back to article The best smartphones for Christmas

This was the year the smartphone wars really got hot, both on the high street and in the courts. Of course the former was a driving force behind the latter: neither Apple nor Microsoft gave a toss about Android’s alleged patent infringements - real or imaginary, reasonable or ridiculous - until handsets running Google’s mobile …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    some disturbingly wobbly Wi-Fi connectivity.

    See, these people just can't help copying Apple

  2. Gizzit101
    Terminator

    got to order

    ...a Nexus 4 from the second batch - delivery 3-4 weeks and counting.

    Agree with the comment on HTC build quality - I've been a fan since my Nexus Some - really not keen on Sense though

    What I'd really like to see is every manufacturer coming out with a Nexus ph9ne once each year - the "pure Android" interface and instant updates are a compelling sales-pitch.

    1. Prof Denzil Dexter

      Re: got to order

      i'm with you on the Nexus 4. £280 is ace.

      One thing i'll give Apple is their resale value far outstrips most others. my 18 month old iphone 4 is gonna get me around £200 towards that figure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: got to order

        £280 gets you bugger all storage.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: got to order

        While iphone's might have great resale value, the initial cost is much higher... i've not paid for a phone since my first wap phone many years ago... I always get free on contract, and I do work the cost of the phone into the contract in my mind, i.e. I am paying £36/month for a deal that is £25/month sim only, so my phone cost me £264, where retail its around 500 on launch... i.e. I save around £200

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: got to order

          Except you can get a contract with unlimited just about everything for £12 ... per month. Doubling the cost of your phone.

          Contracts with "free" phones are just convoluted credit agreements. Do you really think phone shops will give you your phone for half price

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: got to order

            "Except you can get a contract with unlimited just about everything for £12 ... per month."

            Where? Not gifgaf For £25 a month get: 1,500 UK minutes

            Unlimited UK texts

            Unlimited Internet

            Free to giffgaff

            So you're talking crap, 1500 is not unlimited and £25 is not £12.

        2. Lord Elpuss Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: got to order

          "I am paying £36/month for a deal that is £25/month sim only"

          For a top-end phone I doubt very much the difference is only £11 per month relative to sim-only. When new a Galaxy SIII here in the Netherlands cost 41.65 euros (e35 ex VAT) per month over 2 years on 'unlimited' (2GB) plus text & data, the equivalent SIM-only contract cost 17.85 (e15 ex VAT) euros.

          They'll suck you in on the 'free phone' advertising, then bleed you dry over 2 years until you end up paying far more for the phone than if you bought it sim-free. Of course £500 is a lot to pony up in one go for most people - hence the success of 'free on contract'.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: got to order

      That business model exists already, it's called Windows Phone. Tightly controlled hardware specs and no custom GUI shit.

      I thought Android was all about freedom, the freedom for an OEM to install all the crapware they want on the phone?

      Are people finally realising that OEMs "value added" is a waste of time and that the core OS should be improved instead?

      Nokia contribute a lot of things to Windows Phone, this is the sort of development model that needs to exist for Android. Samsung and others could all contribute additions to Android and it would at least then get more testing, improvements on a collaborative basis.

      1. Avatar of They
        Thumb Down

        Re: got to order

        Your wording is a little off.

        "Tightly controlled hardware specs and no custom GUI shit."

        Should read

        "Tightly controlled hardware specs and the GUI is shit." ???

        Winpho is just awful for user customisation, everyone's winpho has god awful icons / tile / hubs or whatever MS call them this week. yes it might be a colour change, but it is still massive squares of blandness.

        Google has it right with just plain OS and no frilly crap like Samsung and HTC force on users for Android. "Sense" has killed any love I had for HTC.

  3. VinnyR
    WTF?

    HTC One X

    So you say in the article that you rate the HTC One X better than the Galaxy SIII but you fail to put it in the top 3 phones and it is not in the also rans either!!

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: HTC One X

      I constantly fail to understand why the One X has done so badly. I can only assume it is because pretty much nobody has heard of it, which is a shame really. HTC should be firing its marketing bods right now, if they haven't done so already.

      On the plus side, it does mean that you can pick up the One X for considerably less than the S3. A quick look at a bookseller-who-shall-not-be-named's web site tells me the difference in the handset price is currently around £30 cheaper. When I got mine (albeit on contract) a few months ago, the difference was more like £100.

      The two phones are comparable in most respects, with one coming out ahead in some features, and the other in others. There isn't really a lot between them, both are technically better than the iPhone.

      My only real gripe with the One X is the fact that they have gone down the crapple route by making the phone a sealed unit, so you can't swap the battery or storage, although 32Gb is quite generous, so this isn't a massive problem. The battery life ain't great either, but show me a smart-phone where it is.

