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TOP SMARTPHONES of 2018: Which one should you buy?

TOP SMARTPHONES of 2018: Which one should you buy?

We are officially entering the third quarter of 2018, now let’s discuss about which smartphone is actually worth to buy.

Before we get started, there are some criteria that we are focusing such as Pricing, Processor, Storage, Android OS, Screen Aspect Ratio, Camera and other Unique Selling Point. We truly believe that this year is a wonderful year to go for a new smartphone.

In today‘s recommended smartphone list, we basically split them into 3 categories: Under RM1000, Between RM1000 to RM2000 and Above RM2000. There are a lot of smartphones that we are going to recommend on our topic today. Lets cut it short and we decide to add the most influenced smartphone into different pricing categories.

2018 Smartphone Trend

Most of the Smartphone Manufacturers has follow the unwritten trend. So basically this year we are looking at smartphone with Full View Display, Dual Camera Setup and of course AI feature is almost about everything we are expecting in today’s smartphone. In the year of 2018, USB type C is essentially found through out most of the Android Smartphones, but wait, in today entries there are still three smartphone models absent from USB type C by using microUSB 2.0 instead.

UNDER RM1000 Cluster

In this category, we are looking at value for money. With limited budget below RM1000, what should you consider to buy? Here we start the guide.

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1

ASUS Zenfone Max Pro M1 is the first to make the list. This time ASUS regained their status and offer one of the best value smartphone in 2018. ZenFone Max Pro M1 features a 5.99″ IPS panel with 18:9 aspect ratio and FHD+ Resolution. The device powered by a Snapdragon 636 and emerged as the cheapest smartphone to equip with this processor in the current market. For storage, it has up to 6GB of RAM and up to 64GB of internal storage.

It features a pair of dual camera at the back panel. The 3GB RAM based variant ZenFone Max Pro M1 gets 13MP + 5MP dual-camera main shooter and a 13MP selfie shooter up front., while the 4/6GB variant get a both pack a 16MP + 5MP lenses and a 6MP selfie shooter up front.

Another key selling point of the device is that it sports a massive 5,000mAh capacity battery. ZenFone Max Pro M1 runs on a near-stock version of Android 8.0 Oreo. It is priced as below:

  • ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1 — 3GB RAM, 32GB storage — RM699
  • ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1 — 4GB RAM, 64GB storage — RM849
  • ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1 — 6GB RAM, 64GB storage — RM999

Pros:

  • Bang for bucks
  • Massive 5000mAh battery
  • Dedicated microSD slot with 2 SIMs standby
  • Almost Pure Android Experience

Cons:

  • Average Camera
  • Lack of 4G+ connectivity
  • Below average charging speed of 5V2A
  • Micro USB 2.0 port

Be sure to read our full review for all the details.

Honor 7X

Honor 7X is second in the list. Despite being a 2017 smartphone, Honor 7X fits all you need as it bring much value to the table. Honor features a 5.93″ IPS with with 18:9 aspect ratio and FHD+ Resolution. The device is powered by Huawei in house Kirin 659 SoC which filled your daily task without any hesitate. For memory, it has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage. Fueled up the device is a 3,340 mAh size battery.

It features dual camera setup of a 16MP + 2MP primary camera at the back for bokehlicious photos. While moving to the front is an 8MP selfie shooter. If you looking for Fast Broadband Connectivity, Honor 7X is the only device in this cluster that support 4G+ connectivity.

  • Honor 7X — 4GB RAM, 64GB storage — RM849

Pros:

  • Decent Camera Features
  • 4G+ Connectivity

Cons:

  • Micro USB 2.0 port
  • Below average charging speed of 5V2A

You can read our full review of Honor 7X.

Redmi Note 5

Here you go! This is phone is hailed as one of the best BUDGET smartphone. Redmi Note 5 features a 5.99″ Full HD+ 18:9 aspect ratio display. It was the cheapest Snapdragon 636 smartphone until Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1 released. In Malaysia, we get either 3/4GB of RAM and 32/64GB of onboard storage. Fueled up the device is a 4000mAh large capacity battery.

