2012 has been a crazy year in the mobile industry. The industry was mainly dominated by Samsung and Apple this year, with the likes of HTC and Sony struggling to stay afloat. Earlier this year, Google shocked everyone buy buying Motorola for 12.5$ billion. Later on, Apple shocked everyone and caused a lot of trouble to its iDevices owners by ditching Google Maps for its own in-house mapping system, Apple Maps. This eventually led to Tim Cook firing Scott Forstall, who was the senior vice-president of iOS software.
In 2012, smartphones were all about big screens with 720p resolution, oodles of RAM, quad-core processors and, thankfully, nearly all day battery life. Like in 2011, Android phones absolutely dominated the sales chart, especially Samsung’s Galaxy S3.
Now, that the year is going to end and the holiday season is fast approaching, we list down our top 10 phones of 2012.
10) Motorola RAZR i - Motorola promotes the RAZR i with an edge-to-edge display, and rightly so. The RAZR i packs in a 4.3-inch Super-AMOLED qHD display with dimensions that are the same as the iPhone.
The RAZR i is also the first handset from a major OEM to pack in an Intel Atom processor clocked at a whopping 2GHz, along with an outdated PowerVR SGX 540 GPU and 1GB of RAM. If you don’t want a phone that does not have a massive 4.7-inch+ display, the RAZR i will be your best option.
Under Google’s keen eye, expect Motorola to come up with a stellar handset in 2013 that will shock and surprise every tech enthusiast out there.
9) HTC One S – The HTC One S is the perfect upper mid-range Android handset out there. It has a 4.3-inch Super-AMOLED screen with qHD (960*640) resolution, 16GB of internal storage, absolutely stellar build quality and a decent 8MP camera.
If the One S failed to set the sales on fire, it was because of the lack of its microSD card slot, and HTC swapping the dual-core Snapdragon S4 Krait processor with the older-generation S3 processor in some markets.
8) LG Optimus G - Google’s Nexus 4 is based on the LG Optimus G. Both the devices share the same internal specifications – a 1.5GHz Quad-core Krait processor, 2GB RAM, a 4.7-inch IPS HD 768p display, and an 8MP camera (13MP in some variants). It even has a back that has the same disco-ball effect as on the Nexus 4.
The Optimus G was the first Android smartphone to make use of Qualcomm’s quad-core Krait processor. While the handset is not bad by any means, it is not going to be as successful as LG might have hoped for, all thanks to the Nexus 4, that packs in similar specs for half the price.
7) Nokia Lumia 920 – While the verdict is not yet out if the Lumia 920 is as successful as Nokia might have hoped for, the handset definitely has all the ingredients needed to make it a hit. The 4.5-inch ClearBlackDisplay comes with PureMotion HD+ technology that gives the screen on the Lumia 920 a higher refresh rate than other competing screen technologies out there.
However, the selling point of the Lumia 920, and the reason why it has made it to this list, is because of its 8.7MP PureView camera, which has OIS (Optical Image Stabilization).
With Windows Phone 8 adding some much needed features to the mobile OS from the Redmond based company, the Lumia 920 might just be enough to pull back Nokia into profitability.
6) HTC One X - The One X is nearly 10 months old, but is still one of the most stunning phones available in the market. The handset sports a stunning 4.7-inch 720p S-LCD2 display, 1GB of RAM, Nvidia’s Tegra 3 processor clocked at 1.5GHz, 32GB of storage space, and an 8MP F/2.0 camera with ImageSense. The AT&T version of the One X swapped the Tegra 3 quad-core processor with a dual-core Krait processor from Qualcomm, which is no slow-couch either.
While the One X might not have sold in large numbers as HTC might have hoped for, the handset did prove that HTC is going on the right way. If the DNA is any indication, the HTC One X2 might just bring back HTC in the game.
5) Google Nexus 4 - When rumors started leaking on the Internet that LG is going to make the next Nexus handset, everyone was doubtful about the handset’s quality and its reliability. Ironically, after the Nexus One, the Nexus 4 is the only Nexus branded device from Google to pack in bleeding-edge specifications. Right from the 768p IPS HD display to the quad-core Krait processor to the 2GB of RAM or the build quality of the handset, the Nexus 4 screams of premium/quality. The disco-ball effect at the back of the phone is a nice addition as well, and makes the phone stand out from the crowd.