      1. silent_count

        Re: HTC One X

        After my Desire-Z (RIP) was literally struck by lightning, for me, it came down to the HTC One X or Galaxy S3 (big screens are nicer to read books on). I do like the HTC's sense UI but the charming combination of weaker battery life, an unswappable battery, and no SD slot* was the deal-breaker. On the flip-side, the Samsung Kies software is utter garbage but I don't need to use it.

        * It's not a matter of storage space but if the phone flakes out it's easier to pull out the SD card than to retrieve files from the phone's internal storage.

  4. Prof Denzil Dexter

    poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

    Enjoyed the summary, but the iPhone 5 gets the poorest comment of the whole article yet still records a 90% score?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Meh

      Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

      I'm guessing that a few of us going "WTF?" at the ranking is preferable to hordes of fanbois screaming; "HOW DARE YOU FAIL AT RECOMEND TEH MOSTEST POPULAR PHONE IN TEH HOLE WURLD!!11!!!"

    2. vmistery

      Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

      Once you include the brand image factor it accounts for that. I expect without the Apple name it would get 80% or so.

      Question is can Apple light the world on fire with the next one? TBH I think its only real weakness is ios

    3. eSeM

      Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

      The iPhone 5 was probably reviewed originally by Tony Smith, a notorious fanboi.

    4. JDX Gold badge

      Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

      >>the iPhone 5 gets the poorest comment of the whole article yet still records a 90% score?

      Aren't they copy-pasting the review scores from when they were originally reviewed... the person writing this article is giving his personal view and then telling you the official scores.

      1. Martin Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

        Indeed. Which is why the Nexus 4 hasn't got a score - it's not been formally reviewed yet by El Reg.

        Presumably they are still waiting for delivery, like the rest of us. (1-2 weeks, I was promised - it'll be two weeks on Tuesday, and I've seen nothing...)

      2. Nigel Whitfield.

        Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

        Yes, that's the way these round-ups are usually done, because otherwise you end up with two different scores for the same product, which gets rather confusing.

        Some of the elements of the score include, for instance, value for money, but that could change each time a new product is launched in the same market - the Nexus 4 makes some of the other androids look less good value.

        All you can treat a score as is an evaluation at the time it was reviewed; a phone that got 95% three years ago isn't necessarily better than an iPhone 5 with 90% this year.

    5. Frank Bough
      Meh

      Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

      The problem is that they're massively conflicted about the iPhone 5. They know it's the best phone on the market - beautifully designed and made, screamingly fast, by far the best apps available for it and a pleasure to use and own, but geek credentials demand that Apple products must be denigrated. For if the beautiful ones have the best toys, what are the geeks left with?

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

        You have to throw a bone to those who whinge about SD cards and USB ports and removable batteries, even though hardly anyone really cares about those things :)

      2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
        FAIL

        @Frank Bough

        Best phone on the market?

        Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me it looks boxy and ugly, but who am I to argue with people who are willing to be told what to like.

        'screamingly fast' - compared to what? AFAIK, other phones on the market are faster.

        'the best apps available' - most apps these days are available on both Android and iOs. Unless you are referring to the vast array of high quality fart apps available on the iPhone? After the Apple maps debacle, making such a claim is risky.

        'a pleasure to use and own' - wow! Did you copy-and-paste that from an Apple four-colour-glossy?

        'geek credentials demand that Apple products must be denigrated' - so called 'geek credentials' would be more likely to demand that all products be evaluated on their individual merits. 'Hipster credentials' demand that you must love Apple products without question, just like all your barista mates with their lensless glasses and skinny jeans. Which 'credentials' do you possess? Or maybe you prefer not to join a clique?

        1. Craig Chambers
          Stop

          Re: @Frank Bough

          Do not feed the trolls!

        2. Frank Bough

          Re: @Frank Bough

          That was weirdly ad hominem. iPhones certainly ate a pleasure to own, when it comes time to dispose of one you get back a hefty chunk of what you paid or you pass it on to a family member who appreciates it because Apple's iOS update policy thus far has been as inclusive as hardware allows. As for the iOS app situation, it's laughably better than the competition. You might think Android would catch up, but with Apple nabbing all the users who are willing to pay for product, the stingy Androiders get all the apps they're willing to pay for - bugger all.

          As to the relative speed of the thing, it blows the doors off an SIII in the hand, don't place too much weight on Geekbench scores because they miss hardware acceleration.

          As to the physical qualities of the iPhone 5, ie design and build, go have a look at the drop/smash/immersion tests relative to the SIII on YouTube - iPhone is miles ahead.

          I understand that you're a refusenik, but you can only dodge the truth for so long.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge

            Re: @Frank Bough

            As to the physical qualities, the drop/smash video you mention was sponsored by Apple, so it's not surprising all the "tests" were massively biased in favour of the iPhone.

            - S3 landing on the screen, iPhone on the rear corner, and watch how the beer bottle lands and ask yourself if the iPhone really could have survived being hit in the screen with a corner, instead of the flat.

