20 best mobile phones in the world today
22nd Mar 2013 | 13:14
Top mobile phones compared: what phone is best for you?
Best mobile phone: Overview
What's the best mobile phone? Our verdict on the best smartphone/best phones - constantly updated
We've all got at least one mobile phone each, right? The trouble is, how do you decide which is the best one for you?
Well, this is where we make it easy. Because here we have our continually updated comparison of the top 20 best smartphones you can get in the UK.
The last update saw the Samsung Galaxy S3 take the top spot most people thought it deserved... but with the iPhone 5, HTC One and Sony Xperia Z now upon us, has the Korean brand held off ANOTHER onslaught from the Cupertino, Taiwanese and Japanese powerhouses? And what of the supercheap but powerful Google Nexus 4 by LG? Does price matter over software? And what of the impending Samsung Galaxy S4?
But we probably shouldn't forget the Apple iPhone 4S as a viable option, and while the Nokia Lumia 900 used to be top dog in the Windows Phone 7 game, it's the Nokia Lumia 920 that's flying the flag for Windows Phone 8.
If that still doesn't help, well, there's always our extensive mobile phone reviews pages as well - or check out our personally crafted smartphone buyer's guide:
Here are our rankings for the best mobile phones around, currently available in the UK.
Number 20: Nokia Lumia 900
20. Nokia Lumia 900
Android could learn a thing from the nearly bloatware-free Windows Phone – the Nokia Lumia 900 brought together a big screen and an excellent OS.
It was a triumph of design for Nokia at the time, but has since been superseded by other polycarbonate-clad handsets; not least by Nokia itself during the intervening period.
It's a shame the camera hardware doesn't live up to its software – there's so much more that can be done here.
It's not as exciting as it once was, as we have the fancy Nokia Lumia 920 on the market - plus that brings 4G and the next version of mobile software through Windows Phone 8, where the Lumia 900 will always be stuck on Windows Phone 7.8
The Nokia Lumia 900 certainly isn't an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy beater - but it's a decent Windows Phone device that's not too pricey. If you're a fan of a simple interface with some quality add-ons, then you should definitely look at Nokia's older flagship.
Number 19: iPhone 4S
19. iPhone 4S
When Apple announced the iPhone 4S, it's testament to the power of the rumour mill that people were angry it wasn't called the iPhone 5, which is now a real device.
Predictably the iPhone 4S is no longer the iOS handset we recommend, but it's still a worthy choice in the smartphone game thanks to some decent upgrades through iOS 6 (although the less said about Maps, the better...).
Siri voice recognition has shown itself to be slightly more than a novelty and has been upgraded to actually become useful with the new OS, and the screen technology is still top notch.
We were hoping for a larger display (which we now have with the iPhone 5), and things such as a lack of Bluetooth transfer, no Flash integration with the internet browser and an uninspiring contacts app still grate - but they're no match for the sheer ease of use and general operation of Apple's OS if you're talking to one of the fans.
The only reason this phone is so low in the rankings is the fact it still costs so much to buy, despite being years old now.
A decent camera, slick platform and superb display are still the things we look for in a phone, and the iPhone 4S delivers that.
It was one of the most expensive phones on the market but sadly hasn't dropped much in price (otherwise we would have kept it higher up the rankings) so think about whether you really want its high-end features, since the iPhone 4 is a cheaper alternative still.
Number 18: Huawei Ascend G330
18. Huawei Ascend G330
The Ascend G330 is a solid performer. It's smooth in use, has the power to run even the most demanding apps very well, and although not hugely exciting to look at and hold, the display's clear and bright enough to elevate it above some of the tattier budget models.
And it's definitely more capable than the old Ascend G300, with hardly any glitches when downloading/updating apps and navigating the phone at the same time.
It delivers a great smartphone experience for the money with hardly any obvious compromises.
When deciding on a budget phone, it can be a nightmare trying to decide which one to go for. Is it power? Name? Specs? Or just a low price tag attached to a phone that doesn't go bananas when you prod it?
