Featured: Top 10 Best Android Phones of 2012

It's been an interesting year for the Android smartphone. We've seen HD displays come in at 1280 x 720 and come out the other end of year at a massive 1920 x 1080. Not only that but, our screens are forever getting bigger, we all thought that 4.7" was big enough but the Note II is a massive 5.5" and the Droid DNA at 5". There's been a lot of new phones launched throughout the year and it's been a year of firsts, the first 1080p display, the first Nexus from LG and more. 2012 has been a big year for Android and at the end of the year, things are set up for a great year in 2013. We bought you the worst phones of the year and now we're going to be bringing you the best.

A lot of phones have gone on sale throughout 2012 and it's perhaps hard to boil them down into one list. We don't always get it right and opinions are a tricky thing to contend with so, we welcome suggestions and healthy discussion in the comments below - just keep it clean, yeah?

10. HTC One XOne of the best devices to launch towards the first half of the year, the One X is a great looking device with a stunning display. It's the phone I currently have right now and if it weren't for the stunning IPS panel here, I'd have swapped a long time ago. See, as good as the One X is there is some poor battery life. It's nothing too terrible but, on a device of this level, we'd expect more. As the quad-core Snapdragon S4 starts to become the norm in high-end devices as we move into 2013, the dual-core S4 is starting to look a little bit mid-range. One of the best things about the One X though - right now - is its price, as AT&T have steadily dropped the price and it's a great device on contract.

  • Dual-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4
  • 4.7" Super IPS display at 1280—720 - 312 ppi
  • WiFi b/g/n
  • 4G on AT&T's LTE Network
  • 32GB of Storage, no microSD card slot
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1800 mAh battery
  • Launched with Android 4.0 with 4.1 update promised

9. Sony Xperia TL
Ever since Sony bought Ericsson out of their mobile joint venture we've had high hopes for the company and looked forward to some brilliant devices. What the U.S. got however, was a slightly rebranded Xperia S - as the ION - on AT&T and this, the Xperia TL. Which is essentially the U.S. version of the Xperia T, designed to tie in with the latest James Bond movie, Skyfall. It's less double-agent than it is head-scratcher. As with a lot of phones from Sony, the display, camera, design and build are all up to scratch. The processor however, is lacking that little bit, a dual-core S4 can be had in the budget RAZR M and yet they choose the same CPU to power a much more advanced device. Having said that, it poses an attractive proposition - with a 4.5" HD display this could be the phone to keep your pockets light.

  • Dual-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4 Plus
  • 4.55" TFT LCD at 1280—720 with 323 ppi
  • WiFi b/g/n
  • 4G LTE with AT&T's LTE Network
  • 16GB or 32GB of Storage - with microSD slot
  • 1GB RAM
  • 13MP rear-facing camera with 1.3MP front-facing
  • 1850 mAh Battery
  • Launched with Android 4.0, update to 4.1 on the way

8. Google Galaxy Nexus
If you're surprised to this phone in this list - you shouldn't be. Technically, the phone did launch in 2011 but, we're not here to split hairs. The Galaxy Nexus has been an important phone for Google in 2012, it was the launching of Jelly Bean 4.1 and is still up-to-date with 4.2. It's been subject to some legal horror and was - unfortunately - the best example of why relying on carriers is a bad idea, as if they needed any more proof. With some capable hardware even still, the G.Nex - as it's affectionately called - is a phone still worth picking up. Just stay away from the Sprint and Verizon versions, okay folks?

  • Dual-core 1.2Ghz TI OMAP 4460
  • 4.65" Super AMOLED HD at 1280—720 with 316 ppi
  • WiFi b/g/n
  • 4G LTE on either Verizon or Sprint's LTE network - no AT&T LTE
  • 16GB of Storage - no microSD slot, 32GB for both the Sprint and Verizon versions
  • 1GB RAM
  • 1750 mAh Battery, 1850 mAh for both the Sprint and Verizon versions
  • Launched with Android 4.0, updated to 4.1 and now 4.2

7. Motorola Droid RAZR HD and RAZR MAXX HD

There's a reason why we've lumped these two phones together....because they're the same phone. Aside from the massive battery in the RAZR HD MAXX both these Droids are cut from the same cloth. These are the successors to the Droid RAZRs of last year and they seem to be a worthy addition to Big Red's line-up. There's a lot to love about these phones and not only for their good-looking designs, the internals are just as good and they certainly hold their own against the rest out there. All of this fails to mention the fact that these are running on Verizon's brilliant LTE network, if you've got to have Verizon then these are some of your best options.

  • Dual-core 1.4Ghz Snapdragon S4 Plus
  • 4.7" Super AMOLED Display 1280 x 720 - 312 ppi
  • WiFi b/g/n
  • 4G LTE on Verizon
  • Bluetooth 4.0 with LE+EDR
  • 16GB of Storage with room for microSD
  • 1GB RAM
  • 8MP rear-facing camera with 1.3MP front-facing
  • 2530 mAh Battery - 3300 mAh on the MAXX HD
  • Launched with Android 4.0 but will get 4.1

6. HTC One X+

How do you make a good phone, even better? Is a question I doubt was asked at HTC but, they answered it anyway in the form of the One X+. With a higher-clocked Tegra 3 than the International One X couple with LTE makes for an interesting combination. Cortex-A9 based processors - like the Tegra 3 - are certainly on their way out but the Tegra 3 is still one of the fastest chips around when it comes to gaming and multimedia. Two things that HTC were keen to focus on with their flagship. If you missed out on the One X the first time round or you were jealous of the International Version then this is the model to go for.

