Best phones of Mobile World Congress 2012

CNET UK's crack team of phone hounds have sniffed every single blower at MWC and here reveal which they each think smells best.

CNET staff
4 min read

CNET UK's crack team of phone hounds have sniffed every single device at the Barcelona blower-fest that is Mobile World Congress and here reveal which they each think smells best. These are the phones set to dominate 2012! Until the Samsung Galaxy S3 turns up. And the iPhone 5.

Luke Westaway: HTC One X

When I heard HTC had made a quad-core phone -- the HTC One X -- I figured it would be the size of one of those black bricks you find in swimming pools, and look like a discarded chunk of metal from a factory that makes oil rig equipment.

So it was a real surprise getting my hands on the One X to find that the company had quietly crafted an extremely slim, light and elegant mobile.

The headline feature is the quad-core chip, but that's not what impresses me. I'm more chuffed with the 130g weight and 8.9mm thickness. The 4.7-inch 720p screen keeps everything looking crisp, and the slightly protruding display puts me in mind of the Nokia Lumia 800, a phone whose design I love so much, I would marry it -- if only I could find a priest willing to take a chance on an unusual romance.

Great stuff. More surprises please, HTC.

Rich Trenholm: Nokia 808 PureView

Ignore all these other fools, for they are talking through their hats: the Nokia 808 PureView is clearly the best phone of MWC 2012. Quad-core phones are pointless, NFC will never amount to anything, 3D is a waste of time -- in fact, none of the things that are supposed to make this year's new phones stand out are anything more than gimmicks.

What Nokia has done with PureView is take a core aspect of the smart phone experience that desperately needed improving -- as I pointed out not so long ago -- and absolutely nailed it. I can't wait to get my hands on an 808, and I can't wait for PureView technology to show up in other phones.

And of course, it's irresistably delicious that the most interesting and innovative phone of 2012 is a Symbian phone. World-class trolling, Nokia!

Andrew Hoyle: Panasonic Eluga Power

With so many new phones shouting about who has the most powerful processor, it's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind. It's an arms race that most companies are involved in, but it's one you shouldn't pay attention to when a fast dual-core chip is more than powerful enough for everything you're likely to do.

Enter the Panasonic Eluga Power. Panasonic might not be best known for its phones, but it's stepped into the arena carrying quite the weapon. Its 5-inch, 720p screen is stunning whether browsing menus or playing back high definition video and its 1.5GHz dual-core processor should provide a meaty serving of power for whatever you need.

Even better, the Power is waterproof, so you don't need to be permanently afraid of getting your expensive new phone damp in the rain -- or dropping it in the bath. It's designed to be used, not hidden away in a pocket in case a rain drop gets on it. Can the same be said of Rich's Nokia or Luke's HTC?

Mix in some Android Ice Cream Sandwich and a great design, and the Eluga Power is clearly the best all-round phone on offer in Barcelona.

Jason Jenkins: Doro PhoneEasy 740

You lot can keep your quad-core dooberies and your monster-megapixel whatjamacallits. The best phone of the show had none of these things, but stood out through its incredibly focused, simple design -- the Doro PhoneEasy 740.

Doro makes phones for older people that are intimidated by technology. Normally this means a phone with enormous buttons, but this is the company's first smart phone that combines a touch screen with a slide-out keyboard. It runs on Android, but you wouldn't know it as the normal menus have been replaced by a completely new interface that's deliciously simple.

Contacts, photos and apps can all be managed remotely through the Doro website, so you can buy it for your Gran who lives miles away and help her use it in between visits. Yes, it's a niche product, but in a sea of near-identical mobiles, I was delighted to find a company going its own way.

Natasha Lomas: HTC One S

This year MWC was awash with gigantic showpony phones all chowing down on massive helpings of chips. Not just dual-core handsets, but quad- and even quad-core-plus-one -- more mini tablets than mobile phones.

I say these tabphones are silly: they're expensive, awkward to hold and require especially huge pockets to hold them, if not a bag of their own. Forget trying to make calls too -- you'll just look insane. And who needs quad cores when most apps aren't 4x optimised yet? It's like having a Formula One car in the garage but no race track nearby.

So my vote for phone of the show goes to the HTC One S -- it's the Goldilocks of this year's crop, neither too big to be silly, nor too multicored to be wasteful. But, where it really counts, the One S stands tall: with a lean, up-to-date interface, a high-spec camera, gorgeous screen and slender form. In other words, it's just right.

That's our lot, folks. What impressed you the most at MWC? Was there anything you wanted that wasn't there? Elucidate and expectorate in the comments, or over on our Facebook page.