Best top-tier phone
With companies giving their all to their respective flagship phones, it’s a tough call to choose just one above the rest and the exercise is at best artificial. The iPhone XS and Max could take the top spot because of their smooth and impeccable performance, ever-reliable camera and unbeatable build. But changes over the previous generation aren’t dramatic enough when faced with the fact that several Android phones have come up with innovations, like an in-display fingerprint sensor comes immediately to mind. The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 could top the lot because it’s such a complete phone with a stylus you can use or not use and so much built into just that tiny slip-in accessory. It has looks, ergonomics, no notch, a fantastic screen, and a superb camera. But with its launch seeming a little distant in the past right now, other Android phones have come up with more interesting innovations
The Apple Watch is expensive and needs an expensive iPhone to work, but there’s no denying that the gadget has an impact on all other wearables. This year the Apple Watch redesigned to allow much more screen space but more than that, it featured an ability to do a quick ECG right from the wrist and detect if the wearer has fallen down and needs help. The ECG isn’t yet available for India, but what Apple is trying to do shows the way for others. Miniaturised semi-medical devices may have their own dangers but at the same time, the Apple Watch has been known to alert many users to the presence of heart irregularities, getting them to go to a hospital in time.
Fitness bands and wearables
We have already picked the Apple Watch 4 as the best smartwatch, but it’s pretty much in a place, league, and price of its own. However, the wearable space has a lot of options in the budget and mid-range segment too, with the Xiaomi Mi Band 3 being a stand-out performer. It can show you messages and notifications on a better display, comes with great battery life like its predecessor, has workouts and activities — all for a princely sum of ₹1,999. Among the smartwatches and the more heavy-duty performers, Samsung rebranded its Gear line-up to Samsung Galaxy Watch, which is right up there with the Fitbits and the likes, but costs less. Also, a shout out to the Garmin Forerunner Music 645, which is expensive, but suits the serious fitness freaks well.
Affordable gaming smartphones
When PC gaming expert Razer makes a gaming phone, people are bound to take notice and even use it as a benchmark for comparison. This year, the recently-released Razer 2 gaming phone brought with it heavy-duty specs like the Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor, 8GB of RAM, and carried over the 120Hz refresh-rate screen along with the long-lasting 4,000 mAh battery. However, here in India, we love a bang for the buck and for those who may not be able to shell out close to a lakh rupees, Nubia and Honor introduced gaming phones on a budget. Both, the Honor Play and the Nubia Red Magic gaming phones are powered by processors that are one generation older, but perform just fine. Both phones also have dedicated gaming features and modes that allow users to block calls and messages. In the looks department, while the Honor Play looks like any other contemporary smartphone, the Nubia Red Magic catches the eye with its LED strip on the back and some sharp diamond-cut lines. And the best part? These two phones are priced between ₹20,000 and ₹30,000.
Smartphone special mention
While many smartphone-makers pushed the boundaries on innovation to offer us all something new, Vivo stood out with its Vivo Nex, a smartphone that comes as close to being called future-ready as any. It gave us the in-display fingerprint sensor before OnePlus did, had a pop-up selfie camera that remained hidden when not in use, and made the phone’s screen its loudspeaker. Yes, you can pretty much answer the phone even upside-down because the sound emanates from the phone itself and not a single earpiece as such. It also got flagship specs and a huge 5,000 mAh battery. Given all these snazzy new features, the Vivonex gets a special mention from us.
Best overall phone
In its young life so far, OnePlus’ smartphone for the year has evolved into a product that is easy to recommend, being good at doing so many things. And so, the OnePlus 6T is our pick of the year for the phone that won’t let you down. Blazing fast performance results from its top notch specs and their optimisation with the newest version of Android and OxygenOS. Plenty of space, plenty of RAM and plenty of battery life make it a functional and reliable companion through each day. With sound ergonomics and beautifully cool styling, the 6T consolidates OnePlus’ position in the Indian market where it’s considered the top ‘premium’ phone this year. Although it has crept up the price ladder lately, OnePlus’ smartphone is thought by many to be a great phone at any price. The camera has improved enormously over previous versions — enough to be compared with the almost-twice-as-expensive flagships. The company has also done a great job of marketing the phone, building a community of fans, and shaping its overall strategy.