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Smartphones have changed a lot this year. In January, a 5.5-inch “phablet” seemed absurd. Today, millions of people own one.And that’s just one example of how our phones have changed. We rounded up the most important new smartphone releases of 2012 to give you a quick look at how far we’ve come.
How we picked the phones: We’re not just judging these devices on how good or bad they were. We also took into account how they pushed innovation forward with new form factors, useful features, and the like. We judged the phones based on the time they were released, so some may seem outdated. But that doesn’t make them any less important.
The Nokia Lumia 900, which launched in April, wasn't the killer phone Nokia promised, but it did get people excited about Microsoft's mobile operating system called Windows Phone. Even though it hasn't taken off with the public and app developers, Windows Phone is a great operating system and the Lumia 900 helped highlight that.
We still don't think giant phone/tablet hybrids like Samsung's Galaxy Note make a good choice for most people. But there are a few million people in the world who disagree. The Galaxy Note, and the recently-released Galaxy Note II, are great devices if you don't mind lugging around a massive phone.
Backed by a clever Apple-bashing marketing campaign, Samsung's flagship Galaxy S III quickly became one of the most popular Android phone models in the world, with tens of millions of units sold.
Let's flash back to summer 2011. Everyone was expecting Apple to announce a new iPhone with a larger screen by October. That didn't happen. Instead we got the iPhone 4S, which looked exactly like the iPhone 4.
And that fuelled iPhone 5 rumours for another full year. What would it look like? What would it be able to do? How big would the screen be? The buttons? The camera? No detail was too small.
We finally got the answer in September 2012.
HTC's flagship phone, the One X, quickly became one of our favourite smartphones. HTC made some really great modifications to the operating system, and it improves on Android's basic features in several respects. HTC recently upgraded the One X to include a faster processor and more RAM.
HTC's Droid DNA is the first mobile device that's able to display full 1080p HD video on its screen. It's also incredibly thin and light. Even though the screen is a massive at five inches, it somehow feels smaller. Very impressive.
HTC continued its winning streak with the Windows Phone 8x, the best phone running Microsoft's latest operating system. The phone's design is impeccable and it includes some advanced features like Beats Audio integration and wireless charging.
Google's latest flagship phone, the Nexus 4, is sold unlocked directly from Google for just $299. That's about half the price of other unlocked top-tier smartphones. It's also really great phone.
Things are looking up for LG. And it all started with the Optimus G, an incredibly powerful, well-reviewed smartphone. Expect the Optimus G to set the standard for LG's 2013 mobile lineup.
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