The latter applies to the Huawei - and it delivers well, especially for the £100 sticker whacked on it.
Number 17: Samsung Ativ S
17. Samsung Ativ S
Thanks to an excellent build, good specs, beefy storage and an open body design, the Ativ S is an excellent WP8 option.
While Windows Phone 8 is definitely wanting in the app department, it's still a rich enough eco-system for many, and the sleek lines of the Ativ S remind us nicely of other high-end Samsung phones.
Samsung has really one-upped the competition by including a removable battery, and more importantly, microSD storage. One of our biggest complaints with the HTC 8X was its paltry 16GB of space and lack of removable storage.
It's not the ultimate Windows Phone device, and it can be tricky to get hold of in the UK - but if you're not up for Nokia's Lumia range of Microsoft-powered devices, this should definitely be next on your list.
Number 16: Nokia Lumia 620
16. Nokia Lumia 620
There's not a whole lot that the Nokia Lumia 620 does wrong. As an all-round, jack of all trades budget handset it does a great job. We'd love it if the screen was slightly bigger or it had a little bit more RAM, but for the price we can't really complain.
The only real issue is the battery, and that's an issue to some extent with every Windows Phone 8 right now.
It might not have the style of the HTC Windows Phone 8S or the specs of the Nokia Lumia 820, but with a big enough microSD card it's got more storage than either of them, and it really is one of the best value phones - particularly at the low end of the market - that we've seen in a long time.
The Nokia Lumia 620 is a great budget handset. It's also brilliant value, and the only sub-£200 Windows Phone 8 option right now.
With interchangeable covers, you can see enough of the younger market enjoying expressing themselves with this budget option. It's fast, fluid and brings enough of the WP8 experience without costing the earth.
Number 15: Sony Xperia S
15. Sony Xperia S
We used to love the Xperia Arc S - but we're a fickle bunch, and now Ericsson has been cast aside, we're all over the new brand like a cat on a fresh set of curtains.
The Xperia S almost has too many positive points to list, with a HD screen, 12MP camera and dual-core processor all combining to make one of the finest smartphones of 2012.
As you will gather from our review, the Sony Xperia S has both a quality screen and a dual-core processor that never slows down - plus that 12MP camera is still more than half-decent.
Sony has also very kindly bundled lots of software with the Xperia S out of the box, which saves you having to dash to Google Play as soon as you turn on to grab vital apps.
Battery life is the only slight wobble (if you don't mind a plastic casing), but it will generally last a day under normal conditions, and that's a solid enough benchmark for us.
There are still some niggles with the Xperia S but we think it says a lot that when deciding on the pros and cons for the device, we really struggled with the cons section.
It's since been bested twice with the announcement of the Sony Xperia T and then the Xperia Z with faster innards and a better screen - but that means the Xperia S has become more of a budget winner, so don't worry about the first Sony phone just yet.
Number 14: Motorola Razr i
14. Motorola Razr i
Motorola's done a good job with the Razr i. It's taken a line that refuses to die quietly, injected it with a little bit of pizzaz and thrown it right out there for all and sundry.
The fact that you can expand the storage by up to 64GB makes this an attractive option. And it's an easy phone to use without too much customisation to confuse Android newbies. Plus, it works well as a phone, with good signal, and provides you with a top notch, fast internet service.
And let's not forget about that screen: with the edge to edge display, it really pops and fizzes in the palm, with the Super AMOLED display impressing.
Would we recommend the Motorola Razr i to friends and family? Yes, without a second's hesitation. Because not everyone wants a phone that will drop the kids off at school, bake you a cake and give you a massage in the evening.
Some want a device with little pocket imprint, with fantastic specs at a reasonable - rather than stupid - price. And that's what you're getting here.
It's got a lovely small footprint and a gorgeous display, so if you're not bothered by reams of high-end specs, then you're onto a winner with the Razr i - it's only the higher price bracket that keeps it out the top ten.
