The Best Smartphones for Canadians (2012 Edition)

Daniel Bader

December 20, 2012 8:05 pm


This year has been an incredible year for smartphones, and for smartphone owners. From the rise of Android to the promise of Windows Phone 8 to the evolutionary steadfastness of the iPhone 5, every segment of the population has been properly served.

But there is no smartphone perfect for everyone: some are not released on all carriers; others are prohibitively expensive; many are too heavy or oversized; some have poor battery life. The ideal scenario is to find a smartphone that fits as many personal criteria as possible, and to enjoy what you have. There is always something better on the horizon, and the feverish pace of smartphone advancement means that consumers often feel confused or frustrated by what is out there.

Many of the top manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung have turned to releasing one flagship device per year, while companies like HTC and Sony often accompany their top devices with several cheaper alternatives.

In this round-up, we will proclaim our seven favourite high-end smartphones and our three favourite entry-level devices.

Without further ado, let’s begin:

Smartphones of the Year (High-End)

NUMBER ONE – Google Nexus 4

The Nexus 4 is the best Android smartphone currently available, not because it is the fastest or the most well-made, but because it hits a solid 90% or above in almost every category.

Aside from its low price point, which is a huge draw on its own, the Nexus 4 contains a quad-core Qualcomm processor, a gorgeous 4.7-inch HD screen and, for the first time on a Nexus device, a decent camera. It also comes with Android 4.2 out of the box and the promise of much faster updates than Canadians experienced on the carrier-sold Galaxy Nexus.

The Nexus 4 is also the first Google-made phone that competes with its peers on a spec basis; its quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro chip is one of the fastest on the market, and while the handset is prone to thermal-based throttling, it is subjectively the smoothest Android experience currently available. Google has also done a tremendous job optimizing Android for its current generation of Nexus devices, and the result is an unquestionably mature smartphone.

But just because the device looks good, performs well and stays up to date doesn’t automatically make it the smartphone of the year. It’s Google’s business model that really gets us excited: selling directly to Canadians for $319/$359 for the 8GB and 16GB models respectively provides tremendous value for those uninterested in signing a contract. The Nexus 4 is a gateway drug to anyone accustomed to the largely backwards tradition of signing a contract in exchange for a subsidized phone; the ability to move around to any carrier — and in this case, any GSM carrier in Canada  – is a win for consumers.

Add to that the newly-discovered LTE abilities of the Nexus 4 and you have an extremely well-rounded device. We do have some misgivings about the phone, but they’re minor: battery life, even when using baseband-friendly HSPA+ networks, is on the unfortunate side, and there have been some issues with software bugginess that we’re sure Google will solve. The device’s glass back, too, is both a blessing and a curse; though adorned with Gorilla Glass, it is more prone to minor abrasions from regular use than the average plastic or metal competitor.

Stock issues have also affected the Nexus 4′s availability, as manufacturer LG continues to struggle to provide a sufficient number of units for worldwide distribution. Going into the Christmas season, however, it’s clear that Google’s new flagship is not only a victim of its own popularity, but an example of how the smartphone industry is quickly changing from being carrier- to manufacturer-dominated.

The Nexus 4 is available directly from the Google Play Store, starting at $319CDN.

Read more: Nexus 4 Review

NUMBER TWO - Apple iPhone 5

The iPhone 5 may not have reset the smartphone-maker’s image in the eyes of critics, but for millions of Canadians the phone is exactly what they wanted. Thinner, lighter, faster and smarter, the iPhone 5 has some of the best build quality we’ve ever seen from a smartphone. Its 4-inch screen may not appease the supersized tendencies of various Android users, but Apple has found a screen sweet spot with this particular phone.

Apple’s custom-made A6 chip blows away the competition in terms of raw CPU and GPU power — yes, even your high-end Android superphone — and its camera is still best in class. Despite inroads from Android, iOS 6 is the best ecosystem for developers to make money and users to find great content.

The iPhone 5 is also the first significant redesign in Apple’s lineup since the iPhone 4 in 2010. The understated sleekness of the dual-toned back and sloping aluminum sides are examples of Apple’s emphasis on minor details. And even though the 1136×640 pixel screen is no denser than its iPhone 4/4S predecessor, it is notably less reflective and more colour-accurate.

iOS 6 may look nearly the same as its five previous versions, and Lord knows it needs a visual overhaul, it is still more consistently smooth than any other operating system. Now that Google has graced the ecosystem with its own excellent apps, including Gmail and Google Maps, iPhone users can get the best of both worlds.

