Sudden flagman: how to select top-end smartphone

We Bigbitch thought lately undeservedly little attention to technology, and decided to breathe in this new life, which has attracted well-known tech journalist Nicholas Turubara.

We asked him to tell me what criteria is now customary to choose a smartphone, and the material was as clear and close “the body” suggested to choose a smartphone yourself, as a gift for the New year. Oh, and incidentally to show the selection logic, visualization and formalization of the entire process. But all is not reduced to the banal and already hackneyed than “Apple or Samsung”, set a condition: it must be a flagship, top-end smartphone, but from a brand whose name is now not at the hearing.

Nicholas Turubara

I understood the task: need a user manual for the selection of modern, top-end smartphone of 2018, but from practical application with demonstration of the search. A search in the form of instruction should not correspond to subjective criteria like “a nice red” or “fits the hand”, and the objective, with a more serious approach.

Most importantly, now you need to know when choosing a smartphone – it is not necessary to spend search lot of time. Long gone are the days when the selection process took months taken away from a life time and broke the eye on footcloths reviews, now all the technology has caught up, gadgets are very similar to each other, and you can select from literally several parameters quickly and skillfully.

The General logic here is as follows: first define the extended range models, and then by overlaying filters and criteria, in several stages, reduce the number of applicants, and then easily and beautifully in the finale, we derive two or three mobile. And they are already looking “alive” in the cellular interior, where decide which to take, guided by its own subjective feelings and emotions “as in the hand”.

To start with the coordinate system. So, I need to choose a leader, but not one that everyone knows, and unexpected. What is flagship smartphone? In 2018 are all flagship smartphones with “bangs” on the screen iPhone style.

But if without jokes, the flagship is the most advanced product in the brand line, this is for each manufacturer to identify it easily at a price: it is the most expensive. The smartphone market in 2018 to say that the powerfully developed, and the basic models of high end I can call and not peeping into Google. He closed his eyes, mumbled, and jotted down such a list (without Apple and Samsung):

Maybe I will choose something from this list, but maybe not.

And at the first stage we lose Nokia 7Plus, because that’s what I have now is a basic smartphone and it is foolish to want it to yourself for the New year, so I’m almost a year hanging with him. Nokia has just released Nokia 8.1, but before the end of the year just will not have time, so move on without the Finns. Unfortunately.


The first criterion that must be determined is the maximum amount of money ready to pay for the smartphone. How much money I do not mind? I put the amount of 50 thousand rubles, sincerely believing that today is in principle a maximum price for the smartphone. And for any of them.


Moving on. So, if the phone is bought, not a gift to a child or to someone else, it is assumed that the use I will have at least half a year. That is, it should not become obsolete by the end of 2019, which means that now the reference to the processor which needs to be the most powerful to date. And the top processor this year on Android is, of course, Qualcomm Snapdragon 845.

So, the three main criteria (including the year) are defined, now open the Yandex.Market and start playing with filters. Go to the section “Mobile phones” and immediately jump to the page “Show all filters“.

1. Putting the price up to 50,000 rubles

2. Select the year of 2018 is announced

3. And Snapdragon 845

This sample gave 32 models but if you throw out all the replays, it turns out that the circle of suspects was narrowed down to 10 models

From my initial list in the selection Yandex.The market got everything except the Huawei P20 Pro, which is still too long gone, plus the group leaders added four more models, about which I have not thought of or simply forgotten: smartphones, Vivo, Sony, Asus and ZTE.

Need another filter, which again will reduce the number of models. On what parameter you should pay attention after the price? Here are the three major characteristics: camera, battery and screen, and the priorities here everyone has their own, and decide what is more important, only you can.

I, of course, want to have a cool camera in the smartphone, it is an important criterion, but, on reflection, I decided to bet on the battery because the top CPU and energy guzzles as not in itself, but I very much do not want to look for an outlet by lunchtime.

This was going to be my next step.

