2019 has been a marquee year for the smartphone world, globally as well as in India. We’ve seen the appearance of 108MP camera phones, foldable devices that could pave the way for the future, the affordable segment offering more value than ever before, the phenomenal rise of some brands and the fall of a few others. As we move into the year 2020 and wait with bated breath for technologies like 5G to come our way, we want to recognise the efforts of companies that helped change our lives for the better this year, and laud smartphone models that marked key milestones. The Smartphone Awards 2019, brought to you by 91mobiles in association with Cashify, show our appreciation for these smartphones and the brands that defined the year for us.
The winners of 91mobiles Awards aren’t decided by us. Just like last year, we’ve roped in 40 industry experts, who will be lending their names, expertise and years of experience, and helping us zero in on the winners. These are all eminent names from the technology media industry… editors, writers, reviewers, bloggers, YouTubers and industry watchers who know their phones better than anyone else. And thanks to them, we can safely go ahead and call our annual awards a true “Voice of the industry”. Here’s a look at this year’s jury.The jury will be voting on a total of 11 award categories this year. These categories, and the respective list of nominees, have been decided after extensive discussions and careful deliberation. Apart from the jury awards, we also have a special Users’ choice segment with two awards categories, and this is where our readers and viewers get a chance to vote for their favourite smartphones and brands.
Commenting on the partnership, Ashwini Bhadoria, VP Alliance at Cashify said, “We are glad to partner with 91mobiles for one of the most prestigious smartphone awards in the industry. With over 40 biggest names from the tech media fraternity as jury, we’re all set to make it bigger and better this time. We actually can’t wait to bring Cashify’s own insights and expertise to the table and make this event even more memorable.”
So without further delay, here are the award categories, and the list of nominees.
91mobiles and Cashify present Smartphone Awards 2019 – Voice of the Industry
Budget phone of the year 2019
The budget smartphone segment (sub Rs 10,000) in India continues to throw surprises, and has quite a few compelling contenders. This category includes devices that upped the ante this year, and yet didn’t ask potential buyers to break the bank. The nominees are:
Redmi Note 8
Xiaomi’s budget contender not only offered solid specs, a capable quad-camera setup on the back and more, it also boasted a very stylish design. The Redmi Note 8 is an all-rounder, and Xiaomi’s answer to the strong competition in this category.
48MP camera, 5,000mAh battery and attractive pricing to boot, this phone comes across as a solid contender for its asking price and therefore, deserves a spot in this list.
The Korean giant’s play in the budget arena comes in the form of this compelling option that ticks most boxes. With never-seen-before features for the segment such as a Super AMOLED panel, it’s a deserving candidate for the title too.
The Vivo U10 boasts some compelling specs with the Snapdragon 665 under the hood, and triple rear cameras and a powerful battery. Can it win the crown? We’ll let our esteemed jury members decide…
Stylish looks, triple cameras, and a massive 5,000mAh battery. There’s very little not to like about the Hot 8 from Infinix, and that’s the reason why it finds a spot in our list of nominees for the Budget phone of the Year.
VFM phone of the year 2019
Value for money is a concept that could be perceived differently by different individuals, but there’s no denying the fact that the sub Rs 20,000 smartphone segment has a lot of value to offer. Here are the nominees:
The very first phone in the world to flaunt a 64MP camera, the Realme XT offers great value for money for everything it brings to the table, including solid specs, a powerful battery with fast charging, and stylish looks.
Featuring Nokia’s signature build quality and elegant looks, the 7.2 also rocks a 48MP snapper and the allure of clean Android with guaranteed updates. And then there’s the HDR-capable display that promises to take your media-viewing experience to the next level.
Apart from rocking a high-res, 64MP camera, the Note 8 Pro’s headlining features include the powerful, gaming-centric Helio G90T chipset, liquid cooling and an HDR display, along with tons of other goodies.
While the Galaxy M30s comes across as a solid all-rounder, its 6,000mAh battery is one of its key highlights. And it doesn’t have the bulk to show for it either.
One of the most affordable phones to come with a Snapdragon 675 chipset, the Vivo U20’s 5,000mAh battery with 18W fast charging is yet another standout aspect.