Number 13: Samsung Galaxy S2
13. Samsung Galaxy S2
This former number one phone in the world continues to slide down the rankings, despite still being a decent piece of hardware. That's not to take anything away from a cracking phone that is getting to a really low price these days, but it's nothing compared to its successor (and subsequent sequel).
Make no mistake - this is still a great phone, thanks to the Ice Cream Sandwich update, and the design has moved from cool to iconic pretty quickly. On top of that the Jelly Bean update is rolling out apace for this ageing phone, which means for the money you can buy it for, it's still a decent choice.
Don't go for a two year contract though - you could end up using a phone that's nearing hald-a-decade old.
What we love about the Samsung Galaxy S II is the sheer amount of stuff that's packed in under the chassis - but more important is the way Samsung has used all that tech to create a phone that just works near-flawlessly.
The dual-core 1.2GHz processor, the Super AMOLED plus screen and the excellent sonic performance of the media player are still good enough for use, if you're not bothered about bleeding-edge speed.
Recording in 1080p is a nice touch (given that it actually works most of the time) and the camera is more than enough to take great shots in a short space of time - although we suggest you check out the phones higher in this list for more powerful snappers.
In short, be it internet browsing, navigation, media, or social networking- the Samsung Galaxy S2 is still more than good enough for all those functions in one phone.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 has sold many millions of units worldwide - and It's a cracking media mobile, still next generation in web browsing thanks to slick Flash integration, a very good replacement for a pocket camcorder and, goshdarnit, it makes calls pretty well too.
The Samsung Galaxy S II not only set a new bar for smartphones in 2011; it smashed the bar, recreated it in its own image and even managed to see off the competition of an Apple smartphone that doesn't drop signal all over the place - but now it's been usurped by more powerful devices.
Number 12: Sony Xperia T
12. Sony Xperia T
Now the Xperia Z has emerged as the first 'true' Sony phone, there's no doubt this handset's time in the sun is setting, but as 007's phone of choice it still one to check out, thanks to sweet design and innards.
It runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, with a 4.6-inch display boasting Sony's Bravia TV technology and on the back of the handset you'll find the 13MP camera – one of this phone's best features.
Jelly Bean is being delivered for this phone in the near future too, so you won't end up with last year's software if you still fancy spending on Sony.
That being said, when compared with the earlier Sony Xperia S, or some of the other flagship Android handsets, the difference is negligible.
The Sony Xperia T is a very, very good phone. Everything about it is slick and well-executed and the performance is certainly what we expect from the Japanese firm.
Despite opting for a dual-core processor over a quad-core option, the Xperia T doesn't lag and navigating the interface is smooth and easy - one to watch if you like a decent Bravia screen but aren't bothered about it being waterproof, like the newer model.
Number 11: HTC One X+
11. HTC One X+
The HTC One X was an odd handset - not in the design (lovely) or the features (top-end) - but that it's seen as a 'renaissance' phone for the firm, despite its success in such a short time.
It took that design, threw out the bits that don't work and had another go... while adding a '+' on the end to show it's all new and shiny.
It's addressed storage concerns and improved web browser efficiency and the always reliable HTC keyboard – although the battery is still a bit of a sore point.
Obviously now the HTC One has popped up, this phone is much less relevant than it once was... but camera and design aside it's not a million miles away from the impressive force of the One.
The beefed up processor along with the Android 4.1 and Sense 4+ UI updates makes the One X+ an even slicker, smoother and more powerful customer than its older brother.
The already excellent HTC keyboard has once again been given further improvements making it even better and for the first time we didn't feel the need to download an alternative from Google Play – kudos HTC - and LOOK! It comes in red and black with 64GB of storage.
There are so many things to love about the One X+ and it really is a great smartphone. It's fallen down thanks to no longer being HTC's new child, but it's still worthy of its place among the greats.
