In a year of superphone after superphone, picking the greatest was never a closer run choice. Ease of use was high on the list of judging criteria, but more important than ever was innovation, performance and a device's impact on the fast-moving world of mobile tech. Our winner not only got the most reader votes, it also won our judges' favour for its masterful execution of industry-leading horsepower.
Winner - Samsung Galaxy S II It may be the slimmest smartphone money can buy, but Samsung's dual-core Galaxy S II is also the most powerful, feature-packed device to hold a SIM card. With a high-tech Super AMOLED Plus display that's brighter and clearer than any other phone, it's the big boy in the multimedia playground, while its super-charged social networking features let you sync dozens of email and social accounts, create an all-knowing universal calendar as well as a phone book on 'roids with collated details of all your friends' accounts. Add that to an HD video camera that shoots eight-megapixel stills, interactive widgets for tons of information, and you're looking at a hero handset that will easily stay at the top for months to come. In other words, one of our worthiest Phone of the Year winners ever.
The judges say: "Samsung's best phone ever combines excellent hardware with top-line social networking, email, sat-nav, web browsing and media features"
Runner up - HTC SensationJust barely missing out on the winning was this fellow Android Gingerbread smartie. As the debut handset for HTC's new HTC Sense user interface (UI), the Sensation is incredibly easy to set up and use - and the new UI is full of tiny but pleasing aesthetic effects such as new 3D animations. Of course, these and the S-LCD display are murder on its battery life, and for a phone that's £100 more expensive than the Samsung Galaxy S II, its eight-megapixel snapper is incredibly disappointing. Great to use out of the box with HTC's standard charming UI - but after a string of high-quality Androids from HTC, we expected to be a little more blown awayThe judges say "Great specs - and Sense 3.0 is an impressive interface that shows off the best of HTC software and hardware design"
Apple iPhone 4With nary a next-gen iPhone confirmed, this is the second year the iPhone 4 has come up as Phone of the Year - no mean feat considering its age. We had to include it for its uncanny ability to hold consumer purchase power, plus its continuing status as the king of apps and games, but it was easily trumped by its two Android competitors for its two remaining failings - reliance on the bulky beast that is iTunes and a user interface that though extremely elegant offers too little competition and agreeability with other devices. The judges say "The incumbent has fallen off substantially"
BlackBerry Bold 9780Still going strong is the quintessential BlackBerry - the QWERTY packing candybar with BlackBerry 6, the new hyper-social BlackBerry Messenger 6 and of course, all the business and email goodies you could want. RIM sold more smartphones than any other manufacturers this year - but with a mediocre camera and a lowly stocked app store that's more expensive than competitors', the Bold 9780 doesn't quite stand up to our other contenders. The judges say "Weaknesses in OS6 with its browser - but this is offset by its excellent typing and strong functionality overall"
Sony Ericsson Xperia ArcSpringing out of the gates after a late start to the smartphone game, the Xperia Arc was a sleeper hit from Sony Ericsson. It's one of the more unique Android Gingerbread phones out there with a top-line build quality and full Sony E skin that changes up the home, apps and shortcut icons, as well as a proprietary TimeScape app that displays all texts, emails and social updates in a Rolodex-like feed. It's more fiddly than useful - but delete it and the Arc suddenly becomes much friendlier to use. It's also got access to the 400,000 Android apps, plus a winning eight-megapixel camera with larger-than-usual lens - our only beef with it was an almost-malevolent autocorrect that slowed typing to a dead crawl.
The judges say "Sony Ericsson does well in leveraging the features of Android, but Timescape is a hindrance to Android rather than a high"