Let me start with both a cliché and an understatement: It has been a busy year in mobile technology. 2018 seems to have blown us off without any regular periodic lulls, as spring's launch season rolled into an unusually packed summer and topped with the busiest October we've ever known here on Android Central .  So, as the year draws, it's time to reflect on the last twelve months in Android: the hits and the misses. It has been a triumphant year for some. Not so much for others. And a really disastrous cycle for an unlucky one or two.
Here are our Android winners and players in 201
The biggest OnePlus needed to do in 2018 was to avoid some profiled screws. You know things like destroying HD content streaming in a way that requires the phones to be sent in to be resolved, or fall victim to a high profile break or make a screen out of jelly. As a relatively new player in the smartphone world, OnePlus has had its share of increasing pain over the years, but in 2018 the brand finally came to maturity. Aside from a troublesome translation snafu that briefly falsely claims the first Snapdragon 855 release, OnePlus has at the same time avoided some PR blunders while keeping up the pace of growth and maintaining the level of quality that fans expect. It produced great products, made a lot of money and ended the year in partnership with the veteran racing brand name McLaren.
Other key OnePlus milestones included a decisive US transport deal with T-Mobile, which saw the sale of 6T really take off in the United States, and an aggressive update plan that had OnePlus 6 getting Android Pie not long after Google's own pixels. All this, coupled with the recent setbacks of Huawei's US ambitions, set OnePlus up for a great 2019.
HTC's smartphone business has swirled in the drain for a better part of three years, but the disastrous launch of U12 + sealed deal. If HTC is not already dead and buried … well, the nails in the coffin and the coffin are lowered. The sad thing is that the U12 + itself was a pretty decent phone when they released the buttons. But the phone was so weird out of the box that the final button fix, two months later, didn't matter. Even without such obvious technical problems, U12 + demonstrated how, apart from one or two areas, HTC is now out of competition with Apple, Samsung and Huawei in high end. As a result, sales have continued to plummet and the top-level brain drain of the Taiwanese firm has continued.
HTC is now left without any major Western carrier partnerships, affected by brand value and R&D muscles (has been paid out by smartphone R&D with the sale of assets and engineers to Google in late 2017), lacking resources for basic software updates and customer support, and cannot match the scale of their Chinese rivals. Company response: a blockchain phone and a 5G hotspot.
It has been quite a long time, but 2018 really marked the point that no return for this once proud Android brand.
Loser: Fingerprint on the screen  In screen fingerprints "class =" image-large_wm_brw image-large lazy "data-src =" / sites / androidcentral.com / files / styles / large_wm_brw / public / article_images / 2018/05 /inscreen-fingerprint.jpg?itok=wkAL5cZL"/>
We have heard in recent years how in-display fingerprint technology would revolutionize the way we used our handsets and make biometric security easier and all- Display phones a reality Early demos, like this one from Vivo in early 2018, so promising
Then phones with fingerprint sensors on the screen actually began to transmit and the technology turned out to be almost universal shit. Design Mate RS was so bad that the phone also included a back-mounted capacitive scanner with the excuse, later in the year even some of the better offers like OnePlus 6T and Huawei Mate 20 Pro were nothing near as fast. Reliable as the traditional fingerprint scanners for their predecessors. Simply put, they were a downgrade.
Qualcomm is promising next-generation ultrasonic fingerprint technology along with Snapdragon 855, and the rumor has it that Samsung will adopt it in the Galaxy S10. Maybe 2019 will be the year's fingerprint on the screen, eventually delivering, but you will forgive us for being skeptical.
Winner: Weird, Noisy Phones
This is my catch-all for things like sliders and dual monitors – creative designs that have arisen as phone makers have attempted to construct around the need for display notches. Devices like Oppo Find X, Vivo NEX and NEX 2, and the Honor Magic 2 have emerged to clear the idea that smartphone design can no longer be interesting. You can even lump gaming phones like the Razer Phone 2 and the ASUS ROG Phone into this mix, nice and awesome as they are. And I'll say the same for the triumphant return of big ass phones like the Huawei Mate 20 X. These weird and amazing phones have added spices to the year.