            The water drop is impressive, until you notice that the touchscreen didn't work anymore and just how fast they skipped on...

            Shame really, as that is one place where the I expected the hermetically-sealed nature of the iPhone to have helped it more - unfortunately a touchscreen phone with broken touchscreen is truly dead.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Frank Bough

          What a bunch of insulting clichés. It makes me wonder if people like you are capable of original thought. You talk about choosing things on their own merits and yet diss anything that isn't what you consider cool. What a shortsighted ****.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: AC @ 14:58

            voted up for non-specific fan boy condemnation (I'm assuming you're anti-iphone like most of us here, but I love how your comment could just as easily be applied in reverse).

            1. Frank Bough
              Thumb Up

              Re: AC @ 14:58

              "I'm assuming you're anti-iphone like most of us here".

              Precisely why the 90% rating was given.

      3. Al Taylor
        Thumb Down

        Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

        "they're massively conflicted"

        Not at all, I just refuse to let brands, badges or logos influence my opinion.

        Of course the iP5 is fine device, only an idiot would claim otherwise. But it's expensive, the screen is still too small, the body while attractive starts to look tatty and worn far too easily, the user interface is inflexible and there's no storage expansion.

        What extreme fans of Apple kit seem unable to do is accept that not everyone thinks it is the best thing since sliced bread though why anyone thinks the brand of mobile phone or tablet or computer they use says anything about them as a person is beyond me - it's more tragic than having a personalized number plate on your car.

        The day I find myself running about saying Gadget A or B or C is great simple because of some idiotic and wholly imaginary affinity with the company that designed it I'll jump in the Ship Canal.

        1. Frank Bough
          Thumb Up

          Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

          "But it's expensive, the screen is still too small, the body while attractive starts to look tatty and worn far too easily, the user interface is inflexible and there's no storage expansion."

          Two indisputable facts here - it is expensive and there's no storage expansion.

  5. Will 20

    I don't want a big smart-phone!

    If I wanted a big smartphone, I'd get a tablet. No more than 60mm wide please.

    (Currently, I'm thinking, a Sony Xperia P)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

      Even the Sony Xperia P is huge. Where are all the powerful small Android phones?

      I am hanging onto my HTC Desire S for the time being. Sony Xperia U could ave been a replacement - except for that stupid mood light.

      Even these are too big. I'd prefer a phone the size of the HTC Wildfire S. But all the small phones this size are budget with slow processors and poor resolution.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

        @AC desiring lots of resolution in a 3.5" phone... who's your optician? : D

        The Xperia Go is around 3.5", and yeah, the resolution is a bit poor if photos and web browsing are your thing. I find the resolution on my P (4") good enough, small text in browsers is readable for my eyes but I wouldn't want it to be any smaller! I guess that if you often tether a tablet for browsing, the need for a large phone screen is somewhat negated.

      2. HandleOfGod

        Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

        TBH I was in that school of thought. I had an iphone 3GS and when I chose to switch to a Droid I ignored the Galaxy SII because it seemed huge and opted for the Desire S (almost exactly the same size as the 3GS).

        Then came the Galaxy SIII which was even bigger and I wanted even less but subsequently my other half has got a Galaxy SII and I've got a lot more used to the size, such that when the company surprised me by renewing early I opted to get a One X, despite it's size. And you know what? I love it. I carried the Desire S with me at the weekend to use for media and stuff whilst I was away and it felt like a toy - teeny tiny screen and dated looks. Odd really, because it's still the same device I was using until 3 weeks ago and was perfectly happy with it. I still would be if the company hadn't suddenly decided to sign a new contract....

        (I should add that all the other Droids were Desire X handsets and at first I preferred them to my One X)

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

      I get on well with my Xperia P (much the same 'footprint' as the iPhone 5, but not as thin) and it doesn't have any annoying idiosyncrasies as my past feature phones have done, but since it is my my first smartphone I may not be the best judge. I would note that the update to ICS has a feature to make the battery last much longer than when it reviewed- it achieves this by turning off some of the data when in standby, so isn't suitable if you need receive an email or Facebook etc notification ASAP. Texts and calls, of course, come straight through.

      MiniHDMI cable, 1600 mA charger, and screen protector in the box. Headphones (ear canal type) sounded very reasonable, until the cable broke (pulled out of the microphone junction).

      I'm not desperate for Jelly Bean, but a quick search suggests that after Sony roll it our for the flagship models (T, TX, V) around February 2013, it will be coming for the P, S and Go. The same search reveals the Sony Xperia TX, a big screened model that has a removable battery and microSD- I mention it here because it is a feature i know some fellow commentards appreciate, and this model seems to have come in under the radar.

    3. AceRimmer
      Facepalm

      Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

      Then don't buy a big smart-phone!

  6. Alex Walsh

    The Nexus is currently on 6-7 weeks for new orders, so hardly best for Christmas unless you're looking at Christmas 2013 :/

    1. jason 7
      Happy

      Ordered a Nexus 16GB today.