Camera has been one of the weakness in Redmi series smartphone, but in 2018, Redmi has turned the table and offer much improvement that it need in photography aspect. It has a dual rear camera setup of a 12MP main sensor with an f/1.9 aperture lens and a secondary 5MP camera for depth effects. The camera come with value added feature Dual Pixel autofocus. Moving to the front is a 13MP front camera with selfie soft-light.

  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 — 3GB RAM, 32GB storage — RM749
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 — 4GB RAM, 64GB storage — RM939

Pros

  • Good power to battery life ratio
  • Less heat during full load
  • Low-light photography

Cons

  • MicroUSB 2.0 Slot
  • Support QC2.0 but shipped with 5V2A adaptor
  • Below average Video Recording

Head to our full review of Redmi Note 5.

Mi A2

The new Xiaomi Android One smartphone Mi A2. After the successful Mi A1 as the first Xiaomi Android One smartphone, Mi A2 has upgraded in almost all aspects as compared to its predecessor. Mi A2 features a 5.99 inch Full HD+ 18:9 aspect ratio display. It has up to 6GB of RAM and up to 128GB of onboard storage.

What makes the device stand out in this category is that Mi A2 comes with near flagship quality of still image. It has dual camera setup of 12MP (Sony IMX486) main camera and a 20MP f/1.75 (Sony IMX376) f/1.75 secondary shooter. The camera is now better in low light performance. The lenses has large 1.25-micron pixel which also supports pixel binning of 4 pixels into a larger super-pixel that has effective 2-micron pixel. For selfie, Mi A2 comes with a 20MP front camera.

Fueled up the device is a 3010mAh cell capacity which supports QC3.0 via USB-C. It is pre-installed with Android 8.1 Oreo OS and prompted to receive Android P.

  • Mi A2 — 4GB RAM, 64GB storage — RM999
  • Mi A2 — 6GB RAM, 128GB storage — RM1199

Pros

  • Snapdragon 660 flagship-level chipset
  • Promising Camera Quality
  • Pure Android Experience with Future Prompted Android P updates

Cons

  • No headphone Jack
  • microSD Slot is Missing
  • Modest 3010mAh Battery

RM1000 to RM2000 Cluster

In this category, we are looking at device with unique selling point. These devices recommend are usually Affordable Flagship Smartphone.

Honor 10

Second Honor Smartphone in the list. This time is a flagship Honor smartphone. Honor 10 is an affordable flagship smartphone that bring value to the tables. The device feature a 5.84″ IPS LED display with notch of 19:9 aspect ratio and FHD+ resolution. Powered the device is the same Kirin 970 processor that found in Huawei Mate 10 series and Huawei P20 series. For storage is has 4GB of RAM and paired with 128GB of USF2.1 onboard storage.

Honor 10’s dual-camera system is basically a trickle-down from parent company Huawei, with a 16-megapixel main sensor and a 24-megapixel monochrome sensor in which both lenses configured by f/1.8 aperture. AI scene and object recognition that featured in P series are also found in Honor 10. The front camera is a 24MP selfie camera with f/2.0 aperture and support for 1080p video.

Fueled up the device is 3,400mAh that supports Huawei Super Charge technology via USB Type-C slot. The Honor 10 is pre-installed with EMUI 8.1 that based on Android 8.1 Oreo

  • Honor 10 — 4GB RAM, 128GB storage — RM1599

Pros

  • Beautiful Design especially the back panel with Twilight gradient
  • Promising AI’s Camera Feature
  • Super Fast Charging of 5V/4.5A
  • 4G+ network across both sim slot

Cons

  • microSD Slot is Missing
  • Phone easily heats up due to the back panel design
  • lack of IP rating
  • IR blaster is missing

Be sure to read our full review.

