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Mid-year smartphone report card

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-07-2017 Vishal Mathur

We are halfway into 2017, and new smartphone launches have inundated the market. Be it the more expensive flagship smartphones, the more-powerful-than-ever-before mid-range smartphones or the ever-improving affordable phones, the landscape is constantly changing for the better. But does that mean you should think about changing your phone? Each phone has its strong points (and drawbacks), so the decision will depend on usage and budget. 

Five-star phones

Slick design and top performance make these worth splurging on

The 12-megapixel camera of Samsung Galaxy S8+ can click some fantastic photographs.

Samsung Galaxy S8+ 

Rs64,990 onwards

Launched in April

The gorgeous 6.2-inch (2,960x1,440 resolution) Infinity Display is taller than the display in most existing phones, which means Samsung could fit this in a form factor that would put some 5.5-inch phones to shame. The trimming of the bezels has also had the desired effect visually. The Exynos 8895 processor is fast, and you get good battery life too. The 12-megapixel camera can click some fantastic photographs, but sometimes suffers from soft edges around the frame. Pick this for the amazing display and unique design. 

Pick LG G6 for the fantastic battery life, great camera, and classy metallic and glass design.

LG G6

Rs39,990

Launched in April

LG has finally homed in on the right mix for the ideal flagship Android phone. The FullVision 5.7-inch (2,880x1,440 resolution) screen has an 18:9 aspect ratio, which is just better in every single way compared to the 16:9 aspect ratio that most 5.5-inch displays have. LG did settle for a Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor (instead of an 835), but this one is very powerful nonetheless. The dual 13-megapixel cameras are fantastic in every respect. Pick this for the fantastic battery life, great camera, and classy metallic and glass design. 

Sony Xperia XZ Premium is the first phone with a true 4K display.

Sony Xperia XZ Premium

Rs61,990

Launched in June

This is the first phone with a true 4K display—it has 3,840x2,160 4K resolution, while most other phones have 2,560x1,440. Performance is top-notch with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. The 19-megapixel camera does a stellar job of capturing smoother-moving visuals, and the 960 frames per second slow-motion video-recording capabilities are truly impressive. The only shortcoming is the price, which is significantly higher than most rival flagships.

Apple iPhone 7 (Product) Red

Rs70,000 onwards

Launched in March

This was a surprise from Apple, and is the first ever (Product) Red iPhone. This is partnership between Apple, brand licensing company (RED) and the Global Fund, which describes itself as a “partnership organization designed to accelerate the end of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria as epidemics”. Close to 50% of the profit from each sale goes into funding programmes. This phone is available in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus variants, and the specifications remain the same as the standard variants.

HTC U11 has a unique Edge Sense feature with pressure sensors on the side spines which lets you squeeze the phone to open apps or click a photograph.

HTC U11

Rs51,990

Launched in June

This is a true flagship from HTC. It has a unique Edge Sense feature with pressure sensors on the side spines which lets you squeeze the phone to open apps or click a photograph. It runs the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, with 6 GB RAM. The real highlight is the 12-megapixel camera, perhaps the best in the Android smartphone ecosystem at present. The 5.5- inch display (2,560x1,440 resolution) is perhaps not the brightest. Pick this for the camera, fast performance, and look. 

Samsung Galaxy S8 is a beautiful, compact smartphone that runs the fast Exynos 8895 processor.

Samsung Galaxy S8

Rs57,900

Launched in April

Just like its larger sibling, the Galaxy S8+, the Galaxy S8 also has the 5.8-inches 18:9 aspect ratio Infinity Display. It is a beautiful, compact smartphone that runs the fast Exynos 8895 processor. Battery life is quite consistent. Good photographs are possible with the 12-megapixel camera. This can be an option if you prefer a display size larger than the conventional 5.5 inches but don’t want the bulk of a larger phone. 

Moto G5 Plus’s 5.2-inch display is great to view content on.

Moto G5 Plus

Rs15,999

Launched in March

Over the years, affordable smartphones have been best defined by the Moto G series. The G5 Plus carries that brilliance forward. The 5.2-inch display is great to view content on. It runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 processor, and can handle the newest games as well. We would recommend this for the all-metal chassis, excellent battery life, and the advantages of a clean Android 7.0 (Nougat). 

Solid alternatives

These are capable alternatives to the five-star phones

The biggest attraction with Moto Z2 Play is the ability to add ‘mods’ such as a Hasselblad camera or a JBL speaker.

Moto Z2 Play

Rs27,999

Launched in June

The biggest attraction with the Z2 Play is the ability to add “mods” such as a Hasselblad camera or a JBL speaker. Mods are accessories that can be attached to the phone to improve performance. This runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 626 chip, which may be a bit of a sore point when phones such as the OnePlus 3T (Rs29,999) run a more powerful Snapdragon 821 chip. The pure Android, a capable 12-megapixel camera and consistent battery life add value beyond the mods. 

OnePlus5 is slimmer and lighter than the 3T, and retains the 5.5-inch Full HD display.

OnePlus 5

Rs32,999 onwards

Launched in June

The OnePlus 5 packs in the very powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor. One variant of the phone has 8 GB RAM (the other variant has 6 GB), and should come into its own once more apps and games start supporting so much RAM. The phone is slimmer and lighter than the 3T, and retains the 5.5-inch Full HD display. OnePlus adopted the dual camera set-up, and while you can get out some stunning photographs, the lack of optical image stabilization (OIS) does affect low-light photography.

The 5-inch display of Xiaomi Redmi 4 is crisp and vivid, and should be perfect for anyone who isn’t adamant on big screens.

Xiaomi Redmi 4

Rs6,999 onwards

Launched in May

This affordable Android phone ticks all the boxes. The metal and glass design wouldn’t look out of place on a phone twice the price. The 5-inch display (1,280x720 resolution) is crisp and vivid, and should be perfect for anyone who isn’t adamant on big screens. It runs the Qualcomm Snapdragon 435 chip, with up to 4 GB RAM, which is enough even for a bit of gaming. The camera will get the job done too.

*Prices may vary.

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