      6-8 weeks is fine with me. Will have cleared off the xmas crap off the credit card by then and its something to look forward to in the new year.

      I will miss the superior swipe gestures and multi-tasking of my Pre2 though. Back buttons are a bit retarded.

  7. Peter Gordon

    I wish Leo hadn't killed webOS...

    I would be hankering after a Pre 4 by now :(

  8. Great Bu
    Coat

    "Her indoors reckons five is the minimum to keep a girl happy"

    I only have 4 inches* and never had any complaints from my wife.

    *We are talking diameter here, aren't we ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Her indoors reckons five is the minimum to keep a girl happy"

      Radius.

      1. JDX Gold badge

        Re: "Her indoors reckons five is the minimum to keep a girl happy"

        That's a medical condition, not an achievement.

        1. Toothpick

          Re: "Her indoors reckons five is the minimum to keep a girl happy"

          My wife agrees, but I do have to fold it it in half to get to five :)

  9. Captain Hogwash

    Re: "a phone to be...moistly desired"

    Erm, you're talking about salivation right?

  10. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Ug?

    > Of course, without any sort of storage expansion, the £280 16GB [Nexus] device is probably the preferred option.

    Does that mean that it doesn't support USB OTG?

    1. Gizzit101
      Terminator

      Re: Ug?

      It supports USB OTG if you root it and slap Stickmount onto it.

      Easy peasy

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ug?

        For the 1% of people that will do it.

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Ug?

      iirc it doesn't but there are ways round it like the wiidrive etc basically wifi or blutooth storage. Very far from ideal but an option. I'm not impressed with the trend towards limited and hard to expand storage so we buy cloud storage and pay for more data.

      1. Alex Walsh

        Re: Ug?

        Do you know of any wireless drives that support NTFS/EXT3 or any file format that allows for larger file sizes? Most of the ones I've looked at are FAT32 so pretty useless for hi def films :/

        1. Martin Silver badge
          Happy

          No need for Stickmount...

          ...you can use the Nexus Media Importer. It just works beautifully, without having to root the phone.

          Disclaimer 1 - I haven't tested it with the phone, because mine hasn't arrived yet. But it works with the Nexus 7.

          Disclaimer 2 - I'm just a happy customer of Nexus Media Importer - I have no other connection with them.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: No need for Stickmount...

            Hi guys, thanks for your responses.

            After reading bits of a very long XDA thread, it would appear that whilst the Nexus 7 can be bodged to work with USB OTG, the (LG-made) Nexus 4 can never be - it seems that its hardware can't supply power to the microUSB port. Apparently there are other LG phones that suffer from the same hardware issue.

            http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1966864&page=23

            Oh, and I guess that a universally supported, non-propriety file system capable of bigger-than-4GB files is too much to ask for 2012 : D

        2. Rampant Spaniel

          Re: Ug?

          Seagates goflex is ntfs iirc? Not sure if the battery is up to streaming many movies and using one on a plane might be an issue (for some reason external drives are verboten even if wifi is allowed).

  11. Ascompltd
    WTF?

    The best smartphones for Christmas

    And the Reason for Nexus 4 missing from the table of the rest is?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The best smartphones for Christmas

      It's not the best, just have the most bang for the buck.

      It needs about 64GB or more storage to be the best.

  12. Scapegoat
    Thumb Down

    some disturbingly wobbly Wi-Fi connectivity

    I can only speak for myself but I've had no problems on that front with my Razr I

    1. Al Taylor
      Alert

      Re: some disturbingly wobbly Wi-Fi connectivity

      A recent firmware update - only available by hooking up your Razr to a PC, not OTA - seems to have largely fixed this.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. TrancerSte
    Thumb Up

    One XL

    Have to say that my HTC One XL [the Asian/Aus LTE variant of the One X, running on a far more phone-appropriate dual core Snapdragon S4 SOC] is such a massively underrated phone and I genuinely think still the all-round best Android handset on the market today.

    Bollocks to sense and gimmicky Beats Audio nonsense; mine's rooted and running AOKP 4.1.2 with 4.2 GApps. It's rock solid, absolutely flies both in terms of interface and on Singapore's proper LTE network (actual 70mbps+) and the battery life is epic, which was the one major complaint about the Tegra 3 based One X.

    It's available in the UK on EE's LTE network now too I think. Can't recommend it highly enough!

  15. Wheaty73
    Unhappy

    Well...

    Too big, far too big, too big, too pricey, Too big and no apps, too big...

    Seriously, for those people not carrying man bags or wearing MC Hammer pants, what are the options?

    Gah. Bring back keyboards.

    1. Andrew James

      Re: Well...

      My Note II fits perfectly fine in my jeans pockets, and in my work trousers, even with my seasonal waistline expanding to make the pocket a bit more cramped than usual.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Well...