ASUS Zenfone 5Z

ASUS is finally taking its step to offer its flagship smartphone with affordable pricing than its competitor. This is the most affordable Snapdragon 845 smartphone in Malaysia at the moment. ASUS Zenfone 5Z comes with the same design language like its mid-range sibling Zenfone 5. The device features a large 6.2″ fullview IPS display with 19:9 aspect ratio and FHD+ resolution and offers a 90% screen to body ratio. It has up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB UFS2.1 onboard storage.

For camera, the back is a pair of 12MP f/1.8 main shooter with OIS plus a secondary 8MP f/2.0 camera for wide-angle shots. Moving to the front is an 8MP f/2.0 camera for selfie shooter that located at the display notch. Fueled up the device is a 3300mAh battery. Out of the box, the device pre-installed with Android 8.0 Oreo with customized ZenUI 5.0 on top of it.

  • ASUS Zenfone 5Z — 6GB RAM, 128GB storage — RM1899
  • ASUS Zenfone 5Z — 8GB RAM, 256GB storage — RM2299

Pros

  • Cheapest Snapdragon 845 Smartphone
  • Camera equipped with both EIS and a 4-axis OIS
  • Stereo Speakers & Dual VoLTE
  • AI Engine is handy

Cons

  • Lack of IP rating
  • No Dedicated Memory Card Slots
  • Modest 3300mAh battery

Mi Mix 2S

Mi Mix 2S is an upgraded version of Mi Mix 2. What make Mi Mix 2S so different from other flagships is that the Mi Mix 2S comes with its own design language that makes it unique. Of course the pricing of the device is also relatively attractive.

Mi Mix 2S features a 5.99″ no notch IPS display with 18:9 aspect ratio and FHD+ display. Mi Mix 2S has a hidden in ear speaker; the proximity sensors and the selfie lenses are located at the chin position. Before the launch of VIVO NEX & OPPO FIND X, Mi Mix 2S represent no notch display with thin bezels.

Mi Mix 2S is one of the Snapdragon 845 smartphone that is priced under RM2000 alongside ASUS Zenfone 5Z. For storage, Mi Mix 2S has up to 8GB of RAM and 256GB of UFS2.1 onboard storage. Fueled up the device is a 3400mAh battery that supports QC3.0 and wireless charging.

The rear camera is a pair of 12MP lenses that offer 1.4μm ultra pixels and Dual PD focus, 4-Axis OIS. Moving to the front is a slight disappointing 5MP selfie shooter. The device is pre-installed with Android 8.0 Oreo with MIUI 9.5 on top of it.

  • Mi Mix 2S — 6GB RAM, 64GB storage — RM1999
  • Mi Mix 2S — 8GB RAM, 128GB storage — RM2199

Pros

  • Display is massive without a notch
  • Camera is good quality with telephoto and portrait additions
  • Wireless charging is new and easy especially with affordable Mi mat

Cons

  • Lack of IP rating
  • No Dedicated Memory Card Slots
  • Bottom camera placement is rather annoying
  • No headphone jack, average speaker
  • Selfie Shooter is below par

Above RM2000 Cluster

This is cluster is where all the flagship models belong to. Uniqueness and practicability is the criteria we look into.

VIVO NEX

VIVO NEX is currently one of the hottest topic in the technology world. The device creates hot discussion locally after the selling price announced and stunned other Flagship Smartphones which now emerged as the new Flagship Killer. Normally a Flagship Killer comes with an affordable price tag and unique feature. VIVO NEX has both.

No notch No Chin no problem. VIVO showcased how a smartphone can be fitted into true bezel-less panel. Hidden speakers, hidden fingerprint scanner, hidden camera, this is how VIVO NEX managed to stun the world.

The latest Snapdragon 845 smartphone of VIVO features a 6.59″ 19.3:9 aspect ratio FHD+ Super AMOLED display. The Nex is integrated with Vivo’s glass-vibrating “screen soundcasting technology,” to replace the earpiece speaker. The elevating selfie camera is an is 8MP lenses with f/2.0 that pops out from the top edge of the phone when activated. It equipped with  third-generation in-display fingerprint sensor.

