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Smartphones that struck gold in 2016

December 30, 2016 08:00 IST

It has been a busy year, and as 2016 readies itself to ring out, we try to take a look at the smartphones that struck gold on the big stage.

Google Pixel Phones

It took a long time coming, but Google finally obliged. With the launch of the Pixel handsets, the web search giant decided to take competition head on in every department.

The demise of the affordable Nexus line did invite criticism from many, but Google's first batch of Pixel phones struck gold to save the company any major blushes.

The users can pick up the handset either with the 5.5-inch phablet feel, or the 5-inch regular display real estate.

The Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 with 4GB RAM deliver stunning experience on a 2K resolution display. While the company providing an unadulterated software experience goes a long way for the Pixels, some exclusive software feature only make the dynamic duo that much more compelling.

The camera performance is another key highlight as it blows every other competitor out of the water. Speaking of water, maybe the next iteration will get water/dust proofing and dual speaker setup as well. :-)

Samsung Galaxy S7 Series

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Samsung kept up with its image of being the handset maker to pack in the most features in a phone. The Galaxy S7 Edge and the Galaxy S7 remain the marquee handsets of the South Korean giant and offer some stunning features.

Even if the Note 7 is dead now, the brilliant Galaxy S7 siblings have allowed Samsung to still remain in the hunt.

From being beautifully-crafted handsets coming with a solid protection against dust and water, to being the handsets carrying a stunning 2K AMOLED display and a brilliant camera to wow the users, the Galaxy S7 series has wowed its Indian fans.

The users get 4GB RAM with either the Snapdragon 820 or the powerful Samsung's own in house Exynos 8890.

Sweetening the deal is the microSD card slot for data heavy users.

The low light camera performance rivals the best in the business. Samsung has toned down its user interface to match the competition, but we would still like to see some more improvements here in the year 2017.

iPhone 7 handsets

iPhone 7 Plus

Apple may have been late to some parties, but it sure does know how to liven up things. It entered the phablet scene after much dilly dallying, but has since witnessed support from loyal userbase as well as other converts who yearn for the Apple way of things.

Continuing with its way of things, the twins from Apple have been able to hold ground amidst fierce competition.

The iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 7 bring the same confident albeit iterative design. The Cupertino-based company has done brilliantly well to incorporate the water resistant design while bringing forward the dual speaker set up.

Its famed retina display still holds the oomph, but with Google Pixel coming in strongly there has to be some major feature waiting in the wings for 2017.

Till then, we have the current lot with a stunning camera performance and superb battery life to boot. The impressive new colours have been successful in creating favourable impressions.

HTC 10

HTC 10

It is easy to be overshadowed by the likes of Pixels and the Galaxies in the Android world, but HTC was definitely not planning to oblige that easily. The HTC 10 has been crowned as the biggest improved product from a phone maker, and not without a reason.

With near pure Android forming its backbone, the handset is no pushover in other aspects either.

With a brilliant 2K display and a dual speaker set up which is second to none, the camera nearly matches the likes of Samsung Galaxy 7 handsets. The solid built quality along with swift updates hugely boosts is chances against the top competing handsets.

We are again talking about Snapdragon 820 with 4GB RAM with this flagship here. Only real complaint will be to miss out on dust/water resistance, but that would have taken out the BoomSound advantage.

The users definitely would appreciate the choices they are spoilt for. In a year of cutting edge competition, the HTC 10 managed to be a phone worth considering.

iPhone SE

iPhone Special Edition

The consistent urge of the phone manufacturers to make 5-inch and above screen size as de facto, the good old 4-inch handsets were nearly forgotten. Save for Sony, no other handset showed interest, that is unless Apple decided to step up to the plate.

The iPhone SE brought back the pocketable aspect to the mobile phones. The 4-inch handset is not only handy, the smaller screen also allows for some brilliant battery life as another pay off.

It is not a slouch either with the innards, as it carries the same grunt as iPhone 6S. Complete with its A9 chipset, retina display, and 12 MP rear camera, we would definitely like Apple to at least increase the base storage capacity to 32 GB instead of the current 16GB in the year 2017.

OnePlus 3T

The Chinese handset manufacturer truly surprised many when it decided to refresh its flagship in just 6 months of its release. The new handset, OnePlus 3T, touched upon key areas as well and improved the display, storage capacity, an improved battery and slightly bumped up front facing camera.

By making the 3T as one of the few handsets to carry the Snapdragon 821 processor, the price to performance ratio for the 3T is unmatched.

True, the camera is not going to match the flagships, but it still is a quite a decent snapper in itself. A quick update to the Android Nougat near the 2016 end makes it worth considering.

Moto Z Play

Moto Z Play: Should you buy it for Rs 25k?

Lenovo has kept things tight with brand Motorola, and has kept alive the tradition of churning out some crisp and critically acclaimed handsets.

The Moto Z Play is another product from their camp which offers tremendous bang for the buck in a segment swarming with options. The handset does many things right, and goes for the jugular first thing up -- the battery.

With a battery back up exceeding two days while carrying a Snapdragon 625, and an AMOLED 5.5-inch screen, it exudes a lot of confidence. The option of slapping on the favourite modules (Moto Mods), users can greatly enhance the handset's productivity.

Then there is the now familiar snappy user interface the Motorola handsets have consistently been coming up with. The camera is perhaps the only sore point, but even here the users can manage impressive shots during daytime.

Users are advised to check on the handset's girth if they plan to go regular with the Moto Mods.

Lenovo Z2 Plus

One of the tightly contested segment is where the Lenovo Z2 Plus has managed to shine and given the cut throat competition, it definitely is a commendable achievement.

Perhaps with the exception of camera performance, the handset otherwise provides flagship experience for a fraction of asking price.

Bringing in a Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 chipset for an upper mid range tier handset should make most stand up and notice. Users also get the freedom to choose between a 3GB or the 4GB variant.

With a battery life which will last all day long, and a big 5.5-inch screen which is sharp and bright at the same time, the users have a good handset for the price paid.

Unless the okayish camera experience is a deal breaker, the handset should score all the brownie points from the prospective buyers. The ZUI interface should keep most users satisfied to a good degree.

Moto G4/G4+

Lenovo Moto G4

The trend which started in 2013 with the first Moto G phone has been kept alive through the years. The Moto G handsets have consistently been the default budget choice, and the Moto G4 handsets do not buck that trend either.

The G4 handsets can be labelled as all-round packages, and go about ticking the right boxes for a budget player.

The G4 Plus variant comes with a better camera, a fingerprint scanner, while offering the users a choice in RAM department.

Both the handsets have the same 5.5-inch screen, and come with microSD card slot. The 614 SoC might sound dated now, but still offers enough to handle most of the general tasks even today. The 3000 mAh battery is hard to overlook.

The only complain can be that the Moto G now is noticeably bigger than what it started off as.

It may well be that Lenovo is trying to position the handset to win more buyers with increased dimension and seems like that the strategy has worked so far. Ah well, that is how the cookie crumbles.

Himanshu Juneja
Tags: RAM