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Which? Awards 2018: winners revealed

Apple, Richer Sounds and Nationwide Building Society were among the brands honoured today at the annual Which? Awards. Hosted by BBC news presenter Naga Munchetty and Which?

Group chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, the Which? Awards recognises brands that deliver exemplary products and customer service. Winners are chosen by an expert panel, based on our independent research and testing as well as the views of Which? members and the general public.

Which?

Award winners 2018

Best Bank Brand of the Year

Winner: Nationwide Building SocietyRunners-up: Coventry Building Society and First Direct Nationwide, Britain’s largest building society, claimed the banking award for the second time. The company offers a great range of financial products and is a Which?

Recommended Provider for current accounts, credit cards and mortgages. Nationwide gained more current-account switchers last year than any other bank or building society – showing that customers recognise it’s doing a great job. Discover the best and the worst banks for customer service[1].

Car Brand of the Year

Winner: VolvoRunners-up: Hyundai, Lexus and Toyota

Swedish carmaker Volvo was the winning car brand – for the first time.

Volvo gets high praise from customers and has a solid safety record. It was the first brand to ever get a four-star rating out of five from safety organisation Euro NCAP for protecting occupants. Every Volvo car tested by Euro NCAP since 2009 has received a five-star rating.

We reveal the best cars to buy in 2018[2].

Insurance Provider of the Year

Winner: NFU MutualRunners-up: Age UK, John Lewis Financial Services and LV= This is the fourth time that NFU Mutual has been named Which? Insurance Brand of the Year since 2014.

The company has impressed us with its great levels of cover – the best in our analysis – and has been a Which? Recommended Provider (WRP) for home and car insurance since we started awarding these in 2010. Discover the best and worst home insurance providers[3].

Travel Brand of the Year

Winner: Jet2Runners-up: HF Holiday, Premier Inn and Riviera Travel

This year’s award went to short-haul airline and budget holiday company Jet2.

In a turbulent year for the airline sector, Which? Recommended Provider Jet2 Airlines has proved it’s possible to provide cheap tickets and good customer service. It was a similar story with Jet2 Holidays, with customers telling us they got a premium service despite the budget prices paid for their package holidays.

See which are the best airlines[4] for both long-haul and short-haul flights.

Utilities Provider of the Year

Winner: Utility WarehouseRunners-up: GiffGaff, Octopus Energy and Zen Internet Whether you want a telecoms service or an energy provider, Utility Warehouse is a great option. It was one of just two companies to achieve a full five-star customer service rating in our latest broadband survey.

It also topped our mobile phone provider rankings, with an impressive 85% of customers saying they’d recommend it, and achieved first place in our survey of energy companies. See which are the best and worst broadband providers[5] – as rated by real customers.

Large Appliance Brand of the Year

Winner: SamsungRunners-up: Bosch, Dyson, LG & Miele Samsung was the victor in our large home appliance category, knocking Miele – winner for the past three years – off the top spot.

Samsung makes a huge range of home appliances. And it’s had a great 12 months. During this period, an incredible 78% of Samsung home appliances have been rated as Best Buys and it’s produced the top-scoring fridge and fridge-freezer that we’ve tested.

We reveal the best fridge-freezers[6] you can buy.

Small Appliance Brand of the Year

Winner: BoschRunners-up: Kenwood and Philips

Winning brand Bosch narrowly pipped a number of excellent rivals to take this award. The company offers customers a tremendous range of home products – including blenders, irons, microwaves and food processors – and more than one in three are Best Buys. Customers love them and our reliability analysis shows they’re also built to last.

Find out which steam irons impressed the Which? experts[7].

Retailer of the Year

Winner: Richer SoundsRunners-up: Aldi, Allbeauty.com, Screwfix and Toolstation Richer Sounds was named 2018 Retailer of the Year. After winning in 2010, 2011 and 2015, the technology specialist won its title back from Toolstation – the 2016 and 2017 winner.

Customers appreciate Richer Sounds’ excellent prices and helpful staff. It achieved an impressive customer score in our high street shops survey (79%) and did even better in our online shops survey (87%). We reveal Britain’s best and worst high street shops[8].

Technology Brand of the Year

Winner: AppleRunners-up: Lenovo, LG and Samsung

Last year’s Computing and Mobile Brand of the Year stormed to victory again in the new Technology Brand of the Year category.

Apple continued to deliver outstanding products and services across the year, from the MacBook to the iPhone. While Apple products are undeniably expensive, many of them justify the price. See how Apple’s models measure up in our Best Buy laptop[9] round-up.

Trusted Trader of the Year

Winner: Tincknell HeatingRunners-up: Furlonger Tree Services and Grants Electrical

Somerset-based Tincknell Heating was named as the Trusted Trader of the Year. The family-run heating firm has been a Which? Trusted trader since November 2016 and had previously been rated as our March 2017 trader of the month.