For storage, it is mated to 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. On the rear panel, the main 12-megapixel sensor is backed by a 5-megapixel sensor for simulated bokeh effect, and is paired with a dual-tone LED flash.

Fueled up the device is a large 4000mAh QC3.0 compatible battery charges via USB-C. The device is pre-installed with Android 8.1 and customized with Funtouch OS 4.0.

  • VIVO NEX — 8GB RAM, 128GB storage — RM2799

Pros

  • True Full View Bezel-less Display
  • Futuristic Design
  • Large 4000mAh battery
  • Under Screen Finger Print Scanner
  • Great Camera Quality
  • DSD Audio Quality

Cons

  • Lack of IP rating
  • No Dedicated Memory Card Slots
  • Lack of Stereo Speakers

Huawei P20 Pro

Huawei P20 Pro features tri-lenses certified by Leica. The device features a 6.1-inch with 18.7:9 ratio OLED display that translated into 1080 X 2240 pixels resolution and 408 ppi. Powered the device is Kirin 970 processor that come with NPU support. We are getting the 6GB RAM variant that mated with 128GB on board storage.

For design, P20 Pro has a small notch on its display. The device has a short Chin that sported with a fingerprint scanner. The front mounted fingerprint scanner act as navigation key shortcut with different gestures. As daily usage, it is definitely more handy than smartphone that come with rear mounted fingerprint.

The key selling point of Huawei P20 Pro is the tri-lenses. There is a 40MP RGB sensor, combining that with a new 8MP telephoto lens and retains the 20MP monochrome sensor. The camera comes with f/1.6 aperture configuration. It has pixels binning support combines 4 pixels into a larger pixel, which means brighter pixels and more light. Huawei introduced AI features that able to recognize different scenes or objects, thus adjusting the settings to suit the environment. On the P20 Pro, it can recognize up to 19 scenes and selects the appropriate mode for it. For instance, if you’re shooting at low-light conditions, it will automatically switch to night mode and brings up the relevant settings. Huawei implemented the AI-assisted stabilization (AIS). It take OIS to another level by stacking multiple OIS raw shooter and the AI will produce best image or video.

For selfie it has a 24MP shooter with f/2.0 aperture that is assisted with AI. The device is backed with 4000mAh and Super Charge via USB-C. Huawei P20 Pro is loaded with EMUI8.1 that based on Android 8.1 Oreo

  • Huawei P20 Pro — 6GB RAM, 128GB storage — RM3112

Pros

  • Promising AI’s Camera Feature and could possible be the best point to shoot camera at the moment
  • Super Fast Charging of 5V/4.5A
  • 4G+ network across both sim slot

Cons

  • microSD Slot is Missing
  • no headphone jack
  • wireless charging not supported

Be sure to read our camera review of Huawei P20 Pro.

Conclusion

2018 is a fascinating smartphone year. We see a lot new innovation adding into the new smartphone. This is a year of smartphone design transitioning year. From 2017 Full-View display era, manufacture is taking the initiate to create a real bezel-less smartphone. Some of you may already questioning smartphone such as Huawei Mate RS, Oneplus 6, Samsung Galaxy S9+, iPhone X  and OPPO Find X are not making into the list. Don’t get us wrong, those are definitely good flagship smartphone. We are looking at smartphones that come with good day to day usage with good practicability and uniqueness that wont burn your pocket.

The mid-range smartphone war is getting interesting than ever. From Xiaomi, Huawei and now Asus is returned and adding competition in this cluster. Affordable flagship listed on the list such as Honor 10, Asus Zenfone 5Z and Mi Mix 2S definitely give you the best value over the hardware specification. If you are looking for flagship smartphone and not willing spend over two thousands for a smartphone, these 3 smartphone will surely top your consideration.

We love to introduce and added a lot of smartphone into the list. However the list is really long. 2018 has been a busy year, as the numbers of new smartphone announced is really large compare to 2017.

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