      >Too big, far too big, too big, too pricey, Too big and no apps, too big...

      Help us help you- what size are you after, 3", 3.5", 4"? I have a 4" model, the Xperia P, and doesn't worry my tailor or give me cramp in my hand, but it may be considered 'pricey' compared to some handsets and cheap compared to others. (I have no Hammer pants)

      You want small size AND a keyboard? Hope you've been a good boy this year!

      1. Wheaty73

        Re: Well...

        I would like an Xperia Mini upgraded to 2012 specs thanks, if you are making one. No bigger than 3.5 screen, hardware slider keyboard or the ability to use a T9 style soft one in portrait mode. Would stretch to a 4" if the keyboard existed.

        None of the alternative soft keyboards that I have tried (swype, swiftkey and one other I can't remember) were much cop over the stock android one or stock iOS one - but no soft keyboard can match actual physical keys for typing long crap out which I do quite often on my mini. The Jellybean international keyboard is very close to perfect but Jellybean only lives on massive phablets.

        Sadly the Sony Go and Tipo have crap rear cameras (and no front one, which is unforgivable).

        Or you could get me the moon on a stick.

    3. Lord Voldemortgage

      Re: Well...

      "Bring back keyboards."

      I've been a dedicated fan of hardware keyboards on phones but I have to say that some of the soft keyboards now available (notably Apple's on my iPod Touch and SwiftKey Flow on my Android phone) are so good that I would rather have the extra screen space and ditch the physical keys.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhone 5 90% and Nokia 920 85%?

    The 920 has so much more to offer, doesn't scratch when stroked with a feather, has decent mapping and sat nav.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mmm

      My white iPhone has no scratches whatsoever, and it just sits in my pocket with no cover.

      And Google maps came out yesterday, so your other arguments fall down.

      Just saying.

    2. Frank Bough
      WTF?

      Ahem

      Comparing the 920 to the iPhone 5 is like comparing a van to a car. And the much vaunted camera is FAR worse than the iPhone's. Terrible shame.

      1. dogged
        WTF?

        Re: Ahem

        Worse how? Not purple enough? Not easily shit-toned for Instagram? Low-light too good? Not enough camera-shake?

        Hard to think of any measure by which your statement is anywhere near accurate.

        1. Frank Bough

          Re: Ahem

          Have you tried them? I have, the Nokia is terrible. Exposure control is laughably bad, colours are murky, response is glacial, it's fucking awful. I expected it to blow the iPhone away but it was worse than any iPhone since the 3GS, and that had better exposure control. The video is even worse - rolling shutter, loads of compression artefacts and the same horrendous exposure control and muddy colour.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, 90%

        Well, the iPhone 5

        . has no OLED screen

        . no NFC

        . no expandable storage

        . no Xenon flash

        . no camera oversampling, no lossless zoom

        . Samsung Galaxy S III or the Nokia Lumia 920 have higher resolutions and larger screens than in the iPhone5, so far for the "retina display"

        . has only 8h talk time, similar phones have 17 hours talk time, have a look at www.phonegg.com

        . Some countries in Europe—including Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and others—will not be able to offer iPhone 5 LTE connectivity to their customers on their current LTE networks, as they have already deployed LTE in the 2.6 GHz band, which the iPhone 5 does not support:

        http://www.pcworld.com/article/262288/apples_iphone_5_a_mixed_bag_for_european_operators.html

        Two year old scratches iPhone 5:

        http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/iPhone-5-Scratches-Scuff-Test-iFixit,news-40205.html

        Yeah, it really adds up to 90%.....

        1. Frank Bough

          Re: Yeah, 90%

          Some fair points - Xenon flash and expandable storage would be nice, but the iPhone's camera gives better pics, don't care about NFC and OLED screens have weird colour - albeit with great contrast.

  17. Greg J Preece

    Personally, I don’t care for Samsung’s insistence on using a physical home key on its phones but I’m obviously in a minority on that score

    Personally I wish they'd take soft-touch buttons and throw them down a well, never to be heard of again. I utterly despise them. Almost every time I rotate my S3 one-handed - to watch a video, for example - one tenth of a micron of skin hits the back button and boom! There goes my content. It's absolutely infuriating, and really speaks to the obsession with crap touch controls at the expense of buttons, which work.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Agreed- I forgot to mention that as a valid criticism of the Xperia P phone I mentioned above. That said, maybe soft-touch buttons are more reliable than some designs of physical buttons, but I don't know... back in the day when they had keypads, I had a couple of phones that developed a dodgy button or two.

      I'm not sure why someone down-voted you, you were merely expressing your personal preference, whilst accepting that not everyone feels that same.

    2. Lord Voldemortgage

      Couldn't agree more, Greg, I hate the soft-touch buttons.

      It will be a major factor in my next phone purchase (if anyone actually makes a phone that only has physical buttons).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Almost every time I rotate my S3 one-handed - to watch a video, for example - one tenth of a micron of skin hits the back button and boom!"