The iPhone 5 is available on nearly every major carrier in Canada — Rogers, Fido, TELUS, Bell, Virgin Mobile, MTS, Sasktel — and comes in both black and white.

Read more: iPhone 5 Review

NUMBER THREE: Tie: Samsung Galaxy S III & Samsung Galaxy Note II

Is it unfair to pair these phones as one? Many vocal critics of the Note II will disagree with me here but I think the phablet has a place at the top of this list with its “smaller” kin. The reason they’re together here is because these devices have informed one another throughout their brief lives. The GS3 was quite a departure from its predecessor in terms of design, and while it was criticized early on for being awkward — even ugly — it is has grown on me.

More importantly, 2012 was the year that Samsung won. The company has gone from a bit player to the player in three years, and for the Korean giant to enforce a unified design across every carrier is a huge win for consumers, and for the public’s perception of the Galaxy brand. The devices also launched on AWS-based carriers such as WIND Mobile and Mobilicity, giving the new entrants a couple of hero devices with which to advertise their expanding HSPA+ networks.

That the Note II looks like an oversized Galaxy S III is no mistake. But the two devices have informed one another both in hardware and software; the company’s Nature UX, which debuted on the GS3 running Android 4.0.4, may not be the most functional or attractive Android skin, but its feature set is a mile long. Additions like Smart Stay, AllShare Cast, S Beam and heavy gesture support in ICS gave way to Smart Rotation, Multi View and Blocking Mode in Jelly Bean. And Samsung’s perpetual marketing machine ensures that users are well informed of these features.

The Note II took the S Pen from the original, improved its responsiveness and added a number of excellent features for students, sketchers and business people alike. The company bested the original in nearly every way and, against all perceived odds, has created a viable smartphone category in the Note.

It’s hard to walk down the street these days without seeing at least one Galaxy S III; the brand has become as ubiquitous as the iPhone. Though Samsung has a lot to learn about build quality (no more plastics!) and UI design, there is no mistaking the sheer brute-force success of these two devices.

The Galaxy S III is available from Rogers, TELUS, Bell, Koodo, Fido, Virgin Mobile, WIND Mobile, Mobilicity, SaskTel, Videotron, MTS.
The Galaxy Note II is available from Rogers, TELUS, Bell, WIND Mobile, Mobilicity, SaskTel, Videotron, MTS.

Read more: Galaxy S III Review & Galaxy Note II Review

NUMBER FOUR – HTC One X

Though the HTC One X debuted in February and was released in Canada on Rogers in April, it still holds up today as one of the most stunning handsets I’ve ever used. Not only did HTC promise and deliver on improved build quality, screen clarity and software austerity, but the One X was the first carrier-released device to run Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, and the first consumer handset to sport Qualcomm’s ultra-fast Snapdragon S4 SoC.

Though the initial misgivings we had with the phone — poor battery life; hit-and-miss camera quality; questionable UI improvements — still hold true, the One X was a device that I continued to return to as newer phones came and went. Indeed, when TELUS released the grey One X this summer and then the One X+ in November, the company proved that they were laser-focused on taking a great product and improving on its fundamentals.

Unfortunately, HTC has been laid low, both in terms of market- and mindshare, by the marketing muscle of Samsung. There is no question that in many ways the One X was, and still is, a superior product to the Galaxy S III, but the Taiwanese company doesn’t have the budget to compete with the big players anymore. It’s also unfortunate that, though the One X was the first device to bring Ice Cream Sandwich to the market, it still hasn’t been upgraded to Jelly Bean weeks after the One X+, which came with Android 4.1.1 out of the box, found its way to consumers.

HTC’s “rebirth” in 2012 may not have made the splash with consumers it should have but it, along with the One S and One V, laid a solid foundation for the company’s future.

The HTC One X is available from Rogers in white and from TELUS in grey. Its sort-of-sequel, the One X+, is available exclusively from TELUS in black (and it’s beautiful).

Read more: HTC One X Review, HTC One X+ Review

NUMBER FIVE – Nokia Lumia 920

I truly wish that this phone was higher on the list. In some ways, the Lumia 920 is one of the finest smartphones ever made; based on the design, build quality and sheer ambition, this ranks as high as any out there. Its PureView-enhanced camera with optical image stabilization would be enough by itself to sustain excitement for the device, but the gorgeous screen and truly wonderful Nokia-specific apps round out the experience.