  • 4.7″1280 x 768 pixel resolution (320 ppi)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
  • 8 MP rear-facing camera with 1.3 MP front-facing
  • 4G LTE on AT&T's Network
  • 16 GB storage
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • NFC
  • 2,100 mAh
  • Android 4.1

5. LG Optimus G

It's perhaps a little strange to see LG in this list but, with the Optimus G they've brought a solid device to market. Not only that but, for the first time they've managed to release a smartphone on more than one network in the States - as the same phone. Normally when LG were to launch a smartphone in the U.S. it would end up on Verizon and then nowhere else. This time around, the quad-core powerhouse is launching on Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. For a lot of people, an LG device is a no-go but the Optimus G is the device that the Korean company hopes will change their image in the States.

  • 4.7″1280 x 768 pixel resolution (320 ppi)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
  • 8 MP rear-facing camera with 1.3 MP front-facing
  • 4G LTE on AT&T's Network
  • 16 GB storage
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • NFC
  • 2,100 mAh
  • Android 4.1

4. Samsung Galaxy Note II

Ever since the original Note launched last year, the world has learnt to be okay with larger devices. 2010 was the year that we cried that 4.3" was far too large and now, we're letting devices as the big as 5.5" slip through the size gap. The Note II is not only a large phone, of course, there are some other features to the device - like the blazing-fast Exynos 4412 clocked at 1.6 Ghz. For those who're a fan of the S-Pen, the new enhancements found in the Note II won't go unnoticed and if you're just looking for a larger phone....then the Note II is the king.

  • Quad core 1.6 GHz Exynos 4412
  • 5.5″ Super AMOLED Display at 1280 x 720 - 265 ppi
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB storage with room for microSD card
  • 8MP rear-facing camera with 1.9MP front-facing
  • 4G LTE on Sprint, AT&T and Verizon
  • WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC
  • 3100 mAh
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean

3. Samsung Galaxy S III

If there was ever a smartphone to have more rumor attached to it than fact, it was the Galaxy S III. Some of the rumors surrounding the device, had the thing pegged as a device fit for a king. When it finally arrived, there were some that were disappointed in the device but, the specs were pretty impressive to say the least and when you then think that Samsung has managed to get the phone on all four major carriers without any tampering, it just gets better and better. With over 30 Million units sold, the device doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon and we're a lot of people will wake up to one on Christmas Day.

  • Dual-core 1.5Ghz Snapdragon S4, Quad-core 1.4Ghz Exynos in some markets
  • 4.8" Super AMOLED HD Display at 1280—720 - with 306ppi
  • 4G on AT&T, Sprint and Verizon - HSPA+ on T-Mobile
  • 16, 32 or 64GB storage with room for microSD
  • 2GB RAM
  • 8MP rear-facing camera with 1.9MP front-facing camera
  • 2100 mAh battery
  • Launched with Android 4.0 with Jelly Bean update rolling out now

2. HTC Droid DNA

This one right here is the moment smartphones reached the dizzying heights of Full HD resolution. The Droid DNA packs a whopping 1920 x 1080 resolution into it's 5" display. Sure, it's a phone that's on the larger side of things but, for a 1080p display - I think you might be able to deal with the trade-off. The quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro in here is sure to keep things moving along at a fast pace and the 2GB of RAM will keep multitaskers more than happy. Beats Audio is here once again and a built-in amplifier should genuinely make audio sound a little better from the device. It's a real shame that the device is launching with just Verizon but, at $199 on contract it's a pretty sweet deal and with Big Red's LTE network having the most coverage across the States it will be easier than ever to watch Netflix on-the-go and with that screen - who wouldn't. There's a lot to love about the latest Droid phone and it's perhaps the phone that HTC fans have been waiting to see on Verizon since the Incredible.

  • SLCD3 1080p with a mind-blowing 440ppi density
  • Qualcomm S4 Pro 1.5GHz quad-core CPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 8MP camera rear-facing camera capable of 1080p at 30fps
  • f/2.0 2.1 MP Front-facing camera capable of 720p
  • Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Sense 4+ on top
  • 4G LTE
  • 2.5v headset and speaker amplifier with Beats Audio
  • 2020 mAh Battery
  • 9.1mm thin

1. Google Nexus 4

Another phone to have a boatload of rumors surrounding it was the Nexus 4 and most of the Android community were pretty skeptical of LG creating a Nexus for the first time. When the Nexus 4 first launched it was less of a launch and more of a...disaster. Calling out Google for not being able to keep up with demand is perhaps a little harsh but for their own website to crash is, a little laughable. After all this is the company that goes through more than 24 Petabytes of data day. Nevertheless, with some class-leading hardware and the most advanced version of Android yet - and an attractive price tag, from the Play Store at least - this latest Nexus really does show off what Android is all about.

  • 4.7″1280 x 768 pixel resolution (320 ppi)
  • Quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro
  • 8 MP rear-facing camera with 1.3 MP front-facing
  • 4G HSPA+ up to 42mbps
  • 16 GB storage
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 802.11 b/g/n
  • NFC
  • 2,100 mAh
  • Android 4.2 Jelly Bean
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About the Author

Tom Dawson

Former Editor-in-Chief
For years now I've had a heavy interest in technology, growing up with 8-bit computers and gaming consoles has fed into an addiction to everything that beeps. Android saved me from the boredom of iOS years ago and I love watching the platform grow. As an avid reader and writer nothing pleases me more than to write about the exciting world of Android, Google and mobile technology as a whole.
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