Sheldon PintoOct 14, 2017 10:41:05 IST
The festive season is finally here, and like every year, there are a new bunch of smartphones that manufacturers will launch just in time for Diwali in India. While Samsung, HTC and Sony already have their flagships out on sale in stores and online, there are other smartphone brands that seemed to have missed the opportunity for various reasons, like LG and Google with its Pixel 2.
The LG V30 and the Google Pixel 2, 2XL have yet to arrive in India. While there is still no sign of LG launching its V30 flagship smartphone, Google seems too late to the party with the Pixel siblings, which will only arrive in India by November (pre-orders will start on 26 October).
But there are still plenty more options to choose from this year because neither the V30 nor the Pixel twins utilize new chipsets. Both smartphones pack in the Snapdragon 835 platform just as the other flagships. So without further ado, let us check out the hottest premium and flagship smartphones on both iOS and Android platforms that are available this Diwali.
HTC U11: Rs 51,990
The HTC U11 is our favourite at the office. It performed well on all fronts and is indeed the true all-rounder we came across this year. Whether its construction, audio, performance and imaging quality, the HTC U11 did not fair below the mark on any front.
The display too, despite being a simple LCD (Super LCD 5) was high on colour accuracy. Despite not going for an edge-to-edge or curved-at-the-edges display like the Galaxy siblings, we found it sensible and quite accurate in comparison to the other smartphones in the lot. The bundled U Sonic headphones also come free in the box and are as good (if not better than) as the AKG-tuned headset Samsung has provided with the Galaxy S8.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Rs 67,900
A smartphone that comes almost two years after its predecessor in India, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 got a warm welcome not just from reviewers, but even the consumers. Last we heard, there were reports stating that the Note 8 is selling a lot more than both the Apple iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus combined. In short, consumers seem to love it, and so did I in my review of the Galaxy Note 8.
While many may claim that the 128 GB model of the Galaxy S8+ offers more, the Note does have a few features that separate it from its siblings. It has a dual-camera setup, a class-leading portrait mode, an S Pen and a wider display that is a lot more accurate than its siblings. So much so that even at Rs 67,900, it's worth it.
Apple iPhone 8 Plus (64 GB) : Rs 73,000
Every year, the Apple fans who are more productive on their iPhones go in for the Plus model. This year, things are a bit different as Apple launched three new iPhones at its special event. While the iPhone 8 Plus is quite a bit of an upgrade over the previous 7 Plus, it is not exactly something entirely new.
There is a new Portrait Lighting mode, wireless charging and a blazing fast chipset that can put any Android evangelist to shame.
The only problem with the iPhone 8 Plus is that it has a newer sibling that’s more “exotic”. While the iPhone X has yet to arrive (pre-order in November), the iPhone 8 Plus still makes for a good buy, but only in the 64 GB flavour that is priced at Rs 73,000. If you want to spend some more, you might as well wait for the iPhone X to arrive, which starts from a hefty Rs 89,000 (64 GB) instead of shelling out Rs 86,000 for the 256 GB version on the 8 Plus. You will get something fresh and new for your money’s worth instead of a 3-year old design as with the Plus.
In the 8 Plus' favour is the new camera system that allows for higher quality video recording, support for wireless charging, image quality that rivals the Note 8 and of course, that fancy new A11 Bionic chip.
Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus (128 GB) : Rs 60,900
The Samsung Galaxy S8+ still exists for a reason. It’s very unlike the Note 8. It isn’t large and bulky, but rounded and curvy. A design that not only grabs everyone’s attention, but also manages to accommodate a massive display in a smaller footprint. Unlike the Note 8, it also comes with more internal storage, getting rid of the SIM switching headache when you need to swap a SIM for an SD card if it happens to run out of space.
Samsung Galaxy S8 : Rs 53,900
Don’t like large displays and hate iOS? Well, there are barely any choices for you in the premium Android smartphone segment. So it is a good thing that Samsung came up with the smaller S8 this year. It looks more like a timepiece than a smartphone and it will turn heads no matter how many iPhone users are around.
Samsung’s Galaxy S8 packs in imaging capabilities that are as good if not better than those of the Note 8, sans the dual camera, but it is available at a lower price and with a smaller display for humans with normal-sized hands.
Sony Xperia XZ1 : Rs 46,990
The Sony Xperia XZ1 is the successor to last year’s Xperia XZ. While my experience with the XZ was not that great, the XZ1 is supposed to pack in some major improvements to both the camera and the device’s build quality.
The new XZ1 is made of metal as opposed to the plastic chassis of its successor. The design remains the same, but it is the only one in this line up to feature Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box. There’s also the Motion Eye camera that can record slow motion videos at 960 fps in HD along with Predictive Capture and Autofocus burst, giving you clear photos in daylight situations. While the design may not appeal to all, the XZ1 also feature HiRes audio capabilities. With that we have LDAC support that delivers better than CD quality audio over Bluetooth. So if audio and software are your priority, then the XZ1 is the flagship to go for.
Apple iPhone 8 (64 GB) : Rs 64,000
Indeed, all eyes are on the iPhone X this year. But the iPhone X rubs shoulders more with the iPhone 8 Plus, than it does with the humble iPhone 8. With that said. Those coming from an iPhone 6, 6s or even an iPhone 7 can look at the 8 for an upgrade.
While the iPhone 8 may lack a Portrait Lighting mode (found on the 8 Plus and the X) it still offers a great camera upgrade over the previous models. In short, this could be the best (and may be the last) single camera option coming from Apple. With that said, I highly recommend the 64 GB option as the 256 GB model gets unnecessarily pricey at Rs 77,000.
Nokia 8 : Rs 36,999
Nokia made a big comeback with its flagship Nokia 8 dual camera smartphone this year. Indeed, this is a Nokia’s flagship inside out (no more Microsoft) so it makes sense for hardcore Nokia fans who have been waiting for a Nokia device powered by Android, to go in for one.
Nokia takes pride in the Dual-Sight camera mode, which uses both the front and rear cameras to simultaneously record and stream (live) video or even take pictures. You also get a dual 13 MP dual camera setup at the rear, with the usual bokeh effects. But it still falls short of both next two smartphones I have mentioned below.
Mi Mix 2 : Rs 35,999
Xiaomi recently launched the Mi Mix 2. The device will be available in limited flash sales but packs in something special (even in comparison to the OnePlus 5) in the form of an edge-to-edge display. If you are looking for something special in the sub Rs 40,000 range of flagship devices, you will not be disappointed keeping in mind the Mix 2’s design. The use of a ceramic back plate and even an 18k gold-plated camera ring is interesting. You have to deal with Xiaomi’s MIUI, which is still stuck at Android Nougat, but, well, so is everyone else at the moment!
OnePlus 5 (64 GB) : Rs 32,999
A OnePlus smartphone has been the smartphone to buy for any true Android fan since the past three years. While the earlier models started off in the sub Rs 30,000 range, OnePlus now seems to have settled in the sub Rs 40,000 range in terms of pricing, with the 8 GB/128 GB storage model selling for as high as Rs 37,999.
If you have read my review of the OnePlus 5, it is obvious that the 8 GB RAM model demands a price tag that does not really warrant the extra Rs 5,000 you will shell out. Add to this the fact that the OnePlus does not look like anything new compared to the older model (unless you are a fan). This gets even worse when you have handsets like the Nokia 8 and the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 on sale, that have a similar feature set, and are even better at a few things, including better design. Buy one only if you or your giftee is a fan of the brand or an orphaned Nexus user.