6. LG Optimus 4X HD

If we didn't live in a world where we have the Galaxy S3 and the HTC One X, there is no doubt about it – the LG Optimus 4X HD would be one of the best phones out there. Its specs are fantastic.
The trouble is, LG has released this handset six months too late, which means it doesn't offer anything mind-blowing or really that alternative.
However, it's a media powerhouse, has sleek lines and has power in spades - plus a better battery than the One X, with the same chipset.
In summary, we do recommend it – it's a cracking piece of kit. And if you can get it on a good deal, we say 'go for it', but there's no real reason to pick this over a Samsung Galaxy SIII, an HTC One X or even a One S, with the last option impressing hugely on the design front.

Quick verdict

A fantastic phone that really joins the benchmark level set a few months ago, rather than breaking new ground.


5. HTC One S

There are few phones we play with where we think that we have the complete package and would happily give five stars. The HTC One S would have had five stars had it not been for the 16GB memory cap and non-HD screen.
The phone actually climbs a place in today's rankings, thanks to a promised upgrade to Jelly Bean and a continuing drop in price... plus the more we fondle it, the more we realise this is the best-designed phone on the planet.
We'd have even settled for 32GB in the absence of an expansion card slot. If you're a music lover, you're much better off with the Samsung Galaxy S3.
Or check out the HTC One X if you're after a little bit more bang for your buck... although you'll need to spend more bucks to actually get the HD screen and quad-core processor in your pocket.
But let's not get caught up with negativity here: if you're not bothered about a massive memory (which most people aren't), you probably can't do much better now. The HTC One S is a beautiful handset blessed with beautiful capabilities and is already available at very palatable price points.

Quick verdict

HTC could have launched the One S and not bothered with the One X in many ways - it's a beautiful handset blessed with a nice skin and the latest version of Android in the shape of Ice Cream Sandwich.
It's more of an evolution of the HTC Sensation range: slimmed down, nicer finish and far more feature-rich - and you will struggle to put it down once you've popped it in your hand.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

4. Samsung Galaxy Note 2

It hasn't even been a year since the original Samsung Galaxy Note launched. Many (including us, we admit) were not convinced. Who on earth would want something so big to make their calls and surf the internet, even with a glorified stylus? Cue awkward silence.
Millions of you, it would appear. The Galaxy Note sold by the bucketload, so how do you follow that up? With something better, of course - the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Faster, stronger, better looking, and more functional, the Galaxy Note 2 is better connected than ever, and thanks to that increased screen size (up to an eye-bulging 5.5-inches), now takes the crown in our eyes as the perfect media player.
Samsung has achieved something special here, because it has made the Galaxy Note 2 bigger than the original, but pulls it off so that you don't notice it too much and the fact that it launches running Android Jelly Beanand has such grunt with that quad-core processor makes this a class-leading phone.

Quick verdict

As a phone, it's big, but once you get over that, if you can, it's great. As a PMP, it really does excel, and as a web communicator, it is almost second to none (though we can't fully get the taste of Flash absence out of our mouth).
Ultimately, there's no getting away from the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a niche device. But it does almost everything it sets out to do perfectly, with grace, class and maximum functionality. And if you're in the market for a larger smartphone or a small tablet, there really is no better device.

iPhone 5

3. iPhone 5

Did you see this one coming? The iPhone 5 in at third place in our rankings? Some thought higher, some thought lower - it depends on your level of Apple bias.
Never has a company polarised opinion in the smartphone world like Apple - and with the iPhone 5, so many are quick to decry it while others know it to be the smartphone they've been waiting for.
And let's make no bones about it: this is a stunning phone, with a gorgeous two-tone finish, a superbly high-res screen that's been extended to four inches and an efficient yet powerful core.
The iOS 6 update is a good one, and while some feel it to be ageing slightly, many see it as doing exactly what they want... and given Apple has built its smartphone reputation on simplicity, this makes sense.
However, it's not all cookies and cream for Apple, as it's ditched the Google Maps app for something that's not as slick or well-stocked in its own Maps app.
Sure, you've got turn by turn directions, but given some places are listed incorrectly or missing, combined with some of the laughable 3D modelling in the flyover mode, it's not Apple's finest hour.
Plus the iPhone 5 is very expensive... we're not sure how such sky high prices can be charged when equivalent smartphones are available on the market.

Quick verdict

Let's not beat around the bush here: the iPhone 5 is one of the best smartphones in the world thanks to a great package of technology, design and UI intuition.
iOS definitely needs an update, and we'll always hope for a price decrease soon... and if it wasn't for that and the Maps issue, the iPhone 5 might have been higher in our rankings.


2. HTC One X

The HTC One X is an odd handset - not in the design (lovely) or the features (top-end) - but that it's seen as a 'renaissance' phone for the firm, despite its success in such a short time.
The likes of the HTC Sensation and Salsa were seen as overly complicated, so HTC has taken things back to what it knows: making beautiful hardware fused with a top-end skin.
The polycarbonate shell is smooth and premium-feeling in the hand, and the large 4.7-inch HD screen might not be OLED but it's certainly crisp and clear - and we haven't even mentioned the quad-core processor beating at the heart of the One X.
There's only one downside - well, two if you're a fan of expandable storage, since this 32GB-imbued monster doesn't have a microSD slot - and that's the battery. It's OK, but many will find it doesn't last the full day in many usage scenarios, and that's a problem.
However, thanks to being just that little bit improved again by recent updates, we deem this handset worthy to go above the iPhone 5 and the rest of the chasing pack.

Quick verdict

It's important not to judge the HTC One X on the battery life issue - make no mistake, this is a phone that is worthy of any pocket.
The design and software integration is enough to inspire lust in any phone buyer, and the range of included apps is superb - you won't regret owning a One X, especially if you're not a power user.

Samsung Galaxy S3

1. Samsung Galaxy S3

Would we recommend you buy one? Yes, without hesitation. If you're torn between this and an HTC One X, it's a very difficult one to call – the camera on the One X is slightly better and the overall feel might appeal. But in terms of pure usability and power, we really like what Samsung has put on the table.Make no mistake: the Samsung Galaxy S3 is the best smartphone on the market. It's got every kind of feature we could ask for and more, and raises the bar once again in terms of what consumers should be expecting in terms of battery life, processor speed and media management.
And we're sure some of you are wondering how the Samsung Galaxy S3 bests the iPhone 5 - well, for starters, Google Maps works properly. And it's nearly £130 cheaper. And it has a bigger screen, which we think is winning.
That's not the only reason the Samsung Galaxy S3 is at the top of our best phone rankings. Smart Stay, Super AMOLED HD screen, up to 128GB storage, Music Hub, removable battery, blisteringly quick camera... we're getting tired listing all the great things it does.
The design isn't as impressive as when we first laid eyes on the S2, but to us that's the only big issue we can find - and that's enough to recommend the Galaxy S3 without question.

Quick verdict

If you waited feverishly for the Samsung Galaxy S3, you won't be disappointed. It's fast, it's sleek and it packs the latest technology that will get your pulse racing.
Samsung faced an almost impossible task in trying to create a worthy sequel to the Galaxy S2, but the Galaxy S3 should definitely be one of, if not thephone you should consider on your next trip to your local handset emporium.