Excellent price/value Phone
When I first looked at the OnePlus 5T I mistakenly thought it's the iPhone 8 Plus. The design of the back and contour with the pair of horizontal cameras makes them look very similar. But the inside is very different, let alone the price of the 5T which is less nearly half that of an iPhone 8-Plus. The OnePlus 5T is an Android smartphone produced by OnePlus and in fact is very similar to the former OnePlus 5. It was announced in November 2017 with a few small changes to harvest the hype of the holiday season. Here is a closer look at the insides and outs of the OnePlus 5T:
The body is aluminum frame, metal back and glass front. It weighs 163g (5.71 oz) and is only 7mm thick which makes it slim and appealing to the eye. The front glass is Corning Gorilla Glass 5 which makes it more durable to scratch and break. It comes in Midnight Black or Lava Red colors.
The display of the OnePlus 5T is a large 6" AMOLED panel which takes about 80% of the body and offers capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 1080 x 2160 pixels. As with the larger Galaxies it offers the 18:9 ratio but the pixel density is 401 ppi, significantly lower than the upper rivals of this category. The sunlight contrast benchmark scored excellent with 4,800 points, a score that only the iPhone X has won.
The processor engine is the 8-cores Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835, same as the one inside the Galaxy S8. The benchmark for UI speed scored similar 3,640 overall with Basemark OS II 2.0.
The battery of the OnePlus 5T is Non-removable Li-Po 3300 mAh battery which should last for 22:30 hours of talk time, 10 hours of web browsing and 16 hours of video playback.
The primary camera of the OnePlus 5T is a Dual 16MP offering all the bells and whistles of the upper rivals: phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, and panorama mode. The second camera actually has a 20MP mode. The result shooting on all frontiers (portrait, panorama, low light, video) was good but less than the Samsung Galaxy and iPhone 8 results.
The bottom line is that the 5T is still inferior to the leaders of the category and it was most likely an opportunistic announcement to have the 5T a few months after the 5 was released. This does not undermine the fact the the 5T is a very good smartphone and deserves to be in the premium league. Looking at the whole, the 5T is one of the best price/value deals.
- No Stereo Speakers
- No SD-Card
- OnePlus 5
Huawei Mate 10 Pro
Huawei's Best Phone Ever
Released in November 2017, Huawei Mate 10 Pro is a major advancement for Huawei into the premium league of smartphones but don't expect any cheap price deals, the Mate 10 Pro is as expensive as its rivals but has superior tech specifications.
The body of the Mate 10 Pro is an aluminum frame with front and back glass panel. It is IP67 certified for dust/water resistance. and can have a single (or dual) Nano-SIM(s). It weights 178g which is no wonder since it is a pretty large device due its 6" display. Huawei offer the device in 4 colors: Midnight Blue, Titanium Gray, Mocha Brown and Pink Gold.
The 6" display is as big as the Google Pixel 2 XL, and has a similar 18:9 aspect ratio but with a more modest pixel density of 442 ppi and 1080 x 2160 pixels resolution. Sunlight contrast benchmark scored 4,100 which is reasonable but far from the leaders in this league of premium phones.
The camera of the Huawei Mate 10 Pro demonstrates the best on-paper specifications: it has dual 20MP primary camera and 8MP selfie camera. with many goodies such as: 2x lossless zoom, Leica optics, phase detection & laser autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face/smile detection, panorama, HDR. With all this high-end specs it comes as a surprise that there's no 4K video recording.
The Mate 10 Pro features stereo speakers which something many other phones in this league do not offer. Other special features are: Fingerprint (rear-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, barometer, compass.
The processor of the Mate 10 Pro is the Hisilicon Kirin 970 with 8 cores, which scored an overall of 3,430 in the Basemark OS II 2.0 benchmark. Well into the competition with the Galaxies but far from the iPhones in this league. In real life however it is not the benchmark numbers that matter but how fast can you expect heavy web apps to load, and the Huawei Mate 10 Pro performs very well opening Google Docs or spreadsheets which are pretty heavy web apps.
The battery of the Huawei is a Non-removable Li-Po 4000 mAh, which will last for no less than 22 hours of talk time, 15:30 hours of web browsing and about the same time for video playback.
The bottom line is: if you're a Mate 9 Pro owner it is not an upgrade to die for, it is a worthy premium smartphone but the the LG G6 and Google's Pixel 2 XL seems to have better price/value.