But Nokia’s triumph is hobbled by Windows Phone’s murky future: lackluster app selection; a poor notification system; deprecated Exchange ActiveSync for Gmail; mediocre multitasking. The Lumia 920 has also had its share of personal issues including a contentious exclusivity period with Rogers and lack of colour options that have tempered its desirability. While Nokia and Rogers have always been closely tied — the carrier bravely released the N8 when no other North American carrier would touch Symbian — keeping the phone out of the hands of over 15 million Canadians was a poor decision.

Ultimately, the success of the Lumia 920 hinges on whether Microsoft can convince users to give up what they know in favour of a brave new world called Windows Phone. The OS is slowly becoming a true contender as brands build apps and users grow loyalty.

The Nokia Lumia 920 is available from Rogers.

Read More: Nokia Lumia 920 Review

NUMBER SIX - Motorola RAZR HD LTE

It took many months before consumers saw a glimpse of what Motorola would look like post-Google. The company was acquired for an ungodly sum in early 2012, largely for its patents, but the fruits of that venture came  to be in the release of the Motorola RAZR HD LTE.

A Rogers exclusive, Motorola took what it had learned from its parent company and incorporated many unique features of its own, culminating in one of the most enjoyable Android experiences of the year. That it arrived with Android 4.0.4 was disappointing, but between the superlative build quality, enormous battery, gorgeous AMOLED screen, excellent performance and subtle UI improvements, Motorola had a veritable hit on its hands.

If you’re looking for multi-day battery life without the added screen size of the Note II, this is really your only choice in the Android ecosystem. But for Motorola’s poor choice in camera modules, and the still-impending promise of a Jelly Bean update, this was one of the best Android devices of the year.

The Motorola RAZR HD LTE is available from Rogers. Its so-close-it-could-be-a-brother ATRIX HD LTE is available from Bell.

Read more: Motorola RAZR HD LTE Review

NUMBER SEVEN - Sony Xperia T

Last but not least, Sony has done some very interesting things in 2012 but, like its place in this list, they’ve always been one step behind. With the Xperia T, the newly-consolidated company has issued its best offensive play against Samsung et al., and while the device is plenty svelte and sufficiently fast, it launched too late in the year, and with no “hero” features, to make a sizeable impact.

As welcome as are Sony’s various value-added services like PlayMemories Online and Music Unlimited, they are not exclusive to Sony devices; and the refreshed Android interface, while attractive, is little more than head-turning. Nevertheless, the Xperia T provides a great camera experience and a superb retinue of first-party apps. It’s also the only OEM that has truly taken Android developers under its wing, and promises to do more in the coming year.

The Sony Xperia T is available from Rogers, Bell and MTS. 

Read more: Sony Xperia T Review

Smartphones of the Year (Entry-level)

NUMBER ONE – Windows Phone 8S by HTC

If Windows Phone 8 seems to be languishing somewhat in the high-end space, it is ultra competitive in the entry-level. HTC has our top two entries this year as they’ve managed to combine beautifully-designed hardware with affordable outright pricing.

The 8S is a tiny powerhouse, sporting a gorgeous 4-inch WVGA display, a dual-core Snapdragon S4 processor and all the latest fixin’s from HTC and Microsoft. Coming in under $300 is a coup for consumers and carriers alike.

This thing is going to sell like crazy.

The Windows Phone 8S by HTC is available from Virgin Mobile.

Read more: Windows Phone 8S by HTC Review

NUMBER TWO – HTC One V

An oldie but a goodie: the HTC One V has aged more than gracefully. It still sports some of the best construction in a sub-$200 phone (it’s available for $150 outright from Koodo) and comes with Android 4.0 out of the box. Sure, it won’t be updated past ICS, nor will it live on past 2012, but you can’t go wrong with this Legend successor.

The HTC One V is available from Koodo, TELUS and Bell.

Read more: HTC One V Review

NUMBER THREE – Huawei Ascend P1

While it doesn’t have the microscopic outright price of the above two devices, Huawei’s first decent contribution to the Android rat race was an impressive dual-core device. Sporting both stock Android and Huawei’s own 3D launcher, the phone contains decent enough specs to compete with many modern high-end phones and a slim enough form factor to forgive the less-than-impressive battery life.

The Huawei Ascend P1 is available from WIND Mobile.

