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Rambler's Top100

Best phones of 2010 according to Mobile-Review.com

We follow a simple rule of giving awards only to the best models on offer. Too many awards make it sometimes difficult for readers to select phones deserving attention. We are trying to solve the issue and cover only the most attractive solutions.

In 2010 we tested 314 GSM/UMTS models (compared to 247 a year before), but only a handful were lucky to get a full review. All conclusions are based on real life experience and not on "paper" specifications.

Awards differ by colors. The real deal is the first place only. It is highlighted by yellow color and bears the title of the nomination. All second and third places with silver and white icons are used as incentives. They just indicate the models, which were also in the running.

Models, which surprised us pleasantly or otherwise, are also mentioned. They are labeled by happy or gloomy emoticons respectively.

When devising nominations we took into account interests of ordinary customers. Bestseller is our main nomination. Models are judged by sales in different segments bearing features in mind. Customers voted with their money and we just expressed their opinion. Budget models were ignored as they always have better sales than any other group. All parameters were taken into account: market response (reviews, feedback of customers and expectations), sales dynamics and so on. Frankly speaking, different price segments were represented here to emphasize various handsets on the market.

Ideally bestsellers must offer unique value for money, but the market has its say as well. Some models are not as popular as they should be because manufacturers lack production facilities, but these phones are unrivalled in terms of value for money. Lacking promotion these handsets fail to become bestsellers, but their engineering characteristics are the best in particular segments. This is how we created our nomination Value for money. We provide our expert analysis of best models for the money. An ideal phone can cost as a sports car, so there are some limitations there.

Many popular models, which cannot be classified as Bestsellers compete for Mass appeal and innovations. On the one hand we were looking for new features, but we also compared them with market results. Main attention is given not to the market fortunes, but which features are attractive in a particular model. Specifications were supported by sales in this case.

Image is the final nomination and covers the most stylish devices to underline the status of the owner.

In short our nominations are the following:

  • Bestseller – business or image phones with the best features possible.
  • Value for money – and ideal combination of features.
  • Mass appeal and innovations – popular models with unique selling points in particular segments.
  • Image – fashionable and status models.

Handsets, which pleasantly surprised us, received a happy emoticon. Models, which received negative feedback, got a sad emoticon. Once again we did not give a separate nomination for smartphones. They are quite numerous, but fall within the abovementioned segments.

Now welcome our winners.


This year brought no surprises. Sadly, the lineup of business smartphones from Nokia did not receive any upgrade. Nokia E71 increased its market share compared to 2009 against the background of sales generated by E72. It is a nostalgic product for all Nokia fans. Nokia N8 was destined for the same group of models, but it was constantly delayed and we finally received a handset with production defects. Even if we ignore the fact can we interpret N8 as a market revelation? It is surely the best Nokia smartphone to date, but the company was left behind in the previous era and missed out on new technologies. Symbian^3 was outdated even prior to its release and derails excellent hardware of N8. Frankly speaking, the sales were also far from impressive. A heavily advertised handset became a market flop and is distinguished by record recalls. It is hardly a bestseller.

This segment was heavily dominated by Android models with the exception of Apple iPhone. iPhone 4 was not a revelation, but a continuous development of its previous incarnations. Despite antenna issues in the US the phone enjoyed excellent sales and created new benchmarks for the segment. It was predictable.

The success of Samsung Galaxy S was less expected. Users get a SuperAMOLED screen together with the thin body. Other companies will implement similar approach in their models of 2011. As any other handset Galaxy S has some downsides, but it broke all possible sales records since its first day on the market. It is one of the most desirable purchases even if you have to pay a premium price. It is a true bestseller.

We were not sure, which model to crown the champion, but the most popular model took the first place. So the winner is Apple iPhone 4.

Samsung Galaxy S finished second.

Model number three in the lineup is a tried and trusted HTC Desire. Courtesy of HTC Sense and nice interface the phone enjoyed high popularity and was one of the best solutions in 2010. People often chose between HTC Desire, Apple iPhone4 and Samsung Galaxy S.

Value for money

Korean manufacturers are traditionally strong in this segment. They offer many features for the lower amount of money. In 2009 we mentioned two Samsung models, but in 2010 the choice was more difficult to make. The blame must be shifted to Samsung. It created Samsung Wave, which can hardly be beaten by rivals including phones developed by Samsung itself. Samsung Wave pioneered a SuperAMOLED screen, thin body of metal, fast interface, WiFi b/g/n coupled with Bluetooth 3.0. It could have been included into Mass appeal and innovations due to several millions sold. Wave was one of the key phones of 2010 and created the benchmark for others to follow, so it gets the first place.