- Stills Camera
- Stereo Speakers
- Big Screen
- No 3.5mm Jack
- No SD Cards
- Video Camera
- LG G6
Huawei P10 Plus
Huawei's Cheaper Premium Phone
The Huawei P10 Plus is available since April 2017 and is the 2nd phone of Huawei in this category of premium phones. Its price significantly dropped since the Mate 10 Pro was announced and the last I saw offers in Amazon for as low as $580. Here's a closer look at the P10 Plus:
The body is aluminum frame and back, front is Corning Gorilla Glass 5, which gives it scratch and break protection but the P10 does not present any dust/water certification but the manufacturer says the device is "splash resistant". Available colors are: Ceramic White, Dazzling Blue, Dazzling Gold, Graphite Black, Mystic Silver, Rose Gold, Greenery. The Huawei P10 Plus is preconfigured to have a single NanoSim (or have hybrid dual NanoSim(s)).
The display is a 5.5", which takes about 72% of the body. It has a 1440 x 2560 pixels resolution and standard 16:9 ratio with ~540 ppi density. The technology behind the front panel is IPS-NEO LCD capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors. As expected the LCD preforms less when benchmarked against direct sunlight. It scored 3,560 points which is reasonable for an LCD panel.
The camera of the P0 Plus is Dual: 12 MP (f/1.8, 28mm, OIS) + 20 MP (f/1.8), Leica optics, 2x lossless zoom, phase detection and laser autofocus, dual-LED dual-tone flash with all the good features of Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR and panorama mode. Testing the camera modes Selfie, Stills, Panorama, Video the P10 performs very well and the alliance with Leica seems to bring good photography features to Huawei.
The processor is the major aspect where the P10 falls short of his bigger brother the Mate Pro. It is an older generation HiSilicon Kirin 960 chipset which in UI benchmark produces and overall score of 2,940 points far below most of the members in this premium category. At the time of writing this review it still comes with Android 7.0 (Nougat), planned upgrade to Android 8.0 (Oreo) should happen sometime soon.
The battery of the P10 is also weaker than most of the rivals in this category. It is a Non-removable Li-Ion 3750 mAh battery, which scores 75h in the endurance benchmark, and more specifically can power the device to 20 hours of talk time, 10:40 hours of web browsing and 12:30 hours of video playback.
The final words about the Huawei P10 Pro is that it does belong to the premium league and for the price it is currently available it is a viable option.
- Low-grade water-proofing
- Mate 10 Pro
Samsung Galaxy Note8
The largest phone
Samsung Galaxy Note8 was announced in September 2017 and is the largest phone/phablet manufactured today (put aside tablets with SIM). I found the 6.3" display to be too large for me to handle but it is a matter of taste. In general the Note8 is very similar to the Galaxy S8+ with the addition of the stylus. It is one of the best phones in the market and here are some technical details about it:
As with its S8 siblings, the Note8 body is constructed of aluminum frame with front and back glass (Gorilla 5 glass which means the best technology for scratch and break protection). It is IP68 water/dust protection certified which is the way to say it can stay as deep as 1.5m under water for 30 minutes and still remain fully functional.
Samsung have 2 different chipsets they use for 2 different markets. The Exynos 8895 Octa - used in the model for Europe, Middle-East and Africa, and the Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835 - marketed in USA & China. In both models this is an eight-core 4.2Ghz processor with excellent speed. I tested the US version with Basemark OS II 2.0 software and its overall scored was 3350. Slightly below its S8 brother and iPhone 8-Plus which score ~3800 for the same test.
The display of the Galaxy Note8 is very long. Samsung have decided on a 18.5:9 ratio (instead of the standard 16:9) which makes it extremely long, and in my view less usable. For most apps and videos you can not really enjoy this extra length and you certainly can't reach the upper part of it with your thumb. From any other other aspect it is an excellent display, Super AMOLED, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 6.3" with 1440 x 2960 resolution, and superb density of 521 pixels per inch. Sunlight contrast benchmark scored excellent 4,150, slightly below iPhone-X with 4,770 which is the leader in this aspect.
The camera is one of the best in this category. Dual 12 MP, and 8MP for the selfie camera. It is equipped with al the bells and whistles: phase detection autofocus, 2x optical zoom, LED flash, Geo-tagging, simultaneous 4K video and 9MP image recording, touch focus, face/smile detection, Auto HDR, panorama.
As with the other phones in the Galaxy family, the battery is a Non-removable Li-Ion 3300 mAh that can power up to 22 hours of talk-time, 10:15 hours of web browsing and 14:30 video playback. It can charge wireless but it is not included in the package.
Verdict: The Galaxy Note8 is an excellent phone but I find it too large and long. The S8 is very similar, but if you need the extra screen size and like the stylus pen, that's the phone for you.