However, we urge you to look at the HTC One before deciding on the One X+ - if you're not enamoured by the fancy new features, then you'll still get a very good phone here.
Number 10: BlackBerry Z10
10. BlackBerry Z10
BlackBerry is back - there's no doubt about that after the huge launch of the BlackBerry Z10 and it's new BB10 operating system. The lateness of said launch caused some to question the relevance of the phones, but there's no doubt it's still a phone that ticks a lot of boxes.
The BlackBerry Z10's Peek function, interesting camera features and ability to offer you a work and life balance, which will appeal to a lot of people who struggle to carry around two handsets when the office won't let you bring the iPhone in.
The Z10 has a quality finish as well as a clever interface, and the expandable storage, removable battery and Adobe Flash support are all small wins for the Z10 and will help as it tries to stand out in a crowded market.
The Z10 is a decent smartphone offering up a strong range of features and a fancy new operating system that may catch the eye of the technologically adventurous.
It does pretty much everything we'd expect from a high-end device and there are no major flaws to go running to the presses about. It's only the lack of any real cutting-edge features to mark it out that keeps it from going higher in our list, so if you're all about BlackBerry, then this phone won't disappoint.
Number 9: LG Optimus 4X HD
9. LG Optimus 4X HD
The trouble is, LG has released this handset just too late, which means it doesn't offer anything mind-blowing or really that alternative.
However, it's a media powerhouse, has sleek lines and has power in spades - plus a better battery than the One X, with the same chipset.
In summary, we do recommend it – it's a cracking piece of kit. And if you can get it on a good deal (of which there are many right now), we say 'go for it', but there's no real reason to pick this over a Samsung Galaxy SIII, an HTC One X or even a One S, with the last option impressing hugely on the design front.
A fantastic phone that really joins the benchmark level set a few months ago, rather than breaking new ground. It's been usurped by the much-cheaper Google Nexus 4, so unless you're a massive fan of the user interface (which is pretty good) you'll probably enjoy the stock Android experience more.
Number 8: Nokia Lumia 920
8. Nokia Lumia 920
Simplicity is the key here, the Lumia 920 does the basics well, from contact integration and calling, to web browsing and messaging. The camera is market-leading, and offers excellent performance from low-light to jumpy videos.
The 8MP camera on the back of the Lumia 920 is actually one of the best we've used, and for anyone looking to get a top end cameraphone: you need to seriously consider this Nokia, although the HTC One is encroaching on its territory.
The 4.5-inch display is also a good'un, crisp and clear it makes watching movies, surfing the web or Facebook stalking an enjoyable experience, thanks to the PureMotion HD technology on offer.
And you can even use it with gloves on... what more could you want? You're right: hologram messages. But they don't exist yet.
The Nokia Lumia 920 is a worthy ambassador for Windows Phone 8 and if the Finnish firm continue to build and improve on this handset, it could well make a glorious return to the mobile market.
It's not got the clout to take on the likes of the HTC One and Galaxy S4 just yet, but there's not doubt in our minds that the once-great brand is slowly getting closer to the summit.
Number 7: HTC One S
7. HTC One S
There are few phones we play with where we think that we have the complete package and would happily give five stars. The HTC One S would have had five stars had it not been for the 16GB memory cap and non-HD screen.
Of course, it's getting on a bit in smartphone terms now, but it goes ahead of the HTC One X+ thanks to a) a lower price, b) a new Jelly Bean update and a design that we think betters even the HTC One. It's micro-arc oxidisation, and we challenge you to find one person who owns this phone who doesn't love the feel of the back.
It's not got a superbly high resolution screen, the internal memory isn't good enough for many and it probably won't go above Jelly Bean in terms of software.
But let's not get caught up with negativity here: if you're not bothered about a massive memory (which most people aren't), you probably can't do much better now for a mid-range phone. The HTC One S is a beautiful handset blessed with beautiful capabilities and is available at very palatable price points.
