If something characterizes a server is analyzing with a certain criticism a large part of the technological products that pass through my hands. I personally believe that in a market where the high range costs about 1,000 dollars and the average range about 300 should not be magnanimous, because if you do not highlight the negative aspects of a product the firm will never make efforts to improve it. However, as a lover of technology, I cannot help but get excited year after year, after seeing the innovations and novelties that manufacturers are presenting.
2018 may seem like a year of more of the same. We have seen some refinement regarding the terminals seen last year, but few products have managed to make us release a wow. However, in my opinion, 2018 has been a very important year in key aspects that I will detail a few lines below, and that is that certain bases have been laid that some of us have been asking for years. We proceed therefore to collect the best that the firms have done in 2018, to close the year with a good taste in the mouth and face 2019 with positive and hopes that everything will continue to improve.
2018 has not been bad, and I’ll tell you why
There has been a strong commitment to design
The notch has been the main protagonist in 2018, no doubt, however, the design proposals have seemed praiseworthy. Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, Oppo Find X, iPhone XR, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, OnePlus 6T … The firms have done everything possible to reduce the bevels, bet on premium materials and offer practically luxury experiences in hand.
Only time knows if in 2019 we expect the sensors under the screen or the holes as a temporary solution, but there is no doubt that we are facing one of the most relevant times in terms of design change , and seeing the positive side, every day We enjoyed larger panels in smaller terminals.
Project Treble has helped, at least in the high-end
This is the first year in which companies like Xiaomi manage to update their high -end range – even high -end range such as the POCO F1 – in prudential times. OnePlus has promised 3 years of updates – two big updates and three security patches -, Huawei has updated its full range to Android Pie, Nokia shows that the mid-range can also be updated, Honor has done its homework better than ever …
In small but firm steps, we move towards a less fragmented Android, in which at least the last terminals released update before the end of the year. There is still work ahead, but we have seen a slight improvement.
Computational photography is reaching its sweet spot
Google did such work with the HDR + of its Pixel that even Apple has decided to copy the system, creating its own Smart HDR. This has allowed in the market we have smartphones such as Google Pixel 3 or iPhone XR, terminals with a single camera that offer better results than alternatives that triple them in terms of the number of sensors.
The software is beginning to be the main protagonist in terms of photography, and it is of little use to increase the number of sensors if the processing is quite improvable. The night mode becomes popular, the portrait mode is already a standard, and we reach a point where the terminals hardly have weaknesses at a photographic level, regardless of the lighting condition.
Companies have improved several key points
If we talk about Samsung’s high-end, the Note variants have been plunged into a pit of mediocre autonomies for some time. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 was the clear example of this, revealing the company’s clear fear of repeating the fateful mistake of the inmate, the Galaxy Note7. With the ninth generation Note Samsung has finished with its complexes in autonomy, giving the Galaxy Note 9 4000 mAh generous that place it in a privileged position in terms of battery life. The calibration of the panel has also been greatly improved, and while it still has a saturation somewhat above alternatives such as the iPhone XS, we cannot deny that the company has with the best AMOLED panels that we found in Android.
Samsung is still committed to a unique design, demonstrating that trends do not have to be followed to succeed in the market. Personality and constancy, the two keys of the South Korean company.
It is also relevant how the Galaxy catalog has seen its camera improved. Perhaps this year they have not managed to reach the podium, seen the work done by Huawei, Google and Apple, but innovations such as the variable aperture or the quad camera on models such as the Samsung Galaxy A9 show that Samsung is doing everything possible to bring different functions to Smartphones – now they just need to fine-tune the final result, which is the important thing.
In the first quarter of 2017 the Huawei P10 was presented, a terminal that was not up to its competitors nor in power, neither in camera, nor in battery. Who would have thought that only a year later the P20 generation was going to place the company on the top of the Android podium, reaching its maximum exponent with alternatives like the Huawei Mate 20 Pro? The Chinese company has taken a leap that few expected, demonstrating their desire to become the number one worldwide in 2019.
Huawei has managed to position its high-end terminals on the podium of the high-end Android. After a somewhat decaffeinated 2017, the company aims to become the first global manufacturer in 2020.
The pace of updates of the company has also improved, updating its full range to Android 9.0 Pie before the end of the year, and providing beta to several of its terminals last generation. Huawei’s work with photography is progressing well, with some pending improvements in the processing and the depth map for the portrait mode, but with a versatility far above the rest of its rivals
EMUI is still a pending issue, but it is a fairly usable ROM, with relative respect to the notification system, and with a high-end performance that we cannot complain about. It remains to be seen how its evolution will be in future versions, but there is no doubt that they are in line with progress.
