Remember the 8210? Nokia's classic candybar was the form du jour for years, and its brand was practically synonymous with the mobile phone. No matter the trend, Nokia phones have always sold, from the basic phones that were its bread and butter to cult smartphone favourites like the E71 and N95. In recent years, it may have fallen to the middle of the road as certain upstarts released increasingly exciting, game changing products. But the company rallied with this year's announcement it would offer free sat nav for Ovi Maps users - and on top of that, gave its app store, Ovi Store, a much needed facelift, making it the only real download hub for Symbian apps. Its most recent flagship launch, the N8, isn't just the year's best camera phone (page 16), and best mobile sat nav (page 24) it also marks Nokia's entrance into the superphone arena with a refreshed Symbian OS. Nokia has begun calling itself a services provider - and that's an evolution we think is worth honouring.
Like our winner, Sony Ericsson's story is one of years of glory followed by a serious hiccup and only a recent revival of fortunes. But some of the finest phones of the 2000s came from Sony Ericsson - most notably the W880i music phone and K800i, which in 2006 came with a hi-tech Xenon flash. It released the first colour screen phone in 2002, and its Walkman and Cybershot lines brought camera and music phones into the mainstream. The incredibly intuitive interface of its feature phones meant it was dead easy switching over to Sony E, but though it subsequently lost its way with last year's multimedia range (mass returns of the Satio and Aino come to mind), the company seems to have regained its footing with its new line of Android smartphones, all built around Sony Ericsson's trademark 'entertainment' ethos. Xperia was once the dumping ground for a motley crew of Windows Mobile and 'experimental' phones - now it's a bona fide smartphone portfolio. << Sony Ericsson's T68i was the first mass-produced colour phone - and it won Phone of the Year in 2002.
Samsung is neck and neck with Sony Ericsson and Nokia when it comes to scoring Manufacturer of the Year wins (see box, below). Samsung was king of the clamshell and its handsets all oozed style. It's been the slow burner of this shortlist, consistently releasing good looking, reasonably capable handsets that hit every niche from budget to costly. Still, it wasn't until this year that we were completely wowed by the incredibly fluid, high-spec Galaxy S. With iPad rival the Galaxy Tab on the horizon, and a legacy of feature phones and smartphones running on all the major operating systems, Samsung has gone the distance with hardware - and now it's begun to prove its mettle with software.
<< Samsung's V200 was an uber popular clamshell when it arrived in 2003.
Controversial? Maybe. The Cupertino company has released just one phone and updated it three times - but every new iPhone gets rave reviews and the latest-gen model is that much-needed giant step forward from the iPhone 3GS. The iPhone didn't invent mobile internet or touch-screen tech but it made it eminently usable for the average punter. On the innovation front, its ace in the hole is ease of use - iPhones aren't the domain of the early adopter anymore, which is probably the biggest compliment a bit of tech can get. Had it arrived just a little earlier to the party... and okay, released more than one device.
<< The launch of the iPhone 3G coincided with an explosion in apps, and an increase in the quality of the App Store