Best affordable flagship phone of the year 2019
Flagship specs, capable cameras and a proposition that doesn’t involve any sort of a compromise for a potential buyer seeking a worthy daily driver. The nominees:
The 7T has a lot going for it, including the latest flagship SoC from Qualcomm, high screen refresh rate, capable cameras and the user-friendly OxygenOS.
An out-and-out gaming phone, the ASUS ROG Phone II is a compelling all-rounder too, with its Snapdragon 855+ chipset, 120Hz screen refresh rate and powerful 6,000mAh battery.
Attractive design, Snapdragon 855+ SoC, 64MP quad-camera array, 90Hz AMOLED display, and a 4,000mAh battery that charges fully in about half an hour, the X2 Pro makes a strong play for the crown.
The shark fin pop-up camera, drop-dead gorgeous looks and powerful specs combine to form a package that’s very hard to ignore, especially for its asking price.
This smartphone is a compelling blend of design, powerful specs and capable cameras, and as Xiaomi’s flagship smartphone in India this year, is a no-brainer for inclusion as one of the nominees.
Best mid-range selfie phone of the year 2019
Selfies quality is an important parameter while evaluating the camera capabilities of a smartphone, and these mid-range devices score pretty high on that respect. The nominees are:
Vivo V17 Pro
The fact that the V17 Pro boasts an industry-first dual pop-up selfie camera module definitely worked in its favour for inclusion in this award category, but it’s also a capable all-rounder.
A high-resolution 20-megapixel selfie camera that delivers when you need a quality self-portrait helped the K20 Pro make this list.
The Reno series is as much about camera prowess as it is about stylish design, and the Reno 2z scores high on both these aspects. The 16MP front shooter takes great shots, and helps win it a place of pride among the nominees.
Among the very handsets that offer a 64MP primary shooter, the Galaxy A70s also flaunts a 32-meg selfie camera that can take crisp, detailed shots.
The Honor 20 is a compact handset, which means it’s easy to handle (read: capture selfies with), and the fact that its punch-hole display sports a very capable 32MP front-facing snapper earns it a place among the best mid-range selfie phones out there.
Best mid-range camera phone of the year 2019
The mid-range segment is all about balance, but if there’s one aspect that can’t be ignored, it has to be camera prowess. This award category includes devices that offer the best in terms of shooting capabilities in the mid-range.
Realme X2 Pro
While the device ticks most boxes, the X2 Pro’s quad cameras are among its key features. The 64MP Samsung ISOCELL GW1 sensor is the mainstay, mated to wide-angle, telephoto and depth sensors.
Thanks to its 48MP Sony IMX586 primary sensor, mated to a 13-meg ultra wide-angle and an 8MP telephoto lens, the K20 Pro is no slouch when it comes to photography.
As Samsung’s first smartphone to come with a high-res 64MP camera sensor, the Galaxy A70s is a standout device. The triple camera module includes dedicated sensors for capturing bokeh and wide-angle shots too.
Featuring a total of four cameras at the rear, the Honor 20’s mainstay is a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor with f/1.8 aperture, married to a 16MP wide-angle, a 2MP macro and a 2MP depth sensor.
This handset’s claim to fame might be its dual pop-up selfie shooters, but courtesy its quad cameras on the rear, the V17 Pro makes a strong case for itself as a photography champ. The 48MP Sony sensor, accompanied by wide-angle, telephoto and depth cameras, shoots well across a variety of different conditions.
Selfie phone of the year 2019
When the price is no bar and you’re after the best self-portraits, these are devices that will deliver. But which one will win? The nominees:
Huawei P30 Pro
A 32MP front shooter on a phone that’s packed to the brim with camera features and high-end specs makes for a worthy selfie phone, and that’s exactly what the Huawei P30 Pro is.
A 10MP front shooter placed inside a centrally-located hole punch forms the selfie capabilities of this Samsung flagship. Don’t go by just megapixel count alone, because this smartphone can shoot awesome selfies.
An extremely capable selfie shooter, the iPhone 11 Pro with its 12-meg front sensor boasts features like ‘slofies’ to entice fans of self-portraits, along with the ability to get wider shots when the phone is held horizontally.
