ProPakistani’s Picks for the Best Smartphones of 2018

The year is drawing to an end and we’ve decided to combine two of our favorite things – tech and being judgemental. It’s time to crown ProPakistani’s best smartphones of the year!

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

The perfect smartphone may not exist but Huawei’s Mate 20 Pro comes dangerously close to being one bar the ugly notch.

Punchy AMOLED? Check. Massive battery? Check. One of the best cameras? Check. Flagship performance? Also, check.

The main star here is the triple camera setup which sees the monochrome sensor being replaced with an ultra-wide-angle one. The change adds versatility to what we already considered the best camera setup from last year, helping it pull ahead of the competition.

If you can afford it, there are few phones as attractive as the Huawei Mate 20 Pro.

Sony Xperia XZ3

Sony Xperia XZ3 OLED Display

2018 will forever be the year Sony finally got its act together. The company has been churning out great smartphones which were always hampered by poor decisions and marketing but that’s no longer the case.

The Xperia XZ3 shines with a curved OLED display that’s among the best you can get, a camera experience that outperforms most of the competition and a minimalist software experience that’s going to appeal to Android purists.

The software optimization on the phone deserves a special shout-out. Whereas most companies struggle to get 5 hours of screen-on time with 3500mAh and above batteries, Sony somehow manages 40% more with a 3300mAh one.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

samsung galaxy note 9

Samsung refined its smartphone formula and stuck to iterative upgrades this year – but that just means that the Note 9 is an accomplished smartphone no matter which way you look at it.

It’s a productivity beast because of the big screen and S-Pen,  the software experience keeps on getting better with time, the screen is one of the best you can get and the battery life doesn’t disappoint either. Add a large battery and high-grade audio and you have the most well-rounded smartphone of the year.

Oh, and did we mention that it comes with a headphone jack?

Apple iPhone XS and XS Max

iPhone XS Max

Are Apple’s prices getting ridiculous? Yes. Are they being greedy by not bundling in fast chargers? Yes. Is their port strategy all over the place? Yes. Are the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max still among the best smartphones you can buy this year despite all of that? Yes.

Thinner, faster, better seems to be Apple’s mantra and even though we have reservations about how much of an upgrade the XS and XS Max really represent considering the price bump, they are still worthwhile upgrades if you are invested in the iOS ecosystem.

Xiaomi Pocophone F1

No other phone changed the smartphone landscape in 2018 as much as the Pocophone. It brought flagship grade performance at a price that’s one-third of what you pay for your Apples, Samsungs and Huaweis.

Snapdragon 845, 8GB RAM, a big screen and a 4000mAh battery and a low price? Yes, please!

If you are an enthusiast and think that flagship prices are getting out of hand, Pocophone F1 is the perfect option.

Editors’ Picks

Syed Talal: My pick for this year is the phone with the no compromises and that’s the Samsung Galaxy Note 9.

It has all the great stuff Samsung is known for – like the amazing Super AMOLED display, an upgraded S-Pen and more. But what makes it special is just how feature rich it is and how those features enhance your productivity. Nothing is half-baked and Samsung’s addition to Android feel meaningful.

You get audiophile focused features like 32-bit audio, a full desktop experience with Dex (which even offers Linux in beta) and all the bells and whistles like wireless charging, water resistance, a headphone jack and more.

It came out a few months ago so you can get it for cheaper than the newer flagships which is also a big plus in my book.

Aadil Shadman: While 2018 has been all about notches, taller screens and lack of user-focused innovation, one phone manufacturer stood out, finally doing everything right and taking on the leaders in the smartphone realm. The phone maker I am talking about is Sony.

The Japanese giant released four flagships this year but two stood out – Xperia XZ2 Premium for its unmatched 4K HDR screen and low-light video prowess and the Xperia XZ3 for being the best all-around phone of 2018. My pick, however, was the latter since not only is it cheaper than the XZ2 Premium but also offers even better battery performance and looks.

Xperia XZ3 may sound like “just another flagship” from the specs sheet but Sony’s new OLED tech has been touted as one of the best in business accompanied by the company’s TRILUMINOS and X-Reality improvements. The screen size also hits the sweet spot as it is neither too large nor too small for everyday usage. The best part though, no notches.

XZ3’s camera is a downgrade over the XZ2 Premium’s dual cameras but in real life usage, the downgrade is only applicable to low-light videos. While the world is just catching on in terms of AI-powered Auto mode for photography, Sony phones have had it since 2013 and it’s only gotten better since then. The company also uses an exclusive sensor which shows in most images.

The 3,300mAh battery might seem okay but in reality, Sony phones are always “the best” in terms of battery optimizations in real-life usage, unlike other phones which boast big numbers in battery benchmarks but struggle to go past the 6 hours Screen On Tie figure. If the XZ2 Premium can manage 10 hours of Screen On usage, there’s no reason why XZ3 shouldn’t outperform that.

