Best phone of 2011

After an eventful year in which smart phones squared up to laptops for raw processing power, we roundup 2011's 10 best mobiles in this video.

As 2011 draws to a close, it's time to look back and take stock of what has been a particularly memorable 12 months in mobile phone technology. Hit play on our video to find out what we thought were the best phones of the year.

Over the past year we've seen a raft of dual-core phones hit the market. Many of us will have found ourselves in the unusual position of having a handset that comfortably out-paces our laptop computers in terms of raw processing power.

The year saw significant launches for Apple with the iPhone 4S and Nokia unveiling the Lumia 800. But on the whole, Google's Android platform dominated the mobile landscape. Companies such as Sony Ericsson and Samsung put their considerable weight behind the Little Green Robot, releasing a plethora of blowers at a wide range of prices.

With 2012 promising the tantalising prospect of quad-core power in your pocket, here's a run-down of the 10 handsets that tickled our fancy here at CNET UK (all prices are for SIM-free handsets).

HTC Titan

10. HTC Titan (£440)

The first handset of 2011 to boast the Windows Phone 7.5 operating system, the HTC Titan's massive 4.7-inch screen ensures that it more than lives up to its name. That monstrous Super LCD display makes surfing the web a seriously enjoyable pastime. The 1.5GHz single-core processor ensures nippy performance.

Windows Phone supporters will also find plenty to like about the improvements factored into the OS. HTC's typically assured build quality rounds off this super-sized super phone.

Nokia Lumia 800

9. Nokia Lumia 800 (£400)

Possibly the most important Windows Phone so far, the Lumia 800 marks a brave new era in the history of Nokia. True to form, the Finnish firm has spared little expense in creating one of the most stylish and capable handsets of 2011.

The Lumia's eye-catching polycarbonate casing exudes a feeling of class and sophistication, while the 3.7-inch AMOLED screen is bright and bold. Fans of pocket snappers will be pleased by the inclusion of an 8-megapixel camera, complete with Carl Zeiss optics, although it's worth noting that it's quite fussy and requires some effort to capture a perfect shot.

Samsung Galaxy Ace

8. Samsung Galaxy Ace (£130)

Samsung has covered all of the bases in 2011, with budget blowers like the Galaxy Mini and Galaxy Fit providing smart phone power to those shopping on a tight budget.

The Galaxy Ace costs slightly more than its bargain basement siblings, but the additional outlay is more than worth it. Naturally Samsung has had to cut a few corners to achieve the low price, but the Galaxy Ace boasts a classy case design, robust battery life and a crisp and clear 3.5-inch display.

If you fancy the Galaxy S2 but don't have deep enough pockets to cover the purchase, this is a reasonably-priced alternative.

Motorola Razr

7. Motorola Razr (£440)

Motorola's iconic Razr brand is resurrected in style with this super-thin Android phone. Running Android 2.3 (but soon to be updated to 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich), the Razr packs a dual-core processor and a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED screen with dazzling brightness and colour balance -- yet the handset's only 7.1mm thick.

Astonishingly, Motorola has also been able to cram in an 8-megapixel camera, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage for your beloved photos, music and videos. If that's not enough space, you can add in more using microSD cards of up to 32GB in size.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray

6. Sony Ericsson Xperia Ray (£280)

Sony Ericsson's Xperia range was ruthlessly expanded during 2011 and this mid-range effort was one of the highlights. The 3.3-inch screen is the phone's only real weakness, but it allows for a compact, lightweight frame that's ideal for those of you who don't want a gargantuan mobile taking over your pocket.

Despite the Xperia Ray's diminutive dimensions and 100g weight, it doesn't skimp on features. There's an 8-megapixel camera that captures video at 720p resolution. It also uses an Exmor R for Mobile lens, which produces superb clarity in low light. What's more, Sony Ericsson has promised that all Xperia phones launched in 2011 will get Android 4.0 in 2012.

Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S

5. Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S (£350)

A revised version of the Xperia Arc featuring a faster 1.4GHz processor, the Arc S is Sony Ericsson's flagship Android handset. True to its moniker, it boasts a curved design that helps it stand out from the crowd. The 4.3-inch screen is fantastic for viewing movies or browsing the web.

Like the Xperia Ray and Neo, the Arc S uses Sony Ericsson's Exmor R for Mobile technology to achieve amazing results and an 8.1-megapixel camera. It's capable of shooting HD video in 720p resolution. Furthermore, you can view your photos and videos on a TV using the phone's HDMI-out capability. Like the other 2011 Xperia phones, the Arc S will get Android 4.0 in 2012.

HTC Sensation XE with Beats Audio

4. HTC Sensation XE with Beats Audio (£430)

As is the case with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S, this phone is actually an upgrade of the existing HTC Sensation, which also launched in 2011. HTC has kept the same design but added a more powerful 1.5GHz dual-core processor, not to mention a set of Dr Dre-endorsed Beats Audio earphones, which are worth £80 on their own. As a result, the HTC Sensation XE is a powerhouse when it comes to playing bass-heavy music.

Even if Dr Dre's musical output leaves you cold, the HTC Sensation XE still has plenty to like. The Sense user interface is better than ever and the solid unibody case design makes the phone look and feel appealingly robust.

Galaxy Nexus

3. Samsung Galaxy Nexus (£500)

The first phone to receive Android 4.0, this Samsung-made handset is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and has a massive 4.65-inch Super AMOLED screen. Amazingly, this display has a 720p resolution, which means that HD videos and detailed images look absolutely stunning. The Galaxy Nexus is also running pure Android, so you won't find any bloatware, like unnecessary apps or intrusive manufacturer-produced skins.

The launch of the Galaxy Nexus was marred by an unfortunate bug that caused the phone's volume to drop when connected to a certain 2G frequency. Google has since released a patch that solves the issue. With this irksome issue alleviated, the Galaxy Nexus effortlessly ranks as one of the best phones of 2011.

iPhone 4S

2. Apple iPhone 4S (£500)

While many hoped for an all-new iPhone 5 in 2011, what we got instead was a device that cosmetically appears identical to its older sibling but packs some much-needed improvements inside.

The 4S is the first iPhone to use a dual-core CPU. In many ways, it's not the tech that sells the phone but the manner in which it's used. Siri -- Apple's voice-controlled personal assistant -- is possibly the phone's most unique selling point. It allows you to send texts, arrange meetings and search the web using nothing but your voice.

The iPhone 4S is one of the most expensive phones you can buy, but if your budget will stretch and you're not convinced by the merits of Google's Android OS, it's highly recommended.

Samsung Galaxy S2

1. Samsung Galaxy S2 (£400)

With a massive 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus screen, dual-core processor and an excellent camera, the Samsung Galaxy S2 was the phone to beat in 2011. Despite the best efforts of rival Android manufacturers -- and Apple, of course -- Samsung's phone remains the best blower that money can buy.

It has it all -- super-fast performance, a great screen, a wonderful camera (with 1080p resolution video recording), plenty of internal storage and an ultra-thin case design. And while the Nexus offers tasty Ice Cream Sandwich, the S2 will soon be updated. It's hard to see any phone topping this phenomenal effort until the Galaxy S3 is released in 2012.

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