Review : Best smartphone of the year

The best smartphones of 2018

Camera technology is developing fast, and the latest mobile phones take better pictures than ever before.

Mobile phones have gone from being a necessary communication tool to becoming an important extension of ourselves. We keep track of our friends on social media, get restaurant tips, find our way through unfamiliar places, order taxis, check in at airports, listen to music on the bus, watch movies on the plane, play games during the break, listening at the pod-broadcasts on the hammock, check e-mails on the go, write shopping lists, schedule meetings and manage the connected home. And then we take pictures on top of that as well. It is estimated that we took 1.2 trillion (!) pictures with cell phones last year.

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It is said that the best camera is the one that is brought along, and the mobile phone is always in the pocket to forever capture the unexpected moments. Therefore, it is no big surprise that we are still placing higher demands for photo quality in our mobile phones. And mobile phone manufacturers have responded to the demand. They put a lot of research on how to get better pictures from the small optics. In recent years, development has moved ahead at furious speed. First we got higher resolution, until the pictures had unnecessarily high-resolution. Then they worked with image stabilisation and faster processing, which in combination with more light-sensitive sensors has made it possible to take pictures even in dim lighting.

http://www.lydogbilde.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/iStock-625874352_33377-655x436.jpg (Photo: Manufacturer)

 

The latest trend is even more cameras. What the extra camera is used for, however, varies among manufacturers. Huawei used previous extra cameras for creative effects, like giving the portrait a fuzzy background by measuring the depth of the subject. Others, like LG, have added a wide-angle lens so that one can take group shots without having to go further back. However, the vast majority have added a telephoto lens. You can then get closer to the subject without having to go closer, which is not always possible. It’s perfect for holiday pictures when you want to snap a photo of a sight, even if you are slightly far away. This has been taken to the extreme in Huawei’s new P20 Pro, which has three entire cameras!

 

X-tremely impressive iPhone

Apple is back on the throne with the first iPhone in years that feels revolutionary.

Our verdict

Facial recognition that actually works. Brilliant display and excellent camera. Great to use without the home button.
Very pricey.
Operating system: IOS 11

Screen: 5.8” OLED 2436 x 1125 (458 ppi)

Processor: 2,5 GHz hexacore Apple A11 Bionic

Memory: 3 GB / 64 or 256 GB

Camera: 2 x 12 Mp F1.8/2.4 OIS + 7 Mp F2.2

Wireless: 4G LTE, Wifi ac, BT 5.0, (NFC)

Dimensions/Weight: 144 x 71 x 7.7 mm/174 grams

Battery: 2716 MAh, 21 h call time

Website: apple.no

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Price 11000 £

Apple iPhone X

For several years, iPhone models have come that have certainly been better than the previous year’s model – they have been a little faster, had a slightly better camera and a little better screen. But it’s a long time since one said, “Wow, why hasn’t anyone done this before?” But now, an iPhone has arrived that doesn’t look or works like other mobiles phones — iPhone X.

For the first time, Apple has taken the step from an IPS panel to OLED. However, it does not imply that the display is exactly similar to Samsung’s. It has more controlled colours, partly because of True Tone, and a brightness that actually works in sunlight. The FaceID feature replaces the fingerprint reader. One registers a 3D model of the face by drawing a circle with one’s nose. After that, your phone unlocks as soon as you hold it up to your face. And it works every time, even if you put on a hat, or take off your glasses. It even worked in a bumpy car during nighttime darkness. Very impressive.

Camera

Looking only at the numbers, one may think that it’s the same cameras as in iPhone 7. But Apple has been working on quality instead. iPhone X has a new and faster sensor with less light leakage between the sensor points. New filters to improve colour rendition. And that the image processing is taken care of by the new processors. The result is more frames per second when filming, better compensation for shaky hands and faster autofocus.

http://www.lydogbilde.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/iPhoneX-Camera-Close_PR-PRINT_33287-655x452.jpg Telephoto lens and natural colour characterise iPhone X pictures.

