2018 has been a very busy year, one filled with smartphone launches left, right and centre, some more interesting than others, some disappointing but most looking like they all belong to the same lineage – the notch generation.
Having kept up with most of the phones that have been released in Kenya, we decided to come up with a list of the smartphones we loved this year, from high-end flagships to the budget kings:
Huawei Y5 Prime (2018)
“I loved the Huawei Y5 Prime (2018). It took decent pictures, it’s compact size gave an easy one-handed usage and great battery life. It being 4G and at the price of 9,990/= makes a perfect gift for a younger sibling. The performance was decent and it’s modern design makes a worthy phone to use even in 2019.”
TECNO Camon 11
“Another contender among the phones I loved is the TECNO Camon 11. The latest from TECNO didn’t disappoint camera-wise and the phone getting Faiba 4G support is a welcome feature me as a data conscious user. It has the modern design that trended this year and finally got a notch. Battery life and performance was excellent. I had one gripe with it – the uninstallable apps and HiOS. Both the Y5 Prime and the Camon 11 meet my phones to buy that will push you through the coming 2019.”
Read: TECNO Camon 11 Review
“The OPPO F7 served all the purposes a non-demanding person would need, ranging from basics like battery life and enthusiast features like remarkable and feature-rich cameras. Sure, the device had its shortcomings such as unfamiliar and restrictive software, but its pluses bested any issues it brought forth. Furthermore, the F7 was among the first locally-available devices with a notch (that you can’t deactivate), which gave it some headroom for a modern-looking device because people are now associating screen cutouts with latest trends in mobile.
While it neither packed dual lenses nor any lifestyle features for the price, the overall package, particularly the design and ergonomics, was appealing to me. I can still recommend it were the F9 not in the market already, which is a far better deal with VOOC charging, among other pluses like a tear-drop cutout for those who hate wide notches.”
Read: OPPO F7 Review
Nokia 6.1 Plus
“This is perhaps the best, modern-era Nokia experience I have had all year. I’ll summarize this with the following points;
The device, which is available locally, retails for Kes 25K – 30K depending on where you buy it (we advise you pick one from official retailers for warranty reasons). The price is just right.
It runs Android 9 Pie that’s untouched, meaning you’ll spend little time to customize your experience. The software experience is actually similar to what we saw on the Nokia 7 Plus. It’s great.
In a market that’s filled with +6-inch phones, the 6.1 Plus serves groups that want a sub 6inch phone. It’s compact, and comfortably so with a premium look with glass on the back plate. We’re fans.
The cameras are great if you discard the stock camera app for the Google camera app. Sample images will be published in the review.
I’m glad the 6.1 Plus has all the bells and whistles of a 2018 phone: moderately fast charging, USB Type C, a notch and of course, dual rear cams.”
“My favourite phone that I’ve reviewed this year has to be hands down the Oppo A7. I liked the phone from the word go, the screen looks great, the teardrop notch is great, the performance is great thanks to the 4GB RAM, has tonnes of internal storage (64GB) and the battery life is stupendous. Other features that I like include the face unlock – which is surprisingly competent and the fingerprint scanner is the fastest I have ever used (and I’ve used a OnePlus which was the benchmark). For the price, this is a serious contender in that Kes 24,000 bracket. Full review coming right up.”
Infinix Hot 6 Pro
“The Infinix Hot 6 Pro is the other phone on my list that was a great phone for the price (under KES 20,000). For around KES 17K, you are getting a really solid phone for the price: A good 6-inch 720p screen, rarely lags partly thanks to the ample 3GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal storage plus microSD card support, dual SIM support and has 4G. The other great thing about it is the large 4000mAh battery which delivered excellent battery life and this was its biggest strength. Quick note: The front-facing flash is super bright so be careful with it.”
Read: Infinix Hot 6 Pro Review
Xiaomi Redmi 6
“There’s nothing like finding a gem among stones and this is what it felt like bumping into the Xioami Redmi 6. Kenya’s budget segment is flooded with a mess of substandard offerings but Xiaomi’s entrance into that space shook things up. It all started with the Redmi 6A that offered a great experience for anyone looking for their first smartphone or a solid secondary device, but everything took a different turn with Redmi 6. It offers better performance thanks to its 3GB of RAM, dual cameras and a fingerprint scanner. For my budget smartphone of the year, I highly recommend the Xiaomi Redmi 6!”
Read: Xiaomi Redmi 6 Review
Infinix Note 5
“Infinix as a brand has lost all the favour it had with me, why? ad-ridden software but one Infinix device from this year was actually a delight to use and that is because the software did not come from them, the Infinix Note 5. When it comes to budget mid-rangers with awesome battery life, amazing cameras and heart-warming software experience, nothing gets close to the Infinix Note 5. If you’re looking to spend less than 20k on a phone and live like a King, then you cannot go wrong with this device.”
Read: Infinix Note 5 Review
Samsung Galaxy Note9
“This goes as an honourable mention. What do you say about a phone that has everything? Beautiful screen? Check. Big Battery? Check. Jaw-dropping cameras? Check. Huge price tag? Double check. Lifestyle features to match? Triple check. I have used the Note9 religiously ever since it launched, taken it to church every Sunday and let all my friends play with it – they love it.
If you have a bank account that does not know the difference between Christmas bonus and njaanuary, then there’s no better offering for you on this list.”