Android phones and features that flew and flopped in 2018

2018 sure was a fun year to be an Android fan. While the usual flagship updates to the Galaxy and Pixel phones dominated the headlines, the year saw a steady stream of announcements and upgrades competing to grab our attention (and our money).

There were so many awesome phones in 2018, it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite. Some had killer features, some had great designs, and nearly all of them had incredible cameras. So for the last Android Confidential column of the year, I decided to tackle the best and worst phones of the year from a different angle. Here are the things that stood out for me in 2018:

Most underrated camera feature in 2018

Winner: Top Shot, Google Pixel 3

pixel 3 topshotIDG

A lot of words have been written about Google’s Night Sight feature on the Pixel 3, and rightful so. It’s a fantastic, even mind-blowing feature that turns unusable low-light shots into something you can share on Instagram. What isn’t getting nearly enough attention is Top Shot. This Pixel 3 feature lets you choose from a selection of images taken before and after the original pic so you can make sure you got the moment right.

There are technical drawbacks—namely that the new pics are much lower in resolution and don’t take full advantage of the Pixel 3’s superior processing skills. But for parents and anyone who’s ever lamented missing a shot by a second or two, Top Shot is a godsend.

Runner-up: 2018 was the year when pretty much every premium smartphone climbed on board the wireless charging train (I’m looking at you OnePlus), but the Mate 20 Pro does something way cool with it: Reverse wireless charging. With a 4,200mAh battery, you’re not going to need to charge the Mate 20 Pro very often. But you can lay another phone on the Mate 20 Pro’s back and it turns into a wireless charging pad, meaning you can fill up your friend’s phone in a pinch. Just try not to be too smug about it.

Most overrated camera feature in 2018

Winner: Dual Aperture, Samsung Galaxy S9

samsung galaxy s9 biometrics fingerprintRyan Whitwam/IDG

If 2018 was defined by one trend (other than the notch, that is), it has to be a renewed focus on the camera. And it’s not just software. We saw triple-camera arrays, ultra-wide lenses, 3X zoom, and dual-camera selfie cams all become standard in 2018.

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