In short, XZ3’s screen, battery, and camera make it the best phone of 2018.

Haamiz Ahmed: I’ve been a Sony fan for quite a few years. Even though the company’s pricing and marketing leave a lot to be desired, there’s no denying that they know how to make good smartphones. Sony Xperia XZ3 proves that.

This is the first Sony smartphone to come with an OLED display and it’s already on par with the best (Sony/Apple) in terms of contrast and overall quality. The near stock Android on the phone with little to no bloatware also helps improve the UX manifold, compared to the herds of Chinese phones out there and even Samsung.

Despite having a single primary camera, it manages to stay on-par with (and beat, in some cases) 2018 flagships. Add great battery life to that and you’ve got the perfect phone for 2018, at least in my eyes.

Samir Yawar: When it comes to smartphones, we’ve reached a stage where a bump in specs isn’t enough to wow us anymore. Enter Google’s third stab at making a flagship phone – the Pixel 3 (the Pixel 3 XL’s notch is reason alone to keep it away from this conversation).

At first glance, it seems like just another flagship phone. On paper, the camera doesn’t seem whoa at first glance – 12.2-megapixel (f/1.8, 1.4-micron) primary camera on the rear. an 8-megapixel (f/2.2) primary camera and a 8-megapixel (f/1.8) secondary camera on the front.

All this tech mumbo-jumbo is confusing to the average customer. But tell them that this phone can turn night into day (literally) and you’ve got yourself a killer sales pitch. And as it turns out, it delivers on that promise.

Google’s Pixel 3, with its game-changing Night Sight camera technology has got people talking about mobile photography again. Sure the new Pixels ain’t got anything else going for them (high price points, ugly notch, etc) but man – those cameras. Who doesn’t want great, bright and detailed snaps on a pitch-black night?

No light? No problem! This is tech at its best, and we think it’s a feature that everyone needs to have on their phones. But for now, Pixel 3 is where it’s at if you want to have those insanely cool night shots.

  • The fuck?
    Sony phones are always “the best” in terms of battery optimizations.

    Esa kch ni h

    • You need to use one to know how optimzed their phones are. Sony uses smaller batteries but they last longer than almost any other flagship around.
      Even their phones from 2015 or ones with 4K screen like XZ Premium get 9-10 hours of Screen on time.

      • I’ve had an Xperia Z2, Xperia X Performance and an XZ. Sony’s standby life is good because of stamina mode but their screeen-on battery life is nothing to write home about.

        • I had an Xperia Z2. It used to get 7-8 hours of SoT during the first 3 years of use without root or anything with Stamina mode.
          X performance was probably one of the worst phones they made along with XZ and XZ1

          • Don’t even start about Xiaomi and their stupid aggressive app-killing “optimisation”…I have a Mi5 and my friend bought a Mi Mix, and we had to white-list apps every other day after realising their background processes kept getting terminated.

            Currently I am using a Note 9 and a OnePlus 5, and for the price/performance they bring to the table, Sony are pretty ordinary. After the Z2, X Performance and XZ, I’m not in any hurry to revisit them.

            • I won’t say what you said about Xiaomi is incorrect. But the issue has only appeared in Global ROM or in certain handsets. You won’t see the same issue even in midrange phones like Redmi Note 4. None of my friends that bought it had the issue.
              Mi 5 though, I heard it had a lot of issues and no one I know bought one.
              Note 9 is a true flagship bar the same old camera that’s just average at best when compared to other flagships, but it costs over 160k now and that’s beyond reasonable.
              OP 6 and 6T no longer offer the price/performance you expect from a flagship phone.
              I’m amazed you didn’t like Z2. Its camera still matches flagships in certain conditions and battery life was one of the best ever on a normal sized phone (not a phablet or a compact).

              • I got my Note 9 512GB for AU$1220 and that’s reasonable for the device. Pakistani prices on PTA-approved phones are plain stupid.

                • Agreed about PTA and taxes.
                  $1220 is still a lot higher than what the phone should have cost considering the minor upgrade over Note8.
                  Considering Note9’s actual price and your variant, you got a great deal.

        • While the current gen phones ie XZ2, XZ3 and XZ2 Premium are just great, you can also try XZ Premium. All phones have exceptional battery lives I’ve tried XZ2 and XZ Premium.
          Compare Xperia battery life to another phone and its miles better than Samsungs and Huaweis.
          S5 came with Z2 and lasted 5:30 SoT max in normal use. The trend still continues.
          Huawei Mate 10 has a 4000mah battery which should last 10 hours SoT at least. It doesnt even last half of that. Compare battery sizes to the SoT you get on Sony phones and you’ll see that their battery optimizations are the best in the business just like Xiaomi.

  • Sony should be on top as the everything is the best and it has a way better design than the the mate 20pro and it has no notch

  • LOL!! What a Wild card entry in otherwise bland (barring iPhone of course) propeck brarcket by KEWL BOI SAMIR with his Pixel 3 pick..

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