The best smartphones of 2011? Yes and no… part 1

The best smartphones of 2011? Yes and no… part 1It’s around that time when publications are obliged to take a long hard look over the past year and ask: What were the best smartphones of 2011? Invariably, the resultant Top 5s will include the Samsung Galaxy S II and iPhone 4S, perhaps the Nokia N9 if they’re a particularly geeky lot, and maybe even a curveball in the form of the BlackBerry Bold Touch 9900.

Instead, I figured I’d compile each and every one of Mobot’s handset reviews from 2011 into one handy feature. Want to know what Dave thought of the Samsung Galaxy S II? Or what Emma said about the iPad 2? Read on!

Hyperlinks will take to you the full – and incredibly thorough – reviews.

Oh, and I’ve decided to simply go for chronological order. Makes sense, I reckon. Maybe I'll do a wee table at the end.

HTC HD7 (4/5)

Dave said: It’s an HTC handset but the hype is all about Windows, and if Microsoft is going to stay in the smartphone game this new OS really has to work. On this evidence, it certainly does, and WinPho 7 deserves its own place battling against Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, even if there’s still plenty of room for improvement.

The HTC HD7 handset basics all hit the mark too, with a strong 4.3in screen, decent camera, good social networking aspects and a whole hatful of extras. Overall, HTC's first Windows Phone 7 handset is a bit of a gem.

LG Optimus One (4/5)

Dave said: The Optimus One marks a massive leap forward from the disappointing Optimus original and keeps LG firmly in the smart phone game, at least for now. It’s very much a lower end Android, but it does a more than decent job within its budget limitations.

Nokia N8 (3/5)

Dave said: The Nokia will certainly find some fans, for its sturdy build, excellent screen and 12 megapixel camera, as well as decent battery life, but Symbian ultimately serves as a hindrance to Nokia’s good work elsewhere.

HTC 7 Mozart (4/5)

Dave said: Though there’s little to distinguish it from its Trophy brother, HTC’s Mozart is just a little ahead thanks to its 8-megapixel camera and hybrid plastic/aluminium casing. In general, it’s standard Windows Phone 7 all the way with a nice, fast, intuitive interface and a strong set of features.

Samsung Wave II (4/5)

Dave said: There’s not a huge jump from the original Wave to this, but if you’re an original owner it’s only worth upgrading if you have a particular hankering for a larger screen and HD video recording. Otherwise, it’s a better than okay phone and makes a good case for smartphone functionality in a budget package.

HTC Desire S (4/5)

Dave said: The original Desire was a lovely little Android smart phone and so is its successor, but the changes aren’t so huge that they make it a must-buy if you’ve already got the first one.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Play (4/5)

Dave said: The Xperia Play is a good smart phone, no question, but it’s the little things that count. The controls and gameplay all work well, but it’s a shame so many of the games aren’t fully optimised for the platform with some of the controls not utilised, and there’s no single method of paying for new games. This is likely to improve in time, but it really should have been sorted from the start.

Nokia E7 review (3/5)

Dave said: A tough cookie with some great features, including its battleship build, 8 megapixel camera and HDMI connection, but let down by the sluggardly slow and needlessly complex Symbian OS.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc (4/5)

Dave said: The Xperia Arc is a big jump on from its predecessor and puts Sony Ericsson back in Android smartphone contention. Whether you prefer its design tweaks over the best from HTC, Samsung or LG is a matter of personal taste, but with the latest version of the OS, a good quality camera and an excellent screen, it’s well worth considering.

Apple iPad 2 (4/5)

Emma said: The iPad 2 is still the best tablet around, but it's not quite the big leap forward everyone was hoping for. If it's your first time buying a tablet, we couldn't recommend it more highly. But if you're upgrading, we're not convinced that the iPad 2 delivers enough wow factor to be worth shelling out for.

LG Optimus 2X (4/5)

Dave said: The LG Optimus 2X is a lovely smartphone that ups the ante for rivals with the introduction of a dual core processor. But while it's certainly fast, other premium handsets are only a whisker behind.

HTC Incredible S (4/5)

Dave said: It may not have the very latest version of Android, and it may not be dual-core, but the Incredible S is an extremely powerful and versatile Android smartphone with a dare-to-be-different design.

Motorola Xoom (4/5)

Dave said: The Xoom is a very well constructed piece of kit, if a little on the chunky side compared with its iPad rival. It’s fast, efficient, and Android 3.0 looks great as well and works extremely well too. But while it might be an iPad-botherer, the weight, screen quality and that awful power lead mean the Xoom's not quite a beater.

Dell Venue Pro (3/5)

Dave said: It's a hefty beast, but solidly built, and text nutters will appreciate the physical QWERTY keyboard (though for many the onscreen keyboard is more than capable enough). It's a fast operator too though it would have been nice to see a few more features appearing on the WinPho 7 operating system by now. If you can put up with the bulk, it's a capable handset, a little cheaper than the HTC 7 Pro, but not really a front runner.

Samsung Galaxy S II (4/5)

Dave said: The Samsung Galaxy S II is a leap ahead of its predecessor and pretty much marks the state of the art in Android phones at the moment. With its sleek, slim good looks, dual core processor, quality 8 megapixel camera and Android Gingerbread, it’s just about as good as it gets, and a worthy challenger to the iPhone.