 

One noticed at once that the processor analyses the subject better and adjusts all parameters. Both in facing light and in situations of great light variations, where HDR comes into its own, one gets significantly better results. Colours are more saturated, but without being exaggerated. And in poor light there is less noise, but with details preserved as well as with more natural colours. The telephoto lens has gained both a brighter optic than iPhone 8 Plus and finally image stabilisation. This allows for both sharper images at long distances, and that one gets brighter and sharper images are given in low-light conditions, even when using the telephoto lens.

http://www.lydogbilde.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/view_tele_iphone_x_33433-655x491.jpg (Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Conclusion

The reason that Apple is not always first on the field with new features is because they do not release anything until it works 100 percent. Others have tried with facial recognition that works sometimes, Apple’s works always. Others have removed the home button and replaced it with virtual buttons. Apple finds gestures that work better. With iPhone X, Apple has made an uncompromising futuristic mobile that triumphs where others stumble. But it is expensive to be on top.

Nokia 8 Sirocco

Nokia is back in the fight again

Sirocco is awfully close to being a winner, but has been surpassed at the finish line.

Our verdict

Well built and feels luxurious. Excellent performance. Takes nice pictures under most conditions.
Not the latest processor. No optical image stabilisation.
Operating system: Android 8.0

Screen: 5.5” P-OLED 1440 x 2560 (534 ppi)

Processor: 2.36/1.9 GHz octacore
Snapdragon 835

Memory: 6GB/128 GB + 400 GB MicroSD

Camera: 12 Mp F1.7 / 13 Mp F2.6 + 5 Mp F2.0

Wireless: 4G LTE, Wifi ac, BT 5.0, NFC

Dimensions/Weight: 141 x 73 x 7.5 mm/178 grams

Battery: 3260 mAh, fast and wireless charging

Website: nokia.com

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Price 8000 £

Until recently, the resurging Nokia company has been content to produce low-cost models, but they are now putting a top-of-the-range model on the market. It is even named after the classic luxury model 8800 Sirocco. It both looks and feels more luxurious than the previous models, and has a fashionable curved OLED screen that almost reaches the edges. It is waterproof, has wireless charging, excellent microphones and has more than adequate memory. It is also a part of the Android One programme, providing a pure Android experience with quick updates. On the other hand, Nokia has oddly enough settled with last year’s Snapdragon 835 processor. Luckily, it has been trimmed, so the performance is actually very good.

Camera

The previous Nokia 8 was not a big hit, and the camera was especially disappointing. But Sirocco is a brand new mobile phone, and this is extra noticeable regarding the camera. With Carl Zeiss optics, like in the old days, and a second telephoto lens, Nokia is once again back in the fight. Apart from the foolish “bothie” feature, which takes pictures with both cameras, the features are good. It manages to film in 4K, and Pro mode is just as easy to use as on the old Lumia mobile phones. Conversely, the selfie camera is a bit of a disappointment, with resolution of only 5 megapixels and a mediocre aperture.

http://www.lydogbilde.no/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Nokia_8_Sirocco_camera_interface_33295-655x368.png The nice camera interface from last year is back.

 

With normal photography, one gets significantly better white balance and sharpness than with the previous model. The images normally get good exposure, and the colour rendition is correct without any noticeable colour cast. The improved autofocus is also noticeably faster. It provides a nice background blur at close-ups. Back lighting is also handled very well. Unfortunately, HDR mode is a bit unpredictable, so one doesn’t know if it will be successful until one has taken the pictures. Photos taken in the dark will be a little dark, and there is a whole lot of noise, but the colours are at least preserved. The only thing we find lacking is optical image stabilisation.

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Conclusion

Nokia has finally hedged its bets on the top model Sirocco, which is a welcome newcomer after all the mid-range models. It is nice looking, well built and waterproof. It has an almost borderless high-resolution LED display, with decent memory and excellent performance. The fingerprint reader is fast, and it has both fast and wireless charging. Moreover, it provides a clean Android experience with quick updates. The biggest upgrade is the camera, which can compete with the best in many areas. If Nokia 8 Sirocco had come out half a year ago, it would have been a winner. The only problem is that Galaxy S9, Huawei P20 Pro and IPhone X are now on the market, all of which are better.

The best Galaxy yet

Samsung certainly increases the speed, without much trouble.

