The smartphone market in 2017 was a tale of comebacks. For LG that meant stripping away gimmicks such as a semi-modular design.

 

For Samsung it meant not having its smartphones spontaneously catch fire. But despite the problems South Korea’s biggest electronics firm suffered in 2016, Samsung came back with fire in its eyes with the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.

Like the phablets before it the Note 8 was large but curiously its battery was smaller than it was in the S8. The reason for this is obvious – Samsung valued safety over grabbing “Smartphone of the Year” awards for ample battery life.

The gamble paid off because despite lasting only a day the Note 8 performed incredibly well. Samsung cribbed a few notes from Apple in terms of usability, Bixby and interactions with the handset but for the most part it was just a solid offering in a space that have very little innovation in 2017.

The majority of our readers – 36.2 percent – chose Samsung’s Note 8 as the their favourite smartphone of 2017.

It appears as if our readers were excited by Huawei’s last offering for 2017 – the Mate 10 Pro.

While the Chinese firm does manufacture the Mate 10 South Africans were only able to the Mate 10 Pro which is fine with us. The big selling point of the Mate 10 Pro was the on-device artificial intelligence.

This allowed users to do things like translate languages, identify items and more without being constantly tethered to the internet. It didn’t hurt that the phone also performed well. Add to that Huawei’s ever improving camera tech and you can understand why 20.7 percent of our readers favoured the Chinese firm.

For Apple however, it was a tough year.

While the iPhone X caused quite a bit of hubbub at launch we did almost forget that the iPhone 8 was launched alongside it. Our readers seem to have felt the same way with the iPhone 8 being selected as the best smartphone of the year by only 18.5 percent of our readers.

While this is the second generation of the handset to be released without the 3.5mm jack we think that Apple’s “bravery” has slowly started to annoy users. Add to this minor upgrades to the tech inside the iPhone and you have a recipe for a smartphone that while good isn’t all that exciting.

Staff Pick – Nokia 8

It’s a pity that the Nokia brand was shoved from pillar to post with no real sign of a decent smartphone from the brand in years. But like Samsung 2017 was the year of the comeback for Nokia.

With HMD Global now in charge of manufacturing Nokia smartphones the first flagship offering in the form of the Nokia 8 was a welcome surprise. Not only was it priced well (below R10 000 at launch) but it performed as well as the other flagships of the year.

While the camera was decidedly average it was still good enough to compete in the flagship department. Let’s also not forget that the Nokia 8 housed a 13MP snapper at the front of the handset and the back. I’m looking forward to seeing what the brand has on offer moving forward and especially in 2018.