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back to article The best smartphones for Christmas

This was the year the smartphone wars really got hot, both on the high street and in the courts. Of course the former was a driving force behind the latter: neither Apple nor Microsoft gave a toss about Android’s alleged patent infringements - real or imaginary, reasonable or ridiculous - until handsets running Google’s mobile …

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Anonymous Coward

some disturbingly wobbly Wi-Fi connectivity.

See, these people just can't help copying Apple

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Terminator

got to order

...a Nexus 4 from the second batch - delivery 3-4 weeks and counting.

Agree with the comment on HTC build quality - I've been a fan since my Nexus Some - really not keen on Sense though

What I'd really like to see is every manufacturer coming out with a Nexus ph9ne once each year - the "pure Android" interface and instant updates are a compelling sales-pitch.

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Re: got to order

i'm with you on the Nexus 4. £280 is ace.

One thing i'll give Apple is their resale value far outstrips most others. my 18 month old iphone 4 is gonna get me around £200 towards that figure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: got to order

That business model exists already, it's called Windows Phone. Tightly controlled hardware specs and no custom GUI shit.

I thought Android was all about freedom, the freedom for an OEM to install all the crapware they want on the phone?

Are people finally realising that OEMs "value added" is a waste of time and that the core OS should be improved instead?

Nokia contribute a lot of things to Windows Phone, this is the sort of development model that needs to exist for Android. Samsung and others could all contribute additions to Android and it would at least then get more testing, improvements on a collaborative basis.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: got to order

£280 gets you bugger all storage.

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Thumb Down

Re: got to order

Your wording is a little off.

"Tightly controlled hardware specs and no custom GUI shit."

Should read

"Tightly controlled hardware specs and the GUI is shit." ???

Winpho is just awful for user customisation, everyone's winpho has god awful icons / tile / hubs or whatever MS call them this week. yes it might be a colour change, but it is still massive squares of blandness.

Google has it right with just plain OS and no frilly crap like Samsung and HTC force on users for Android. "Sense" has killed any love I had for HTC.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: got to order

While iphone's might have great resale value, the initial cost is much higher... i've not paid for a phone since my first wap phone many years ago... I always get free on contract, and I do work the cost of the phone into the contract in my mind, i.e. I am paying £36/month for a deal that is £25/month sim only, so my phone cost me £264, where retail its around 500 on launch... i.e. I save around £200

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Anonymous Coward

Re: got to order

Except you can get a contract with unlimited just about everything for £12 ... per month. Doubling the cost of your phone.

Contracts with "free" phones are just convoluted credit agreements. Do you really think phone shops will give you your phone for half price

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Stop

Re: got to order

"I am paying £36/month for a deal that is £25/month sim only"

For a top-end phone I doubt very much the difference is only £11 per month relative to sim-only. When new a Galaxy SIII here in the Netherlands cost 41.65 euros (e35 ex VAT) per month over 2 years on 'unlimited' (2GB) plus text & data, the equivalent SIM-only contract cost 17.85 (e15 ex VAT) euros.

They'll suck you in on the 'free phone' advertising, then bleed you dry over 2 years until you end up paying far more for the phone than if you bought it sim-free. Of course £500 is a lot to pony up in one go for most people - hence the success of 'free on contract'.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: got to order

"Except you can get a contract with unlimited just about everything for £12 ... per month."

Where? Not gifgaf For £25 a month get: 1,500 UK minutes

Unlimited UK texts

Unlimited Internet

Free to giffgaff

So you're talking crap, 1500 is not unlimited and £25 is not £12.

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WTF?

HTC One X

So you say in the article that you rate the HTC One X better than the Galaxy SIII but you fail to put it in the top 3 phones and it is not in the also rans either!!

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Re: HTC One X

I constantly fail to understand why the One X has done so badly. I can only assume it is because pretty much nobody has heard of it, which is a shame really. HTC should be firing its marketing bods right now, if they haven't done so already.

