Monday, 5 November 2012

Latest mobile phones 2012: hottest handsets reviewed

In the ever-changing mobile market, it can be hard to keep pace with the latest mobile phones. That's why we've put together this hub for our latest mobile phone reviews: to give you the ideal jumping-on point for choosing the best handset for you out of the most current models around.
We cover a plethora of brands, including Apple, HTC, Nokia, Palm and Blackberry, and operating systems, such as Android, iOS and Windows Phone 7, so you should find something that piques your interest here.
In short, if you're seeking a new mobile phone, this is a great place to start.
HTC Wildfire S
new mobile phones
The first Wildfire from HTC spread almost like its moniker, so popular did its blend of HTC Sense, durable form factor and affordable pricing prove. Now that it's burnt out, however, it needs a successor to carry the torch. Rising from the ashes is the Wildfire S.
The handset carries on the legacy well enough, with an impressively solid chassis, great social features and responsive touchscreen. The market's changed since the first Wildfire blazed its trail into history, though. With dual-core 'superphones' to contend with, it's hard to consider a 600Mhz processor hot stuff.
And while HTC's Sense interface proves as compelling as ever, the lack of grunt means missing out on Flash support for iPlayer and the like.
All that wouldn't matter if the Wildfire S only required liberating a token sum from your account, but you'll need a fair few sheets burning a hole in your pocket (around £220 SIM-free, or £15 a month) to lay claim to this little fella.
In the highly competitive market of 2011, that makes the Wildfire S a tricky proposition. Beginners will be well-served by the Wildfire S's rounded package, but you can certainly get a lot more for not much extra cash.
Samsung Galaxy S2
new mobile phones
It's rare that a direct sequel to something awesome – be it film, game or hardware – is anything other than a disappointment when it comes to a new phone.
Rarer still is when the second instalment surpasses the original. We can think of just a scant handful of cases off the top of our heads: The Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2 and Left 4 Dead 2.
Well, add the Galaxy S2 to that list, because this phone is awesome.
Thin, light and with an amazingly clear 4.3-inch Super AMOLED plus screen behind its toughened Gorilla Glass front panel, this is one handset you won't be pocketing in shame when your mates pass by.
In fact, we suspect you'll be evangelising about it to anyone who'll listen. That's because the dual-core processor within its tiny shell isn't just a marketing bullet point, but rather powers an experience that we're nothing short of effervescent about. For instance, web browsing is blisteringly fast and the Galaxy S2's Flash support is second to none.
We're thrilled to say that the plus points are just too numerous to do justice of here. Check out the full review to find out why this is one of the best smartphones we're likely to see in 2011.
HTC ChaCha
new mobile phones
If you're aged 14-21 and are after a fun mobile rather than a black slab of raw processing power, we reckon you'll find it hard not to like (or +1, if you prefer) the new 'Facebook phone'.
As the nickname suggests, Mark Zuckerberg's blue-hued brand of social media is at the heart of the experience – HTC even going as far as to give the site its own dedicated button beneath the ChaCha's decent QWERTY keyboard.
Break through the wall of modified HTC Sense and you'll note that Android Gingerbread is powering the experience, which should be welcome for the tech-savvy target audience. Less warmly received will be the Flash integration, which is a bit iffy to say the least.
With a funny shape and small screen to boot, you're really going to have to want the ChaCha's style of social oh la la to buy into this. Still, if you do, then this is something to post home about.
HTC Sensation XE
new mobile phones
This phone is so brand spanking new that it was announced just a day before we first held it in our palms. It adheres to the sensational HTC Sensation's template, but with the addition of ear-pleasing Beats Audio processing and a few spec upgrades.
You needn't be an audiophile to enjoy the new profile, but you will need a set of Beats Audio headphones.
Thankfully, a pair come with the device. In our tests so far, we've noticed a real difference, with the tinny edge of HTC's sound enhancer diminished, the crispness of sounds augmented and the only potential grounds for minor quibbles being the ear canal-shaking levels of bass.
The good news continues elsewhere, with a 1730mAh battery that should have more staying power than the original Sensation, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor to keep the experience smooth and an eye-pleasing design.
Treat your senses and check out the full review when it lands.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc
new mobile phones
Could Sony Ericsson finally be about to deliver on the promise of, well, every smartphone it's ever made that wasn't quite good enough? Maybe it was stupid to hope, but we did anyway with this new mobile phone.
An attractive design with a curved back that's just 8.7mm thick in the middle? Check. Impressive new Exmor camera technology? Check. Good spec list, including HDMI output? Check. Superb video player? Check.
The hardware is extremely impressive, both in terms of looks and performance. Forget the fashionable dual-core phones – when done right, a single-core 1GHz processor can do it all, although busy, dynamic websites will cause the phone to chug a little.
As it is, we're prepared to overlook the Xperia Arc's few minor flaws (small buttons, odd text entry) thanks to its stunning good looks, superb screen and very decent photo performance. You can't help but love it once you've held its magically thin body and gazed adoringly into its dazzling Reality Display.
HTC Desire S
new mobile phones
Though the HTC Desire's technology is now being surpassed, it's aged beautifully thanks to some timely price drops. However, all things must come to an end (or at least be supplanted by something new). The HTC Desire S has arrived to take over from its predecessor in the Android race.
In many ways, it's quite similar. We'll still be looking at a 3.7-inch 480 x 800 screen, Android overlaid with HTC's Sense UI and a 1GHz processor. However, HTC hasn't totally rested on its laurels with its new mobile phones.
The design and build of the handset is excellent, save for a slight Wi-Fi cutting-out issue. The camera is good quality, producing serviceable still and HD video that would be quite good if it weren't for a small stuttering issue.
Call quality was excellent, with voices coming through crisp and clear, and it's a shame how little we get to say that about handsets these days.
The browsing experience was generally strong, with the speed that web pages load still impressing us, and Flash is taking yet more steps forward in its 10.2 guise. It was still finicky at times, but when it did work, it was fairly smooth, which is more than we could say for many Flash 10.1 single-core phones.
However, the reason the Desire has kept up with everything that's come after is because it was so far ahead in the first place. The Desire S isn't. It's a great phone, and one we would wholeheartedly recommend in a vacuum.
The HTC Desire led the revolution, but the Desire S could be just another member of the rabble.
BlackBerry Bold 9900
BlackBerry bold 9900
While RIM has a great reputation for push email and corporate handsets, it's not known for being an innovator. For this reason, the Blackberry Bold 9900 is an intriguing proposition, packing some higher-end tech into a rather attractive shell.
The capacitive (and high resolution) touchscreen screen is a particular marvel, but the inclusion of a near-field communications chip and the brand new OS 7 show that the Bold 9900 was made to break new ground for RIM.
The result is impressive, but only if you're happy to operate within the boundaries of BlackBerry's traditional strengths. Those looking for an outstanding web browsing or media experience will still find themselves disappointed. Still, head over to the review to find out more about what our review dubbed the best BlackBerry to date.

