It doesn't matter if you're in the market for a new tablet, a cheap prepay handset or a high-end smartphone on a contract, a nice high street experience can make a huge difference to your purchase. A good range of products and deals, plus great store layout are all essential for winning this award.
WINNER: The Carphone WarehouseBigger isn't always better - but this year it is, as thousands of you voted the UK's biggest phone retailer into top spot. There are now over 820 in the UK (totalling over 1,700 including mainland Europe where it's called The Phone House).
Never a company to rest on its laurels, The CPW is always on the look out to bring new services and products to the customer - teaming up with Napster to give new customers three months of free music being one particularly inspired promotion, and more and more Wireless World flagship stores, which stock everything portable from laptops to mobile broadband, have widened the chain's appeal. The retailer has also been the champion of the ultra-cheap pre-pay phone market, regularly selling very low-end handsets for just a few quid when bought with some top-up (you could pick up a phone for £1 at one point).
It also has the biggest range of handsets and tariffs, and while many retailers have been ignoring tablets (in particular the Wi-Fi only models), The CPW has been bundling them for free with some high-end smartphone contracts. Inspired work!
Runner-up: ThreeNow with over 298 stores, in previous years Three may be the UK's smallest operator, but it is rated highly by you - 66% rank its device range very good or excellent, and an impressive 70% said you found it very easy to find what you needed. And with truly unlimited data on contract as well as any £3 top-up, its deals offernigs are pretty hard to argue with too.
Phones 4uOne for the everyman, with a pedigree in lower-end handsets for the 18-24 market. In recent years though, Phones 4u has amped up its smartphone offering. And for early adopters, Phones 4u often gets to launch handsets ahead of other retailers, most recently scoring next year's hot tip, the HTC Sensation XE. No wonder 86% of its customers rated its devce range 'good' or better.
O2Long after it lost exclusivity on the iPhone, O2 has remained a premier network for high end smartphones, with the Android-powered HTC Rhyme a recent exclusive. Its Simplicity tariffs offer a good range of low-commitment SIM-only plans, and with 150 of its 300 stores (and 100 franchise outlets) built with lounge areas for customers, no wonder 64% ranked it very good or excellent when it came to an easy buying experience.
T-MobileThere hasn't been an awful lot of change on the T-Mobile store front - but this year, Orange's partner-in-crime and one half of the UK's biggest operator did introduce a flexible new tariff that endeared it to more than a few of you. The YouFix plan offered consumers a contract where you paid for a set amount of calls, data and texts monthly, after which you paid on a pay-as-you-go basis.