We have often talked about how great a market India is for tech products, especially smartphones. Every brand is trying to bring the latest innovations to lower prices, and It has made India one of the most lucrative market for any brand.
TechRadar India team feels privileged to be able to witness this shift from the front seat and share our thoughts about these products as they enter the market.
The Indian smartphone scene needs little introduction, and most of you would know how competitive and exciting the market has become. After having gone through dozens of them, we thought it would only be fair if we could somehow give the due recognition and acknowledge the teams behind these products.
Smartphones had a great run in 2019. We got our first wave of foldable smartphones giving us a glimpse at the future; cameras grew in terms of number as well as abilities, fast charging became common across all price segments, USB Type-C became standard in a way it was destined to. Manufacturers finally started understanding the importance of great software experience.
Of course, some devices did a better job than others, but overall, the segment moved in the right direction.
We also tried to implement a new methodology that would make these awards even more objective and foolproof. It started with scoring every aspect of every product we tested this year on specific parameters that mattered the most. The overall best scoring devices made it to the final round, where they were compared with each other, with inputs from our experts.
For each category, we had an expert help us decide the final winner, which were selected for their extensive knowledge for the particular category. For the first edition, we have a total of ten categories:
- Popular Choice Award
- Best Gaming Smartphone
- Best Budget Smartphone
- Best Camera Smartphone
- Most Innovative Product
- Best Value for Money Smartphone
- Best Designed Product
- Best Brand Experience
- Best Smartphone
- Expert Choice Award
Let’s start with the Popular choice awards. This year, many names created a ripple in the smartphone industry. In simple words, these are the phones that earned a special place among you guys.
We teamed up with Ashwin Sundar, host of the Technology Jock YouTube channel, who gave us insights as to which smartphones got a great response and created a fan following of sorts. These finalists were then open to public voting, where our readers voted for their favorite smartphone of the year. The final winner was calculated based on a combination of the public votes and the jury.
Winner, Popular Choice Award 2019: Realme XT
“Honestly, I was not surprised. Realme’s X series had been truly game-changing in 2019. With the XT, you get a great Snapdragon chip, a Super AMOLED display, quad-cameras, including a 64MP sensor for just Rs 16,000, a combination that is hard to find in this price segment.”
Moving on to the best gaming smartphone of the year. Not only did we see the mobile gaming boom in the country, but we think that this segment, as a whole, improved the most in 2019. Last year, one could’ve dismissed them calling a gimmick or a niche, but this year, they looked refined, made strides in the user experience, and became more suitable as a daily driver.
After discussions with YouTuber Dhananjay Bhosale, we narrowed down the finalists to the ASUS ROG Phone 2, the OnePlus 7T, and the Nubia Red Magic 3S. Dhananjay, tell us who the MVP is!
The final contenders included the ASUS ROG Phone II, the OnePlus 7T, and the Red Magic 3S by Nubia. Dhananjay helped us figure out the MVP of this round.
Winner, Best Gaming Smartphone of 2019: ASUS ROG Phone II
“A 120Hz screen on a huge screen, two USB Type-C ports, a headphone jack, 6,000mAh battery, great accessory support for Rs 38,000 is killer—the best pair of stereo speakers and thermal performance of any gaming smartphone of 2019.”
Another segment that matured a lot was the budget segment. The race saw many elements from the premium mid-range trickle down to the sub-Rs 20,000 segments. In fact, we’d go as far as saying that India is probably the best market for those looking for budget smartphones.
While there were two obvious champion brands in this round, 2019 saw many manufacturers take the budget segment more seriously in hopes of grabbing a piece of the pie.
Our top 3 picks for the best budget smartphone of the year are Redmi Note 8 Pro, the Realme XT and the Nokia 7.2. Abhishek Bhatnagar, from Gadgets to Use, is here to help us decide the winner.
Winner, Best Budget Smartphone of 2019: Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
“The winner is the Redmi Note 8 Pro for a great processor, a great display, a big battery, and everything else you’d expect from a budget smartphone, inching out the Realme XT.”
This year, we saw most manufacturers move to multiple camera lenses on their smartphones. Apple even added a secondary camera on its most affordable iPhone. Ultrawide sensors became the norm, with many flagships also adding a telephoto lens for an extended focal range.
