Pocket-lint is supported by its readers. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

(Pocket-lint) - The phones of recent years have dominated by safe colours. Grey or silver - something to reflect the metal finish of your handset - was the trend of an industry were the metal unibody was the badge of quality.

We blame that mostly on HTC: having launched the wonderful HTC One M7 in 2013, most others fell into line. Apple launched the iPhone 6 in 2014 with decidedly metal colours and many followed suit.

It's all about that glass

But 2018 saw a huge but subtle shift in phone fabrication. Glass was firmly established as the material of choice for flagship phones and with it came a colour revolution.

Arguably, HTC also made this happen, firstly with devices like the 2012 HTC One S with a graduated anodised finish, but then with the launch of Liquid Surface on the 2017 HTC U family. Liquid Surface was all about putting colour deep into the glass finish and that, it seems, marked a change the industry.

The best mobile phone deals for the Samsung S21, iPhone 12, Google Pixel 4a / 5, OnePlus 8T and more

Here is a rundown of some of the spectacular phones that followed in 2018.

HuaweiThe Beautiful Phone Finishes Of 2018 image 2

Huawei P20 Pro

If there was one phone that really stood out, it was the Huawei P20 Pro. One of the first phones to launch in 2018, it really put Huawei on the map. The Twilight finish seemed a little extravagant at first, but Huawei went on to offer it in Morpho Aurora, Pearl White and Pink Gold as this phone got to express itself. That Pearl White though...

HonorThe Beautiful Phone Finishes Of 2018 image 3

Honor 10

As a sub-brand of Huawei, it's perhaps no surprise that Honor's flagship that followed the Huawei P20 was also adorned in deeply coloured Aurora glass - with a Phantom Blue to set tongues a wagging. The Honor 10 was a head turner in many ways.

AsusThe Beautiful Phone Finishes Of 2018 image 4

Asus Zenfone 5

While Asus didn't leap into a world of colour like Huawei and Honor, there's shimmer and life to the black finish of the Zenfone 5. Again, it uses glass and an eight-layer optical coating process to create the effects.

SamsungThe Beautiful Phone Finishes Of 2018 image 5

Samsung Galaxy A9

Samsung sells more handsets than just about anyone else, but there's no question that the Galaxy S9 and the Galaxy Note 9 played it safe. But Samsung does seem to have got the message if the Galaxy A9 is anything to go by. The Lemonade Blue brings a graduated finish - as does the Bubblegum pink - and it looks like the Galaxy S10 models are going to be more creative with colour too.

HuaweiThe Beautiful Phone Finishes Of 2018 image 6

Huawei Mate 20 Pro

There's no let-up from Huawei as the company releases its second big phone of the year. The Mate 20 Pro arguably betters the P20 Pro in many areas, but it did continue that design. There's the Twilight option again, while some might just prefer the Emerald Green. Isn't it so much more refreshing than black?

XiaomiThe Beautiful Phone Finishes Of 2018 image 7

Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro

Xiaomi has a wide range of phones. It also has a beautifully graduated blue finish on the Mi 8 Lite, but let's take a look at the Mi 8 Pro. This is the phone with the translucent back. Yes, Xiaomi wasn't the first to do this - HTC tried it on the U11+ - but it all seems to pay homage to the likes of JerryRigEverything who has been handcrafting translucent backs on YouTube. Xiaomi's visible components aren't working, but they aren't just a sticker either, so there's texture and depth. It's a geek phone for sure.

OnePlusThe Beautiful Phone Finishes Of 2018 image 8

OnePlus 6T

Convincing OnePlus to move beyond offering black or black seems to be a challenge. Yes, the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition put an orange trim around the edges, but it's really the Thunder Purple that embraces something different. It doesn't have quite the drama we see elsewhere, but it's a welcome change from black.

OppoThe Beautiful Phone Finishes Of 2018 image 9

Oppo RX17 Pro

Oppo isn't one to let Huawei have all the fun and offers a range of colours across its devices. The Oppo RX17 Pro has a Radiant Mist finish, however, which is pretty special - even if it's just called "blue" by retailers in the UK. As Oppo sets its sights on international growth, colour helps it stand out.

HonorThe Beautiful Phone Finishes Of 2018 image 10

Honor View 20

So strictly speaking this is a 2019 phone - but it was announced in China in 2018 (just about). The Honor View 20 is a clear indication of where rear design is heading with these deep chevrons adding texture to that finish. Again, there are colour options that make other phones look a little boring and as we hit 2019 smartphone launch season, we're expecting to see a lot more of use of colour.

Have we missed any great looking phones from 2018? Let us know your favourite in the comments below.

Writing by Chris Hall. Originally published on 6 February 2019.