Staff take the time to respond personally to the majority of the reviews that Ticknell Heating gets. Find a great tradesperson where you live with Which? Trusted Traders[10].

Positive Change Award

Winner: Paul Maynard MP

Paul Maynard MP was this year’s recipient of the Positive Change Award, which celebrates individuals who tirelessly champion consumer rights.

The former Rail Minister was recognised for his notable achievements to improve the rail industry, such as extending the Consumer Rights Act to include travel, introducing the Delay Repay 15 compensation scheme through franchises, and pushing for the Accessibility Action Plan for disabled passengers.

Recognising the very best companies

The Which? Awards are unlike others because they are completely independent. A company can’t nominate itself, and the shortlist is chosen by our experts using Which? research, testing, endorsements (such as Best Buy and Recommended Provider status) and feedback from Which? members and the general public throughout the year.

Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive, said: ‘Consumers should be at the heart of every business. Brands that deliver excellent products and services for their customers deserve to be recognised and rewarded.

‘The Which? Awards winners list honours the commitment of those businesses that strive to meet the expectations of consumers and go above and beyond to respond to their needs.’ From bank accounts to mortgages, our expert Which? money[11] advice will help you make the most of your finances.

References

  1. ^ best and the worst banks for customer service (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ best cars to buy in 2018 (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ best and worst home insurance providers (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ best airlines (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ best and worst broadband providers (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ best fridge-freezers (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ steam irons impressed the Which? experts (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ best and worst high street shops (www.which.co.uk)
  9. ^ Best Buy laptop (www.which.co.uk)
  10. ^ Which?

    Trusted Traders (trustedtraders.which.co.uk)

  11. ^ Which? money (www.which.co.uk)

UPDATE: Samsung to drop security updates for some 2016 smartphones

UPDATE: 3 April 2018. Samsung discontinues security updates for Galaxy S6 range. The security update section of Samsung’s website has been updated again, this time with a set of even more conspicuous absences.

The entire Galaxy S6 range, barring the S6 Active, will no longer be receiving Android OS or security updates of any kind. The Samsung Galaxy S6 turns three years old this month and, whilst it’s seen a number of successors in the years since, it’s far from an outdated phone. In fact it’s still advertised for sale on Samsung’s own website.

Owners aggrieved at this decision may find themselves having to say goodbye to one of Samsung’s recent classics a little sooner than expected. 15 March 2018: A selection of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones from 2016 will no longer receive free security updates, potentially leaving them exposed to Android malware. Changes made to Samsung’s website have seen some older smartphones cut from a list of ‘current models for quarterly security updates’.

The page, dedicated to android security updates, shows two lists: devices set to receive monthly patches, and those set to receive quarterly patches. A quick look at an archived version of the same page proves that several older smartphones have recently been shown the door:

Above: Samsung’s website in November 2017 (left) compared with today (right)

The list of changes includes the following phones, each of which is now just over two years old:

  • Galaxy A3 (2016)[1] – will no longer receive monthly or quarterly updates.
  • Galaxy J1 (2016) – will no longer receive monthly or quarterly updates.
  • Galaxy J3 (2016)[2] – will no longer receive monthly or quarterly updates.

Best cheap mobile phones[3] – find out which alternative budget models tick the boxes.

What does Samsung say?

Vanished: The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

On its website, Samsung writes: ‘We take security and privacy issues very seriously and we are doing our best to respond as quickly as possible. Securing your device and maintaining the trust you place in us is our top priority.’

It also acknowledges: ‘The list of monthly security update models is subject to change as support periods expire. The list of quarterly security update models is subject to change and it will be reviewed on a periodic basis.’ However, these statements will be of no comfort to users who have bought one of these models since its original release – especially if they’re also still tied to a two-year contract.

The government tackles security updates

Last week, the government published its Secure by Design policy paper, emphasising the importance of keeping consumer Internet of things (IoT) and tech products secure by design.

The report notes: ‘Software updates should be provided after the sale of a device and pushed to devices for a period appropriate to the device. This period of software update support must be made clear to a consumer when purchasing the product. For constrained devices with no possibility of a software update, the conditions for and period of replacement support should be clear.’

Shopping around for a new model?

Read our guide on how to choose the best mobile phone[4].

References

  1. ^ Galaxy A3 (2016) (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Galaxy J3 (2016) (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Best cheap mobile phones (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ how to choose the best mobile phone (www.which.co.uk)

Full Which? review: the new Samsung Galaxy S9

The Galaxy S9 is hardly a radical departure from last year’s Samsung flagship, the S8. But it still has to at least equal and ideally outperform its predecessor to be taken seriously as this year’s most desirable phone. Well, the results are in, so we can reveal exactly how the S9 fared at our test labs, and whether it can justify the GBP739 price tag.