Pop-up cameras, sliders and a completely different display just to take selfies have emerged as fresh approaches to keep the fronts of our phones as tidy as possible. Yes, they are mostly impractical and more expensive. Another monitor is a significant part of the extra money on your bill, and phones with moving parts are more difficult to isolate against water and dust. But they are also proof that there is a lot of innovation in this industry.
Or if you prefer, aluminum. It was a bad year to shop for a phone that was not completely made out of glass. As Apple switched to glass-based iPhones in 2017, and several devices began adopting wireless charging, and when several companies found ways to make glass feel better in hand, once proud Aluminum unibody smartphone has anything but disappeared.
It is bad news for those of us who prefer handles, textures and interior feel of metal, as well as the extra durability it provides when released. But with 5G phones just around the corner, along with ever-complex radio antenna requirements, it is unlikely that metal will come back at any time.
Geopolitics Apart from that, Huawei had a pretty good year. The company sent 200 million smartphones in 2018, and at the high end, phones like the P20 Pro and the Mate 20 Pro showed that it could compete on quality with Samsung and not just rely on its huge scale. In particular, Huawei's cooperation with Leica, which this year produced two of the generation's best telephone systems in both the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro. And Huawei continues to dominate on battery life and charging speed, with new 40W Super Charging Tech and consistently greater battery capacity than any of its rivals.
Its own custom Kirin-branded silicon gave it an edge in areas such as LTE speeds and GPS accuracy, at least for part of the year.
There is no way Huawei is going to break into the US market anytime, but in terms of product quality and sales for the rest of the world, it is difficult to postpone Huawei's 2018 performance Sony  Xperia XZ3 "class = "image-large_wm_brw image-large lazy" data-src = "/ sites / androidcentral.com / files / styles / large_wm_brw / public / article_images / 2018/11 / sony-xperia-xz3-review-1.jpg? itok = Zb3_vpzo "/>
Sony's phone directory contains some truly unique, inventive designs. Nevertheless, the company has stagnated so long that it is now recycling old Samsung and Nokia designs. More disappointing, despite making some of the best image sensors for other brands, Sony's own phone cameras continue to be underperforming.
Winner: Computational photography
In 2016 and 2017, smartphone photography seemed to be on a plateau. But more than once this year I have been blown away by the quality of the photos I have been able to capture on a flagship phone. Computational photography – that is, using the computing power of smartphones to make up for the small sensors in their cameras – has solved new possibilities for phone cameras.
Across board, almost all use photography for multiple images to enhance dynamic range and color detail. Some even introduced AI shooting modes – to varying degrees of success.
But computing night modes from Huawei and Google have been the highlight of the year in phone photography. Huawei first came with P20 and a handheld long exposure mode that eliminated the need for a tripod when shooting in the dark. Later in 2018, Google took this to the next level with Night Sight, with its single camera and Pixel Visual core to capture more detail than your eye can see with just a smartphone camera behind a small lens. It is no surprise that Samsung is now rumored to deliver its own version of this feature with the Galaxy S10 in 2019.
Loser: Wear OS
Despite a new name, a great redesign, new (ish) chips and the launch of some really impressive watches like Skagen Falster 2 and Casio F30, Google's Wear OS (no Android Wear) have fallen in difficult times. Using OS's current chicken-and-egg conundrum, Qualcomm seems unwilling to construct any brand new silicon to drive it, probably due to lack of sales. But the fact that the majority of Wear OS units are running silicon based on the positively old Snapdragon 400 from 2013, has certainly not helped. Even the new Wear 3100 chip leans on a new low core core designed to improve battery consumption when Wear OS is not in use.
Which means in daily performance, although some of the newer watches may be prone to storage, and the kind of buckle battery life you can expect from a bunch of 28nm, Cortex-A7 cores. Until there's a firmer hand on the rudder in terms of design and technology, don't expect a breakthrough for Google's portable platform in 2019.
But hey, at least the Galaxy Watch is pretty pretty, eh?
What are your Android winners and losers for 2018? Please let us know in the comments!