4. Choose the maximum possible battery capacity

Through the sieve of this criterion has leaked five of the ten models, with HTC and Sony have gone on lower bracket 3500 mAh, and Axon 9 Pro and Vivo Nes S8, on the contrary, out of the upper boundary with a maximum capacity of 4000 mAh.

With the move the discarded shovel Vivo Nex S8: ounce this huge bandura under a diagonal of seven inches, you can use except as a shield, and so there is such a big battery, but to go with the S8 I just will not. Then, arbitrary decision, and with much great regret that I say goodbye to smartphones from Sony and HTC. These brands were great times, but they, sadly, have passed, and I just will not risk today to buy someone out of this pair for the money. Besides their hardware capabilities and software I for a long time and very familiar, but the challenge now is to find something nontrivial and fresh, so you need not worn out product.

Look left — tada! So, in the finals of the two Chinese ZTE Axon 9 Pro and OnePlus 6T, each of which I’ve never seen that they should be and feel in the cabin. With any of these brands I’m not familiar, and this is just what is needed: fresh a fresh look at something new.

Oh, I almost forgot about the price. Yandex.The market here only as the best aggregator of characteristics, but the price he gives, should not believe. The real cost will always be a little higher, and do not try to buy expensive smartphone on any is unknown or the online store. How to decide the model, the real price look at the websites of the manufacturer or in the salons of cellular communication and top retailers. In the official retail ZTE Axon Pro 9 is more expensive than the average price on Yandex.Market (46990 R. in “the Messenger” and “Euroset”), but still fits in my range is up to 50K. OnePlus with the same amount of memory costs about the same.

It’s the most interesting time: the duel! But confrontation is not required: it took me 10 minutes studying the characteristics of the Internet to understand what foofunction Axon 9 Pro 6T OnePlus puts on both blades. Examples of shooting 6T in the Internet is awful, and Axon 9 stable Pro photo module from Sony and, most importantly, there is the possibility of wide-angle shooting!

Under the fanfare and Chinese fireworks announce the winner: this ZTE Axon 9 Pro, which I never heard until now.

But it’s OK and meets the conditions of the problem: I’m not moving away from the computer for fifteen minutes, chose a smartphone for the New year. And let about its existence, I had no idea, but the choice was incremental, sequential, subordinate the internal logic and my needs.

Test drive

“How can you choose the phone sitting on the couch?” — ask, and you’d be partially right. Skill test smartphones that I have formed over the almost twenty years of journalism here is not necessary: the machines have become too similar, and understand like or dislike for a couple of hours, sometimes quite a few minutes in the salon, when you assess the visual characteristics, grip in hand and all that jazz. And if I had to choose a budget smartphone, without increased requirements for one of the characteristics that you have to order a gadget online store. But I have two key properties when selecting the battery and PV panel, they should make sure to check the “in combat” and not sitting on the couch or dealing with seller in the store. Too often I have seen models with huge batteries, and optimized software that were discharged before other smartphones with a smaller camera. As for the camera, here and to a hedgehog is clear that it is necessary to look.

So the theory it is necessary to reinforce the practice where the test is not enough. The cars in showrooms give a test drive, why smartphones are not allowed? Frankly, gave me. This trick, of course, not every one will manage, but I’m using the official position, succeeded to the smartphone in one known network for a week-long test before buying. I just had a trip to Vladivostok, where I’ve never been, and its mountains, and bridges planned to capture a new Axon 9 Pro.


The color choice was sort of one — blue, this is now a trend in smartphones, but at the same time he is not alone… Maybe this color has a special name, but in men it’s complicated with colors, I could not clearly define. The color is iridescent, changing from blue to dark, from different angles, it’s different, in short, it is difficult to explain. But I also like boys and girls, tested on my wife, this is definitely a unisex model.


