as a reliable daily driver. Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625, it offers performance similar to the Redmi Note 4 that was the winner in this segment in 2017. However, with optimisations in MIUI 9, the Redmi Y2 offers a better experience, even though PubG Mobile still stuttered on low graphics. The 16MP front camera bins four pixels into one to take the best low-light selfies in this price segment while the 12+5MP dual cameras, also performed surprisingly good. The only thing lacking is long battery life and fast charging, but the chipset’s efficiency makes up for it. The newer Redmi 6 Pro with a notched display also offered similar performance but it lost out due to its relatively underwhelming 5MP front camera.

Runner up: Nokia 3.1 Plus

The Nokia 3.1 Plus looks starkly different from the rest of the budget smartphones launched this year. Additionally, the MediaTek Helio P22 powering the phone sports similar performance as the Snapdragon 625, but with higher efficiency with its 12nm manufacturing process. Even with a 3,500mAh battery, the Nokia 3.1 Plus offered eight hours of screen-on time. It’s a classic Nokia phone with fairly stable performance and a long battery life. The screen is bright and Nokia uses its patent Pure Black technology to make the panel look richer with higher contrast. Moreover, there’s also the pure stock Android experience. It is Android One certified and Nokia has stuck to its promise of regular updates. The 13+5MP dual camera at the back, however, isn’t the best in the segment.

Best Buy: Smartron T.Phone P

India-made Smartron really offered a robust, all-rounder in the budget smartphones segment. With the Snapdragon 435 chipset, it may not be extremely responsive to heavy usage, but it does offer a clean, stock Android interface along with a giant 5,000mAh battery. Needless to say, this was the longest lasting smartphone you can buy under `10,000 with 11 hours of screen-on time. The camera on the Smartron T.Phone P was also quite decent dishing out social-media worthy photos under good lighting but don’t expect good low-light performance from this one. The 5.2-inch display is pretty average too and has a traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, but what it lacks in design, it more than makes up for it in terms of the value proposition. As a result, the Smartron T.Phone P is our best buy.

Smartphone

Zero1 Awards 2017 – Smartphones – Premium

December 13, 2017 — by Digit0

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Last year we actually found the flagship category a little boring. Thankfully, that’s been fixed with a vengeance this year. From the “best iPhone ever” to the “return of the Galaxy”, and even something from Google themselves, we’ve got a showdown between phones that are again worthy of being called flagships. So one wins the coveted Zero1 Award?

2017 Zero1 Award Winner: Apple iPhone X

Apple iPhone X

This isn’t a surprise is it? Our Zero1 Awards have always been about performance and that’s where the iPhone X outshines its competitors. Sure, Apple wants to show off the edge-to-edge display and a new way to do things with iOS, but there’s a lot more about this phone that we’ve liked. Apple calls this the biggest change to the iPhone so far and we agree.
For starters, the company’s A11 Bionic chipset (that’s A-eleven) is significantly faster than its Snapdragon and Exynos competitors. The iPhone X scores over 200,000 on AnTuTu’s benchmark tests. It’s also the only phone to have crossed the 10,000 mark on Geekbench’s multi-core test so far. Wondering where the closest competitors lie? Well, the best we had seen before the iPhone X scored about 6000 on Geekbench’s multi-core tests, while the AnTuTu scores usually remained around the 180,000 mark.
If that wasn’t enough, Apple combined this performance with a best-in-class display and a top-notch camera. Speaking of notches, you may not like the one on the iPhone X. But that’s really down to personal choice. We don’t mind it.

Runner Up: Google Pixel 2 XL

Google is really working hard to get its hardware act together, and as far as premium Android phones are concerned, it’s made a name for itself. With the new saturated mode, the Pixel 2 XL is much easier to use now, and no one can deny that this phone has the most excellent camera on the market today. For Android lovers, this is quite possibly the best phone to buy. It’s fast, smooth and you get Google’s assurance of at least two updates.
Our review device didn’t show burn-in problems, and Google has assured users that it’s not something to be worried about. If you’re looking for good Android phones to buy, or want the best camera out there, the Pixel 2 XL should certainly be amongst your considerations.

Best Buy: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

In our opinion, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is the most complete flagship of 2017. It has a fast processor and it’s considerably smoother than any Samsung phones we’ve used earlier. We’ve had it for about 5 months now, and there’s been no lag or freeze on the phone that’s worth complaining about. Till the iPhone X came along, the Galaxy Note 8 also had the best display you could find on the market today.
With AnTuTu scores just over 175,000, it is also one of the most powerful smartphones out there right now. There’s 6GB RAM to go with that, making the Galaxy Note 8 one of the few phones to sport that spec. On Geekbench, the Note 8 scored above 4000 and 6000 on single- and multi-core tests, repectively. This puts it at the absolute top of Android phones for the year. Does one need more?
Oh, you do, do you? Well, the Note 8 is arguably the best looking smartphone on the market today. It also brings all the best features out there, from an excellent dual-camera to an 18:9 display. And if all that wasn’t enough, the S-Pen still remains a gimmick worth having.