Read more: Huawei Ascend P1 Review

Well, that wraps it up for another year. Remember, these are our favourites and not a definitive list by any means. There were phones we left out — the HTC One S, for example, deserves a nod — and ones we wished were just a little bit better, like the Sony Xperia ion.

It’s no coincidence that the list heavily favours phones released towards the end of the year, either. Progress is swift in the mobile industry, and companies are expected to iterate quickly to keep up with the competition. Ultimately, it’s the consumer that benefits most from these quick cycles, but users can also feel overwhelmed and frustrated that their phones are so quickly out of date.

In many ways, 2012 was the first year that specs mattered less than features; all phones, regardless of make, model or operating system, operate contain more processing power than most computers did five years ago. Its no small thing that we can play games, surf the web, take notes, draw, screenshot, append, notify and communicate on a device the size of ones’ hand. It’s important to remember that, though they are dear to us, and always near our person, they are still made of metal, plastic and glass, and our allegiance to one brand or one operating system is as fluid as the industry itself. Remember that the next time you flame someone for disagreeing with your choice of handset.

  • Nexus4

    Nexus 4 is regarded as high end? made by LG on top of that. The price indicate it’s not high end, the quality proves that even more so

    • Lexcyn

      Do you own one? Because if you did, you would understand that even though the price is really good, it’s a well made device that has a high end build quality. It feels much more solid than the plastic Samsung keeps making.

    • Tony

      You should actually try it out before you knock it. Finally received mine and it just screams high end. The phone is beautiful, buttery smooth and dirt cheap (relatively).

  • David

    Galaxy S3 and Note 2 should definitely rank higher than iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 has absolutely no innovation whatsoever.

    • carl ertz

      Your obviously too broke to afford a Mac computer. If you weren’t so broke and weren’t running XP or Windows 7 on your peice of s*** lenovo laptop you would see why it is innovative, with such a pleasant eco system. Check the benchmarks samsheep tell me who has the better specs.

      Ps: if you think shoving a large screen with touchwiz on a device with a plastic enclosure you need to get with it…. just saying.

    • HO

      @carl…funny, last time I checked, that “magical” pos cracks really easy while the Samsungs can really take punishment, maybe plastic but is designed to last, at least the maps work.

    • nathan

      yep go ahead and use that shitsung of yours. what innovation is in the s3 and note 2 thats so great? hovering? splitscreen? android cant even keep more than 3 processes alive so why bother? Samesung copies.

    • some guy

      Wow Carl, butt hurt much?
      I understand that because my PC that dances circles around your Mac cost me half as much, and I have the pick of the litter when it comes to software, that you would be upset. It’s only understandable, that the pain you feel in your back pocket after your wallet was raped by Apple, would cause you to reach the first 2 stages of denial quite rapidly.

      So unless you are a sound engineer, I highly doubt you needed to spend that much on a laptop to post on Facebook and Mobile Syrup about how awesome your Mac is and how elite you are because you can’t get half the software out there without running boot camp. lulz, oh Carl, you silly boy. ^_^

    • some guy

      @nathan
      Isn’t the whole concept of innovation to try and make new things? You know, even if they aren’t very useful? At least they’re trying to implement something new and possibly add more intuitive functionality.

      Last time I checked, Apple added non functioning maps, a poor attempt at a messaging service that confuses half of the users because apparently you guys are too dumb to figure out blue means iMessage and green is text, and a completely revolutionary and obviously non-copied *gasp* drop-down notification bar!

      Seriously man, you can pull your head out now. Apple could turn this around and make a fantastic new product to shut me up and I would be ecstatic, because they would actually be pushing innovation again. However until that day, I will continue to counter point every simple minded sheep who can’t think for themselves.

      Hugs and kisses,
      A lover of technology.

    • Peter

      You have to laugh at i.Ta.rds like carl ertz who for years screamed that it was about the overall experience and NOT the specs. Now they’ve all turned into the same spec w.ho.res that they claimed android fans are. There’s a word for that in the english language and it’s Hypo.crite.

      I also wonder what thier excuse is that the iPhone 5 has gone on sale for $79 to bolster sales. Guess glass & aluminum comes cheap these days. :-p

  • PurntBixels

    Only three low-end devices?

  • EvanK

    The Nexus 4 definitely deserves number 1, considering that every Canadian carrier (well, except Public Mobile) is GSM, and we have an awesome selection of low cost off contract AWS carriers like WIND, it really is a no-brainier.