Our verdict

Best all-round mobile phone with Android at present. Outstanding camera and fast hardware.
Not the best battery. Facial recognition is slow and inaccurate.
Operating system: Android 8.0 Oreo

Screen: 6.2” S-AMOLED 1440 x 2960 (529 ppi)

Processor: 2.7/1.8 GHz octacore Exynos 9810

Memory: 6 GB / 64 GB + 400 GB micro SD

Camera: 2 x 12 Mp F1.5-2.4 26/52 mm
+ 8 Mp F1.7

Wireless: 4G LTE, Wifi ac, BT 5.0, NFC

Dimensions/Weight: 158.1 x 73.8 x 8.5 mm/189 gram

Battery: 3500 mAh, USB-C, wireless charging

Website: samsung.no

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Price 9800 £

If we start with what is most obvious, then there is not much new under the sun when it comes to the design. If we compare it directly with S8 +, the two phones look pretty much identical. In other words, you still get a 6.2 inch large, curved glass display with a metal frame around it. The back is different. Samsung, like most of the competition, has put in extra optics to get the same zoom capabilities as with both Apple and Huawei phones.

A positive surprise is that Samsung has acknowledged the error of the placement of the fingerprint reader on the S8, and has therefore moved it to below the two lenses. The built-in display is identical to that of the one on the S8+. It’s still a Super AMOLED display with Quad HD+ resolution. But we are nevertheless pleased, as it is an excellent display with an elongated 18.5:9 screen ratio. It is sharp, has good contrast and beautiful colours.

Camera

The primary optics still only has 12 Mp, but thanks to an upgraded sensor, it manages to capture much more light than before. This is particularly evident in low light or in the evening, where the S9+ manages to capture details that can be difficult to see with the human eye. In better lighting conditions, the difference from the previous generation is not as striking. The images are crisp, with natural colours and plenty of details. The additional optics also has 12 Mp, making it possible to zoom in, just as we’ve seen previously on other top models that have dual lenses.

 

With one click, you switch between an F1.5 and F2.4 aperture.

 

Of course, there is a camera in the front, which is often appropriately called the selfie camera. In the meantime, on the S9+, this has been given a couple extra features. One novelty is that, just like the iPhone X, you can unlock your phone by looking into the camera. It works, but it takes time. Another new feature is what Samsung calls the AR Emojis. Take a picture of yourself, and your mobile phone then renders a digital avatar that you can use in conversations, SMS and more.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S9+ in all its simplicity is an excellent Android-mobile that performs well in most areas. It is rugged and stylishly built, has fast hardware and a nice, large display. It is priced accordingly. The camera is better, in fact quite a bit better, but beyond that, there is very little that would warrant an upgrade if you already have last year’s top model. If you do not have it, it is difficult to ignore the Galaxy S9, where the only minor disappointments are the battery and the facial recognition.

 

Sony Xperia XZ2

A sleek sports car

With slimmer and softer lines along with great performance, XZ2 Xperias is a sports model.

Our verdict

Elegant, new rounded design. Smaller edges and larger display. A performance monster.
No headphone jack. Smooth back. Pictures taken in the dark are not in top of the class.
Operating system: Android 8.0

Screen: 5.7” IPS 2160 x 1080 (428 ppi)

Processor: 2.7/1.7 GHz octacore
Snapdragon 845

Memory: 4 GB / 64 GB + 400 GB micro SD

Camera: 19 Mp 25 mm F2.0 + 5 MP 23 mm F2.2

Wireless: 4G LTE, Wifi ac, BT 5.0, NFC

Dimensions/Weight: 153 x 72 x 11.1 mm/198 grams

Battery: 3180 mAh, fast charging, wireless charging

Website: sonymobile.com

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Price 8000 £

Last year’s Xperia XZ1 was a more moderate version of the totally crazy Xperia XZ Premium, with a more normal large display without 4K and a neater format. The XZ2 is a smart compromise, with a bigger display and more pixels, without going to extremes. But above all, Xperia has finally been given a design update. Instead of square and sharp lines, it now has curved shapes and is softly rounded. And finally, the edges have shrunk.

The screen size has increased to a whopping 5.7 inches, which on paper provides a larger display than what is on the XZ Premium. But since it is long, the width is even smaller. This does have an affect when watching movies. However, the movies look fantastic, thanks to Sony’s image enhancement, which converts SDR to “almost HDR”. Sony continues to bank on audio. The new speakers handle higher volume with a greater scope and better dynamism. They also support Hi-Res Audio through wired headphones, but unfortunately, Sony has removed the headset connector.

Camera

At first sight, it looks like not much has happened with the camera since the last model. This was not bad in itself, with its super slow-motion recording. But under the shell, improvements have been made with a new image processor. As a result, you can now film in HDR, which is unique. One can also film in 960 fps in full 1080 resolution, although, over a shorter period. One can also 3D scan oneself with the selfie camera instead of having an assistant walk around with the main camera.

