What’s the best smartphone to upgrade to? [Late-2012 edition]

Features Richard Goodwin 15:31, 20 Nov 2012

We take a look at some of the best handsets we’ve reviewed during the past several months in order to help you choose your next upgrade

Choosing your next smartphone is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Most tariffs now run over a two-year period, cost the earth, and are pretty complex – you have to consider minutes, texts, data, and whether or not you want insurance. 

But before you get into all the contract stuff you have to decide what handset you want – that’s the tricky part for most people. And with so much choice out there it’s easy to see why a lot of people get confused by what’s on offer and which is the best device for them. 

Fortunately Know Your Mobile will be rounding up the best upgrade devices quarterly,based on those we've reviewed.

All of the handsets listed below satisfy certain criteria – design, processing power, battery life, availability of updates, and features. These are the gold-standard devices, the ones that you can update to now and will still love in a year’s time. 

Here’s our pick for Q4 (October-December) 2012

Samsung Galaxy S3

It might not be the newest device on this list but it’s still worth your consideration, especially if your heart’s set on going the Android route. With the Galaxy S3 you’re getting the best Android has to offer – it's sort of the iPhone-standard of Google’s mobile ecosystem

The device, although slightly plasticky, is large but exceptionally lightweight and uses a gorgeous 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display that sports a pixel density of 306ppi. Samsung also kitted it out with a decent 8-megapixel camera complete with LED flash and 1080p HD video capability. 

The Galaxy S3 is a solid performer across the board and will handle pretty much anything you can throw at it including GPU-intensive games and round-the-clock multitasking. Battery life is also pretty decent, as is call quality, and Samsung is usually pretty good with keeping its handsets updated with the latest version of Android. 

iPhone 5

Love them or loathe them Apple is now synonymous with smartphones. Everybody knows the iPhone and a lot of people now own one. With the iPhone 5 Apple has further refined the design, look, and feel of the iPhone 4S, adding a larger 4-inch display and a slimmer more lightweight chassis. 

It’s an all-round performer and Apple’s ecosystem cannot be beat – even by Android, although it’s catching up very fast. The iPhone 5 has a great camera, excellent processing power, and will remain charged for an entire day or more with normal usage. 

If you already use an iPhone, are invested in Apple’s ecosystem, and like the way Apple does things then you’re probably best upgrading to the iPhone 5. It’s not the most exciting handset out there, particularly when compared to some of the newer Android-powered additions, but it’s a solid performer that won’t disappoint. 

Samsung Galaxy Note 2

It’s big and perhaps not for the faint-hearted but Samsung’s Galaxy Note 2 is a one-device revolution that’s changing the smartphone space from the inside out. Often described as a phablet, the Note 2 is sort of a halfway house between a mobile phone and tablet. 

The Note 2’s 5.5-inch display might be too large for some, as many reviewers have argued, but if you think you’re up to the challenge then this could very well be the phone for you. 

Like the idea of using a stylus? The Note 2 has one – and it us truly superb, offering a myriad of functionality. How about amazing battery life? Yep, the Note 2 has that as well. In fact it has pretty much everything you could ever want from a smartphone, which is probably why two members of Know Your Mobile use it as their personal devices. 

HTC One X+

HTC’s One X was one of the best handsets of 2012. It looked great, packed in a truly awesome camera, had tons of processing power, and used a gorgeous SLCD2 display. 

With the One X+, HTC has made that device even better by including a faster 1.7GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor, Android Jelly Bean (version 4.1), more storage (64GB) and a reimagined, lighter, version of its Sense UI. 

The HTC One X+ is yet another shining example of just how good HTC are, so of Android’s your thing and you prefer a handset built from decent materials – sorry Samsung – then HTC is the place to go.  


Some have argued that HTC’s Windows Phone 8-powered 8X is the best device of its kind on the market, beating competition from the likes of Samsung (Ativ S) and Nokia (Lumia 920 & Lumia 820). 

It’s a unique looking device that’s priced aggressively and really illustrates just how much work Microsoft has put into refining Windows Phone 8. We gave this handset 4-out-of-5 stars – read our full review to find out why. 

Nexus 4

Google’s Nexus 4, next to the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the purest form of Android you can get. The phone was designed by LG in cahoots with Google, is used by Google staff, and will get updates as soon as Google pushes them out.

The Nexus 4 really is the iPhone of the Android space. And it’s also exceptionally cheap, with prices starting from just £239 direct from Google’s Play store. 

The Gorilla Glass front and back panels lend the device a sense of class, which calls to mind the similarly clad iPhone 4 and 4S, while the attractive glitter-like pattern on the rear catches the light beautifully.

The 4.7-inch IPS screen is another revelation. While it lacks the boldness and high contrast of a Super AMOLED panel, it has a more faithful replication of colour and is absolutely pin sharp.

With a resolution of 768x1280 pixels and a pixel density of 318 ppi, you’re unlikely to have any problems with the quality of this screen.

This handset is a game-changer and if you’re serious about having an Android-powered device that will remain relevant for the next two years – i.e. you always want the latest software – this is the only real option for you. 


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