      Can't you just rotate it the other way so the soft buttons are at the opposite side to your hand?

      (Not used an S3 so don't know if it supports 270 deg rotation.)

      1. Greg J Preece

        Can't you just rotate it the other way so the soft buttons are at the opposite side to your hand?

        You're not seriously trying to say I'm "holding it wrong", are you? ;-)

        If I'm holding it one-handed at the bottom, it makes sense to rotate it from there.

        I'm not sure why someone down-voted you, you were merely expressing your personal preference, whilst accepting that not everyone feels that same.

        People do love that button. Two downvotes so far for "I think soft touch is shit and here is why."

    4. MrXavia

      I have the s3 and I never have that issue when holding it one handed, but I have big hands... Also I do lock the phone when I watch a vide with the built in player, i.e. push the power button then your finger touches change nothing.

  18. Rob
    Thumb Up

    “the most complete digital communications device known to man” - I completely agree, the best device for my needs currently available.

    1. Frank Bough

      That's as maybe, but it's too big for a phone, and this article is about phones.

      1. Neill Mitchell

        "That's as maybe, but it's too big for a phone, and this article is about phones"

        In your opinion. In my opinion, which counts no more or less than yours except I actually own one, the Note 2 a great phone.

        Due to it's size, the microphone is nearer my mouth and the call quality is excellent. It also makes a great speaker phone because it has a great speaker. Being a larger device, they can put a larger one in. Finally, for the same reason, it is the first phone I've owned for a long time where I can hear it ringing when in my pocket (yes it fits fine) in a busy street or pub.

        It is also the first phone where I really do use the web browser all the time. The large screen and resolution, not to mention the sheer CPU grunt, makes it a very comfortable experience. I've hardly fired up my Asus Transformer since.

        All the other great functionality is a bonus.

      2. Al Taylor

        "...it's too big for a phone"

        No it's not.

      3. Rob

        Is there a predefined size now that states whether a device can qualify as a phone? Thought not.

        @Neill - snap, my poor Asus sits beside the sofa looking lonely most of the time now.

  19. David Paul Morgan

    Xperia, Sony Xperia...

    ... for me.

    My Xperia T is the only handset I've /really/ wanted for some time.

    The revamped Walkman is great and integrates quite nicely with the Sony Media Go.

    The Bravia screen is stunning and just the right size and the handset curve fits quite nicely in the hand.

    I just put my micro-SD card (with my contacts & music) in and I was up and running within 5-10 mins.

    I bought the media 'dock' and can say that the handset turns any HDMI connected Tv into a 'smart' TV. YouTube plays much crisper than the PS3 version.

    Also, the Cybershot element works really, really well, but make sure you get the ICS update to correct the 'hunting' auto-focus problem.

    I also saw a test 'Odin' in the wild last week - slightly larger than the 'T', which should also give the Samsungs a run for the money...

    Basically, ICS & JellyBean work well, so it's really a case of which handset style, size and functionality you're after - and that fits your budget. We're lucky to have so much choice.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Xperia, Sony Xperia...

      For those that want it, there is a variant of the T called the TX - it has a removable battery. The official Jelly Bean for the T and TX is said to arrive around February 2013.

    2. Sleepy 1

      Re: Xperia, Sony Xperia...

      I've just got an Xperia T, appears to be all up to date but the camera focus often hunts for ages, can you point me to the update you're referring to?

      It's a nice phone, but evey few days it looses contact with the phone network (Vodafone) and has to be power-cycled to reconnect.

    3. Furbian
      Thumb Up

      Re: Xperia, Sony Xperia...

      Xperia T, yes, I've got one. Had the 'S' before, and this was a lovely evolution, bigger screen, faster (odd, as it's the same processor), and feels great in the hand (clever design, bigger than its predecessor but 'feels' lighter and easier to hold) with it's rather odd arched back.

      Oh had to turn all the Sony rubbish off for facebook etc. The Walkman maybe good, I had had quick look, but I already have PowerAmp, which syncs perfectly with my iTunes library through iSyncr, most importantly it syncs my play counts that Walkman doesn't appear to.

      Camera fires up quickly, and work well too.

      Power/on button on the side can be a slight pain, especially when trying to change the volume when it's in a pocket.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's simple if you want a phone rather than phablet - if you like Apple / iOS you will get an iPhone 5 otherwise you will get a Samsung Galaxy III - if you wanted a more budget one you would get the Nexus. Over a 18 month to 2 year contract the difference in cost is likely to be £5-10 a month at most.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      +1 for the neologism

      'phablet'.

    2. Frank Bough
      Thumb Up

      There is a single person in my office (70 people) now using a non Apple or Samsung phone - one Blackberry left - and he's go an iPhone on order.