HTC could have launched the One S and not bothered with the One X in many ways - it's a beautiful handset blessed with a nice skin and the latest version of Android in the shape of Jelly Bean.
It's more of an evolution of the HTC Sensation range: slimmed down, nicer finish and far more feature-rich - and you will struggle to put it down once you've popped it in your hand.
Number 6: Samsung Galaxy Note 2
6. Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Many (including us, we admit) were not convinced when the original Samsung Galaxy Note launched. Who on earth would want something so big to make their calls and surf the internet, even with a glorified stylus? Cue awkward silence.
Millions of you, it would appear. The Galaxy Note sold by the bucketload, so how do you follow that up? With something better, of course - the Samsung Galaxy Note 2.
Faster, stronger, better looking, and more functional, the Galaxy Note 2 is better connected than ever, and thanks to that increased screen size (up to an eye-bulging 5.5-inches), is, among many things, a quality media player.
Samsung has achieved something special here, because it has made the Galaxy Note 2 bigger than the original, but pulls it off so that you don't notice it too much and anyway, it's the features that make it so amazing.
Air View, Multi-window, a dock that can turn it into a fully-fledged computer - it's all here, people, and while the Galaxy S4 builds on top of it nicely, for the larger-screened range this is the king.
As a phone, it's big, but once you get over that, if you can, it's great. As a PMP, it really does excel, and as a web communicator, it is almost second to none (though we can't fully get the taste of Flash absence out of our mouth).
Ultimately, there's no getting away from the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a niche device. But it does almost everything it sets out to do perfectly, with grace, class and maximum functionality. And if you're in the market for a larger smartphone or a small tablet, there really is no better device.
Number 5: Google Nexus 4
5. Google Nexus 4
Google and LG have worked together to bring to market a fantastic offering, one that even Apple fans can't help but coo over when they hear the price.
The fact of the matter is that this is a handset with world class specs – yet it's at a cost you'd expect to get a budget phone for. Sure, there are a few things that could have been done better, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
The Nexus 4 is beautifully designed with a stunning display and rocking the latest version of Android. It has more connectivity than a telephone exchange and even excels in the simple matter of making calls.
We're not fans of the lower memory allowance, and it's not got the best screen on the market, and there will be a few that see stock Android 4.2 as too stripped-down to consider it a valid phone OS choice; more a platform for the big hitters to build on.
But that doesn't mean it's not a fantastic handset - it would have competed even without the insanely low price tag.
Make no mistake – this is the best Nexus handset so far by a long shot. We love it and can't recommend it highly enough.
It was a contender for the top spot at launch, although it's fallen just short ahead of intense competition. If you're due a new phone and aren't willing to spend the big bucks, you should check the Google Nexus 4 out without delay.
Number 4: iPhone 5
4. iPhone 5
Did you see this one coming? The iPhone 5 now behind three other Android phones in our rankings? Some think it should be higher, some think lower - it depends on your level of Apple love.
Never has a company polarised opinion in the smartphone world like Apple - and with the iPhone 5, so many are quick to decry it while others know it to be the smartphone they've been waiting for.
And let's make no bones about it: this is a stunning phone, with a gorgeous two-tone finish, a high-res screen that's been extended to four inches and an efficient yet powerful core.
The iOS 6 update is a good one, and while some feel it to be ageing slightly, many see it as doing exactly what they want... and given Apple has built it smartphone reputation on simplicity, this makes sense.
However, it's not all cookies and cream for Apple, as it's ditched the Google Maps app for something that's not as slick or well-stocked in its own Maps app, which had some issues at birth. However, it's certainly picked up more recently, and you can just download Google Maps anyway if you don't want to take the risk.
The main problem we have with this phone, spec list aside, is the fact the iPhone 5 is STILL very expensive... we're not sure how such sky high prices can be charged when equivalent smartphones are available on the market.
Let's not beat around the bush here: the iPhone 5 is still one of the great smartphones in the world thanks to a great package of technology, design and UI intuition.
iOS definitely needs an update, and we'll always hope for a price decrease soon... but there's no doubt the competition is starting to outstrip Apple's bullet-proof reliability and simplicity of use.