Smartphone

Zero1 Awards 2017 – Smartphones – High-end

December 13, 2017 — by Digit0

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While flagship smartphones became quite impossibly expensive this year, that only leaves the way open for what we often call “mid-ranged flagships”. These are phones that promise you flagship level performance, but at a much more affordable price point. And this year, there has been quite a bit of competition in this segment.
While OnePlus ruled the roost last year, the company had to face some tough competition from Xiaomi, Nokia and Huawei this year. Sure, the Chinese upstart still did well on our tests but it was certainly an uphill battle this time.

2017 Zero1 award Winner: OnePlus 5T

OnePlus 5T

OnePlus launched the OnePlus 5T just in time to qualify for the Zero1 Awards. Sure, those who bought the OnePlus 5 are probably disappointed right now, but we have to give the award to the OnePlus 5T. The device performs just like the OnePlus 5, but it has a better camera and better display as well, thanks to better colour performance.
The OnePlus 5T and its predecessor are amongst the fastest Android smartphones today, alongside the Google Pixel. Their AnTuTu scores are usually always around 180,000, while the other benchmark scores don’t disappoint either. We got consistent frame rates of over 60 frames per second when gaming and the phone handles most resource intensive tasks just as well as flagship smartphones that cost nearly twice as much do.
The OnePlus 5T’s big shortcoming is the fact that it doesn’t have Android Oreo out of the box, and we do wish the company would have provided the same. They’ve had more than enough time at hand to make it happen but it seems we’ll have to wait for a while. Yet, the OnePlus 5T offers an excellent value proposition that is hard to resist. And this is why we are awarding the OnePlus 5T the Zero1 Award for 2017.

Runner Up: Xiaomi Mi Mix 2

If there’s one thing the OnePlus 5T can’t give you, it’s premium design. That’s the gap the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 fills in. It’s meant for those buying in the `30-40k price point with their eyes on design. For that, you will have to compromise a little bit on the camera department, though performance is almost at par with the OnePlus 5T.
The Mi Mix 2 is also amongst the few bezel-less smartphones on the market today. It has an 18:9 display and ceramic body. It scores in the higher ranges as far as benchmarks are concerned, and Xiaomi has tuned the software well enough to provide smooth and lag-free usage on the phone. There’s also gobs of RAM and storage for even the most resource intensive user needs.

Best Buy: Honor 8 Pro

Huawei’s flagship smartphone in India is the cheapest amongst the “mid-ranged flagship” segment. It is a tad weaker than the OnePlus 5 or 5T, but it’s still a powerful device to buy. We got pretty good scores on benchmarks, though EMUI is heavier than you would expect from smartphones today. It can end up being a little sluggish a couple of months into use.
Yet, the Honor 8 Pro has an excellent camera for the price, which makes up for the loss in raw power. Overall, the phone still makes for a value for money smartphone to buy, and if your budget lies in the `30-40k range, you could definitely consider this device. It ships with Android 7.0 and the Kirin SoC might make a few apps incompatible with your device.

Smartphone

Zero1 Awards 2017 – Smartphones – Cameras

December 13, 2017 — by Digit0

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A lot of the discourse around smartphones this year has been around the camera. Most smartphone makers want to tell you that their cameras will make DSLRs obsolete. Well, that’s certainly untrue. However, they sure can make for great point and shoot cameras nowadays. And the top three camera phones this year prove how.
Interestingly, cameras improved across price points this year. You can now get dual cameras for as low as `11,000, while dual-pixel sensors have become quite common as well. Asus even used a dual-pixel sensor on the front camera on its phone. Granted, Asus didn’t quite get the implementation right, but it’s certainly a sign of things to come.
But without further ado, let’s just get to this year winners.

2017 zero1 award Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL is not only the best Android phone you can buy today, it’s also the best camera phone on offer. It has a 12.2 MP rear camera with f/1.8 aperture and 1.4 micron pixel size. But hardware is not what makes this camera great. That credit goes to Google’s impressive software, driven by machine learning. The company must have put all the learnings from years of image uploads and its learnings from last year’s Pixel smartphone to good effect.
In practice, the Pixel 2 XL/Pixel 2 are the perfect point and shoot cameras out there. They do falter with white balance at times, but most will probably not mind it. Google’s focus though seems to have been on producing the highest details a smartphone camera can produce. In our comparison tests, the phone consistently performed better than the iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8 in all kinds of conditions.
But all that processing should take a lot of time, right? Google has smartly moved that processing part to the photo gallery, so you can click back to back shots. So, with the impressive focusing speeds, you can click back to back images without fail. Admittedly, we would have preferred a more consistent imaging experience, but we have no qualms in awarding the Pixel 2 XL this year’s Zero1 for best camera phone.