  21. Dabooka Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Razr i

    Personally I opted for the Razr, it's a cracking handset although I admit it probably isn't "the best" at any one thing for the experts, it does lots of things very well indeed. It's cheap as you like and it'll do me for the length of the contract, rootable out the box (if that's your thing) and a great battery.

    The big problem is the lack of any accessories. Motorola keep saying "watch this space" but quite obviously they have no intention of doing anything now which is piss poor really. Not as much as an OEM case! All I see on-line is generic tat and stuff for the Razr M.

    1. brassedoff

      Re: Razr i

      Agreed re the Razri. I bought one off-contract and I'm delighted with it. Using SmartActions to turn off wireless sync gives me between two and three days use out of it (I'm not a big user). Critics have slammed the somewhat 'industrial' look and feel, but that appeals to me. The interface is pretty much clear of clutter as well.

      1. Dabooka Silver badge

        Re: Razr i

        Same here, I like the look and feel and most people comment on how light it is too. Not thought about smart actions for turning off the sync, might set that up. TBH I haven't played with it nearly enough, hopefully I'll have time over Christmas!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Huawei G300 £100

    Value wise, it knocks all the others into the proverbial. But only Vodafone seem to sell it, so it needs a £5 unlock to be usable on better networks.

  23. Aoyagi Aichou
    Coat

    Those were the times

    They don't make no good phones these days. When I was young, I could do whatever the hell I wanted! I guess I'll have to stay with N900 forever.

    #GetOffMyLawn

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: Those were the times

      Upvote for the N900. Still got mine, still use it for work stuff over the S3. The S3 is a consumer device, in that you can view things on it, and browse things on it, but the minute I want to actually do something the N900 comes out. A task as simple as searching an e-mailed logfile became a tortuous task on the S3, but takes about 5 seconds on the N900.

  24. BrixtonChris

    Nexus 4 - don't give up hope

    I ordered my 16 Gb version from the second batch, Tuesday evening last week as I recall. Despite Google Play promising delivery in over a month's time, it actually turned up on the Friday (and would have been there on Thursday if I'd been in for the courier!). Maybe I was just lucky, maybe I got someone's returned phone, but anyway don't give up hope of getting yours before Xmas.

    And for those who are interested, my first impressions pretty much match the reviews. A great phone, blazingly fast with a very responsive UI. Quite nice looking too, if you care about those things, though slippery to hold so some sort of case would be good (although the Google Nexus 4 bumper cases are still listed as being out of stock).

    Downsides - well, it's a bit big, but that's also an upside (my previous phone was an iPhone 3, briefly followed by a Nokia Lumia 800, so the size took a bit of getting used to). And the battery really is not too impressive - as a 'power user' (ie constantly messaging, browsing, wireless headphones etc) it needs a couple of full charges a day. However I take heart from a couple of posts I've read from users who have the impressions that the battery life improves after a while, maybe all those charge/discharge cycles help condition the battery.

    Overall though, splendid piece of kit for the money

  25. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  26. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Galaxy 2 owner

      >Amazing how interesting computers are when not subjected to a monopoly abuse.

      Is that 'interesting as in the Chinese curse 'may you live in interesting times'?

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  27. Andy Miller
    Headmaster

    Spelling

    I had a quick play with a Windows phone, and I was quite impressed; until I opened the calendar app. "january?". It's a proper noun, it has Capital Letters. Couldn't live with that, it would make me twitch.

  28. Robert Caldecott
    WTF?

    Where's the Acer S500?

    "Handset of the year? No, really."

    El Reg recently reviewed the Acer S500 CloudMobile and showered it with praise yet it doesn't even get a mention here. Don't you even bother to read each others reviews?

    http://www.reghardware.com/2012/11/19/review_acer_cloud_mobile_android_handset/

    I *love* the handset reviews on this site but a) you don't do it often enough, b) you omit devices in round-ups like this and c) the scoring you use is totally inconsistent. Please sort it out.

  29. Atonnis
    FAIL

    This article...

    A brief rundown of this article produces this image....

    HERE'S AN ANDROID DEVICE!

    HERE'S ANOTHER ANDROID DEVICE!!

    oh, here's the iphone, yeh...

    andheresthewindowsphone8OSwithbriefmentionofacoupleofdevicesletsgetthisoverwith

    HERE'S AN ANDROID DEVICE!!!

    From the title I thought this article was about good Christmas pressie devices, not about OS battles. Bad article.

    1. Al Taylor
      WTF?

      Re: This article...

      The author takes no responsibility for the fact that far more models of Android phone were released in 2012 than iOS or WP8 devices and that those devices demonstrated a far grater degree of design flair and diversity.

      If there had been a 5inch iOS or WP8 phone I''d have mentioned it. If there had been an Intel-based iOS or WP8 device I'd have mentioned that too.

