Can't decide on a new phone? Or perhaps you're trying to avoid the iPhone 5 hype and wonder what else is out there that's good?
We've listed the best of the best for every price bracket. Want more info on a particular phone? Follow the links - we've reviewed 'em all.
High-end - $800+
Apple iPhone 4S
- Let's get this one out of the way, as it's obvious. At the time of writing, the iPhone 5 is seven days away from a New Zealand launch, but for now, the iPhone 4S is the newest and best iOS smartphone available. Sure, it doesn't have the higest specs on the market, but it doesn't really need to have them - the iPhone is speedy regardless, as the operating system is designed that way. It's not for everyone - some people like to have a bit more freedom with their devices - but it's a great phone for those who want something well-designed, simple, and easy to use.
HTC One X
- In our opinion, the HTC One X is the best Android phone we've tested. That might be a bit controversial, as the Galaxy S III is a more popular choice, but the One X's polycarbonate build is simply superior to the Galaxy S III's casing. The design of the S III has meant that many people have already shattered the screens on their brand new phones, and that's just not cool. The HTC One X has a quad-core processor, so it's super-fast. However...
Samsung Galaxy S III
- The Galaxy S III is faster. If you want pure speed, you want the S III. It's the fastest thing on the market. It has a quad-core processor, and a massive, lovely 4.8-inch screen. Like the One X, it runs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), which is much more responsive than previous versions of the Android OS. Still, if you have to choose between the Galaxy S III or the One X, it's unlikely you're going to be disappointed with either - just don't drop your S III.
Mid-range - $400-800
Nokia Lumia 800
- The Lumia 800 is a mid-range phone that looks and feels like a high-end phone. It runs Windows Phone 7 out of the box - soon it'll be upgradable to WP 7.5. Formerly, it would have been in our high-end category, but these days you can grab it outright from Vodafone for $649. It's a very nice phone to use, although it has a 3.7-inch screen, which is a tad small for a smartphone these days. It has a single-core 1.4GHz processor, so it's fast enough for the vast majority of people, especially in this price range. It's also hardy, in keeping with Nokia's reputation for indestructible phones.
LG Optimus L7
- The Optimus L7 was a surprise for us, because it's very nice and sitting at a very reasonanable price point. It has a relatively large display, at 4.3 inches, and it ain't hard to look at. It also has NFC that's compatible with 2degrees' and Snapper's Touch2Pay technology, so you can pay for your can of Coke or your trip on the bus with your smartphone, if you live in an area that Snapper services. That aspect wasn't something we could test when we got the phone, however. Its camera is a bit weak, at 5MP, but we are talking about a $500 phone here. The L7 also runs Android 4.0. All that said, in our low-range bracket we've got the Xperia U, which is $100 cheaper and probably a little bit better than the L7.
Motorola Defy XT
- The Defy XT is for those folks who want a different kind of smartphone - one that you can drop and scuff and kick around. The Defy XT is IP67-certified sandproof and waterproof, and has great battery life. It only has a 3.7-inch screen, but the resolution is decent. However, it's still running Android 2.3, and we're not sure it's going to get an upgrade anytime soon.
Low-end - $0-400
Sony Xperia U
- The Sony Xperia U is hands-down the best sub-$400 phone we've tested. It has great build quality, a stylish design, and a 3.5-inch screen that's really nice to look at. It's only a hair under $400, however - it comes in at $399. The big issue we have with this one is its 4GB of user-accessible storage - and there's no microSD slot, either. Those of you who would like to store your music library on your phone? This one's a no-go.
- We've only tested a preview version of the Y201, so take everything that follows with a grain of salt. That said, the Y201 has a few flaws and one big plus: it runs Ice Cream Sandwich. Not many phones worth less than $300 do. Unlike the Xperia U, the Y201 has space for a microSD. It's quite robust, too. But the Y201 isn't powerful enough to run heavy-duty apps, and it only has a 3MP camera. it's not great, but the price tag - $279 - is.
Huawei Ascend G300
- Or, for an extra $30, you can get another phone from Huawei which is much improved on the Y201. The Huawei Ascend G300 is a bit flashier than the Y201, and having a 1GHz processor in a $300 phone is really great. Again, it only has a wee bit of on-board storage, but it can be upgraded with a microSD up to 32GB. It runs a clean install of Android 2.3 - no bloatware here - so Android purists will be pleased.
Smartphone fans - what do you feel like we left off the list? What's your phone and how do you like it? Sound off in the comments.