What, however, is not premium is its pricing. For only $299 for the 8GB version and $349 for the 16GB version, the Nexus 4 is well worth it just because of its stellar price tag. The Nexus branding means that owners will be the first in line to get future Android updates. With Android 4.2 already on-board, the Nexus 4 is already running the latest version of Android, which includes Photosphere, an enhanced keyboard, lock screen widgets, multiple user profiles and more.
4) HTC DROID DNA - The DROID DNA from HTC is only available in the United States under Verizon’s network and as the Butterfly in Japan. The phone was supposed to be launched in Europe but rumors indicate that HTC might have had a change of heart. The DROID DNA/Butterfly is the first Android smartphone to sport a 5-inch screen with a whopping 1080p screen resolution. Apart from the screen, the DNA/Butterfly includes a blazing fast 1.5GHz quad-core Qualcomm S4 processor, 2GB of RAM, an 8MP F/2.0 camera and more.
After quite sometime, HTC is struggling to meet the demands of the handset in Japan, which should come as a sigh of relief for the Taiwanese maker. If the DROID DNA is anything to go by, the One X successor from HTC that will be unveiled next year at MWC, is going to set the bar high for the Galaxy S4 and others.
3) Apple iPhone 5 - With even budget oriented phones coming with a 4-inch+ display, Apple had to increase the size of the display on the iPhone, and it did with the iPhone 5. Instead of making the display wider and taller, the Cupertino company only made it taller so as to facilitate one-hand usage.
Apart from the bigger screen, the iPhone 5 also packed in LTE in a much slimmer (7.6mm) body. The usual generational updates were also present including a blazing fast custom-core A6 SoC from Apple, improved GPU performance, 1GB of RAM, and an 8MP camera with improved low-light performance.
However, the iPhone 5 along with iOS 6 lacked any kind of innovation or the ‘new’ factor. The new version of iOS only brought about minor enhancements and nothing else. Even then, the lack of innovation did not stop Apple from selling more than 5 million units of the handset in its first weekend in the United States. The iPhone 5 might have lacked innovation, but it can beat the combined sales figure of the Galaxy S3 and the Note 2 in just a month.
2) Samsung Galaxy Note 2 - Samsung has been on a roll with its Galaxy series. If the Galaxy S series is aimed at smartphones lovers, the Korean company has successfully managed to please people out there who want a ‘phablet’ with its Note series. When Samsung initially unveiled the Galaxy Note, it was ridiculed for releasing a device with such a big screen. The Galaxy Note, then, went on to sell in excess of 10 million units. The Galaxy Note 2 has gone a level further and reached the 5 million sales mark within 2 months of its release.
For a phablet, the Galaxy Note 2 packs in everything that once can imagine including a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a 5.5-inch HD Super-AMOLED screen, an 8MP camera, oodles of storage, a bunch of sensors and a beefy 3100mAh battery for an all-day battery life even with heavy usage.
1) Samsung Galaxy S3 - If the Galaxy S and Galaxy S2 made Samsung popular, the Galaxy S3 confirmed Samsung’s prowess in the mobile industry. Not only is the Galaxy S3 loaded to the brim specs wise with a quad-core Exynos processor clocked at 1.4GHz, 1GB of RAM, a 720p HD Super-AMOLED screen, 16GB of storage and a microSD card slot, it can also last nearly a day of moderate to heavy usage thanks to its beefy 2100mAh battery and 32nm-HKMG fabrication process based SoC.
If the hardware of the phone is impressive, the list of all the features that Samsung has included in this phone is exhaustive. While the nature inspired version of TouchWIZ in Galaxy S3 is still ugly and not to everyone’s liking, Samsung has added so many features to it, that it is tough to not use it. These features include Pop-up play, pop-up browser, multi-view multitasking, Smart stay, Smart rotation and much more.
While the phone does look ugly and is still made of plastic, it has been selling like hot cakes all over the world. No wonder Samsung managed to sell more than 30 million Galaxy S3s within 5 months of its launch.
Don’t agree with our list? Feel free to drop in a comment and let us know which are your top 10 smartphones of 2012.