Talk Android’s Phone of the Year 2018!

Talk Android’s Phone of the Year 2018!

It’s the end of the year, which means it’s time for us to sit down and figure out what we liked most about 2018. There were a ton of phones released this year and the flagship phones are all a little boring compared to previous years, but that just means that the winners did something right to stick out in the crowd.
You can check out the Talk Android team’s picks for best phones in 2018 below. 
Picking a smartphone for 2018’s phone of the year is a bit of a challenge as even the market at the high end is reaching some level of parity. Leading names are struggling to not only distinguish themselves from the pack, they are struggling to come up with strong selling points for a potential upgrade from last year’s models. Sure, you can get the newest, fastest processor and the latest operating system updates that help with the user experience and in many cases, battery life. Many manufacturers are looking to cameras and camera software features to try to distinguish their product, but even then, the difference a slim and often times subjective.
When looking at potential candidates, I started by considering what I ended up buying for myself, a Pixel 3 XL. Squeezing all they can out of a single lens camera in a field crowded with multi-lens configurations, Google comes to the table boasting super fast updates for those who want to stay at the leading edge of Android operating system updates. With a strategy that tries to throw more features at buyers, Samsung offers up both their Galaxy S9 phones and the Galaxy Note 9. The latter is a particularly strong entrant for consideration, especially with the addition of a Bluetooth enabled smart pen. Other phones like the LG V40 ThinQ and the Huawei Mate 20 Pro can make similarly strong claims.
In the end though, I chose the OnePlus 6T mainly for one reason. That reason is price. As so many other phones hover around the $1,000 mark when launched, OnePlus managed to find a way to offer comparable hardware at a fraction of that amount. On top of that, OnePlus managed to get to market with an in-display fingerprint sensor. The only reason it was not my own choice when buying a phone was lack of support for all major U.S. carriers.
t’s been a bumper year for smartphones with the mid-range segment offering better value and more performance than ever before with Xiaomi’s Mi 8 Pro and the OnePlus 6 being prime examples. If you absolutely need a flagship smartphone, though, and have the cash to burn, my pick for best smartphone of 2018, predictably, has to be the Mate 20 Pro from Huawei.
It’s pleasing to the eye, pleasing to hold, has a vibrant OLED display, and takes superbly detailed images in any conditions thanks to its trio of rear cameras and AI assistance thanks to the powerful Kirin 980 with its dual NPU’s. The in-display fingerprint reader works a treat while the 3D Face Unlock unlocks the phone in an instant. With a 4,200mAh battery that will get you through the hardest day with ease and then take just 30 minutes to charge to the 70% mark, the Mate 20 Pro is the phone that keeps on giving. It’s the phone I keep going back to, and the phone I rely on for taking pictures of those special moments. The worst thing about the Mate 20 Pro is that it isn’t available to purchase in the US, which is a real shame.
Google got (almost) everything right with the 3rd generation of their Pixel phones, specifically the smaller variant. Both the first and second generation Pixels were a bit clunky on the hardware side with giant bezels and less than stellar displays. The larger Pixel 2 XL adopted a more modern aesthetic with smaller bezels, but had a very problematic OLED display from LG. The Pixel 3 borrows from that design, but with a more polished overall build and a display actually worthy of its $799 price tag. It’s able to cram a 5.5-inch screen into the same footprint as last year’s 5-inch Pixel 2, while maintaining the always preferred front firing speakers.
The cameras are better than ever this year, with two cameras on the front and arguably the best mobile camera of 2018 on the back. A new feature, Night Sight, can also lighten up photos in a dark environment so well that it’s a genuine “major addition” and not simply a gimmick. Google’s stock Android is also improved this year with an updated gesture driven UI and top notch performance (not that last years Pixel 2 devices were slow). While I find the Pixel 3 XL aesthetically horrible with the giant notch and large bottom bezel, the smaller Pixel 3 has a large enough display in a well balanced, hand-friendly body and guaranteed updates from Google for the next 3 years. I often joke that it’s Google’s version of the iPhone, but that’s actually not a bad thing.
LG phones don’t tend to win too many awards, and it’s fair to say most of them aren’t always up to snuff for any of those awards, but LG seems to have really hit their groove this year. The LG V40 ThinQ managed to check all the boxes I care about in a single package despite its faults, and it’s my pick for best phone of the year.
The V40 stays competitive with most flagship phones from this year in terms of speed, camera, storage, etc, ut just doing the same thing as everyone else doesn’t make you stand out. It’s the little things, like the excellent haptic feedback engine that LG uses or the understated-but-helpful AI features, that add enough polish that you don’t always see with other devices. Samsung’s Bixby is still pretty trash compared to Google Assistant that LG uses, and OnePlus uses cheap haptic engines and horrific speakers in their flagship devices. LG didn’t cut those corners.
On top of that there’s just a ton of software customization for power users right in the phone, which also seems like something that most phones have trended away from. There’s an argument to made for a simpler software experience, but the V40 has so much horsepower, why not toss that stuff in so we can get a few extra features and tweak the phone exactly how we like it?
The V40 isn’t without flaws, but considering how great it is at the things it wants to do and how easy it is to find deals on LG phones, I’m a pretty big fan.
And those are our picks for the year. Love them? Hate them? Sound off in the comments and let us know what you would’ve picked.
Born in southern Alabama, Jared spends his working time selling phones and his spare time writing about them. The Android enthusiasm started with the original Motorola Droid, but the tech enthusiasm currently covers just about everything. He likes PC gaming, Lenovo's Moto Z line, and a good productivity app.

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