We’ve crept into Q2 of 2012, and we’re starting to see more of the handsets that we first saw at Mobile World Congress, coming through over the next few months.
Certain trends are already shaping 2012, ranging from the genuinely useful; such as higher resolution screens and redesigned camera modules to the more interesting such as quad-core processors.
Two company’s we’ll see more of throughout the rest of 2012 are Huawei and ZTE. Both are Chinese OEM manufacturers that have made handsets for Orange and Vodafone among others.
Here’s our pick of the top mobiles of 2012. We’ll be updating it throughout the year, with scores as we review the phones and adding new phones as they are released.
HTC One X
The HTC One X is the very first quad-core phone from HTC, with an Nvidia Tegra 3 processor and launching with Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich, running HTC Sense 4.0.
Everything about the phone is big. The screen is 4.7-inches, which is almost the same size as the Samsung Galaxy Note (at 5.1-inches) with a HD resolution of 720p.
The 8-megapixel camera is totally new and includes a bright f/2 lens for low-light shooting and to capture full HD 1080p movies.
In our HTC One X review we loved the screen, camera and just the immense power of this phone, although the battery performance did suffer and it’s not removable.
Rivals: Huawei Ascend D Quad , LG Optimus 4X HD
Our score: 4 stars
HTC One S
At 7.8mm deep the second phone in HTC’s One range is also the thinnest phone HTC has ever produced and the first to be compatible with the smaller microSIM format. It’s a unibody design available in two versions: ceramic metal and gradient metal. The ceramic metal version has been made using an electrochemical process to ensure the body is tough.
Powered by a fast 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, with 1GB RAM the HTC One S has internal memory of 16GB and there’s 4.3-inch screen with a resolution of 540×960.
The 8-megapixel camera has been revamped for better all round performance and f/2 lens – especially in low light – and the ability to capture full HD movies, although the Macro focus can be tricky to set. Like other HTC products Beats Audio is on board too.
In our HTC One S review we loved the build quality, battery life and low-like performance, but found the screen occasionally suffered from dot patterning.
Rivals: Sony Xperia P, Samsung Galaxy S2
Out: April 2012
Our score: 4.5
HTC One V
Don’t call the HTC One V a budget phone. It may be the cheapest phone in HTC’s new One Series, but it still packs a 1GHZ processor and brand new 5-megapixel camera that shoots 720p HD video.
At first glance it looks like it’s predecessor the HTC Hero, with its distinct jutting chin and metal chassis with soft-touch accents. Inside it’s running the latest version of Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich with HTC Sense 4.0
In our review we praised the screen, design and camera, but felt a dual-core processor would have matched rivals.
Rivals: Huawei Ascend G 300, Sony Xperia U, Motorola MOTOLUXE
Our score: 4
Huawei Ascend D Quad
The Huawei Ascend D Quad is HTCs’ flagship phone. Like the HTC One X it has a quad-core processor, but instead of using an NVIDIA or Qualcomm chip, the K32V chip has been developed especially by Huawei.
At 4.5-inches, the screen is slightly smaller than the HTC One X, but still a generous size for playing games and movies and has a high definition resolution of 1280x720p and 330 ppi count should ensure crisp and sharpness.
Elsewhere there’s an 8-megapixel camera, which along with stills, shoots full HD movies
Equipped with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the Huawei Ascend D Quad looks like a powerful phone – but it’s the last of the quad-core trio to launch landing in July.
Rivals: LG Optimus 4X HD, HTC One X
Our score: TBC
LG Optimus 4X HD
LG had a pretty subdued 2011, following the launch of underrated LG Optimus 2X and LG Optimus Black. But the company is back with a powerhouse of a smartphone.
The LG Optimus 4X HD includes a quad-core processor and 4.7-inch HD screen (like the HTC One X), which should be fantastic for gaming – and it’s also got the added incentive of launching with Street Fighter IV for Android.
It might be powerful, but the LG Optimus 4X HD is just 8.9mm deep and attractive, certainly from our time we were impressed with the phone – which feels fast and powerful.
Rivals: Huawei Ascend D Quad, HTC One X
Our score: TBC
Nokia Lumia 610
The Nokia Lumia 610 is the fourth Windows Phones from Nokia, sitting above the excellent Lumia 710 in the line-up.
As the baby of the range, it’s slightly less powered – with an 800Mhz processor with 256MB RAM (instead of 1GHz processor) – but that will be more than enough for most tasks.
On-board extras include Nokia Maps, Nokia Drive and Nokia Music and there’s an NFC chip.
At £200 sim free the Nokia Lumia 710 is the cheapest Windows Phone on the market right now, so if the Lumia 610 comes in at around £160, it might finally be the phone to break into the younger market – especially as it comes in cyan, magenta and black.
Rivals: Samsung Galaxy Ace 2, HTC Wildfire S
Our score: TBC
Nokia Lumia 900
We first saw the Nokia Lumia 900 at CES, it looks very similar to the Nokia Lumia 800, but as the flagship phone in Nokia’s Lumia range, has a few differences, namely the larger 4.3-inch Clear Black AMOLED screen, 8-megapixel camera with dual LED flash and front-facing camera. The US version also has 4G (or LTE) support, while the UK version will support HSPA+ speeds instead, which are 42Mbit/s.
Running Windows Phone 7.5 (or Tango), we’re curious to see how it performs, against dual-core rivals.
Rivals: HTC One S, Sony Xperia S
Out: Pre-order now. Q2
Our score: TBC
Orange Santa Clara
Orange is the only UK manufacturer to have success with its range of own-brand handsets, most notably the Orange San Francisco. But with the Orange Santa Clara (which isn’t the confirmed name), Orange is stepping into the mid-priced smartphone category and it’s the first phone to include an Intel processor.
Elsewhere there’s 4-inch screen, 16GB of memory and an 8-megapixel camera, although it launches with a Android 2.3 Gingerbread – not the newer Android 4.0: Ice Cream Sandwich.
Orange has managed to undercut similarly priced rivals at the lower end, so we’re really curious to see how much the Orange Santa Clara will cost.
Rivals: HTC One V, Huawei Ascend G300
Our score: TBC
Sony Xperia S
The Xperia S is the first phone to launch in the UK under the Sony moniker. It also marks a dramatic redesign since the Sony Xperia Arc, with strong lines and strip concealing the main Android controls.
There’s a 4.3-inch screen with a HD resolution and exceptionally dense pixel density – which basically means pin-sharp text.
For a flagship phone, it’s perhaps surprising to see a dual rather than quad-core processor, on the Sony Xperia P but that doesn’t stop the phone being a fantastic performer.
Despite running Android, it doesn’t include the latest iteration Ice Cream Sandwich, but that’s our only real complaint. The design is fantastic, as is the camera and Sony deserves to have a winner.
Rivals: HTC One S, Samsung Galaxy S2, Apple iPhone 4S
Our score: 4.5 stars