On the plus side, it does mean that you can pick up the One X for considerably less than the S3. A quick look at a bookseller-who-shall-not-be-named's web site tells me the difference in the handset price is currently around £30 cheaper. When I got mine (albeit on contract) a few months ago, the difference was more like £100.

The two phones are comparable in most respects, with one coming out ahead in some features, and the other in others. There isn't really a lot between them, both are technically better than the iPhone.

My only real gripe with the One X is the fact that they have gone down the crapple route by making the phone a sealed unit, so you can't swap the battery or storage, although 32Gb is quite generous, so this isn't a massive problem. The battery life ain't great either, but show me a smart-phone where it is.

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Bronze badge

Re: HTC One X

After my Desire-Z (RIP) was literally struck by lightning, for me, it came down to the HTC One X or Galaxy S3 (big screens are nicer to read books on). I do like the HTC's sense UI but the charming combination of weaker battery life, an unswappable battery, and no SD slot* was the deal-breaker. On the flip-side, the Samsung Kies software is utter garbage but I don't need to use it.

* It's not a matter of storage space but if the phone flakes out it's easier to pull out the SD card than to retrieve files from the phone's internal storage.

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poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

Enjoyed the summary, but the iPhone 5 gets the poorest comment of the whole article yet still records a 90% score?

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Meh

Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

I'm guessing that a few of us going "WTF?" at the ranking is preferable to hordes of fanbois screaming; "HOW DARE YOU FAIL AT RECOMEND TEH MOSTEST POPULAR PHONE IN TEH HOLE WURLD!!11!!!"

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Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

Once you include the brand image factor it accounts for that. I expect without the Apple name it would get 80% or so.

Question is can Apple light the world on fire with the next one? TBH I think its only real weakness is ios

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Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

The iPhone 5 was probably reviewed originally by Tony Smith, a notorious fanboi.

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

>>the iPhone 5 gets the poorest comment of the whole article yet still records a 90% score?

Aren't they copy-pasting the review scores from when they were originally reviewed... the person writing this article is giving his personal view and then telling you the official scores.

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Unhappy

Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

Indeed. Which is why the Nexus 4 hasn't got a score - it's not been formally reviewed yet by El Reg.

Presumably they are still waiting for delivery, like the rest of us. (1-2 weeks, I was promised - it'll be two weeks on Tuesday, and I've seen nothing...)

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Bronze badge

Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

Yes, that's the way these round-ups are usually done, because otherwise you end up with two different scores for the same product, which gets rather confusing.

Some of the elements of the score include, for instance, value for money, but that could change each time a new product is launched in the same market - the Nexus 4 makes some of the other androids look less good value.

All you can treat a score as is an evaluation at the time it was reviewed; a phone that got 95% three years ago isn't necessarily better than an iPhone 5 with 90% this year.

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Meh

Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

The problem is that they're massively conflicted about the iPhone 5. They know it's the best phone on the market - beautifully designed and made, screamingly fast, by far the best apps available for it and a pleasure to use and own, but geek credentials demand that Apple products must be denigrated. For if the beautiful ones have the best toys, what are the geeks left with?

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

You have to throw a bone to those who whinge about SD cards and USB ports and removable batteries, even though hardly anyone really cares about those things :)

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FAIL

@Frank Bough

Best phone on the market?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. To me it looks boxy and ugly, but who am I to argue with people who are willing to be told what to like.

'screamingly fast' - compared to what? AFAIK, other phones on the market are faster.

'the best apps available' - most apps these days are available on both Android and iOs. Unless you are referring to the vast array of high quality fart apps available on the iPhone? After the Apple maps debacle, making such a claim is risky.

'a pleasure to use and own' - wow! Did you copy-and-paste that from an Apple four-colour-glossy?

'geek credentials demand that Apple products must be denigrated' - so called 'geek credentials' would be more likely to demand that all products be evaluated on their individual merits. 'Hipster credentials' demand that you must love Apple products without question, just like all your barista mates with their lensless glasses and skinny jeans. Which 'credentials' do you possess? Or maybe you prefer not to join a clique?

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Stop

Re: @Frank Bough

Do not feed the trolls!

