Far be it for us to complain that there’s too much choice when it comes to picking up a belting smartphone. But should the array of skills on display in your local phone shop baffle you (or should you need a guiding nudge) this tour of the particular strengths of the world’s 20 best smartphones – in no particular order – should steer you in the right direction…
HTC One X
If Pirelli is right and power is nothing without control, it’s probably a good idea to grip the HTC One X firmly with both hands. In fact, it’s also a good job that its 4.7in 720p HD screen is made of tough Gorilla Glass, because underneath it there’s a 1.5GHz quad-core Tegra 3 processor that makes the ICS-toting One X as powerful as Asus’ Transformer Prime tablet. To help maximise all that oomph it has a Battery Saver Core, which controls how much power is being used at any given time. Just as well or you’ll have splurged it all by lunchtime.
Quick specs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), 4.7in, 8MP
Samsung Galaxy Beam
While we’re grateful to physics for keeping our feet on the ground and our internal organs tucked safely inside our bodies, it’s easy to curse it for not allowing us to carry a home cinema in our pockets. Samsung’s Galaxy Beam, however, bends physics’ draconian rules. Its 4in, 800x480 LCD slips into your trousers easily, but thanks to a built-in 15 lumen projector it also contains the equivalent of a 50in TV. A 5MP cam even allows you to shoot your own 720p footage to blast on to a nearby wall, stationary lorry or large farm animal. Take that, physics.
Quick specs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), 4in, 5MP
Orange Santa Clara
£tba (due summer), orange.com
You know something’s new when it’s still going under a codename – and the first Intel-powered smartphone still hasn’t been officially christened. But it doesn’t matter what the Santa Clara answers to, because the real story lies beneath its 4in screen. It runs on a single-core 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor – as made famous by almost every netbook ever – giving it enough power for parlour tricks such as 10fps stills shooting, no quad-core required. Orange says it won’t break the bank and it should get Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) before long. The future’s bright… for Intel.
Quick specs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), 4in, 8MP
LG Optimus 3D Max
£tba (due spring), lg.com
Like curry toothpaste or Marmite ice cream, 3D might not be to everybody’s taste – but there’s undeniable gadget joy to be had from adding an extra dimension to your own pics and vids. Sadly, LG’s first 3D phone also added some extra timber in order to make room for the requisite second camera, but with a waistline of 9.6mm and a weight of 148g, the Max avoids that chunky fate. Underneath its 4.3in, glasses-free screen you’ll find a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, plus there’s a microHDMI socket to hook it up to your 3D TV. Now stop hogging all the ice cream.
Quick specs Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), 4.3in, 5MP x 2
Nokia Lumia 800
Given that all phone designers have got to play with is an oblong with another, glowing oblong inside it, it’s no surprise things can get a bit samey. Despite that, Nokia’s crayon pushers have managed to make the Windows-running Lumia 800 stand out, especially in its glossy white, space-age guise. The 8MP camera round the back is one of the best on any smartphone, so it’s perfect for confirming how good you look. At 3.7in it’s not the biggest, but that’s all the better for fitting into your badger-skin bumbag – or whatever it is the hipsters are wearing these days.
Quick specs Windows Phone 7, 3.7in, 8MP