    The iPhone 5 in second place though? Seriously? It should at least be an S3 or Note 2. Just about everything else I agree with though, the 8s as the number 1 entry level device is definitely appropriate, kudos to Virgin and HTC for pricing it at $300.

  • dv

    Too bad the number 1 high end smartphone of the year isn’t currently available for purchase.

  • Chris S

    I would personally rank the S3 on par or better than the Nexus 4, but the Nexus 4 is definitely a very good device (and of course being a Nexus product, it will get the fastest firmware updates).

    I am extremely biased, but I just couldn’t put the iPhone 5 ahead of any of the S3/Note 2/Nexus 4. Hell, it wouldn’t make for a fun review, but I’d almost just give them a 4 way tie and leave it up to personal preference as each are very fine phones in their own right. lol

    • COBwiggy

      Exactly, it is all personal preference, the ranks are mere numbers but every phone they listed is certainly the best.

      Including the iPhone. I personally have a Nexus 4, but the iPhone 5 is a great phone, a ton of people are Apple bashers but that is just where the personal preference comes in.

  • Francis

    How much did you get paid to put the Iphone 5 before the Galaxy SIII ??!

    • George K

      You don’t need to be bribed to appreciate a well built product.

  • Jerrik Nordlee

    I completely disagree with the iPhone 5 being above the Galaxy S III and/or the Galaxy Note II. I smell an Apple fanboy here.

    • Hank

      Calm down fangirls. I have a S3 so obviously I think its the “best” but i5 deserves its spot too. High build quality, ecosystem and realiabilty. I love my S3 like it’s my baby but I’m not impressed that I had to send it in for cracks in the plastic due to no physical trauma whatsoever.

  • jellmoo

    The Nexus 4 is a great device to be sure, and almost certainly the best value for the dollar, but I’m not sure about best overall device. With very limited storage issues, less than amazing battery (which apparently is made worse if the LTE is turned on) and an average at best camera, I have a little trouble looking at it as the true number one.

    Now granted, a lot of this is going to be subjective, but the Nexus 4 really has two things going for it: pure Android and price. Two great things to be sure, but when compared to some of the other innovations present?

    And all things considered, I’m having some trouble with the Lumia 920 ranking so low. For a device with so much innovation built into the hardware itself, it’s rank seems far too affected by the software which has a slew of pluses that aren’t mentioned.

    The final oddity to me is the GS3. I’m not even a fan of the device, but recognition should be made for how insanely popular it is, and how much it really put into becoming the go to device and benchmark for all Android devices. Having it in 3rd (and lumped in with the Note 2 as well) doesn’t seem right.

    Like I said, a list like this is going to be incredibly subjective. My list would look like this:

    -High End-

    1. Samsung Galaxy S3
    2. Nokia Lumia 920
    3. Apple iPhone 5
    4. LG Optimus G
    5. Samsung Galaxy Note 2
    6. HTC One X+
    7. Sony Xperia T

    -Budget-

    1. LG Nexus 4
    2. HTC 8S
    3. HTC One V

    • plums

      Just picked up the Nexus 4 yesterday, but I gotta admit, I’m partial to my Lumia 920. Maybe I just need some more time with the N4

  • peter

    Why isn’t there Optimus G?

  • 2c

    RIP RIM!!! :D :D

    • Legendary

      RIM didn’t launch anything major this year.

      They launched some stuff in 2011, and have a major launch date in Q1 2013. What did you expect?

  • ericzxvc

    Yes Touchwiz is probably the ugliest skin, but it is by far the most functional/least laggy.

  • Darth Paton

    I am so tired of Daniel Badar and his bias against windows phone. Sure it doesn’t have every app its competitors have, but for me at least, it has more than enough. To dock it for not having proper Google support is moronic; do you dock android for not having integrated microsoft support? The notification system I can sort of understand, but multitasking? It literally has the exact same (if not better) system as iOS, and you don’t give a crap about that. I think I’ll stick with *competent reviewers from now on.

  • iPOS

    iphone5 @ #2 is just a gutless move to not infuriate the sheep so they will at least keep coming back to this site. It’a a POS! Simple as that. I mean look at the shares and the sales of OTHER phones after its release. Gutless.

  • gtp20

    This list seem pretty good. The Nexus 4 is definately a high end #1 device. The Galaxy S3 is also an amazing device but I found once I went to the Galaxy Nexus 9then the Nexus 4) I was hooked on Nexus devices and not wanting anything else.

