It’s the month of December – and things are getting quiet around the market as brands are preparing for the new year to launch their next-generation smartphones. We here at Nasi Lemak Tech is going to wrap things up by going through the list of phones that are released in the year of 2018 – which is quite long, to be honest.
Throughout this year alone, we reviewed a lot of phones. Out of that list of phones, we pick the candidates for Best of Android Smartphone 2018. Then we take in all the considerations and choose a few “best of” smartphones in a few core aspects. The list is as follows:
- ASUS ROG Phone
- ASUS ZenFone 5
- ASUS ZenFone 5z
- ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1) (6GB variant here)
- ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M2)
- Honor 8X
- Honor Play
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro
- Huawei P20
- Nokia 7 Plus
- Pocophone F1
- Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018)
- Samsung Galaxy Note9
- Samsung Galaxy S9
- Xiaomi Mi 8 Lite
- Xiaomi Mi A2
We all know that each of these smartphones have their own pros and cons. So which exactly is the best smartphone of 2018?
Best overall best smartphone – Samsung Galaxy Note9
Call it an incremental upgrade or whatever you want. The Galaxy Note9 sets a benchmark on how smartphone manufacturers should innovate and improve on their existing flagship smartphone.
There are a few upgrades that are expected – upgraded chipset, larger battery, better camera, and that’s about it. However, Samsung still managed to surprise us. Firstly, the battery is now 4,000mAh which is a huge boost over its predecessor. Then, the S Pen got a major upgrade – it is now connected to the phone via Bluetooth Low Energy.
That one feature in itself opened up an entire new field of possibilities of things to be done with the S Pen. The pen is now truly mightier than the sword.
It’s not the ideal smartphone, but it’s the best that an Android user can pick up right now.
Since the S Pen is not exactly meant for every Android smartphone user, there is the Samsung Galaxy S9 or S9+ too. These two phones are basically the Galaxy Note9 without the S Pen.
Best Gaming Phone – ASUS ROG Phone
Obviously it is going to be the ROG Phone. A smartphone that was rumored for years, we had the chance to actually play with it during Computex 2018. The ROG Phone was meticulously designed to be the ultimate gaming phone as ASUS chose the materials, form factor, placement of physical hardware and ports, alongside with additional features to enhance the mobile gaming experience. All of that is wrapped in a beautifully crafted design that we now know it as the iconic ROG Phone. Learn more about its history here.
The ASUS ROG Phone comes with AirTriggers and also a USB-C port at the side. When the AeroActive Cooler is used, you also get a 3.5mm audio jack at the side as well – which in itself is the most unique gaming smartphone in the market right now. ASUS really went through all of the tiniest details of what mobile gaming is like and make a phone around it.
Best Design – Nokia 7 Plus
Words can’t describe how beautiful the Nokia 7 Plus is. It’s coated in ceramic-like material and it truly feels like a tank. We reviewed the black color variant which looks superb when in contrast with the copper accents on the phone.
It looks beautiful and feels great in the hand as well. The entire phone’s body is made out of a single block of aluminium – making it quite cold to the touch, actually. It’s a truly unique phone that offers something different in the world of plastic and glass back phones.
Best charger – Huawei Mate 20 Pro
Even though we did not like the Mate 20 Pro itself, we liked the speedy Huawei SuperCharge charger that was bundled with the phone itself – because it outputs a total of 40W. Yes, a massive forty watts of power just to charge your smartphone.
From our charging speed test, it took only around an hour to completely charge the large 4,200mAh battery from 15% to 100% – and that is seriously impressive even though the charger and the phone get toasty.
We discovered that there is a bit of software magic that Huawei has implemented, but there is no denial that the Mate 20 Pro is indeed the fastest charging speed right now.
Here’s a bit of a different approach in terms of awards. Instead of just one overall best value award, we break it down to different price points so that we can cater for more users with different budgets to work with. Here are the different price ranges we have:
Best Value for <RM700 – ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1)
Honestly, one of the best performing smartphone for this price range. I did not expect ASUS to release a smartphone of this price point all of a sudden and it absolutely shifted the user’s mindset on what RM700 can get them. Check out our review here.
The ZenFone Max Pro (M1) is packed with mid-range performance for at entry-level price – and also a massive 5,000mAh battery. This is truly a one-of-a-kind smartphone that brings long hours of adequate gaming performance at a low price.
If you want to get more out of the ZenFone Max Pro (M1), then I suggest you to dive into the XDA Forums and get started with custom ROMs and modded apps to unleash the full potential of this phone. Be sure to have fun with Magisk as well!
You can fork a little more money to get the new ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M2) that we reviewed here as well, whereby it has major improvements over aspects that actually matter to the users. The screen, chipset, and camera were improved.
Best Value for <RM1,000 – Honor 8X
For those who opt for something better – better overall performance with a much better camera, then perhaps you can opt for the Honor 8X as well. The Honor 8X is a surprisingly balanced phone for its phone – decent performance with decent battery life alongside with a decent camera and also a rather unique design.
From what I know, Honor is always having discounts or gifts bundled with the Honor 8X when you purchase it online – so be on the lookout for those deals! 😉
Best Value for <RM1,300 – Pocophone F1
Absolutely without any denial, the Pocophone F1 is the winner here. No other smartphone can fight with the hardware that the Pocophone F1 offers for its price. You get a Snapdragon 845 with 6GB of LPDDR4X RAM along with with 64GB of UFS 2.1 storage. All of it is powered by a relatively massive 4,000mAh battery – and that’s the best deal anyone can get right now.
Sure, the Pocophone F1 does have its drawback – its screen and camera is not particularly the best, but you do get a no-frills smooth gaming nonetheless. And hey – there’s a very active community of custom ROM developers for the Pocophone F1 as well. 😉
One of the awards that we did not include is best battery life – and that’s because every user uses their phone differently – ranging from different usage intensity with different apps, which will cause a completely different result. If we have to choose which phone has the absolutely best battery for its performance, we’ll have to go with the Pocophone F1.
We’ve seen many smartphones over the course of this year and it seems like next year will be an even more exciting year as more innovations upon display technologies are upon us. Foldable OLED screens and a brand new notch cutout design are somethings to look forward to.
Cheers to a brand new year of innovation!