20 best smartphones right now

Apple iPhone 4S

from £500, apple.com/uk

The iPhone might be under constant attack from Android’s army of big-screened, quad-core powerhouses, but Apple can rest easy knowing that its app arsenal is fully stocked. Over half a million line the App Store’s shelves, from Twitter clients to touchscreen turntables via TV streamers, AR translators and the brilliantly named Roland Kickinger’s Sexy Nutrition (don’t ask). With so many apps taking advantage of the 8MP snapper and its crisper-than-the-aftermath-of-a-fire-at-the-Walkers-factory screen, it’s got software at the heart, rather than edge, of its appeal.

Quick specs iOS, 3.5in, 8MP

Apple iPhone 4S review

Asus Padfone

£tba (due spring), uk.asus.com

Asus might have already given us the Eee Pad Transformer, but it’s the Padfone that’s most skilled at gadget metamorphosis. It starts off as an Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) phone with dual-core Snapdragon processor, 1GB RAM, 8MP camera and a 4.3in AMOLED screen. Combine it with the Padfone Station, though, and it becomes a fully fledged tablet, with a 10.1in, 1280x800 IPS screen and five times the battery life. That makes it a tablet you can still make calls with, although you might want to add the dual-function Stylus Headset for that. Yup – even the accessories can’t make their minds up.

Quick specs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), 4.3in, 8MP

Asus Padfone hands-on

LG Optimus 4X HD

£tba (due June), lg.com

According to article two of the UN’s Declaration of Geek Rights (paragraph 2, subsection B), the right to unrestricted access to a hi-def screen sits just between permanent access to speedy Wi-Fi and the right to ridicule anyone still using a CRT TV. Thankfully LG’s ICS-powered Optimus 4X HD puts hi-def in your pocket. The 4X’s 4.7in 720p screen comes with IPS tech to improve viewing angles, while a quad-core 1.5GHz Nvidia Tegra 3 chip and 1GB RAM provide the grunt to shunt those pixels about. Low-res video, begone!

Quick specs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), 4.7in, 8MP

Samsung Galaxy Nexus

£425, google.com

While every Android OS is born equal, by the time it’s found a host phone and emerged blinking into the sunlight, most manufacturers have bolted on all manner of modifications. If you prefer your OS unsullied, Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus is straight from Google – so you get version updates before the others. The phone itself is no slouch, with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 4.65in 720p screen and – ICS’ coolest skill – Face Unlock, which uses the 1.3MP forward-facing camera to only give access to people with your face. Like your twin brother.

Quick specs Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), 4.65in, 5MP

Samsung Galaxy Nexus review

Nokia 808 PureView

€450, nokia.co.uk

The 12MP snapper on Sony’s Xperia S mightn’t be enough to make you ditch your digital cam – but chuck in an extra 29MP and it could be a different story. Nokia’s 41MP camphone knows it’s what you do with those digits that counts. That’s why the PureView has a sensor more than twice the size of that in the iPhone 4S and uses it to ‘oversample’ your shots, so you can zoom in up to 3x and still get a flawless 5MP shot. Or, capture a massive 41MP pic if you prefer. Crashing shame that the phone uses the near-dead Symbian OS...

Quick specs SYM, 4in, 41MP

Nokia 808 PureView hands-on