Weekend phone talk: Ivan

As the first half of 2018 gets further back in the rear-view mirror it gets easier to see the full picture. These are Ivan�s musings on the highs and lows of the first six months of the year as well as his hopes of what�s to come in the second half.

Paul and Yordan already laid their ponderings for your couch enjoyment but if you missed them, feel free to catch up.

Ivan: I�m loving 2018 so far but bring on the real stuff!

First half recap

Let me preface this by saying that half a year is a long time so this will be a long-ish article. You can still get your money back if you leave now.

Still here? OK, let�s do this. I�m an organized person, so I�ll lay out my thoughts in an organized way. So far, in just six months, 2018 makes 2017 look like a terrible dark age. Let�s make a little recap.

China on the rise: Huawei, Honor, vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi have been releasing beautiful phones with superb specs for any wallet. Huawei�s Honor 10, P20 lite, P20 Pro, vivo�s NEX S/NEX A, Xiaomi�s Mi 8, Mi 8 Explorer, Mi Mix 2S, Oppo�s Find X, F7, R15/R15 Pro, Nubia�s Z18 mini are just a few of the beautiful and capable phones to come out of China these past six months.

Oppo and vivo pushing the envelope: the Oppo Find X and vivo NEX are the embodiment of thinking outside the box. Even if they don�t succeed in changing the way phones are made, they represent innovation at its finest. Kudos!

Xiaomi�s golden age: Xiaomi looks a man among boys right now. It has a serious roster of devices in every price bracket with a reliable MIUI platform behind them. And its Mi A2 proves you can have your cake and eat it too - Xiaomi�s reasonably-priced, capable hardware with the Android One�s reliable software. Huawei�s split-identity and multitude of devices doesn�t seem as mature as Xiaomi�s expertly-curated lineup. Finally, Xiaomi�s growing European retail presence will help the company build a brand identity outside of China, giving it a leg up against its peers.

OnePlus all grown up: OnePlus is no longer a startup, its phones no longer experimental. The OnePlus 6 is the result of the maker�s growing up - mature, reliable and reasonably priced.

Huawei being aggressive: Just taking a brief glance at Huawei�s line of phones is telling of its plans for world domination. The sheer number of series like the nova, the Y, the Honor 7, 9, 10, the Mate and the P is staggering. Huawei wants Samsung�s chair and it wants it now! And if the Mate 10 series didn�t mean business, the P20 sure does. However, without a US market presence it would be hard to challenge Apple and Samsung - Huawei has some work to do on that end.

Nokia sticking to its midrange guns: I was unimpressed with Nokia�s 2017 progress for the same reason I am in 2018 - there are no real flagships. Nokia seems content with being a solid midrange company and that�s just not the Nokia we thought we were getting back. Make a proper flagship already!

Final call for HTC: It pains me to say goodbye to HTC but I feel the time has come. A favorite of mine one, HTC is now irrelevant. It keeps losing money, making okay-to-good phones that people don�t seem to care about and it sold its brightest developers to Google. Oh how the good die young.

The Best doing what they do best: Samsung has done a fine job in 2018 so far. Its Galaxy S9/S9+ are personification of a good update. They added the sensible bits like a faster processor and stereo speakers and innovated just enough with a dual-aperture camera.

Apple�s iPhone X isn�t from 2018 but has proven a bestseller in China for the entire half of the year, has set up a trepidatious expectancy of its successors and has spawned so many notch-yielding copycats that it surely merits a mention here.

I love that in 2018 every phone from the midrange up has a tall-aspect display - that trend of pushing bezels to the edge has become the norm and it�s made the mobile landscape all the more modern in the process.

We�re in the apogee of good phones. Whatever your budget, you have a myriad of choices which are all handsome and loaded with features. And it�s only going to get better in the second half of the year.

Second half expectations

I buy my phones exclusively in the second half of any given year because that is the time the best phones come out.

So I expect to find my next phone in the coming months. I have three devices pinned to my wish board - the Galaxy Note9, the Google Pixel 3 XL and the iPhone X Plus. I�m currently a happy iPhone X camper (having gone through the Galaxy Note8 and Pixel 2 XL) so I would expect to go for its successor, despite my constant insistence that I�ll keep my iPhone X for at least two years.

I expect the iPhone X Plus to have the ubiquitous 8 Plus battery life and the AMOLED screen to rule all AMOLED screens. I expect it to retain the iPhone X dual camera, which is fine if not inspiring.

I expect Samsung to fix the one thing that needed fixing in the Galaxy Note8 - no stereo speakers - with the Note9. Then again, Samsung is teasing improved battery life which would give the Note9 a leg up on my wish board.

And I hope, not expect, that Google will make a no-compromise Pixel at last. Any real flagship phone needs to have a great screen, great battery life, great camera, stereo speakers and great software. Google just needs to add that great screen.

Some final thoughts, wishes and the odd rant

I wish phone makers would stop putting useless dual (and triple� quadruple!?) cameras on phones. If that second sensor isn�t a telephoto or an ultrawide then it�s useless, get rid of it.

I wish makers would stop devaluing the term AI by peddling it in their cameras. It�s a fancy scene recognition algorithm, not Skynet. Reserve the term AI for what matters, like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa or Home Automation.

I wish makers would just put wireless charging into any above-�450 smartphone with a glass back. On a similar note, I wish Apple would ship a phone with a fast charge solution in the retail box.

I wish that manufacturers will start paying software an equal amount of attention as hardware. Waiting 7 months for an Oreo update is disgraceful. I wish more makers would offer Android One devices outside of their proprietary software ones, although I realize that�s not happening any time soon (or at all).

Finally, I�ll take a note from Paul and lament the little guy. HTC and BlackBerry (like Nokia and Motorola before them) are all on their way out of a fiercely-competitive market. It�s a shame as both have shown innovation throughout the years. A bonus nod goes out to Essential - it showed that it"s hard to make it in this cutthroat market even if you make a good product.

The departure of once-great makers brings me to my final point. The mobile space is looking a bit repetitive and bland in 2018. Outside of recognizable flagships like the iPhone X, the Google Pixel 2/2 XL, the Galaxy Note8 and Galaxy S9/S9+ there are far too many lookalike devices that seem to lack identity. Those same out-of-China beauties I praised in the early paragraphs of this article. But I guess that�s expected in a world of midrangers, so I�ll take it.

Thank you for sticking till the end of this! See you in six months!

Nguồn: www.gsmarena.com