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.