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Best smartphones of 2012

Our list of the 10 best smartphones from 2012

Smartphones

Smartphones were easily one of the top gadgets of 2012 so we've put together a list of what we think were the top 10.

It's been a year dominated by smartphones and tablet with many key launches from big players like Apple, Google and Samsung. More and more users have been upgrading to and getting acquainted with smartphones. We're at the stage where there are handsets of all shapes and sizes to cater for many needs and budgets.

All year long smartphone vendors have been fighting for the top spot, trying to make the must-have device. With so many to choose from it's hard to whittle the list down to 10 handsets but here's our top smartphones of 2012 with our rating and what we think of them.

10. Nokia Lumia 920Nokia Lumia 920

Although Windows Phone isn't our recommended mobile operating system, we wanted to make this list diverse. There are a number of likable things about Windows Phone 8, especially in the case of the Lumia 920 with plenty of exclusive and high quality Nokia apps. Despite its bulky size, the Lumia 920 is a stunning smartphone with one of the best cameras of the year.

Our Verdict: The Lumia 920 is a very desirable smartphone. We love the fantastic screen, decent camera and it's jam packed with features. However, the downsides are the chunky design and somewhat spartan app store.

Our rating:Rating 7

Read our full Nokia Lumia 920 review

9. Motorola Razr MaxxMotorola Razr Maxx

The Razr Maxx might not be the most attractive phone of the year; the design quickly looked out of date. However, more importantly is the fact that Motorola achieved a rare combination of a high-end smartphone with great battery life. We also liked the very cool use of Kevlar on the rear of the handset.

Our verdict: Provided you like the slightly quirky design, the Razr Maxx is an excellent choice for a high performing smartphone. The decent specifications combined with exceptional battery life let it stand it out from the crowd. Software is dated but this situation may improve if Android 4.0 becomes available.

Our rating:Rating 8

Read our full Motorola Razr Maxx review

8. Sony Xperia PSony Xperia P

Like the One S, it was Sony's mid-range smartphone that we thought was its best effort. The Xperia P is like a mini version of the flagship Xperia S but minus the things that got under our skin. A decent all-rounder handset.

Our verdict: The Xperia P is a more user-friendly sized, better designed and more attractively priced version of the Xperia S. Although the specifications aren't astounding and the software is yet to be brought into 2012, we like the device. Highlights are the decent screen and excellent camera but if you have a bit more cash to spend, the HTC One S is a better option.

Our rating:Rating 8

Read our full Sony Xperia P review

7. Samsung Galaxy Note 2Samsung Galaxy Note II

Samsung's second big launch of the year was the Galaxy Note 2, a hybrid smartphone and tablet dubbed as a 'phablet' which is more the prior than the latter. We liked that it provided something a bit different and a good option for those unable to afford and smartphone and a tablet separately.

Our verdict: Where the Galaxy S II and III were Samsung’s answer to the Apple iPhone, the Note II is a step in another direction for different users – those requiring something more like an old-school PDA, able to work with a stylus for reading handwriting input and for sketching. As a phone, it has the same kind of capabilities as the Galaxy S III, with slightly faster performance an added bonus to the increased screen size, at the expense of one-handed usability.

Our rating:Rating 8

Read our full review of the Samsung Galaxy Note 2

6. Huawei Ascend G300Huawei Ascend G300

The Ascend G300 might not look like the most exciting phone but Huawei managed to do something that most other vendors failed at in 2012. That is to produce a smartphone for a bargain basement price of £100 and it not be complete rubbish. The G300 out-performed many more expensive alternative handsets.

Our verdict: The Huawei Ascend G 300 is a budget Android smartphone that outperforms everything in its price range.

Our rating:Rating 9

Read our full Huawei Ascend G 300 review

5. HTC One SHTC One S

For 2012 HTC focused on its One range of smartphones with the One X and One X+ its flagship handsets. However, it was the One S that stood out to us with an excellent balance of value for money, build quality and features.

Our verdict: The HTC One S is an excellent mid-range smartphone option. It might not have the headline specifications of the One X but it outdoes it on performance and battery life. It does this in a more user friendly size, better build quality and a cheaper price tag.

Our rating:Rating 9

Read our full HTC One S review

4. Motorola Razr iMotorola Razr i

The Razr i was an important release for a couple of reasons. It was one of the first smartphones from Motorola since it was acquired by Google and the first out of its partnership with Intel. We were glad to get our hands on the Razr i after a long quiet spell from Motorola.

Our Verdict: The Motorola Razr i is a great all-rounder smartphone. It offers a great combination of design and performance for a reasonable price. It's worth a look for its price and worthy of our recommended award.

Our rating:Rating 9

Read our full Motorola Razr i review

3. Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung Galaxy S3

One of the biggest launches of the year was the Galaxy S3 which Samsung managed to create Apple-esque hype for, choosing to give it its own event in London rather than launch it amongst the competition at Mobile World Congress. The smartphone was one of the bestselling of the year with over 30 million units shifted.

Our verdict: The Galaxy S3 has turned out to be an excellent smartphone. It offers a good design and build quality, despite our small niggles. Samsung has put together an impressive set of hardware resulting in silky smooth performance and extensive software features.

Our rating:Rating 9

Read our full Samsung Galaxy S3 review

2. Google Nexus 4Google Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 made a big impact to the smartphone market with its release in October. Google's announcement in New York was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy but the launch, along with the Nexus 10 tablet, went ahead. Like the Nexus 7, Google is selling the handset for much less than it's worth causing huge demand and stock shortages.

Our verdict: As long as the storage capacities suffice, the Nexus 4 is the definition of a bargain. You quite simply get the performance and features of a high-end smartphone for half the price you would expect to pay. Unless you're set on an iPhone, the Nexus 4 is an unbeatable deal.

Our rating:Rating 9

Read our full Google Nexus 4 review

1. Apple iPhone 5Apple iPhone 5

There wasn't much we didn't know about the iPhone 5 before Apple launched it in September. It looks like the previous two generations of iPhone but for the first time the screen was 4in, not 3.5in. The phone came with a few upgrades and as expected the smaller Lightning dock connector meaning all older accessories required an expensive adaptor.

Our verdict: The iPhone 5 really is much more than a tall iPhone 4S with a new plug. The people may demand a revolution every upgrade season. But Apple may just have supplied what the people need, not what they say they want. And that's a powerful evolution on the theme of iPhone which is currently putting the competition back on the starting blocks.

Our rating:Rating 9

Read our full Apple iPhone 5 review

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