The runner-up is HTC WildFire. It took the market by storm and proved that a pleasant Android smartphone can be accessible in terms of price. WildFire was a breakthrough for HTC and the segment in general by opening new niches for Android phones.

The last model to get honors in this category was not so easy to pinpoint. I gave a long and meticulous look at Nokia smartphones. There are many cheap models in this range, but not a single of them is worth mentioning. Nokia was always strong with its classical models. Nothing remarkable was unveiled in 2010 and Nokia 6700 Classic remains the key here. Last year it was our winner among Image handsets. The price went down, which influenced its image qualities, but the phone offers more value for money now.


2010 was very boring in terms of image. There was almost no bright model to reveal anything about its owner. Wherever you go Apple iPhone is represented by many versions. You can notice Samsung Galaxy S or HTC Desire. The latter are less numerous. Nokia is nowhere to be seen. What image can these handsets boast? They offer none. In this category we get the only winner as rivals are absent. It's a pity as even 2009 was more encouraging.

Mass appeal and innovations

In 2009 we witnessed the proliferation of touchscreen models. 2010 saw the continuation of the trend. Specifications look more impressive than before, but we had no revelations. However, a segment of protected phones gives some hope. Future technologies are being tested here. Our choice was split between Motorola DEFY and Samsung B2710 Xcover preceded by E2370. Motorola could claim the groundbreaking achievement by offering the first protected Android smartphone together with a high protection class (similar to the model from Samsung) and a touchscreen. This unique model inspires respects, but it appeared only at the end of 2010 on several markets. Subsequently, we could not give it the honors as the phone remains an exotic offering in the majority of countries. At the same time the bulletproof B2710 Xcover shattered our beliefs about the price and associated protection of a mobile phone. We abused the phone as hard as we could, but B2710 Xcover easily handled everything we threw at it.

The second prize goes to LG Optimus GT540, which became the first Android smartphone below €200. This massively popular handset in its segment showed that price is extremely important. LG gave one of the best mobile OS to many people.

In 2010 QWERTY phones enjoyed a true renaissance. Similar models were developed by all manufacturers. A dozen of phones come to mind. The best entry level handset is Alcatel OT802 available in Europe at the lowest price with the same features as its rivals. The build is the best for the money and the looks are on par.

Special prizes

One of revelations was Motorola Defy, which deserves rave reviews and top honors.

Sony Ericsson spent the whole 2010 fighting with its own silly decisions. As a result the products appeared totally weird. For example, the flagship model Sony Ericsson X10 was conceived with good ideas in mind, but the implementation turned out to be awful. Outdated components for the highest price cannot be considered a flagship by any means. To add insult to injury X10 came out with the old Android and it could not be updated in time. Fans of SE suffered a lot.

As always SE can still offer niche solutions and Sony Ericsson X10 Mini was an instant hit with women. The model was pleasant and attractive. It deserves a positive feedback

In business world Blackberry offered Bold 9700 as a handy update of the original Bold. This business tool is also pleasant to use.

Nokia was in stress throughout 2010. First Symbian^3 smartphones Nokia N8 and C7 were far from ideal. Defects and outdated OS spoiled everything. During 3 years Nokia developers could not copy the language switch key for a screen keypad offered by Apple iPhone. You have to fuss around and make silly moves, so these products deserve the label of Flop of the year. We cannot expect Nokia to return to the smartphone market.

At the same time Nokia still rules in the world of candybars without touchscreen displays. Nokia X2 is a prime example of the trend. This excellent model offers outstanding value for money.

Several words about future

It was interesting to make our choice, but we want to know what prefer our readers as well. What is your favorite brand, carrier and model? Starting with February of 2011 we want readers of Mobile-Review.com to vote on all issues related to models and carriers. You would be able to show your likes and dislikes. It will not be just a voting for or against. The products you don't like will receive a ranking too. The monthly voting will be used for annual results. We think that ongoing voting will ensure people will not forget models launched in the first part of the year to the advantage of recent handsets. If you have suggestions regarding the parameters to feature in voting feel free to contribute to our forum. We are more than happy to help your best dreams come true. Thank you in advance and have a fruitful 2011!

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion to be known to the author and everybody else.

Eldar Murtazin (eldar@mobile-review.com)
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Translated by Maxim Antonenko (maxantonenko@ukr.net)

Published — 28 January 2011

Have something to add?! Write us... eldar@mobile-review.com



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