- Stylus Pen
- Screen Quality
- No Stereo Speaker
- Very Tall
Sony Xperia XZ Premium
Sony's best Smartphone
Released to the US market only in June 2017, the Xperia XZ Premium is the flagship phone of Sony.
The body of the XZ Premium is built with Gorilla Glass 5 back and front. The frame is aluminum on top and bottom and curved plastic sides. The result is IP68 certified for water/dust proofing. It feels pretty heavy 195g (6.88 oz) but it's solid and quality built. For people who like their phones with shiny colors Sony is offering the phone in: Luminous Chrome, Deep Sea Black, Bronze Pink and Rosso Red.
The display of the XZ is 5.46 inches, but it takes only about 2/3 of the full body size (68% screen/body ratio). The PS LCD capacitive touchscreen with16M colors and 3840 x 2160 pixels resolution should have been the best in this class if we had to just read the resolution numbers and the excellent density of 807 ppi. Truth is however much more complex, since LCD technology is a bit older than the LED (and certainly older than the new MO-LED) the sunlight contrast benchmark score of the Sony Xperia XZ Premium is only 2,890 far at the bottom of the leaders in this category.
Sony have put the Snapdragon 835 Octa-Core processor into their phone, which is the same processor you will find in the high end Galaxies of Samsung. The benchmark I took with Basemark OS II 2.0 showed an excellent 4,100 overall score.
As usual with the Sony phones you get stereo speakers, 3.5mm headphones jack and all the standard sensors: accelerometer, gyro, proximity, barometer and compass.
Sony has put in a 19MP primary camera and 13MP selfie camera which features Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR, panorama, autofocus and LED flash.
The battery of the Xperia XZ Premium is a Non-removable Li-Ion 3230 mAh, which is sufficient for 19 hours of talk time, 10 hours of web browsing and 8 hours of video playback. I don't need that much talk time between recharging, but when comparing to the rivals and especially because there's no wireless charge, The battery of the XZ Xperia is of lesser score than its rivals.
The final verdict about the Xperia XZ Premium should have been that it falls short in many aspects, but the difference from the leaders of the category is marginal and the price/value offering is truly excellent. You can actually buy three units of this premium smartphone at the price of one iPhone X.
- Screen resolution
- Sunlight Contrast
- Battery life
Samsung Galaxy S8
The Best Android you can buy
The Samsung Galaxy S8 is one of the best phones on the market and certainly the best Android you can put your hands on. When you unbox it, it comes with tons of Apps, most of which are unusable or buggy. Let me Give a few tech specs about it:
The body of the S8 is constructed of back and front glass (Gorilla Glass 5) and an aluminum frame. The result is a pretty light weight device (155g) which is surprising for this kind of quality phone but also makes it a bit less durable to shock and drop off tests. It can take a single Nano SIM or have two SIMs. It is dust and water proof IP68 certified (1.5m under water for 30 minutes).
The display of the Galaxy S8 is of top quality and offers 1440 x 2960 pixels, 18.5:9 ratio 570 ppi density. It scored 4470 in the sunlight contrast benchmark.
Under the shiny glass there's a pretty powerful processor engine. It is the Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835 equipped with 8 cores, which scored 3380 in Basemark OS II 2.0 overall score.
The camera of the S8 is one the best, 12MP primary and 8MP for the selfie camera. With the ability to shoot 4K videos, face and smile detection, automatic geo tagging and many other features you can not be disappointed by the quality of the camera and yet the dual camera approach of the iPhones(8 & X) produces even better photos.
The Samsung S8 is equipped with a few pretty cool sensors such as Iris-Scan, rear mounted fingerprint reader, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer, and heart rate. The S8 battery is a non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAph battery which, in my tests, demonstrated 24 hours of talk time, 10 hours of web browsing and 14 hours of video playback. The bottom line is that the Galaxy S8 is the best Android phone you can buy today. If you're a fan of gigantic phones you may consider the S8+ or the Note8, but I found the size of the S8 to be optimal. If you're an Apple person, the S8 will NOT make you abandon the iPhone 8 or X rivals.
- Fingerprint Position
- Crap Apps
Apple iPhone 8 Plus
The best Cost/Value iPhone
Released in September 2017, only a few weeks before its bigger brother, the iPhone-X was released, I find the Apple iPhone 8 to be the best cost/value smartphone of Apple. It is almost as good as the iPhone X and costs significantly less.