Number 3: Sony Xperia Z
3. Sony Xperia Z
Sony's new handset is most definitely the most impressive the firm has launched either in its current guise or as Sony Ericsson. The latest handset should always be the best, obviously, but the Xperia Z is a real, real step forward.
You can see the Sony influence throughout the handset as it oozes quality and build from the large screen, which fits close to the edges of the bezel, to the intelligent camera that allows you to snap some really premium photos without needing to fiddle about with the settings.
And it's water and dust resistant too, which makes it excellent for general life business. There's a certain freedom that comes from knowing that the heart-stopping moment of your phone falling in a pint of beer is gone for good.
It's also packing a microSD card slot in an impossibly thin chassis, for which we laud the phone even higher. Add to that the Bravia Engine 2, which can upscale standard definition movies and bring your content to life, and you've got a real matchwinning phone in your hands.
There will be an outcry from many that wonder how it's managed to climb above the iPhone - we deliberated for a long time between the two, but the fact is that spec for spec, the Xperia Z beats the iPhone 5 down.
It's not all about the numbers though, which is why the fact the Xperia Z uses those specs so well - a crisper video experience, a more powerful camera, being waterproof, expandable memory - gives it the boost it needed to enter the top three.
While it doesn't quite pack the clout of the phones from HTC and Samsung, the Xperia Z is a phone that says Sony is definitely back at the sharp end of the smartphone game.
There's still (a small amount of) room for improvement, as the screen can look a bit washed out from some angles, but there's no doubt that if Sony keeps us this pace it will be vying for the top spot in no time at all - we just don't know what Sony will call it.
Number 2: Samsung Galaxy S3
2. Samsung Galaxy S3
What's happened here? Samsung off the top spot? Surely not!
The S3 is still a wondrous phone: it's got every kind of feature we could ask for and more, and raised the bar once again in terms of what consumers should be expecting in terms of battery life, processor speed and media management.
Would we recommend you buy one if you're hankering for a spot of Samsung? Yes, but we would urge you to wait a bit to see what the S4 will do for you.
If you're torn between this and an HTC One, it's a very difficult one to call – but the latter has a crisper screen, better design and superior camera for the general user, which is what you get for your extra wonga.
It still bests the iPhone 5 - for starters, Google Maps works properly. And it's nearly £130 cheaper. And it has a bigger screen, which we think is winning.
That's not the only reason the Samsung Galaxy S3 is worthy of consideration. Smart Stay, Super AMOLED HD screen, up to 128GB storage, Music Hub, removable battery, quick camera... we're getting tired listing all the great things it does.
The design didn't impress us as much as when we first laid eyes on the S2, but that's the only big issue we could find - and it's enough for us to get very excited about the Galaxy S4 as the next round in the smartphone battle begins.
If you waited feverishly for the Samsung Galaxy S3, you won't be disappointed. It's fast, it's sleek and it packs the latest technology that will get your pulse racing.
Samsung faced an almost impossible task in trying to create a worthy sequel to the Galaxy S2, and while it's not longer top dog, it's at least getting more palatable in terms of price - plus is nimble enough to take down the newer and better-specified Sony Xperia Z.
Number 1: HTC One
1. HTC One
Well, here's something of a shock if you're a Samsung fan – after nearly two years of dominance, the Korean brand has fallen from the top spot.
It's nothing to do with the quality of the S3 – it's still an outstanding phone – but more the fact HTC has managed to bring out a smartphone that's worthy of any user's consideration.
The supreme aluminium chassis, the Full HD screen and the simplified version of Sense 5.0 sitting on top of Android Jelly Bean means it's a pleasure to use and recommend this handset.
The new innovations are also pleasingly more than just marketing gimmicks; Zoe functionality allows the creation of delightful video highlight reels, and the Ultrapixel camera means you've got a much wider range of shots available thanks to being stunning in low light.