Samsung Solid Immerse (3/5)

Dave said: Samsung’s Solid Immerse prides itself on its rugged credentials, but though it talks the talk, it doesn’t quite walk the walk, falling down in our abuse tests for screen strength and casing robustness.

HTC Wildfire S (3/5)

Dave said: The Wildfire S’s diminutive size is its main asset, and improvements to screen and processor help it to keep pace with the times, though it’s no substitute for the high end.

Samsung Galaxy Ace (3/5)

Dave said: The Galaxy Ace is a decent little mid-range Android handset with a reasonably powerful processor, but it doesn’t really have much to make it stand out from the crowd.

Phew, I think that’s us around half way through. Interestingly, no 5/5s yet. Part 2 includes the Samsung Galaxy Nexus and iPhone 4S, so there’s everything to play for. It’ll follow just as soon as the New Year celebrations stop and I’m physically capable.

Read more about: Apple iPad 2Samsung Galaxy S2Sony Ericsson Xperia PlayAndroidiOSDell Venue ProHTC 7 MozartHTC Desire SHTC HD7HTC Incredible SHTC Wildfire SLG Optimus 2XLG Optimus One P500Motorola Xoom MZ601Nokia E7Nokia N8Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830Samsung Wave 2Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc

Add a comment

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 13:23

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha ...

My cat just - oh, nevermind. Bold 9900. Best of 2011. Why? Beauty, subtlety, and it makes you stop worrying about apps apps apps apps :D

jmarcelino  Dec. 30, 2011 at 13:38

The Xoom is a smartphone now? Maybe true the way things are heading...

Call me old fashioned but would have expected the Droid Razr instead.

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 13:53

cause like all of rims phones its dead dead dead ;)

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 14:12

It's only part 1! The RAZR will feature according to my crystal ball :D

And I'm glad the Xoom and iPad are in there - that way LC can't do a "Best Tablet" feature :p

matt101101 / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 14:23

The best tablet is called "saving your 400+ quid for something more useful".

As for the 1-5 rating system, it's a LG Optimus One and the SGS2 got the same rating, hmmm ;).

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 14:26

well they cant rate them down... vodafone wont loan jan any more phones if they do ;)

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 14:43

Treab, I don't share my phones with mobot :p
As to the rating system, Matt, that is relative to price, OS context etc... If it does what it says on the tin, it's a win. Even if there are bigger tins.

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 14:48

RELETIVE TO PRICE... the optimus 2x was the same price as the galaxy s2...

and JAN DO SOME MODDING... the link to the 2x doesnt work ;)

matt101101 / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 14:56

Treab's right on both points there, the 2x and the S2 both cost £400-500on release, and the link is broken.

matt101101 / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 14:57

Oh and the iPad 2 is way better than the Xoom, even for an Android fan, the Xoom was crap.

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 15:03

i feel ill... matts agreeing with me again... im seeing what tesco can do for me with regards my next mobile lol ;)

bettsy  Dec. 30, 2011 at 16:23

The N8 was 2010?!

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 16:29

another late response from mobot... *shakes head*

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 17:08

You're right, of course - the Nokia N8 came out in 2010.
In fact, in Q4 2010 only the iPhones sold better than the N8. But Mobot only opened its gates in early 2011, Bettsy ;)

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 17:09

Treab, dead actors don't scare me :p

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 17:10

Treab, dead actors don't scare me :p

they should they are the worst... they keep trying to revive their careers ;)

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 17:11

As to the LG revIew link: works for me o_O

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 17:11

works now... obviously a good mod fixed it before you.. :p

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 17:12

Treab, the LG was out BEFORE the SGS2, so your point is moot :p

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 17:13

by how long my likkle mod ;) 1 month 2?

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 19:41

by how long my likkle mod ;) 1 month 2?

Well, that's how the stupid game is played, right? First this, first that... first in the discount bin :p

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 19:44

which means if your gonna re-post the review you should reassess ;)

JanSt / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 21:03

Personally, I'm with you on that one.
But Lewis made it clear that he quotes from (implied) old reviews. So, I find HIS version of a year's round-up acceptable.
As it is - and I'm in trouble now - I'm not a fan of any kind of rating system for reviews. That kind of numbers game serves some purposes, granted. But it's fairly subjective.
No NFC? Deduct a point? What if I don't give a sh*t about NFC?
It's okay for a quick fix of review-info - which is the approach currently used by mobot.

On the other hand, is it fair to say, oh now that gadget sucks because it's a year old and better stuff's come out since?
We have the comment/debate section, and as you have noticed, we are all open to suggestions and verbal asskicking, so there...

Treab  Dec. 30, 2011 at 21:07

oh now that gadget sucks because it's a year old and better stuff's come out since?

no it sucked as it was launched with 2.2 not 2.3 (which had been out for 4 months) and the software was as buggy as hell... giving that device a 4 was always a mistake ;)

and thats also why this who article by lewis was a mistake... cause say i was new and didnt realise which one was the most new and saw the 2x was a 4/5 and decided at 200 odd i would buy it cause its good right... it was posted december 2011 ;)

matt101101 / MOD  Dec. 30, 2011 at 21:24

Can you two stop arguing about these bloody reviews please. It's a review, no review is perfect, there's no efficient way to please everyone all the time. It really doesn't matter that much, does it?


You don't need an account to comment. Just enter your email address. We'll keep it private.