I already played. Sony has finally made the leap to OLED technology with its Xperia XZ3, thus creating one of the best screens ever seen on a smartphone. At the design level, although there is always room for the subjective component, it is undeniable that the evolution with respect to the previous generation is remarkable, leaving aside the exaggerated bevels and adapting more to the current demands.
The Japanese firm continues with the camera as a pending issue, but has managed to improve its results over the past generation, and introduce new features such as recording at 960 FPS in Full HD.
The LG G7 ThinQ is probably the most underrated high range market, but it does not stop being a recommended purchase. A terminal that competes without any problem with the rest of high-end alternatives, and whose price on Amazon is less than 419 dollars. LG continues with the battery and the camera as a pending issue, but offers complete alternatives that, after time and adjusted the price, are quite recommendable.
It remains to be seen how they will face 2019, year in which we would like to see a greater presence of the V range in our country , alternatives that are at the height of virtually any of its direct rivals, but quite inaccessible in our country.
Xiaomi has expanded its presence, as well as its terminal catalog. Although the number of launches in our opinion is still too high, the vast majority of alternatives that are proposed are recommended, to the extent that in the mid-range few alternatives occur to this company. Terminals like the Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite show that you do not need to spend more than 250 dollars to have a satisfactory experience, and that far is the average range of 350 or 400 dollars.
Xiaomi continues to show that you do not have to spend too much money to have a good smartphone. The company increases its presence in our country and continues to expand its catalog with more than interesting options.
On the other hand, the Mi Mix continue to be synonymous with innovation, and the Xiaomi Mi 8 has come to offer -today- a premium experience almost premium for less than 400 dollars. Xiaomi has everything to become the third global company in a few years, and we are convinced that time will prove us right.
Oppo has landed in this 2018 with alternatives such as the Oppo Find X. This has been one of the terminals that surprised me most in 2018, for its spectacular design and facial recognition – the best that exists in Android, in my opinion. Regardless of the price, it is a reason to celebrate the arrival of the Asian company in our country, expanding the options of consumers and demonstrating that different terminals can be made at this point.
A company that has yet to gain a foothold in the market, but which presents interesting terminals, with a design quite different from the rest of its competitors, and with a clear intention to continue betting on Qualcomm hearts .
OnePlus has managed to consolidate its position and offer two of the most complete alternatives in the high range. The OnePlus 6 and its 6T variant are two of the most recommendable high-end mobiles of today, offering slightly better performance than most of its rivals at a lower price.
The camera and audio are still his great unfinished business, but the performance, the ROM and the updates that it receives make us give the outstanding to its terminals. OnePlus will continue to grow during 2019, and the only thing we ask is consistency with the price, since maintaining the price-quality ratio is part of its essence, and at some point it has to curb the annual increases.
Motorola has gone quietly and tiptoe in 2018. We have not seen a top choice alternative in the company, something we would have loved. However, they have continued with their work in the mid-range, betting on clean software and the right additions and necessary to not hinder the user experience.
By 2018, we asked Motorola for a faster pace of updates and a slightly more ambitious bet with the hardware. The company has done its homework this year, but we are convinced that they can do even better.
Nokia has been one of the revelation companies in 2018. Its commitment to Android One throughout its catalog of terminals is worthy of applause, and have one of the best rates of update in medium and low range. To bet on a Nokia is to bet on guaranteed updates for two years, receiving them in prudential times. A feature that makes them shine above the rest of rivals, but that does not replace deficiencies such as the camera.
In 2019 the famous 5-camera Nokia awaits us. A bet that we hope will revolutionize the Android landscape -at least at the level of functionality, not results- and demonstrate that the company has room for innovation.
In summary, 2018 has been an amalgam of notches, improvements in updates, crazy proposals in design, and expansion of signatures such as Xiaomi, Oppo or OnePlus. Year after year skepticism can make us think that improvements have been minimal, that ceiling is being reached in the high range, and that the uncertainty about the future of smartphones is growing. From another point of view, the technology that we have is getting better every time. The improvements, although not substantial compared to previous generations, do nothing but demonstrate that we are getting closer and closer to achieving the perfect machine.
We are facing 2019 with positivity. Samsung is waiting for us with a major design change in its S10, Xiaomi intends to expand even further in our country, Sony will continue to improve in design, OnePlus will bet on the power and continue to improve its multimedia sections, Nokia could be among the first firms to offer the update of Android 10 to the mid-range terminals, Honor is opening stores in our country …