The first thing noticed when holding the phone in hand – it’s weight, the severity of Axon 9 Pro felt immediately. Of course, due to the extended battery. This smartphone is thin and elegant, looks quite a “flagship”. About external details there is nothing to tell, controls all Android smartphones are about the same and are in the usual places, except the thumbprint scanner travels around the body. Here he is on the back cover, everything is convenient, the finger immediately finds it. There are more unlock face. Audio Jack is not detected, and sorry, but the adapter Type C for audiojack included, most importantly, not to lose it.


No questions, just picture the fire, when enabled immediately clear that the screen – the advantage of the gadget. It’s a bright AMOLED-matrix, covered with protective glass, with excellent viewing angles and good visibility in the sun (thanks to an oleophobic coating). Supported format HDR10, which until recently was found only in TVs: it is a set of software uluchshayzerov that constantly analyzing the picture and in real time give a high level of contrast between light and dark areas of the picture. This leads to a more realistic image, as if the objects adds definition and volume.

What else?

Ingress protection is to IP68 standard, but I Axon 9Pro didn’t sink in the mud and not lying, then believe in the word. From wireless capabilities pleased with the presence of NFC, and some brands are somehow missing this handy feature.

The camera

Settings here quite a lot, looks very fancy. But I’m a photographer first and foremost was testing a wide angle shot. How does it work? During the shooting menu choose the icon to the wide angle, at once in real time you can see that the frame is placed a lot more information, and the edges of the image are slightly rounded.

For landscapes most it, it is here often necessary to make the frame fit more information. In Vladivostok I almost all time was shot in wide-angle mode, it was very convenient. More wide angle is important when shooting a large group of people that all got the shot, but I still check on new year parties.

The picture itself is quite decent, very good photo module, as I have arranged. You can adjust exposure on the fly, directly during shooting.

There are also, optical stabilization system (which, however, only works when recording in FHD) and video recording in 4K.

Power consumption

Included is adapter support fast charging Quick Charge 3.0, I have a smartphone fully charged in about an hour and a half, and for the first half gaining just half of the charge. But in General, the smartphone supports Quick Charge and the latest, fourth version, and it seems like with such a charge he gets palaraga for 15 minutes, but this charger need to buy separately – you are welcome to Aliexpress! Also, the smartphone supports wireless charging standard Qi. The main question is how long he “holds”? It all depends on the individual mode of operation, I have it called “tail and mane”, it does have its time “B” is 16:00. Usually when climbing at 8 am, closer to 4 o’clock I begin to look for an outlet or get the powerbank. My Nokia 7Plus with its 3800 mAh up hours before seven in the evening. The feelings, ZTE Axon Pro9 “dragged” about the same, or even more, that I fully accept much of a difference I noticed. So while working, charging and everything connected with it – five stars!

Brand chips

In any flagship smartphone there is always the signature of the function, sometimes they should study and understand. Here such two, and both are linked to the graphical optimization. One is called Axon Vision: ZTE added independent processor for processing the output image plus technology MEMC to “on the fly” increases the frequency of video 24 or 30 frames per second to 60. We need this in order to avoid blurred video in dynamic scenes. Also Axon Vision adjusts the picture parameters under the color temperature of the environment, which “collects” special RGB sensor on the front panel. Another feature that ZTE PR is surround sound and Dolby Atmos. There are two stereo speakers, one on the bottom, the other has a built in speaker.


In General, all of these technologies sort of turn your smartphone into a pocket movie theater with a realistic picture and surround stereo sound, and even with high-quality sound recording in stereo. But, frankly, I don’t listen to music through the speakers and do not watch movies on smartphones, high – talking on Skype or WhatsApp. But if for someone it is important to keep in mind.


Smartphone liked, and the week of the test I did not regret the choice, so to return ZTE Axon 9 Pro did not, left it at home. Turned out very solid, well-balanced and quite “sudden” flagship, which is definitely worth the money. “Top” stuffing, nice design, excellent screen, improved camera and a powerful battery – a lovely set of letters in the description of the Christmas gift.

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