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Re: @Frank Bough

That was weirdly ad hominem. iPhones certainly ate a pleasure to own, when it comes time to dispose of one you get back a hefty chunk of what you paid or you pass it on to a family member who appreciates it because Apple's iOS update policy thus far has been as inclusive as hardware allows. As for the iOS app situation, it's laughably better than the competition. You might think Android would catch up, but with Apple nabbing all the users who are willing to pay for product, the stingy Androiders get all the apps they're willing to pay for - bugger all.

As to the relative speed of the thing, it blows the doors off an SIII in the hand, don't place too much weight on Geekbench scores because they miss hardware acceleration.

As to the physical qualities of the iPhone 5, ie design and build, go have a look at the drop/smash/immersion tests relative to the SIII on YouTube - iPhone is miles ahead.

I understand that you're a refusenik, but you can only dodge the truth for so long.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Frank Bough

What a bunch of insulting clichés. It makes me wonder if people like you are capable of original thought. You talk about choosing things on their own merits and yet diss anything that isn't what you consider cool. What a shortsighted ****.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AC @ 14:58

voted up for non-specific fan boy condemnation (I'm assuming you're anti-iphone like most of us here, but I love how your comment could just as easily be applied in reverse).

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Re: @Frank Bough

As to the physical qualities, the drop/smash video you mention was sponsored by Apple, so it's not surprising all the "tests" were massively biased in favour of the iPhone.

- S3 landing on the screen, iPhone on the rear corner, and watch how the beer bottle lands and ask yourself if the iPhone really could have survived being hit in the screen with a corner, instead of the flat.

The water drop is impressive, until you notice that the touchscreen didn't work anymore and just how fast they skipped on...

Shame really, as that is one place where the I expected the hermetically-sealed nature of the iPhone to have helped it more - unfortunately a touchscreen phone with broken touchscreen is truly dead.

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Re: AC @ 14:58

"I'm assuming you're anti-iphone like most of us here".

Precisely why the 90% rating was given.

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Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

"they're massively conflicted"

Not at all, I just refuse to let brands, badges or logos influence my opinion.

Of course the iP5 is fine device, only an idiot would claim otherwise. But it's expensive, the screen is still too small, the body while attractive starts to look tatty and worn far too easily, the user interface is inflexible and there's no storage expansion.

What extreme fans of Apple kit seem unable to do is accept that not everyone thinks it is the best thing since sliced bread though why anyone thinks the brand of mobile phone or tablet or computer they use says anything about them as a person is beyond me - it's more tragic than having a personalized number plate on your car.

The day I find myself running about saying Gadget A or B or C is great simple because of some idiotic and wholly imaginary affinity with the company that designed it I'll jump in the Ship Canal.

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Thumb Up

Re: poor iPhone 5 = 90%?

"But it's expensive, the screen is still too small, the body while attractive starts to look tatty and worn far too easily, the user interface is inflexible and there's no storage expansion."

Two indisputable facts here - it is expensive and there's no storage expansion.

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I don't want a big smart-phone!

If I wanted a big smartphone, I'd get a tablet. No more than 60mm wide please.

(Currently, I'm thinking, a Sony Xperia P)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

Even the Sony Xperia P is huge. Where are all the powerful small Android phones?

I am hanging onto my HTC Desire S for the time being. Sony Xperia U could ave been a replacement - except for that stupid mood light.

Even these are too big. I'd prefer a phone the size of the HTC Wildfire S. But all the small phones this size are budget with slow processors and poor resolution.

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Silver badge

Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

I get on well with my Xperia P (much the same 'footprint' as the iPhone 5, but not as thin) and it doesn't have any annoying idiosyncrasies as my past feature phones have done, but since it is my my first smartphone I may not be the best judge. I would note that the update to ICS has a feature to make the battery last much longer than when it reviewed- it achieves this by turning off some of the data when in standby, so isn't suitable if you need receive an email or Facebook etc notification ASAP. Texts and calls, of course, come straight through.