The 16MP pop-up camera that handles selfie duties on the OnePlus 7T Pro is in a league of its own, and the shoots detailed shots that are sharp and retain natural skin tones.
Thanks to a dual-camera setup that can face either the back or the front as needed, the ASUS 6Z is clearly among the most powerful selfie shooters out there. The cameras, which include a 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor and a 13MP wide-angle lens, handle primary shooting and double up for selfies too.
Camera phone of the year 2019
This year has seen massive developments in smartphone cameras. We’re talking multiple sensors, AI smarts, special night modes and crazy levels of zoom. These are the contenders for the Camera phone of the year 2019.
Huawei P30 Pro
The Huawei P30 Pro’s calling card is its cameras. There are four of them at the rear, certified by Leica no less. The 40MP + 20MP+ 8MP + ToF setup delivers astounding imagery across the board.
The Note 10+ brings a quartet of shooters at the rear, and while the megapixel count may not be so high as some rivals, the flagship can shoot extremely well across a variety of different conditions. The results speak for themselves.
Apple went Pro with its iPhones this year, and if there’s one aspect that has been improved by leaps and bounds, it’s the photography. Three 12MP sensors work in tandem to produce pristine imagery that’s bound to impress.
OnePlus has been upping its photography game with each new smartphone, and as the brand’s latest flagship, the 7T Pro has a lot riding on its shoulders. Thanks to the proven 48MP Sony IMX586 sensor and dedicated telephoto and ultra-wide sensors the phone delivers where it counts.
The shooting capabilities of the Reno 10x Zoom are one of the main pillars it stands on. Sony’s 48MP IMX586 makes its presence felt, and helped along with telephoto and periscope sensors, the device can turn out great photos regardless of shooting conditions.
Gaming phone of the year 2019
Mobile gaming has come up in a big way, and we’re seeing the emergence of a special breed of smartphones to cater to this audience. On the other hand, there are other contenders that work well for gaming too. The nominees for the Gaming phone of the year 2019 are:
ASUS ROG Phone II
The ROG Phone II has more to it than just top-end specs. Apart from a massive, 120Hz display, the phone entices gamers with aspects like 3D vapour cooling, support for a dock, dedicated trigger buttons and edgy design.
Dual-Cooling systems that uses fans, 8K video recording, and a dedicated Game Boost button mark some of the standout points of the nubia Red Magic 3s. The radical design that should appeal to gamers, top-notch specs and a very attractive price help as well.
While powerful hardware and gaming-centric features are one part of the story, the Black Shark 2 also boasts capable cameras and great design, making it a compelling all-rounder. But is that enough for it to stake a claim to the Gaming Phone of the Year 2019? We’ll let the jury decide.
OnePlus brought high screen refresh rates to the mainstream, and the 7T Pro continues in the same vein. That, combined with top-notch specs, solid battery life, and the clean interface offered by OxygenOS, make this smartphone very hard to ignore for gamers.
The Realme X2 Pro’s gaming chops include the latest Snapdragon 855+ SoC, up to 12 gigs of RAM, UFS 3.0 storage and an AMOLED screen with 90Hz refresh rate.
Most innovative phone of the year 2019
We look for innovation in each new device, but there are very few that actually excite. Each one of the following smartphones brought something special to the table, but which one can walk away with the crown?
Samsung Galaxy Fold
If foldable smartphones are the future, the Samsung Galaxy Fold is the catalyst that brings this concept to the mainstream. Apart from the fact that it’s a highly flaunt-worthy device, the Fold’s main talking point is the fact that it converts from a phone to a tablet at the drop of a hat.
Pop-up selfie cameras are everywhere these days, but OPPO took a slightly different route with the Reno 10x Zoom. The phone sports a shark fin-styled elevating camera that turns the concept around on its head, helping the phone achieve its near bezel-less fascia.
The ROG Phone II is packed to the gills with innovative features. A proprietary 3D vapour chamber for cooling, support for the AeroCooler dock, and capacitive buttons that works as triggers while gaming are just some of the key highlights.
The One Action from Motorola takes a unique concept and highlights it well. The dedicated action camera that lets users shoot landscape video footage while holding the phone vertically forms the crux of it, and shows how the brand is thinking out of the box to make a mark.