    I personally am someone with zero interest in the Iphone. If you guys think it deserves number 2 I will have to take your word for it as I have never even had my hands on one. I will comment though that I have numerous friends and coworkers who are Iphone people but don’t know ANYONE with an Iphone 5. Everone I have asked said they are not interested in it because of the new cable that is not compatible with their car hookups or numerous docks without a very expensive adapter….. So after all this time I have never even seen an Iphone 5

  • Me

    @ Darth Paton – save your breath man! There’s no point trying to argue logic with someone who ranks iphone as the second best despite lack of any innovation in both hardware and software departments.

  • david

    My best highend is Optimus G. I didn’t believe LG before but Optimus G broken my thought. It ranks top than Samsung Galaxy S3 in US and South Korea. Because of Nexus 4, I strongly recommend it.

  • JP

    The One V is a piece of junk. I work at a Koodo and frankly so many of them don’t work out of the box and a bunch of others come back with problems.

    • Brian J

      hey JP, my 2 koodo HTC V’s work great, and i’m getting a third unit next month as soon as my fido contract is up.
      cheers

  • Keith

    The Lumia 920 is hands down the best phone there is right now.

    It’s funny I don’t remember anyone characterizing iOS and Android app selection as lacklustre when they only had 130,000 apps.

    It does need a better notification system but in other ways its Live Tile functionality is better than anything on iOS and Android.

    So Google is running scared and just pulled the plug on ActiveSync–simple solution switch to an Outlook email it is superior anyway and respects your privacy more. But it doesn’t affect a terrible amount of people anyway.

    The way Windows Phone and iOS multitask is the better way to do it on mobile devices.

    What is this murky future for Window Phone? That would have been a valid concern last year but it is safe to say that Windows Phone is here to stay now.

    The only valid criticism is the exclusivity and the wretched lack of choice on Rogers but one doesn’t have to buy their phone in Canada.

    • Legendary

      “The Lumia 920 is hands down the best phone there is right now.

      It’s funny I don’t remember anyone characterizing iOS and Android app selection as lacklustre when they only had 130,000 apps.”

      1. When iOS had only 130,000 app, nothing had more.

      2. People talked about Android only having 130,000 apps as a negative thing back when it only had 130,000 apps. Hell, people still talk about android’s “lack of apps” with 700,000 apps.

      “It does need a better notification system but in other ways its Live Tile functionality is better than anything on iOS and Android.”

      Cough cough widgets cough cough

      “So Google is running scared and just pulled the plug on ActiveSync–simple solution switch to an Outlook email it is superior anyway and respects your privacy more. But it doesn’t affect a terrible amount of people anyway.”

      Google had to pay Microsoft money to keep Microsoft’s Exchange service running with Gmail (licensing fees). Hopefully, Microsoft will now follow standards instead of trying to force people to use proprietary software.

      “The way Windows Phone and iOS multitask is the better way to do it on mobile devices.”

      Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take full multitasking any day. The way the SGS3 and Note 2 do it is the way to go.

      “What is this murky future for Window Phone? That would have been a valid concern last year but it is safe to say that Windows Phone is here to stay now.”

      According to who? It still doesn’t have a decent market share, major companies are pulling the plug on their WP8 apps, it hasn’t found its niche, and the niche that it was trying to move into is about to be taken back over by RIM and their standards compliant phones that will be able to run almost all 700,000 Android apps because it is standards compliant (hmm… there seems to be a theme here which Microsoft could learn from).

      “The only valid criticism is the exclusivity and the wretched lack of choice on Rogers but one doesn’t have to buy their phone in Canada.”

      If you’re buying a phone outright anyway, most people would want to save the ~$300 and get a Nexus 4.

    • David

      You go man, Lumia is definitely the best phone I’ve ever owned and in many ways top every other phone I’ve tested and used this year. The camera is a no brainer but other hardware features and technologies are also amazing. Simply an outstanding smartphone

  • GlassBackBadIdea

    biased bull **** review. Nexus 4 is number 1? solid 90% ehh! I bet the 10% was for the broken glass plate on the back side.

  • Ron Mexico

    Really who decided the rankings here? The results from the awards that were voted on will paint a very different picture I believe.