Our full review of the Galaxy S9 [1]has all the juicy details, but read on for a bit more about Samsung’s new phone, including the GBP869 Galaxy S9+, and to watch our hands-on video. Best buy mobile phones – find out which models aced our tests.[2]

Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+ – are the best phones of 2018 already here?

The S9 has a large 5.8-inch display, while the S9+ has an even more enormous 6.2-inch screen. Samsung has retained the 18.5:9 ratio it introduced with the Galaxy S8[3] and Galaxy S8+[4], which means they’re just over twice as long as they are wide.

The theory is that this makes it easier to use these phones with one hand. Have enough improvements been made to the new models to make them rise above the competition? Below, we explore some of the key things you need to know about the new phones, and while we’re still waiting for it to come back from our lab, you can read our first look review of the Galaxy S9+[5] to see what we think so far.

Short on time? Here’s our first look video:

[embedded content]

Mobile phone reviews[6] – find the best, whatever your budget

What are the cameras like?

The S9 has a 12Mp rear camera and an 8Mp front camera, the same as last year’s S8. But camera quality is dependent on more than megapixel count, and Samsung has made a few subtle improvements that it hopes will make a big difference.

For instance, the cameras take 12 photos when you take one, then combines them to give you the best possible single image. It’s an upgrade on the same feature found in the S8 and S8+, which only take three.

The Samsung Galaxy S9+[7] has two 12Mp rear cameras, unlike the S8+’s one. One is a telephoto lens and the other is wide-angle, which means you shouldn’t notice a drop in quality when zooming.

It also means you can play with some depth-of-field effects – for instance, you can draw focus to your subject by blurring out the background. Both the S9 and S9+ can also record videos in super slow motion. They can capture up to 960 frames per second, which means your slow motion videos should look incredibly detailed.

What’s AR Emoji?

Samsung has responded to Apple’s popular Animoji by introducing Augmented Reality Emoji – also known as AR Emoji – with the S9 and S9+.

You take a photo with the front-facing camera, and you’re transformed into your own personalised emoji. It’s almost like you’ve made your own life-like Sims character, and we had a lot of fun doing it ourselves.

You can send your personalised emoji to your friends and family through a variety of messaging apps, including WhatsApp.

Five other key things to know about the S9 and S9+

  • The fingerprint sensor is underneath the rear camera set-up on each phone. This is likely because the S8 and S8+ were criticised as the fingerprint sensor is next to the cameras, making it easy to accidentally smudge the lens.
  • The S9 has a 3,000mAh battery while the S9+ has a 3,500mAh battery.

    These are the same size batteries as found in the S8 and S8+, but this doesn’t necessarily mean the same battery life. Battery life is dependent on more than battery size, such as processor efficiency.

  • The S9 has 64GB of on-board storage, while the S9+ has 128GB. They each have a micro-SD card slot if you want to boost space.
  • They both include Bixby, the on-board voice assistant.

    It can answer questions by taking into account what’s on screen, and can deal with queries even with incomplete information. Improvements to this year’s phones include live translation – you hold the camera up to text and it translates it in real time. Handy if you’re on holiday and the restaurant you’re in doesn’t have an English menu.

  • They’re both water-resistant with an IP68 rating.

    This means they can survive a half-hour dip in 1.5 metres of water.

Are last year’s Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ any good?

The S9 and S9+ aren’t radically different to last year’s models, and now that the S8 series is available for less it’s definitely worth checking them out if you want to save some money. We were really impressed with the clarity of the displays, and we thought they had a stunning design. But you’ll need to read our fully tested reviews of the Samsung Galaxy S8[8] and Samsung Galaxy S8+[9] to find out whether their batteries will see you through the day, and whether the cameras take good quality shots even in low light conditions.

Find out the phones we’ve handpicked as the best to consider right now by checking out our top five smartphones[10].

References

  1. ^ full review of the Galaxy S9 (www.which.co.uk)
  2. ^ Best buy mobile phones (www.which.co.uk)
  3. ^ Galaxy S8 (www.which.co.uk)
  4. ^ Galaxy S8+ (www.which.co.uk)
  5. ^ first look review of the Galaxy S9+ (www.which.co.uk)
  6. ^ Mobile phone reviews (www.which.co.uk)
  7. ^ Samsung Galaxy S9+ (www.which.co.uk)
  8. ^ Samsung Galaxy S8 (www.which.co.uk)
  9. ^ Samsung Galaxy S8+ (www.which.co.uk)
  10. ^ top five smartphones (www.which.co.uk)