The body is made of aluminium frame with glass back and front. IP67 certified for dust and water (up to 1m and 30 min under water). Equipped with Nano SIM, Apple Pay feature. One thing which comes as a surprise, the iPhone 8 comes with no earphones jack that was the industry standard for so many years. You can use an adapter wire (that is included in the package) or use BT earphones.
The display of the iPhone 8 is a LED-backlit IPS LCD, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors, 1080 x 1920 pixels, 16:9 ratio (401 ppi density). Sunlight contrast ratio in lab benchmarks showed 3,735, 200 points better than its predecessor, the iPhone 7, and yet less than the main rival, Samsung Galaxy S8 which scored 4,768.
The processor of the iPhone-8-Plus is Apple A11 Bionic, I tested iPhone 8 Plus with 64GB with Basemark OS II 2.0 and it showed an overall score of 3880, that is ~500 points better than the best Samsung Galaxy you can put your hands on, but 1,000 points lower than the iPhone X that has the same processor but works at higher speeds.
The iPhone 8 Plus comes with 64GB or 256GB internal storage. There's no SD-Card slot to put in external storage. Apple offers some nice deals with iCloud instead of inserting external SD-Card storage.
The camera of the iPhone 8-Plus is perhaps the best camera in any smartphone available today, it's a Dual 12MP primary, 7MP secondary, autofocus, 2X optical zoom, geo tagging, face/smile detection. 4K video.
The iPhone 8 Plus comes with some additional sensors such as: Fingerprint (front-mounted inside the home button), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer.
The iPhone 8 Plus is equipped with a Non-removable Li-Ion 2,690 mAph battery. it can last for 21 hours of talk time, 12:30 hours of web browsing and ~15 hours of video playing.
Verdict: The best price/value iPhone on the market. Superb camera, excellent processor speed, display performance, and a decent rival of the Samsung Galaxy S8. If you're an Android fan, the Galaxy S8 is a better choice.
Premium Phone for Reasonable Price
The LG G6 belongs to the premium league in every aspect except the price, it is much cheaper than its rivals which makes it my favorite. LG has announced it as early as February 2017 at around $700 but the price has dropped down to around $550.
The body of the G6 is aluminum frame with Gorilla Glass 5 back and front. A notable design feature is the round corners, which make it much more durable to drop offs. It is IP68 water / dust certified which means it can stay under 1m of water for an hour a remain functional.
Its display is IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors. 5.7 inch of screen with 1440 x 2880 pixels resolution, 18:9 ratio and excellent 564 ppi density. The LG G6 display scored 3,356 in sunlight contrast benchmark, almost as good as the Apple iPhone 8.
The processor of the LG G6 is the Qualcomm MSM8996 Snapdragon 821, a generation older than the Samsung Galaxy rivals, and it is no surprise that its Basemark OS II 2.0 benchmark scored only 2,200. For most of the day-to-day operations you use your phone for, you will not notice the difference between the G6 and the more expensive phones.
The camera of the LG G6 is actually 2 (13MP) cameras (normal and wide angel) with autofocus and phase detection. It performs excellent and well competes with the others. The video recording is stereo and sounds much better than the mono-recording of some high-end phones in this group (the iPhone X as one example).
The battery of the G6 is a Non-removable Li-Po 3300 mAh battery. It will allow you to talk for 22 hours, web browse for 8:30 hours and watch video playback for 10:30 hours.
Verdict: The LG G6 is actually the best price/value phone in the premium group.
- No VR Games
- No Stereo Speaker
New HTC Design
HTC have announced their U11 phone as early as May 2017, but it was released a month later on June. They have neglected the bulk metal look for a more contemporary glass/liquid look which I find as very appealing. The real question is if this phone can shift Samsung or Apple fans to take HTC? I'm not sure about the answer, it's a nice looking piece of technology but the price is not attractive enough to make the shift. Lets take a closer look at the HTC U11:
The body, as with the majority of premium phones, is built of an aluminum frame with back and front glass. It weights 169 g (5.96 oz) and accommodates a single or dual NanoSim(s). It gets IP67 for dust/water resistance. The glass is Corning Gorilla Glass 5 which gives it the standard scratch and break protection. It comes in shiny metallic colors: Amazing Silver, Sapphire Blue, Brilliant Black, Ice White, Solar Red
The Display of the HTC U11 is a 5", Super LCD5 capacitive touchscreen with 16M colors and takes about
71% of the body. It has a resolution of 1440 x 2560 pixels, standard 16:9 ratio and ~534 ppi density. As with most LCD panels, contrast isn't as good as the AMOLED panels but it's still bright enough to be used under direct sunlight.
