Top five phones from £300 - £500

BlackBerry Torch 9800

With both a touch-screen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, the BlackBerry Torch 9800 is something of a hybrid. It's also RIM's most equipped handset to date. Launched with the updated OS 6 operating system, the Torch is hugely customizable, giving you the option of choosing your most used programs and creating a favourites menu. The Torch's display has the highest resolution found on any BlackBerry to date and it's hugely responsive both in terms of swiping between screens and using the virtual keyboard, though for more extensive use we'd suggest sticking to the physical QWERTY keyboard. With a full HTML browser, the Torch displays websites just as you would see on a desktop computer and RIM has introduced its own collaborative social networking feed originally called 'Social Feeds'. It may be RIM's most expensive handset to date, but it's also its best.
PRICE: £443.10 from Amazon


Size: 111x62x14.6mm
Weight: 161g
Internet: Wi-Fi, HSDPA
OS: BlackBerry OS 6
Camera: Five-megapixels
Talktime: 340 minutes
Standby: 336 hours

HTC Desire Z

Touch-screens are great and everything, but if you're a heavy emailer or a text addict, a QWERTY keyboard can really help proceedings. With the HTC Desire Z you get one of the most finger-friendly keyboards around. Slide it out and you'll reveal four rows of keys that are perfectly spaced apart that you won't be continually mistyping. Of course for that quick SMS, the 3.7-inch S-LCD touch-display is non-too shabby either. It also simply sparkles. Though it runs on Android 2.2, the manufacturer has skinned it with their own HTC Sense interface, which means customizable home screens, large vibrant icons and any number of 'Scenes' to pimp your phone up with. Proceedings are helped along with Wi-Fi, HSDPA and a 1GHz processor, while you'll also have the added bonus of which cleverly backs up all your data, including contacts, photos, text messages and even map links. A top notch handset.
PRICE: £449 from Vodafone


Size: 119x60.4x14.2mm
Weight: 180g
Internet: Wi-Fi, HSDPA
OS: Android 2.2
Camera: Five-megapixels, LED flash
Talktime: 400 minutes
Standby: 430 hours

Nokia N8

Whereas they were often sought out, a good camera on a high-end phone is now almost expected. However, believe us when we say the Nokia N8's snapper is nothing short of exceptional. Not only does it sport a 12-megapixel camera, but there's also a Xenon flash ensuring quality photos whether taken during the day or at night. The N8 is also the first Nokia phone to don the Symbian ^3 OS and my how it's an improvement on previous operating systems. There's now no longer those fiddly icons found on previous Symbian devices, text messages can be read in a conversation like feed and the virtual QWERTY keyboard is impressively responsive. All the specs for a handset of this billing are present and correct, though the 680MHz processor doesn't quite keep up to speed with some of its competitors.
PRICE: £369 (RRP)


Size: 113.5x59.1x12.9mm
Weight: 135g
Internet: Wi-Fi, HSDPA
OS: Symbian ^3 OS
Camera: 12-megapixels, Xenon flash
Talktime: 330 minutes
Standby: 400 hours

Samsung Omnia 7

Six months ago, the idea of a Windows mobile would bring us out in a cold sweat. Now they're a bona fide alternative to the iPhone, BlackBerry's and Android devices. The Samsung Omnia 7 is probably the best currently available handset that runs on Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system. What really sets it apart from other Windows Phones is the super AMOLED four-inch display that oozes radiance when browsing the web, watching videos or using the phones sat nav capabilities. However, one of the Omnia 7's coolest features (a mainstay on all Windows Phone 7 devices) is the Xbox LIVE facility that allows gamers to play against other users online. Available in an 8GB or 16GB variant, there's so much memory draining facilities on the Samsung Omnia 7 such as a decent camera (complete with HD video recording) and access to hundreds of apps at the Windows Marketplace that it may make sense in investing in the 16GB version, even if it does bump up the price somewhat.
PRICE: £490.19 from


Size: 122.4x64.2x11mm
Weight: 138.2g
Internet: Wi-Fi, HSDPA
OS: Windows Phone 7
Camera: Five-megapixels
Talktime: 370 minutes
Standby: 330 hours

LG Optimus 7

Another Windows Phone 7 device, but this time with LG's very own take on things, the Optimus 7 boasts a 3.8-inch touch-screen that enables feather-like swipes with a fluidity that both looks and feels great. As is now standard with Windows Phone 7 devices, the Optimus 7 is decorated with an interactive panel user interface which includes one button access to Facebook and Xbox LIVE gaming, but LG has also loaded the phone up with some of their own exclusive apps. The pick of these is LG's PlayTo app which enables you to stream movies, music and pictures to a computer that is connected to the same Wi-Fi network.  All your email needs are well catered for with push email for all mainstay accounts and the five-megapixel camera complete with flash is not to be sniffed at either. It may still be at the higher end of the pricing sphere, but compared to other Windows Phone 7 devices it's still available for a competitive rate.
PRICE: £419.99 from Expansys


Size: 125x59.8x11.5mm
Weight: 157g
Internet: Wi-Fi, HSDPA
OS: Windows Phone 7
Camera: Five-megapixels with flash
Talktime: 300 minutes
Standby: 330 hours

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