  • gnote

    High End
    1 – S3
    2 – GNote2
    3 – One X+
    4 – IPhone5
    5 – Lumia 920

    Low End
    1 – Nexus 4
    2 – One S

  • screamer

    What has the iphone to do there? There is nothing special about it anymore. Nothing is wow.panorama foto? Or foto share? It brings nothing to the table. For me the note 2 is the phone of the year. Motorola did also a good job this year. There software and build quality getting better than apple. Can we not vote and than we do this thingbover again?

  • Jane laperiy

    Where is BB 9800??

  • Dave

    What’s happened to the Chinese spy phone company (Huawei)?
    It’s should be #1 for innovation. LOL

  • RyanOver

    HTC One X+ is the best

  • k

    1.Samsung Galaxy Note

  • Steven Hurdle

    I can mostly understand the rankings (though I understand the comments from those who say the iPhone 5 is way too high), and I’ll even buy the merging of the S3 and the Note2 in this list.

    But Nokia 920 at only 5th? This is supposed to be a smartphone round-up, not a smartphone OS roundup. The reasons given for the 920′s placement simply do not belong in this article, IMO. And as others have pointed out, other OS options (such as iOS) aren’t docked points for the same reasons, even in cases where they work the same way.

    If you are comparing smartphone elements (ergonomics, cameras, unique app ecosystem provided by the smartphone maker, ability to use regular gloves with the 920 which is a *huge* feature for Canadians, etc.), the 920 is easily the smartphone that advanced the most over the course of 2012. I mean, a year ago we had the Lumia 710 and 800 to compare against (the 900 wasn’t until early 2012)!

    To go from the Lumia 800 to the Lumia 920 in one year is easily one of the greatest year-over-year advances in smartphone history.

  • Cyrus

    For anyone thinking about WP8, ask your friends who have bought Ford with MS Sync, Telus with MS Optik, or a plain old WP7 device what their experience was like 1 year after purchase. It only goes downhill to the point where it’s unusable, they define huge bugs as undocumented features, and then expect you to buy an upgrade to go through all the stress again.

    Don’t consider a Microsoft anything until they’ve got a 3 year track record of support, incremental improvements, and swift fixes to problems

  • Cyrus

    Steven Hurdle — WP8 is like a feature for crying out loud. The browser is unusable — doesn’t support any HTML or Javascript standards, has the most exploits since Internet Explorer 6. You can’t install a proper web browser, this is a feature phone that’s locked down with no new software ever.

    A $100 feature phone is not only cheaper, but it offers a better user experience (no minefield of bugs like wifi disconnects, blurry pictures, etc… plus 10x the battery life, damage resistant, no $3000 3 year contract)

    • Steven Hurdle

      @Cyrus As opposed to what Apple delivered? iOS 1.0 didn’t even have the App Store yet. iOS 2.0 didn’t have cut and paste and MMS. iOS 3.0 didn’t yet have multitasking. Android, for its part, has had its own teething pains (fragmentation, anyone?).

      Microsoft’s teething pains are no big deal compared with some of the things their competitors went through, if you ask me.

      As for having to buy something new, Android is the absolute worst for that. If your handset maker, *or* your carrier, won’t roll out an update to you, then you’re screwed without doing it manually (if the hacking community provides you what you need to do it manually), which kind of takes away the user friendliness for the majority of smartphone owners these days who just want to use it and just want to work.

      BTW, with regard to your troll about blurry photos, if you’d been keeping up on mobilesyrup news, you’d know that Nokia rolled out an update that corrects that mere weeks after launch; I installed it (OTA) today. Not that it was that blurry to begin with.

    • Cyrano

      “If your handset maker, *or* your carrier, won’t roll out an update to you, then you’re screwed without doing it manually”

      cough 2 months after lumia 900 release … cough cough

  • Poll

    Thumbs up if you think “Nexus 4″ should be #1

    • monsterduc1000

      Nexus 4: Another near-great Nexus product with great specs and very poor execution, which has unfortunately become the staple of the Nexus line. Other than updates, SOOOO many phones offer more of what people want and with the easy rootability/custom rom-ability of Androids now, the N4 is an “almost great” phone looking in. If Google does not learn to put in OVERSIZED NON-REMOVABLE BATTERIES and INCREASED NON-EXPANDABLE STORAGE, I’m afraid my Nexus S is the one and only Nexus phone I will ever own.

      From ALL the reviews I have read on the N4, the battery life is ATROCIOUS, 4.2 has some bugs to work out, and coupled with the RIDICULOUSLY under stocked launch, the N4 is NOT the phone of the year.

