It’s that time of the year again and 2018 has been an interesting year for Google, Android and its many partner manufacturers. We have seen the rise of the mid range smartphones, and home automation and smart speakers taking off, connecting our home with services we want or need for 2018. This looks set to continue into the new year.
So as the year draws to a close, we reflect on 2018 which was not only a big year for tech, but also myself and Ausdroid as well. I thought it might be good to look back at some of the devices I think are the clear standouts for 2018.
So with a very long list to choose from, these are my favourite picks for 2018.
I’ll start this off with my high end choice and I have to say the stand out for me was the Google Pixel 3 XL. The camera for me is the main selling point and the picture quality is second to none in my opinion. Also battery life and the fast charging is also a big feature and I like that Google finally brought back wireless charging.
While only a small incremental increase in specs, the Pixel 3 offers what I think a high end smartphone should be. The software is buttery smooth, display is crisp and bright. Photo quality is just outstanding. It’s everything you need and want in a high end phone.
You can read Dan’s full review of the Google Pixel 3/Pixel 3 XL here.
For my mid tier device, that would be the Nokia 5.1 Plus. For me, it just packs so much in for a budget price. Its powerful enough to run mobile games and complete everyday tasks with ease, with software that is buttery smooth and not laggy. Camera isn’t all that bad (though the shutter can become frustrating at times) with picture quality pretty great – I think Nokia/HMD Global are onto something here.
My only criticism is the overall glass design at the rear of the Nokia 5.1 Plus. I like glass designs, but the fear of dropping the device was overwhelming and I do feel an all aluminium rear would have been a better choice.
With that in mind, the Nokia 5.1 Plus is the best mid range device for 2018. This is one category, the mid-tier/range, in the mobile tech market that is worth keeping an eye on for 2019. It’ll certainly be worth seeing what Nokia have in store for us next year!
You can read the full review of the Nokia 5.1 Plus here.
This is where I am very conflicted right now. I love WearOS, but the software is still more clunky, not as buttery smooth and more like a beta test version on current WearOS smartwatches. I just can’t really recommend any WearOS smartwatches for this reason.
But it’s not all bad news in this space as I feel that if you’re after a smartwatch and own a Samsung device (though not really limited to just Samsung devices – just some services won’t work on say iOS or other Android devices), then the Samsung Galaxy Watch for me is the best of the 2018 smartwatches. I dislike Tizen, but again its works much, much better than WearOS. Period.
It has a premium yet stylish design and the apps, albeit very limited, work really well. Only thing I would have not liked to have on it was Bixby – the most annoyingly frustrated AI personal assistant around! Samsung please dump Bixby for Google Assistant for 2019, pretty please.
You can read Chris’ full review of the Samsung Galaxy Watch here.
Home smart speakers (IoT)
2018 certainly was the beginning of the smart speaker explosion and better integration with the internet of things (IoT). I am torn in two on this as I like both the Google Home Hub and the JBL Link View.
Both have the strong and negative issues. The main thing I would have liked to have seen on the Home Hub was a camera for Duo or Skype calls, but I guess the fear of privacy being breached in your own home won out.
I don’t own a Home Hub but have had some time to pay around with one thanks to family and friends and I do like its size, the screen seems is clear and easy to read.
Whereas the JBL Link view is much more wider and larger in its design compared to the Home Hub and sound wise – it’s actually not too bad, as long as you don’t have it on the higher volume setting or a song with a deep bass embedded in its track.
As stated both have their strengths and negatives but I do believe that both the Home Hub and JBL Link View are worthy contenders for best home smart speakers in their own right.
So these are my standout choices for 2018 and I would love to hear your thoughts or suggestions on what you think has been the top tech for 2018.