A look back: The best and worst phones of 2012

In addition to a number of great handsets this year, 2012 also had its fair share of duds. CNET reflects on the phones that rose to the top and the others that fell flat.

This year, we saw a wide range of both excellent and disappointing devices. CNET

Not only was 2012 a great year for handset technology like bigger and crisper screens and amazing camera phone improvements, it also witnessed a number of top-notch smartphones that were excellent in and of themselves.

From a brawny battery that liberated users from worrying about their power reserves throughout the day, to a novel design that turned the go-to black rectangle aesthetic on its head, there were a number of handsets that wowed us and pushed the standards of smartphone excellence even higher.

But, what's a year without a few regrets? During our time reviewing exceptional handsets, we also encountered a slew of less-than-stellar devices. Some, in fact, were downright terrible.

Though a few of these handsets were feature phones, they didn't get docked because of their lower specs. The models in question disappointed because of their poor performance, clumsy design, or dated software, combined with a terrible sense of timing.

Hopefully with CES around the corner, we can expect that smartphone technology will only improve, meaning more handsets shipping natively with the most recent OSes and faster quad-core processors.

Of course, we might see a few wild cards thrown in, too. Let's just hope that when a new phone comes along that tries to break the mold in 2013, it'll land on its feet (a la Galaxy Note 2), rather than drown in the sea of other failed devices.

What do you guys think? Was this year one of the best or worst years for mobile tech progress? Let us know in the comments section.

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