  • Poll

    Thumbs up if you think “Iphone 5″ should be #1

  • Poll

    Thumbs up if you think “Galaxy Note 2″ should be #1

  • Poll

    Thumbs up if you think “Galaxy S3″ should be #1

  • Poll

    Thumbs up if you think “Optimus G″ should be #1

  • Poll

    Thumbs up if you think “Nokia 920″ should be #1

  • Poll

    Thumbs up if you think “HTC One X+″ should be #1

    • monsterduc1000

      Pros: Proper non-removable storage (64gb!!!), proven quad core processor, incredible screen.

      Cons: Non-removable battery

      This would be my number 3 behind the S3 and Note 2.

  • Poll

    Thumbs up if you think “Motorola Razr HD″ should be #1

  • Poll

    Please vote and thumbs up if you think my poll is useful.

  • ckizzle

    Glad you didn’t forget about the razr HD. Its a solid phone, better than the Galaxy S3 and its cheap build quality.

  • Manish

    I don’t agree with this ranking. SG S III should be on top. Google doesn’t endorse Nexus 4 as LTE enabled device. Iphone 5 doesn’t have big screen size as compared to majority of smartphones that are listed.

  • blackprince

    Ugh Live Tiles are the notification center, get over it.

    • Steven Hurdle

      I’m not even sure what a notification centre is. I went from using iOS 3 to Windows Phone 7 (NoDo revision). My Android experience is limited to Gingerbread (Kobo Vox tablet). What I do know is that Live Tiles are worlds better than my experience with notifications on older versions of iOS and Android.

  • mike

    I totally disagree with this post on the best phones
    The samsung galaxy S3 and galaxy note 2 is the top number 1. The iphone 5 should be last on the list its a piece of junk.

  • mukrenol

    This is way more reasonable than what I see on PA…
    Thank you for the good work all year long =]

  • Falco

    When I get a new phone, I check sound/reception quality and camera. Sony always wins. However, with reviews like Techradar’s of the Xperia U, I woudn’t bother even consider the U if I believed their “awful” rating of the video camera. However, I still got the U and found the still and video functios to be fantastic as with any Sony camera,, especially in macro and 16X zoom modes.The Techradar reviewer must have been on something or he meant “awesome”.Just goes to show you should always check for the phone that suits you. Reviews can be misleading if not useless. And as far as any LG is concerned, I’ve always found them to be disappointing at best.

    • jason brown

      sony has not had best camera in 5 years.

  • rl

    Loving my Lumina 920. Quite the upgrade from the s2X and working great on Koodo.

  • Trel araH

    “The iPhone 5 is also the first significant redesign in Apple’s lineup since the iPhone 4 in 2010″ – Clearly the writer of this and the rest of the world have a very different opinion of ‘significant redesign’…

  • GGG

    Where is Optimus G? You know the one that’s no 1 phone in consumer’s report?

  • zul

    Iphone 5 better than galaxy s3 and note? Are you kidding me or what? Iphone 5 is a crippled phone which cant come eveen near to those two phones.i was iphone user for last 4 years but now i cant go back to it specially iphone 5 sucks

  • landragon

    I don’t know why the 920 is listed at #5 considering it’s the most innovate phone in the entire list

    * Pentaband LTE support
    * Super sensitive touch. I can use this thing with gloves on
    * Optical image stabilization
    * 60 FPS HD display refresh rate
    * wireless charging.

  • TP

    Thanks, great to read this article on my Nexus 4.

  • Nate

    If you think the Nexus 4 is a low-end device, you’ve never held one in your hand.

  • m00rb

    Galaxy Note 2 is the best smartphone and there really isn’t much debate. What are those other ones? Phones for ants?

  • David

    920 should definitely be on the top of the list. Best phone I’ve ever laid hands on

  • glonq

    The HTC 8S is a poor choice for best entry-level phone. At just shy of $300 (Virgin), why not spend a couple bucks more and get a real phone like the Nexus 4 @ $319?

    Actually the Samsung Galaxy S II X (Koodo) is a bigger, better phone than the 8S and is half the price!.

  • Deli

    Thumbs up for GN2 should have been #1. It has revolutionized what we think a smartphone can be – size, pen, special features. The ONLY issue anyone can possibly have with GN2 is the size, but that is the marketed FEATURE of the GN2. Everything else on it is superb.

    N4 should not have been #1. The issues with it are easily documented with monsterduc1000′s post.

  • Farhan

    I phone5 is the best. And it is so popular now a days.