HTC Sensation
Nokia c2-01
The HTC Sensation is meant to be the new alpha smartphone from the Taiwanese firm, and it certainly lives up to expectations.
With a 1.2GHz dual core processor from Qualcomm and a whopping 4.3-inch high-res qHD screen, this is the phone with best specs yet from HTC, plus it's the first smartphone with the new HTC Watch movie download service.
Is it better than the Samsung Galaxy S2? We think it's just a shade behind thanks to a slightly larger chassis and less advanced screen technology, but that's going to be a debate that rumbles on and on.
HTC Incredible S
HTC incredible s
Incredible by name and only slightly less so by nature, this phone is HTC's entry into the underpopulated 4-inch touchscreen arena. In fact, it's among the first UK handsets to fill that niche, but more are on the horizon.
It's blessed with HTC's slick Sense UI and a high-quality screen, but is this latest mobile phone's foibles enough to warrant waiting for its incoming competitors, or the HTC Desire S?
Samsung Galaxy Ace
Samsung galaxy ace
With a middle-of-the-range spec, 800MHz processor and iPhone-aping looks, it may be hard to see why it's worth buying into the new Galaxy Ace. However, its Android 2.2 (Froyo) OS makes a considerable difference and is, in fact, this phone's ace (yes! We said it) in the hole.
It won't cost you the Earth either, so look deeper and you may find just what you were looking for.
BlackBerry Torch 9810
BlackBerry torch 9810
This update of the Torch 9800, the first touchscreen-equipped BlackBerry, is mighty similar to its predecessor at first glance. But fire up the 3.2-inch touchscreen and you'll start to notice the difference, with a VGA 640 x 480 resolution making the whole experience far crisper.
The processor is fast, the battery life is good, and contacts and messaging are fantastic, but we do have a few gripes. This, folks, is an incremental upgrade and one that struggles to find its niche in BlackBerry's pantheon.
There are RIM handsets that are more focused on the demographics that this phone lightly touches, and those who already own a Torch 9800 may well be still locked into a contract, so there'll be little chance to upgrade.
It's by no means a bad handset, though, so it's well worth a look alongside phones such as the Bold 9900 or Curve as a point of comparison.
LG Optimus 3D
LG optimus 3d
It's big, it's weighty and it's pretty darn expensive, but that pair of characters tacked on the end of the LG Optimus 3D's name might justify all that and more for you. For this, ladies and gents, is a technological milestone: the first 'glasses-free' 3D phone.
The good news is that the effect works brilliantly and that all-important screen is complemented by some great Android customisations on the software side.
Web performance is stellar too.The bad news is that even for a dual-core, the Optimus 3D can feel sluggish, the battery life is poor and – oddly for a phone sold on the back of cutting-edge tech – it's 'only' running Android 2.2.
If you're undecided about joining the 3D revolution, then head on over to the review to find out more.
Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini
Sony ericsson xperia mini
Mini by name and by nature, this is a refresh of the concept behind Sony Ericsson's X10 Mini and X10 Mini Pro, the pint-sized and ultraportable handsets launched in mid-2010.
It packs a new 1GHz processor, and a bigger 3-inch screen with the Bravia Engine Reality Display tech used in the Xperia Arc (read: you get a 320x480 resolution touchscreen that's a bit brighter at times).
The user interface has received an overhaul too, so on paper the new Xperia Mini looks like a big leap forward for the tiny form factor.
And so it proves to be, offering a very usable – dare we say, pretty – interface that makes the small screen totally workable. Social media integration is great too.
The story's not perfect, though, with less-than-brilliant video codec support and a weak camera offering. The titchy screen won't suit gamers either, but those after a great little phone that won't keep their hands full with glitches and faffing about could be in for a treat.