2012: Phones of the year

Our phones of the year are divided into high-end smartphones, mid-level and low-end smartphones, and feature phones. The list breaks away from the traditional top three approaches, as a wide variety of devices have emerged to suit different needs.

High-end smartphones
The Samsung Galaxy S3 sweeps the rug out from under Apple’s feet with a dazzling big screen, gorgeous curves and slick and fast operating system. The HTC One X comes close, but loses marginally in screen size and by the width of a microSD card (which it doesn't have), despite its near-infinite – okay, make that 32GB – internal storage. It wins on price, though.

The iPhone 5 stretches for the finishing post, and the long format makes for a great games controller, but a 4" screen still leaves it poky against the two leaders. Ultra-sharp Retina Display redeems it. The iPhone 5 only narrowly beats out the Nokia Lumia 920. It’s already a cliché to say the latter has the best camera of any standard smartphone in the world, but if photos are your thing and you want Windows 8, this is your phone.

Finally, there’s the trusty workhorse, the BlackBerry Torch 9810, which may not be as cool as the rest, but its messaging efficiency is unbeatable. It also whips the rest on price.

1.     Samsung Galaxy S3. 4.8” screen, Android 4.0, 8MP camera and 1.9MP front camera, 1.4GHz quad processor, Wi-Fi hotspot. R6498 (8ta), R7500 (DionWired).

2.     HTC One X. 32GB storage, 4.7” touchscreen, Wi-Fi hotspot. R5800 (see Pricecheck.co.za)

3.     Apple iPhone 5. A6 chip, 4” Retina Display, LTE. R8800 (Vodacom)

4.     Nokia Luma 920, 1.5GHz processor, Windows Phone 8, Wi-Fi hotspot, 4.5” touchscreen, 8.7MP camera with low-light capability, 32GB storage, 2GB RAM, LTE. R7999 (Vodacom)

5.     BlackBerry Torch 9810. 8GB storage, microSD card, capacitive touchscreen, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, Wi-Fi hotspot. R4200 (exCellular)

Mid-level smartphones
The Huawei Ascend P1 takes first place in the mid-range by virtue of whipping the high-end phones in the slim stakes, but at a fraction of their price. However, if you’ve seen the new James Bond movie, Skyfall, and survived Q being a geek who doesn't do gadgets, you may have noticed 007’s choice of phone. The cool kids (read: “sheep”) may not be brandishing a Sony, but the Xperia T comes with a Licence To Be Different. The Lumia 820 is the most compelling Windows 8 phone in the mid-range, and the BlackBerry Bold 9900 still earns the lust of South Africans who think a keyboard is a Good Idea but don’t want to miss out on Touch.

1.     Huawei Ascend P1. Everything Android phones have to offer, comparable to the high-end phones, with FM, but at an absurd price. R1999 (CNA, Edgars)

2.     Sony Xperia T. 13MP camera, NFC, not far behind the top-end, but at a mid-range price. Recommended retail: R6999 (to be announced)

3.     Nokia Lumia 820, 4.3” touchscreen, Windows 8, LTE. Around R6000. (tba)

4.     BlackBerry Bold 9900, 8GB storage, 2.8” capacitive touchscreen, wide QWERTY keyboard. R5999 (Vodacom)

Low-end smartphones
At the low-end of the smartphone range, BlackBerry and Samsung have the most compelling single devices, but Nokia offers the best range and choice:

1.     BlackBerry Curve 9320. 3G, FM radio, 3.2MP camera, microSD card slot. R2299 (Edgars, CNA)

2.     Samsung Galaxy Pocket S5300, Android 2.3, 2MP camera, FM, microSD card slot. R899 (Cellucity)

3.     Nokia Asha 610. Windows 7.5, 5MP camera, 8GB memory, FM. R1999 (CNA, Edgars)

4.     Nokia Asha 311. 3” touch screen, 1GHz processor, 3.2MP camera, Wi-Fi, FM. R1499 (Makro)

5.     Nokia Asha 306. 3” touch screen, 2MP camera, WiFi, FM. R979 (CNA, Edgars)

Feature phones
Samsung is losing SA market share, but it still has some of the best options at both the top and bottom end of the market. For example, at No.1 among feature phones.

1.     Samsung Pusha E1200. Colour screen, FM,  microSD card slot. R129 (Game)

2.     Nokia Asha 201. QWERTY keyboard, 2MP camera, 2.4” QVGA screen, FM, Bluetooth, microSD card slot. R689 (Ackermans)

3.     ZTE S505. It does only three things: voice, SMS and FM radio. R50. (Pick ’n Pay). The killer app is in the wallet.

One phone fits all? Ha! – Gadget.co.za

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