In 2012 the smartphone wars became less about bragging about who had the most cores and more about screen size and innovative features. Samsung made the biggest overall impact with two hit phones: The Galaxy S III introduced the world to breakthrough sharing features, while the category-busting 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II took phablets to new heights.
Meanwhile, Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone 5 pushed the design envelope with a jaw-droppingly thin and light sequel with a bigger (but not too big) display. But Apple and Samsung were far from the only winners. In fact, two devices on our top 10 list run Windows Phone 8 — one from Nokia and one from HTC — which says there’s plenty of competition for your smartphone dollar. Here are our top picks of the year.
The iPhone 5 gives Apple fans what they’ve been waiting for, including a bigger screen, 4G LTE and easier Facebook sharing. But it’s the design of this phone that makes it truly stand out. Measuring just 0.3 inches thick and and weighing a mere 4 ounces, the iPhone 5 is so light and svelte that you really have to hold it in your hands to believe it.
This one-hand-friendly handset also boasts one of the sharpest cameras around, a fast A6 chip and more than 7 hours of battery life. Yes, the Maps app is flawed, but otherwise the iPhone 5’s combination of portability, performance, apps and accessories can’t be beat.