My list of 8 best smartphones of 2012


 2012 is finished, and I was required by my readers at www.mobilityfreak.co.il to prepare a list of the best smartphones released this last year.

As such, I chose to myself the 8 devices which I would definitely buy if I had the possibility to buy all 8. Surely, as the places go down, the level of preference goes up, meaning, if I had the ability to buy only 3 I would buy places 1,2 and 3.

Mostly interesting, after I built my list and published it at the website, I went to verify my list again other respected sites, and with slight variations in placement and in one or two devices, most had the same lists.

So here it goes, this is my list of the 8 best smartphones of 2012.

8th Place: Samsung Galaxy Note 2

Well, with its 5.5'' screen, a giant battery and the special capacitive stylus by Samsung, the Note 2 is the ideal device for whoever is willing to have a large device with a big screen instead of carrying a phone and a tablet. On the other hand, it is quite big for one-handed work and for putting it near your ear for speaking. But it definitely speaks loudly to a niche in the market, and in my list of priorities, it would be the last one to get.

7th Place: HTC  ONE X

HTC always builds incredible devices, and the ONE  X does not fall away from this definition. With the large screen and the BEATS AUDIO amplifier, it is most certainly the best device for music lovers. On the other hand, HTC's Sense 3.0 brings me to internal conflict of interests. On one hand, I like all the fireworks in HTC's shell. On the other hand, the shell is too damn heavy on the phone, and I feel the whole phone makes efforts to satisfy my expectations due to the shell's memory size, internet usage and processor usage. I would love if I could completely uninstall Sense, free the memory used by it and then install a snappier shell over Android. 

6th Place: Motorola Razr i

After gaining back its relevance in the mobile area with their Razr and Razr MAXX last year, Motorola did it again with four devices in the Razr line this year: The Razr M, the Razr HD, the Razr HD MAXX and the Razr i.

From the 4 models, the Razr i was the only model released up to this point for GSM/HSPA networks, so it was the only device I could test. I can tell you that I did actually buy this one for my son, so I was able to take a good test on it and even publish a review (in Hebrew - translation to English by Google here).

I must say I was very impressed from what Motorola managed to do with the Intel Medfield processor, with one core only at a 2GHz clcok speed. You need A LOT OF APPLICATIONS running in order to manage to slow it down.

The device has a great device, arrives with Android 4.0 preinstalled and is about to get the upgrade to Android 4.1 next month.

5th Place: ASUS PADFONE 2

Well, currently this device is my consumer dream. I cannot tell that I have already used it and can recommend it based on experience, but reviews I read abroad are very good. And this idea of having the phone and the tablet on devices that complete one another are probably the best idea in this area during the last two years. I must agree that the first implementation on the Asus PADFONE was not good; it was difficult to insert and remove the phone in and from the tablet, and one had to reboot every time this was done.

Then came the PADFONE 2 and everything is solved. The phone slides in and out of the tablet, and this can be done during work, while watching a vide, while playing again, or whatever you may be doing with the device. This is all I wanted for my day-to-day use.

4th Place: NOKIA LUMIA 920

Nokia is coming back to the market with a Windows Phone 8 device, full of special characteristics, and specially with a stunning camera. I have talked to users of this phone regarding difficulties in getting used to the new concept of the Microsoft OS, but their answer surprised me: they said they had difficulties, if ever, only in the first day or two, and after that, every day that goes buy they love more the new OS and its concepts. More than anything, most users told me they would never go back to iPhone or Android after using WP8.

It is very difficult to discuss with that!

My only criticism on this device is on its weight. It seems that the camera and battery do a great influence on it, and it is quite a brick. But then, someone like me who in the past used to take his i-mate JASJAR everywhere can't complain about that.

Anyway, definitely a device worth considering.

 

3rd place: iPhone 5

Many Android users will tell me that the iPhone 5 hasn't innovated in anything and there is no reason for iPhone 4 users to upgrade to it, and maybe I will even be forced to agree with that. Anyway, the iPhone 5 comes to fix something that was broken in all previous models and was needing a fix in the last two years: the screen size. That's right, it fitted the reality of 2007, but not of 2012. And with the new screen, the iphone 5 is definitely more attractive to someone desiring to buy a new device.

Additionally, iOS is still the easiest OS to learn and to begin operating from the first minute you have the phone. Definitely it is technofobia-proof.

My biggest problem with the iphone are the price and the closed-garden business model by apple. Apple keeps control of everything in the ecosystem, and in many cases for developers it is difficult and expensive to get in there, and for the user it becomes impossible to get out of there after all the money spent in applications.

2nd PLACE: NEXUS 4

Let's speak freely: there are two big deals in the Nexus 4. The first is the vanilla Android OS which operates exactly in the way that Google idealized it, without shells or customizations. The second is the price, which unfortunately isn't really happening for people who can't buy directly in the Google store.

Regarding the OS - no discussion, that's for good and for bad. One one hand we get an OS that works exactly the way Google thinks it should work in our phones; we are also the first people to get all the new updates. On the other hand, there are some customizations that are worth the difference - for example, the camera software packages used by Samsung and HTC are far more functional than Google's stock package.

Now, about the price... here is the big mess. Gossip tells that LG was not aware that Google was intending to sell this device for such a low price, and got really angry with them... and that's the reason for the low stock in Google's shop. So the situation today is that whoever can purchase the device in the Google Play Store in his country can get it for $350, while others, who buys in other retail stores, that usually get their stock from LG, pay at least $530.

Anyway, there is no discussion: this device is a great device and it well deserves its second place in my list.

1st Place: Samsung Galaxy S III

Isn't that expected? 

Well, I actually bought this device for myself, to substitute my old RAZR, and I couldn't be happier with it. The device is fast, stable, easy to customize for myself, and the Samsung-added functionality does a great deal in making this device better than others.

I have two complaints though, both of them regarding the headphone connection. First, every time I plug my headphones in the Volume goes down to half and I have to set my preference again. I would prefer if, like in other phones, the volume would stay in the last used level. Second, people there at Samsung thought only about those connecting headphones to this outlet, and many people use it to connect to loudspeakers. I connect my phone mostly to the stereo system in my motorcycle (to listen to recorded music and to internet radio), and the maximum volume is too low. I was not expecting to get the same volume as the HTC devices with BEATS AUDIO, but at least the same volume as the RAZR was expected, and I am not getting it.

Anyway, this device has everything needed to win first place. Besides the speed, the functionality, the stability, it has a good screen (not excellent, but well readable both indoors and outdoors), good cellular communication, and an excellent battery life between charges.

Last week, the device got the Samsung JB Premium Pack Update - with it, the ability to divide the screen between two apps, low light shots in the camera, and a lot more. Definitely worth every dollar spent on it.

Well, with this I finish my list. Hope you have enjoyed. Will be back soon with other articles.