Our finalists all had a very different approach with the combination of their cameras: the iPhone 11 Pro completed the focal range trifecta beautifully, while the Huawei P30 Pro took it to the extreme by fitting a periscopic telephoto camera which could shoot at a crazy 50x zoom, and the Samsung Galaxy Note10+ sticking to the standards while adding a slew of AR features. Ershad Kaleebullah from Mr. Phone helped us figure out which was the Best Camera Smartphone of the year!
Winner, Best Camera Smartphone of 2019: Huawei P30 Pro
“The reason why the Huawei P30 Pro was chosen as the best camera smartphone was for its zooming and low light capabilities, giving you a lot of versatility which very few other smartphones can match.”
Alright, let’s spice things up a bit and move beyond smartphones. One of the reasons why we all love technology is the constant pace of innovation and crazy ideas we get to see. Some of these innovations change the way we use products, while others are just plain enjoyable.
For us, the best innovations of the year were the Samsung Galaxy Fold, Bose Frames, GoPro Max, Huawei P30 Pro’s periscopic camera, and ECG on the Apple Watch.
Winner, Most Innovative Product of 2019: Samsung Galaxy Fold
"The Galaxy Fold takes this one, for its futuristic approach to design, and almost successful implementation of what looks to be the next big revolution in smartphones."
Another reason why we're highlighting these innovative features is to see them eventually trickle down to affordable segments, which is a crucial part of our next category - the Best Value For Money smartphone of 2019.
Our top 3 picks were the Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro, the OnePlus 7T, and the iPhone 11, all of them champions at their respective price points.
Tushar Mehta from XDA Developers joined us to decide which smartphone is truly a daily driver material.
Winner, Best Value for Money Smartphone of 2019: OnePlus 7T
“The OnePlus 7T built upon the brand’s legacy of never settling for anything but undiluted performance. It allures you with its tempting looks, the fluid 90Hz display and unrivaled performance in the Android cadre thanks to the Snapdragon 855+.”
Another prevalent trend for the year was an increased focus on product design. Consumers in India have also started considering the looks, especially in the premium segment... Obviously, who doesn't like something that looks as good as it works?
Nominees included the Dyson V11 Absolute Pro, Samsung Galaxy Fold, Oxygen OS, GoPro HERO8, the Sigma FP, and the Vivo NEX3.
Winner, Best Designed Product of 2019: Dyson V11 Absolute Pro
Who would’ve thought that a vacuum cleaner would take this crown?
This year we also saw brands strengthen their post-purchase services such as offline availability, product life, after-sales support, and regular updates. So with the Brand Experience award, we're acknowledging the most reliable brand of 2019.
This was an open category where readers could vote for their favorite tech brand of the year, which gave them the best experience from start to end. We had industry veteran Abhishek Baxi join us and explain how the winner claimed the spot and share insights around the topic.
Winner, Best Brand Experience: OnePlus India
Alright, now let’s get to the hottest award of them all, the prestigious Best Smartphone of the year 2019. The no-holds-barred, best of the best smartphone that landed in India.
While choosing the best smartphone, our main intention was to filter out the all-rounder that’s capable of doing anything you throw at it and gives the best possible results. We ignored the price for this one as we’re looking at the ultimate best that money can buy.
A lot of you might have guessed who the winner will be, but we had Raju PP from TechPP to make things official for this category and explain why there was a clear champion smartphone.
Winner, Best Smartphone of 2019: Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max
"Apple has completely nailed it with the iPhone 11 series; the iPhone 11 Pro Max, in particular, has an amazing battery, possibly the best set of cameras with no one else coming close for video recording, and iOS 13 is well optimized and feature-rich."
Needless to say, there were many other gadgets that we and our jury tried this year and will remember for a long time. So, for our last category, we let the jury members talk about their favorite tech of the year that they really loved.
Winners, Expert Choice Awards 2019:
Abhishek Baxi: Google Nest Hub
Abhishek Bhatnagar: Foldable displays
Ashwin Sundar: Night Mode on smartphone cameras
Dhananjay Bhosale: AMD Ryzen 3000 series chipsets
Ershad Kaleebullah: Mi Smart Water Purifier
Raju PP: Dyson V11 Absolute Pro
Tushar Mehta: Periscopic camera on the Huawei P30 Pro
Aakash Jhaveri: Ather S450
Siddharth Chauhan: ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo
Sudhanshu Singh: Bose Soundbar 700
That's all for the first edition of TechRadar India Awards. Big thanks to our jury members, readers, and partners for making this possible. We will be back in 2020, with a bigger ceremony and more categories beyond smartphones.
Season's greetings and a Happy New Year!