      @Atonnis. It was precisely to avoid the article becoming "all Android" I didn't include the Acer CloudMobile, Xperia T or Huawei G300. All good handsets to be sure.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nexus 4

    I traded in my iPhone 4S and bought a Nexus 4 with the difference. I must say the stock Android experience is way better than the latest version of iOS that I was using. Features like home screen widgets and google now are brilliant and makes life so much easier.

    After using it for a couple of weeks now and seeing mates with their iPhones it's like going from a featurephone to a smartphone then trying to get your head around a featurephone again.

    My only gripe with it is the build quality doesn't seem great. It feels like quite a light phone despite it's size, but the bottom half seems a bit flimsy and if you are gripping it quite hard it feels like it's ready to almost snap. Don't know if I've got a dud one or if this is what they are all like, but thats one area I'd say Apple can't be beaten. Their build quality is usually second to none

    On the whole though I'm extremely impressed for 280 unlocked to any network. That should see me through to the end of my contract when the Samsung Galaxy S5 should be around the corner for release......

  31. OrsonX
    Headmaster

    SUCH little time

    scans better IMHO

  32. ted frater

    Ive said it before and I say it again, i wont buy any of these even the new Blackberry as NONE of them have a proper keyboard. What sort do I need? take a look at the Psion 5 or the nokia 9210. These are the ONLY ones I can type on.

    Why's that? besause Ive big hands and I want to type just like I do on my normal pc.

    I dont see why I should have to struggle with the stupid small on screen keys.

    The reason all hand set makers have gone down this road is because their ist concern is to sell a product thats cheaper for them to make so more profitable!!.

    And then try and bullshit the customer in believing its better!!. Well,they wont bullshit me.

    Interestingly, Ive mailed John Lettice the editor of the Reg saying ill write a full article for him for free about this omission if he would take the time to read it. No reply.

    1. Peter Bond
      Thumb Down

      The sad fact is QWERTY phones have all but died out because nobody bought them.

      I've seen the UK sales for the HTC Desire Z. It was outsold by more than 8:1 by the Desire and 5:1 by the more expensive Desire HD. People want light and thin devices with big screens. And virtual keyboards have come on in leaps and bounds recently. Try using Swiftkey 3 on a Galaxy S3 or a Note 2 and then tell me you must have a Psion5/9210 keyboard to type on.

      Don't get me wrong, I liked a good QWERTY back in the day and have nothing but fond memories of my HTC TyTN II but If there was any sort of latent demand for them do you seriously thing there wouldn't be QWERTY versions of the Galaxy S3 or the Lumia 920 or the HTC One X? Of course there would. Phone makers will make a device to fill any niche just as long as they have research and numbers to back up a half decent sales projection.

      It's not a matter of chance that the first BB10 phone will be a touch screen rather than a messenger device.

      Being a lone voice crying in the wilderness doesn't make you a prophet or a martyr or even right. It just makes you a lone voice.

      1. ted frater

        I appreciate your thoughtful reply.

        We had a Desire z as a possible upgrade for my wifes razr.

        She sent it back on account of the way the software didnt follow what she is used to.And she texts for business many timesa day.

        I found the keys too small for me to manage as well..

        However, I dont think Im a lone voice in the wilderness.

        Ive many friends that in their mature yrs whohave feature phones.

        They havnt upgraded to smart phones and I speak for them.

        Why? because most of them have been to say Car p Warehouse, to try them and cant get on with the on screen keyboards andthe android software.

        They dont find it easy to do something different.

        but they would love a new handset that worked like their old handset with one of the nice big screens and a decent sized keyboard. They can afford such a device if it was made.

        But as you say theve been abandoned by the industry.

        Shame really as there are many millions of us like that. .

  33. Robredz
    Linux

    I will go for something different

    I am still using my trusty HP Pre 3, but likely go to the robot OS next, so i have the Oppo Find 5 and the Umi M2 in my sights

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "She sent it back on account of the way the software didnt follow what she is used to"

    so now you want a phone with a big keyboard and big screen but running an operating system that's nearly a decade old? Sounds to me more like an unwillingness to even attempt get to grips with the advances made in phone design and operating systems over the past half dozen than anything else.

    1. ted frater

      No, its not an unwillingness to learn, she doesnt have the time to devote to what might be a pointless exercise.

      when she gets a text message or a phone call, she is the center of a medical hands on service where a reply has to be made right away. She has 16 staff on duty at any one time over a 20 square mile area.

      Emergencies crop up , and she manages them via her mobile.

      she texts so fast!! its amazing to just see her do that.

      She is a medical professional of the highest quality.

      hope you follow.

      Ted

      .

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "she doesn't have the time to devote to what might be a pointless exercise."

    An unwillingness to spend the necessary hour or two working out how a new phone actually works does indeed often lead to a very poor user experience.

  36. Liam Meadows

    Nexus 4 from CPW

    Just upgraded my Nexus S to a Nexus 4 for £26pm on O2 UL text and Talk and 1GB data :-)

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