MiniHDMI cable, 1600 mA charger, and screen protector in the box. Headphones (ear canal type) sounded very reasonable, until the cable broke (pulled out of the microphone junction).

I'm not desperate for Jelly Bean, but a quick search suggests that after Sony roll it our for the flagship models (T, TX, V) around February 2013, it will be coming for the P, S and Go. The same search reveals the Sony Xperia TX, a big screened model that has a removable battery and microSD- I mention it here because it is a feature i know some fellow commentards appreciate, and this model seems to have come in under the radar.

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Silver badge

Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

@AC desiring lots of resolution in a 3.5" phone... who's your optician? : D

The Xperia Go is around 3.5", and yeah, the resolution is a bit poor if photos and web browsing are your thing. I find the resolution on my P (4") good enough, small text in browsers is readable for my eyes but I wouldn't want it to be any smaller! I guess that if you often tether a tablet for browsing, the need for a large phone screen is somewhat negated.

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Bronze badge
Facepalm

Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

Then don't buy a big smart-phone!

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Re: I don't want a big smart-phone!

TBH I was in that school of thought. I had an iphone 3GS and when I chose to switch to a Droid I ignored the Galaxy SII because it seemed huge and opted for the Desire S (almost exactly the same size as the 3GS).

Then came the Galaxy SIII which was even bigger and I wanted even less but subsequently my other half has got a Galaxy SII and I've got a lot more used to the size, such that when the company surprised me by renewing early I opted to get a One X, despite it's size. And you know what? I love it. I carried the Desire S with me at the weekend to use for media and stuff whilst I was away and it felt like a toy - teeny tiny screen and dated looks. Odd really, because it's still the same device I was using until 3 weeks ago and was perfectly happy with it. I still would be if the company hadn't suddenly decided to sign a new contract....

(I should add that all the other Droids were Desire X handsets and at first I preferred them to my One X)

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The Nexus is currently on 6-7 weeks for new orders, so hardly best for Christmas unless you're looking at Christmas 2013 :/

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Happy

Ordered a Nexus 16GB today.

6-8 weeks is fine with me. Will have cleared off the xmas crap off the credit card by then and its something to look forward to in the new year.

I will miss the superior swipe gestures and multi-tasking of my Pre2 though. Back buttons are a bit retarded.

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I wish Leo hadn't killed webOS...

I would be hankering after a Pre 4 by now :(

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Coat

"Her indoors reckons five is the minimum to keep a girl happy"

I only have 4 inches* and never had any complaints from my wife.

*We are talking diameter here, aren't we ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "Her indoors reckons five is the minimum to keep a girl happy"

Radius.

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: "Her indoors reckons five is the minimum to keep a girl happy"

That's a medical condition, not an achievement.

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Re: "Her indoors reckons five is the minimum to keep a girl happy"

My wife agrees, but I do have to fold it it in half to get to five :)

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Bronze badge

Re: "a phone to be...moistly desired"

Erm, you're talking about salivation right?

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Ug?

> Of course, without any sort of storage expansion, the £280 16GB [Nexus] device is probably the preferred option.

Does that mean that it doesn't support USB OTG?

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Terminator

Re: Ug?

It supports USB OTG if you root it and slap Stickmount onto it.

Easy peasy

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Silver badge

Re: Ug?

iirc it doesn't but there are ways round it like the wiidrive etc basically wifi or blutooth storage. Very far from ideal but an option. I'm not impressed with the trend towards limited and hard to expand storage so we buy cloud storage and pay for more data.

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Re: Ug?

Do you know of any wireless drives that support NTFS/EXT3 or any file format that allows for larger file sizes? Most of the ones I've looked at are FAT32 so pretty useless for hi def films :/

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Happy

No need for Stickmount...

...you can use the Nexus Media Importer. It just works beautifully, without having to root the phone.

Disclaimer 1 - I haven't tested it with the phone, because mine hasn't arrived yet. But it works with the Nexus 7.

Disclaimer 2 - I'm just a happy customer of Nexus Media Importer - I have no other connection with them.

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