The only reason this isn't a five star phone is the slightly off-key battery, which can leak juice if you're power-creating videos or watching reams of video, but for day to day use it will be acceptable for most.
Of course, this could be a rather short lived time at the top, depending on what Samsung offers with the Galaxy S4, but for now we're standing up and applauding HTC for showing it knows how to make a market-leading smartphone.
With power, poise and beauty all combined in this innovative phone, HTC has proved it can more than still cut it with the big boys when it comes to bringing out a lust-worthy flagship smartphone.
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If a phone isn't in the top 20 best phones in the world list, that doesn't mean it's not worth giving two hoots about.
Here's a few handsets you might want to think about should none of the above tickle your fancy... although you're clearly VERY hard to please:
Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini
'Proper' S3 too big for you? Want to spend a little less each month on something smartphone-y? Then check out the S3 Mini, friend, as it's got a lot of the key features of the bigger brother.
You're getting S Beam, a powerful camera with burst mode, Super AMOLED screen, NFC and 1GB of RAM. Yeah, we know. It's not bad.
It pales in comparison to the bigger model, but then again, the smaller-handed don't want all that heft in their pocket or bag. In which case, this is a winner.
HTC Desire C
The HTC Desire C is better than the handsets it's come in to replace, but not by much.
The intuitive interface, attractive design and competitive price tag means the Desire C certainly has the opportunity to do well at the low end of the market – especially against the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Y and LG Optimus L3.
Samsung Galaxy Ace 2
A warning signal to its handset competitors, Samsung's reign of power is quickly moving away from the one-off flagship Galaxy S devices, with the Ace 2 firmly rooting itself as a mid-market challenger with a near budget price point that will appeal to many.
Not the most media savvy of devices on the market, the Ace 2 makes up for small niggles and limited features by mastering what it offers. Exceeding expectation on multiple fronts, the second-generation would be a wise buy for any first time or returning smartphone owner.
Sony Xperia J
In true budget handset fashion, the Sony Xperia J comes with a £200 price tag but with a boatload of features on top of that.
We're fans of the design of the Sony Xperia J, bringing back the look from the old Sony Ericssons and updating it with a smooth, stylish finish that sits nicely in the hand.
Battery life is also impressive, as more and more smartphones struggle to get through a day the Xperia J will happily chug through at least two, if not more with careful use.
It's also got the Android Jelly Bean update on the way too, which is going to improve things such as lag in the interface and camera, so perhaps wait for that before shelling out.
BlackBerry Curve 9320
What we like about the BlackBerry Curve 9320 is that it's honest. It's not trying to be better than it is and is quite happy to portray itself as a budget smartphone with a few little extras.
And for the people it's aimed at - those who want a phone that makes calls, sends texts/emails and has a good battery - it comes up trumps. Web browsers and cameras are nice to have, but won't swing a sale here. So on that basis, it gets a thumbs up.
The only problem we had when it came out was value for money, since it was fairly expensive for what it offered. The BlackBerry Curve 9320 has now come down to a much more reasonable price of around £99 - and given BlackBerry 10 isn't coming to this segment of the smartphone market any time soon, it's still worth looking at if you can't handle not having a keyboard.
New mobile phones 2013 - what's coming up?
Of course, there's always a chance you don't give two hoots about the phones we've listed here, and want to know what shining lights are set to glimmer into focus in 2013.
With MWC 2013 out of the way, we've got a pretty clear picture of how the mobile landscape is shaping up, and with many of you months away from your contract upgrade, here's a selection of new phones to whet your appetite:
Samsung Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4. The phone everyone wants to check out, and then probably buy. The most pre-registered phone ever with some retailers. And the handset that brings a hugely impressive screen in a phone that's SMALLER than its predecessor.
We loved our short time with it at its launch in New York, and while it's an incremental update that doesn't add anything that we haven't seen on other phones in terms of features, the overall packaging is hugely impressive.