Now, one can 3D scan oneself with the selfie camera. [/caption]

 

The new image editing represents a distinct difference from previous models. In particular, HDR is impressive, with better exposure than Galaxy S8 and a more accurate white balance than iPhone X. This is also shown by our X-Rite test chart, where we now get the correct colour rendition. However, the automatic food mode for food photography causes colours to be far too exaggerated. In low light, the camera has a little difficulty focusing, but there is little noise and vibrant colours.

(Photo: Manufacturer)

 

Conclusion

Gone are the large and angular Xperia models; now we get soft shapes and thin screen edges. Thus, Sony squeezes a larger screen into smaller exterior dimensions. The smooth back is nice, but causes the mobile phone to slide on the table. The camera takes better pictures with correct exposure and colour rendition. XZ2 is also the first to film in HDR. Even the sound has improved with speakers of higher quality. If you have a wired headphone, you have to use an adapter. What impresses most, however, is the phone’s insane performance that runs icircles around most of what is on the market. Xperia XZ2 is an obvious upgrade for Sony fans.

Huawei P20 Pro

The new king of cameras

Huawei shoots wells, sweeping aside the competition.

Our verdict

The absolute best camera on a phone to date. Super fast facial recognition, very good battery, hug and beautiful display.
No SD card slot. Greasy and slippery back. No wireless charging.
Operating system: Android 8.1

Screen: 6.1” AMOLED 1080 x 2240 (408 ppi)

Processor: 2.4/1.8 GHz octacore Kirin 970

Memory: 6 GB / 128 GB storage

Camera: 40 Mp F1.8 / 20 Mp F1.6 / 8 Mp F2.4 + 24 Mp F2,0

Wireless: 4G LTE, Wifi ac, BT 4.2, NFC

Dimensions/Weight: 155 x 74 x 7.8 mm/180 grams

Battery: 4000 mAh, USB-C

Website: huawei.com

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Price 8500 £

Like iPhone X, P20 Pro has gotten a notch at the top of the screen, which among other things houses the selfie camera. It can be hidden via software. The fingerprint reader is placed at the bottom of the screen. It will annoy some and delight others. However, it is largely unnecessary, since Huawei like Apple and Samsung, have introduced facial recognition. It is super fast. An important disclaimer must be mentioned. The camera can be deceived into unlocking by using a picture. That’s not good. Another thing that is a bit silly is the back. The mobile phone is incredibly nice, and the new Twilight colour stands out especially. However, it is very smooth. My test specimens skated around on all surfaces, and quickly got some ugly scratches as well as a lot of greasy fingerprints.

Camera

When we look more closely at the camera, the slightly aging processor can easily be forgiven. There is a meaning behind this madness, and P20 Pro with its three lenses takes the best pictures we have seen from a smartphone at present. It can be put in simple terms. They are sharp, detailed and vibrant.

 

Why settle for two cameras when you can have three?

 

In particular, the phone’s ability to capture light is impressive. Due to the size of the lenses, smartphones have traditionally had difficulties in taking pictures in low-light conditions. Both Apple and Samsung have made great strides with their latest top models but Huawei beats both with P20 Pro. It is absolutely insane how well P20 Pro takes pictures when darkness descends. One wonders how it is able to capture nuances that one cannot even be seen with the naked eye. This thanks to the new night-mode, where you have to keep the camera still for four seconds while it sucks the sparse light to itself.

Another nifty thing is the phone’s ability to zoom in. One gets 3x optical zoom, 5x hybrid zoom and up to 10x digital zoom. One is therefore able to get close to things that are far away, just as we know it from large, traditional cameras. One could fear that the pictures would then be ugly and grainy, but Huawei P20 Pro positively surprises once again. For the most part, the images retain sharpness and detail, as long as your hand doesn’t shake too much. We are deeply impressed!

(Photo: Manufacturer)

Conclusion

With its triple optics, Huawei P20 Pro has achieved, for now, something truly unique, and has simply put the best mobile phone camera on the market! The three lenses allow you to get perfectly close to the subject with up to 10x zoom, and captures so much light that you can also take pictures in the evening and at night. The fact that this phone at the same time looks nice, has a good display, an outstanding battery and at a fair price, makes it even more attractive. The few criticisms drown in praise, and we send P20 Pro our warmest recommendations.

 

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