Runner Up: Apple iPhone X

Scoring out of 55, the Pixel 2 XL got 46.5 point while the iPhone X came in at 44.5. That’s a very accurate representation of how close these two cameras are. The iPhone X has two 12 megapixel camera on the back, with Apple’s telephoto implementation. The iPhone X’s camera also has f/1.8 aperture, though it still doesn’t do as well in low light as the Pixel 2 XL or Samsung Galaxy Note 8, albeit for different reasons. The Pixel 2 XL produces more detailed photos, while the Note 8 produces noticeably brighter shots. Of course, the Note 8 smudges the details in the process.
Yet, the iPhone X has an excellent smartphone camera overall. Apple usually focuses on true to source imaging, but the company seems to have put some emphasis on producing more vibrant colours this time. As a result, it loses some details, which you will only see if you compare it side by side with the Pixel 2 XL.

Best Buy: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

When it was launched, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 had the best camera on the market. Now it falls behind both the Pixel 2 XL and iPhone X. Many would argue that the Note 8 shoots the best low light photos smartphone can, but in producing brighter photos, the phone compromises on details quite significantly.
Surprisingly though, the Galaxy Note 8 is the cheapest which makes it the best buy.

Smartphone

Zero1 Awards 2017 – Smartphones – Android

December 13, 2017 — by Digit0

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The iPhone has now won the best premium smartphone category two years in a row, but it’s Android that really owns the market. With over 80% market share, it’s the ecosystem that most Indian users are used to, and most future users will eventually be accustomed to. And being the dominant platform means there are just too many smartphones to choose from.
From last year’s 14nm fabrication process, this year we move to 10nm chipsets. The two big ones here are the Snapdragon 835 from Qualcomm and Samsung’s Exynos 8895. But while the processors bring evolutionary updates in terms of speeds, Android phones jacked up storage and memory this year. You can also get better screens at lower prices now, along with significantly better cameras.

2017 Zero1 Awards Winner: Google Pixel 2 XL

Google Pixel 2 XL

The Pixel 2 XL has had its issues, but its display is much easier to use with the “Saturated Mode” added to its software. Yet, the Pixel 2 XL comes with an iron-clad promise of Android updates, and an Android experience the way Google actually intended.
But what makes the Pixel 2 XL the best Android phone on the market is the excellent camera it sports. It doesn’t have the highest camera specifications out there, but Google’s software mumbo jumbo does the trick. The Pixel 2 XL camera excels at producing the best details possible. Images are extremely sharp and it edges past the iPhone X by a slight margin. In fact, we compared three of the best smartphone cameras today, to confirm that the Pixel 2 XL indeed has the best camera out there.
There are more things to like here. For instance, Now Playing is one of those little things that can turn you into a fan. Google wants this phone to be sold for its AI and ML prowess, and it has done a pretty good job of that.

Runner Up: Samsung Galaxy Note 8

If it wasn’t for the Pixel 2 XL’s camera, the Galaxy Note 8 would have been the best Android smartphone this year. It has 6GB of RAM, a display that’s rivalled only by the iPhone X and an excellent dual-camera system. Samsung had a lot riding on this phone, and it’s safe to say that the horrors of the exploding Galaxy Note 7 are behind it. The company doesn’t sell the Snapdragon version in India, but its Exynos 8895 has proven to be just as fast. While price doesn’t really matter in the premium range, the Note 8 is also slightly cheaper than the Pixel 2 XL.

Best Buy: OnePlus 5T

At a starting price of Rs. 32,999, the OnePlus 5T is without a doubt the most value for money Android phone you can buy today. Yes, it’s not an upgrade to the OnePlus 5, but it’s still a better phone. You get better low light camera performance and improved colour reproduction on the screen. Of course, 18:9 aspect ratio allows a bigger screen, but with the same overall footprint. The OnePlus 5T is incredibly fast. In fact, it’s even faster than the Google Pixel 2 XL at times. It recorded the highest benchmark scores amongst Android phones today, and has more RAM than all of its competitors.
All things considered, the OnePlus 5T is the phone to pick for everyone who wants the best of Android but can’t afford the exorbitant price tags on the Pixel 2 XL or Galaxy Note 8.