The camera is a single 12MP primary and a 16MP selfie which I think is quite unique to have a better resolution secondary camera. It is equipped with: phase detection autofocus, dual-LED flash, Geo-tagging, touch focus, face detection, HDR and panorama mode. The HTC camera performs excellent and when compared to the Galaxy S8 camera it is almost as good. The Video recording provides stereo recording, a feature the Galaxy lacks.
The processor of the HTC U11 is Qualcomm MSM8998 Snapdragon 835, same as the Galaxy S8 and it's no wonder that it scores well (3,000 allover score in Basmark OS II 2.0 benchmark).
The battery of the HTC U11 Is is a Non-removable Li-Ion 3000 mAh battery, which is sufficient for 19 hours of talk time, 10 hours of web browsing and 11 hours of video playback. It falls short compared to other rivals in the category but sufficient for day to day use.
My conclusion is positive, it's a well designed phone, although I'm not sure it's appealing enough at the current price level to make a shift of among Samsung and Apple fans.
- No headphone jack
Apple iPhone X
The Best Smartphone money can buy
Announced in September 2017 and released a month later, Apple iPhone X is the best smartphone money can buy today. Here are some technical details:
The body has Modern design with glass front and back and stainless steel frame. As usual Apple demonstrates top build quality, IP67 certified for dust and water (up to 1m and 30 min under water). Equipped with Nano SIM, Apple Pay feature.
The display of the iPhone X is Super AMOLED, Capacitive touchscreen with multi-touch, 16M colors, 1125 x 2436 resolution, 458 pixels-per-inch density. Sunlight contrast ratio in my tests was 5,013, better than any other phone I tested and better than Galaxy S8 which scored 4,768.
The processor engine under the hood is Apple A11 Bionic, I tested with Basemark OS II 2.0 and it showed an overall score of 4708, which is the highest score I've ever seen in this benchmark software. With regards to storage the iPhone X comes with 64GB or 256GB internal storage. There's no SD-Card slot to put in external storage. I personally prefer to pay for iCloud or DropBox and have my content on a cloud service rather than have an SD-Card that I have to manage.
The camera of the iPhone X is a pure joy, it's a Dual 12MP primary, 7MP secondary, autofocus, 2X optical zoom, geo tagging, face/smile detection. 4K video.
The iPhone X comes with some additional sensors such as: Face ID, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass and barometer.
Apple have done a decent job with regards to battery-life, it is a Non-removable Li-Ion 2,716 mAph battery. In my tests ~21 hours of talk time, 9:30 hours of web browsing and ~12 hours of video playing.
My Verdict: If money is not an issue, this is the phone you should buy. If you ask weather the cost is worth the extra features X has to offer over the iPhone 8-Plus I'd say take the 8-Plus
- Processor Speed
- Excellent Display
- Brilliant Camera
- Too Expensive
- no earphones jack
- No SD Card
Google Pixel 2 XL
Google's Flagship Phone
As if Google is not already controlling our lives, they now promote the Pixel 2 XL, an excellent smartphone, which may very well give them significant foothold in this industry as well. For this reason alone, the Pixel 2 XL is not my choice, but to be honest it is one of the best androids you can get.
The body of the Google Pixel 2 XL is aluminum frame with front glass and partial back glass. Equipped with single Nano-Sim the body is IP67 certified for dust and water resistance. All in all the Pixel 2 XL has a gigantic size due to its 6" display. The back side fingerprint sensor is good, but position it on the back side makes it much less usable.
The display of the Google Pixel 2 XL, is gigantic 6", P-OLED capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors. It has excellent resolution of 1440 x 2880 pixels. The aspect ratio is 18:9 which is very different from the standard 16:9 and makes it kind of taller. With superb pixel density of 538 ppi, the display scored ∞ for sunlight contrast although by measures of white level it is inferior to the Galaxy S8 performance.
The battery of the Pixel 2 XL is a Non-removable Li-Ion 3520 mAh battery. It should last for at least 27 hours of continuous talking, 10:30 hours of web browsing and 12 hours of video playback.
When I came to test the camera of the Pixel 2 XL I didn't expect much comparing it to the Apple and Samsung rivals as it's only a single lens 12.2MP and 8MP for the selfie. But it performs very well despite its inferior specs most likely thanks to the Google HDR+ algorithm.
The Pixel 2 XL is manufactured by LG for Google and it demonstrates an excellent build quality. My final verdict hasn't changed from my initial reaction that I don't want Google to be alongside my life anymore than they already are, but that the Pixel 2 XL is an excellent smartphone that is worth its (relatively) high price.
- No 3.5mm Jack
- No SD Card
- Google Again