Smartphones to look out for in July 2018: Vivo Nex, Oppo Find X, Xiaomi Mi A2

An action-packed month with not just premium smartphones but budget and mid-range devices as well.

We are smack in the middle of 2018 with recently launched OnePlus 6 ruling the roost in the premium segment and Motorola’s Moto G6 appearing as a bottom feeder making do with all that is left behind as Xiaomi’s Redmi Note 5 Pro and the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 dominate the budget segment with powerful chipsets, great battery life and stunning displays.

But there’s plenty more coming to the market in July all before Samsung launches its Note 9 smartphone on 9 August.

Remember all those smartphones announced at the Mobile World Congress, well there’s plenty of flagship-grade devices that have yet to reach Indian shores.

So let’s begin with what’s hot in each smartphone segment for the month of July 2018.

With OnePlus done with eating into the lower end of the premium segment pie, it’s now time for its other two BBK siblings to challenge the international brands like Samsung, Sony, HTC and LG (yes, LG still makes smartphones).

Vivo and Oppo have taken up a challenge of sorts and their recent advancements are getting them accolades, both for killing the display notch (the shortest smartphone trend we have seen) and convincing Android smartphone makers that Apple should not be their inspiration anymore.

Vivo Nex S

The pop-up camera on the Vivo Nex. Image: Vivo

The pop-up camera on the Vivo Nex. Image: Vivo

The Vivo Nex S went from concept to production in a matter months after it saw plenty of success with its bezel-less design on the Apex concept. The Vivo Nex that comes in two variants (Nex S and Nex A)  and Vivo also brought about the X21 which is popularising an in-display fingerprint reader.

The Vivo Nex. Image: Vivo

The Vivo Nex. Image: Vivo

Come 19 July, you will be able to purchase a premium smartphone with an almost bezel-less (read notch-less) display, a pop-up selfie camera, an in-display fingerprint reader and that piezoelectric receiver that vibrates the smartphone’s display so that you can place calls and hear someone through the display (that’s 2018 for you). That sure is a lot of tech packed into a smartphone that is expected to retail for less than Samsung’s Galaxy S9+ (MRP Rs 68,900). Yes, you read that right! All of that tech you just read about, it was launched in China at CNY 4,998, which is approximately Rs 52,000. So we shall find out the Indian pricing soon.

Oppo Find X

The Oppo Find X

The Oppo Find X

Then there’s the other showstopper that’s set to launch in India on 12 July. It’s Oppo’s beautiful Find X that carries forward the legacy of the Find series after the Find 7 was announced in India, but never went on sale. Let’s hope Oppo does not pull off another one on us this time.

If the Vivo is high on tech, Oppo is more steam-punk, with the entire top section of the camera assembly lifting to reveal the cameras. Yes, Oppo’s workaround for the display notch was to create a pop-up camera (more of a 3D Stealth Camera) not just on the front, but for the rear dual camera setup as well.

The Oppo Find X

The pop-up camera assembly on Oppo Find X

But it’s not just those cool motorised movements that should get your attention. This the second Oppo device after the A83 to come to India without a fingerprint reader. This time however, Oppo seems to have developed a proper (read secure) face unlock system (O-Face) that uses a technology similar to Apple’s FaceID. O-Face uses a 3D projection of light dots to read your facial structure and authenticate the user. Yes, it does all (open the camera, project dots authenticate) of this in 0.5-seconds which seems pretty fast. I’m worried about how long the motor will last, given that it has to do this every time a user unlocks the smartphone and not just while accessing the cameras. Then there’s the dust factor as well, considering the large moving part, but I’ll reserve my opinions for later when we get a review unit.

Asus ZenFone 5Z

The Asus Zenfone 5z was globally announced back at MWC in February. Image: Asus

The Asus Zenfone 5z was globally announced back at MWC in February. Image: Asus

Asus will finally announce its flagship premium offering for the year, called the Asus ZenFone 5Z on 4 July. It’s expected to battle it out with the OnePlus 6, not just with specifications but with a competitive price tag as well.

With the new premium smartphones from Oppo and Vivo, Asus’s ZenFone seems to have picked up on the notch a bit too late. While the smartphone was announced 5 months ago, back at the Mobile World Congress 2018, it will finally reach buyers in India only after 4 July which seems a bit too late considering that notch trend will be put to sleep soon.

Asus is expected to go big with its bag of AI tricks and the usual serving of flagship-grade hardware that includes a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 SoC with oodles of RAM. While it sounds like the same old formula, Asus could be looking to take down the OnePlus 6 when it comes to pricing considering that it is the most affordable smartphone available for purchase in Europe with a Snapdragon 845 inside.

Xiaomi Mi A2

Oh! How could a month go by without Xiaomi announcing a new smartphone (or product) in India right?

Xiaomi has teased the launch of another budget monster that has more similarities with the Asus ZenFone Max Pro M1 (that’s a really long name) than the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro (OK, I give up!).

It’s the successor to the Xiaomi Mi A1 called the Mi A2. Like the earlier model, the Xiaomi Mi A1, the Mi A2 is expected to be the “tropicalised” variant of the Xiaomi Mi 6X, which was recently launched in China.

Xiaomi Mi 6X. Image: Xiaomi

Xiaomi Mi 6X. Image: Xiaomi

The speciality of the smartphone that is expected to be launched between 23 to 26 July is its cameras (similar to the Redmi Note 5 Pro) and more importantly, its software which is expected to join the Android One programme with a stock version of Android. The Xiaomi Mi A1 was quite the hit and sold well in India. Considering that the device was priced competitively, it was literally a “poor man’s Google Pixel” back then.

With cameras sorted with Redmi Note 5 Pro, expect this one to be a hot seller in India. Despite the launch taking place in Spain (Madrid to be precise), Xiaomi has invited quite a few Mi Explorers from India so it’s a good enough reason to believe that it’s headed here.

All-in-all, expect July to be an action-packed month with some more premium flagship options opening up for buyers giving you more choices than a OnePlus 6 and a Samsung Galaxy S9+.

With the budget smartphone range, Nokia and Asus should feel threatened now that Xiaomi’s stock Android offering is close to being released. Buyers, as usual, will get more confused as to which Xiaomi smartphone they should purchase, but that’s what we at tech2 are here to help you decide.

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