We can't wait to get this beauty in our labs for more in-depth testing, as the internet, media, camera and more all offer so much to play with. Let's hope that battery holds up, eh?
Hands on: Samsung Galaxy S4 review
Nokia Lumia 720
The Lumia 720 doesn't have the high end features we've come to expect from the more expensive Lumias but it does have a decent spec sheet for something that's bound to be available on next-to-nothing contracts.
When it comes to making affordable smartphones, Nokia is still the daddy here - and while it doesn't seem like the 720 has a place between the 620 and 820, at least choice is still on the table for users.
Hands on: Nokia Lumia 720 review
LG Optimus L7 2
The LG Optimus L7 2 is a surprisingly capable budget smartphone which offers up plenty of features for not a lot of cash - although the naming of it will confuse potential buyers aplenty.
We were impressed with its 8MP camera, stylish design and smooth operation, although web surfing could do with a bit of a boost.
Out of the three new L-Series 2 handsets the LG Optimus L7 2 is our favourite and we reckon it will offer consumers pretty decent value for money when it lands later this year.
Hands on: LG Optimus L7 2 review
Nokia Lumia 520
We rather like the Lumia 520 - Nokia clearly has a market in mind for the device and has given it a price point to match, and it sits happily at the bottom of the smartphone pile, for a low-end price of around £200 at the moment.
It's not a handset for those who really want a decent Windows Phone, but rather it's one for those who want a budget smartphone that has a half-decent OS.
For that type of purchaser, the cheap and cheerful nature of the 520 will surely appeal.
Hands on: Nokia Lumia 520 review
Samsung Galaxy Young
The Samsung Galaxy Young is a phone that you can imagine the younger teenager who wants a modern smartphone asking for at their birthday. It won't cost that much money to pick up without a contract, and with the ability to set data limits on the phone, parents will be happy that they won't be hit with whopping bills.
It's an uninspiring phone for the spec-hungry fan, but it copies the Samsung Galaxy S3 styling and for that reason alone we can see a few skirt hems being tugged as children give their parents the big eyes when looking for a new phone
Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Young review.
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 is one of the better phones we saw at MWC 2013, simply because it was a different proposition to the rest of the identikit Samsung Galaxy family.
We didn't get to dunk it underwater, which is still a favourite test of all mobile phone reviewers, but we're pretty confident it can stand the heat. Also literally.
If you're in the market for a tough, attractive next-gen smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 could certainly be worth checking out.
Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 review
Sony Xperia SP
Although not blessed with the looks or specs of the Xperia Z, the Sony Xperia SP is a phone that still deserves a raised eyebrow of appreciation thanks to the combination of spec list and likely price.
The body is smooth and feels quality in the hand, and with an impressive screen, Android 4.1 and an 8MP camera, alongside NFC and 4G, this spec list wouldn't look too out of place on a new flagship phone from another firm right now – and with a lower price, that's an ace notion.
Hands on: Sony Xperia SP review
ZTE Grand S
Taking a look at the specs the ZTE Grand S looks to be a blockbuster of a phone and one which could easily trump the big boys of the mobile market, with a full HD 5-inch display, 1.7GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 13MP camera, 4Gconnectivity and Android Jelly Bean
The reality however is not so great, with a sluggish interface and disappointing screen quality seriously wounding the Grand S..
Perhaps ZTE will be able to iron out the kinks before the handset hit shelves, but we're not holding our breath. The Grand S will need a pretty special price tag if it's going to succeed.
Hands on: ZTE Grand S review
Huawei Ascend Mate
The line between smartphone and tablet continues to blur and the Huawei Ascend Mate does nothing to help the situation.
Huawei wants you to ditch your tablet in favour of the Ascend Mate, which in its eyes can double as both a slate and a phone.
We're not completely sold on that philosophy and tend to sway towards the theory that a 6.1-inch phone is pretty mad – verging on unnecessary.
Hands on: Huawei Ascend Mate review