2019 has seen a lot of innovation on the camera side of things as far as smartphones are concerned. In the case of the ASUS 6Z, its mainstay is the flip-out camera setup that handles both primary as well as selfie-shooting responsibilities. Very nifty indeed.
Brand of the year 2019
2019 saw new brands come into the limelight, with incumbents trying to fight back. Which is the one brand that stands out the most though?
The Korean giant has been very aggressive this year, especially in the budget and mid-range smartphone categories. With its M Series and A series smartphones, Samsung seems to have a clear strategy in place to counter competition, while on the premium side, it’s leaving no stones unturned as well.
OPPO has been using its key strengths, using its expertise in aspects like cameras, design and innovation to make its mark in the smartphone industry. Offerings like the Reno 10x Zoom, A9 2020, and K3 come across as key milestones in OPPO’s journey this year.
Vivo is a brand that has ranked high on innovation ever since it first landed in the country, and this year, the company introduced two new smartphone lineups in the form of the Z series and the U series to cater to the online segment. Handsets like the V17 Pro, U20 and Z1x and others made their presence felt, and while the NEX 3 wasn’t launched in the country, the device showcased what the brand is capable of.
The market leader had a great year, and launched a new flagship in the form of the Redmi K20 Pro. The Redmi 8 series of phones, that came towards the latter half of the year, show how serious it is in terms of tackling competition and making sure its users get handsets with the latest features and trendy designs.
Realme came up from nowhere to challenge stalwarts like Xiaomi and Samsung. The brand has been extremely aggressive in launching new smartphone models on a frequent basis, with each device offering great value of money. Among other notable devices from the brand, devices like the Realme XT and the Realme X2 Pro stand out quite a bit, and we’re looking forward to what the brand has in store next.
Apple has been an iconic brand since ages, and this year seems special for the company and its offerings in the smartphone space. The Apple iPhone 11 series brings the company back into the reckoning as far as the shooting capabilities are concerned, among other things, and shows the muscle it has to beat the competition.
The Chinese brand enjoys massive popularity and this year, it went seriously premium with Pro editions of its flagships. The OnePlus 7 Pro and the 7T Pro show how high the brand’s ambitions are, and that it has the firepower to take on bigger and stronger rivals.
Phone of the year 2019
This the ultimate prize… the one device that stands out when it comes to offering the best user experience, the most loaded set of features and class-leading performance. And here are the contenders:
Huawei P30 Pro
The Leica-certified cameras might be its highlight, but there’s no denying the fact that the P30 Pro is one of the best smartphones we saw this year. The phone packs in a lot of firepower when it comes to core specs, delivers superb photos, rocks a very attractive design, and offers very good battery life too.
With an improved S Pen, top-notch internals, a new design, extremely capable cameras and laptop-like capabilities, the latest Note series flagship from Samsung is designed for power users.
The 11 Pro might be an obvious choice for inclusion here, but the fact is that the device not only makes big promises, it actually delivers on them too. Buttery smooth performance, great battery life, and superb cameras are just the key highlights, but there’s lots more.
The brand went premium in a big way this year and launched Pro versions of its flagships, making bigger rivals sit up and take notice more than ever before. The 7T Pro comes as the best OnePlus has to offer currently, and gets a much-deserved spot in this list.
Performance, features, looks, cameras, battery and value. The Realme X2 Pro is able to make its mark across all parameters on how smartphones are judged.
91mobiles Smartphone Awards 2019 – Users’ choice
Best designed phone of the year 2019 (Users’ choice)
Smartphone designs have improved quite a bit this year, and you, dear reader, get to vote for the one you think was the best-designed phone of 2019. The nominees will be revealed soon via our social channels to solicit your votes.
Most loved brand of the year 2019 (Users’ choice)
Which is the brand, in your opinion, that did everything right this year? The brand that excited you with innovation, or launched devices that offered great value? The company that you think deserves your love. Vote for your favourite, and make it win. Keep an eye on our social channels for the nominees.
So those were the award categories and nominees for our 91mobiles Smartphone Awards 2019. Fasten your seat belts and get ready, as we begin the voting process, and let the jury and the users decide the winners. Only the best shall win, and walk out with the ultimate prize. Watch this space.