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Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look

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Best phones 2011: Mobile-Review.com version

Our principle is simple we only nominate the best of the best. Other reviewers often have so many nominations and categories that readers are left confused and dont know which products are worth their time and money.

In 2011 we have scrutinized 375 phones (314 a year before) and only a small number of them got a full review. All our conclusions concerning this or that phone are made based on actual user experience not just some numbers on paper.

The winner in a certain nomination receives a yellow icon while other contenders for the category get silver and white icons for the 2nd and the 3rd places respectively.

Phones that disappointed us are out of the main competition with emoticons next to them denoting our sentiment towards them.

When creating nominations we tried to focus on what is important for regular user, what information would be useful to him. So the first category is Bestseller: we only needed to look at sales figures and select phones with the best functionality. Users have already voted in this category with their money and we only announce your choice. We did not include low range phones into this nomination as they always have very high sales. Instead we tried to assess a wide range of factors: general review (user reviews, expert reviews etc.), whether the sales were going up or down after the release. We have mixed price ranges to demonstrate the diversity of the demand on the market.

It may seem at first that bestsellers also have the best price to quality ratio making them so popular. But market laws often intervene and some phones cannot be distributed widely due to limited production capacity of the manufacturer or other reasons. Such phones cannot become bestsellers even though they offer a lot for little money. For phones like this we came up with Price/Quality nomination. In this category we use all our knowledge to select phones that offer most features for the smallest price anyone can create a near perfect phone for the price of a sports car.

Since we put aside budget phones for the Bestseller nomination we needed another category for low range phones so we came up with Mass Innovation category. On the one hand we assessed the specifications and features of phones and their sales on the other. Unlike the first nomination here we dont so much take the market situation into account but rather assess how innovative this or that budget phone how the market reacted to them with sales figures.

The last nomination is Image and it speaks for itself this category is all about style and social status. It is about phones used to tell others who you are.

In terms of the market segments our nominations work as follows:

  • Bestseller business or image phones with most features.
  • Price/Quality optimum sets of features.
  • Mass Innovation inexpensive mass phones that nonetheless have something special to offer.
  • Image stylish, image phones.

All other notable phones that did not get into the competition get an emoticon depending on our assessment of their qualities. Once again we decided not to have a separate nomination for smartphones. The popularity of smartphones is growing rapidly so they are represented in all market segments.

Enough for ado lets now get down to the awards:


Amazingly, in 2011 the history repeated itself and the most popular phones were the 2010 phones or to be precise their 2011 reincarnations. In terms of sales the undisputed leader is iPhone 4s that has already broke every sales record. Following him in sales Samsung galaxy S2 which momentarily turned into the best Android smartphone and its sales soared although it has a long way to go to catch up with iPhone 4s. these two smartphones were the most desired products of 2011 and all other phones were a compromise with sales far lower than these two. In 2010 the winner of this nomination was iPhone 4 and judging solely by sales in 2011 we should have awarded the Bestseller of the year to its successor but we did not. The reason is simple: Galaxy S2 is a technological leap, it packs real next gen hardware, it is a 100% solid flagship and it has a great novelty value. So we gave the Bestseller of 2011 to Samsung Galaxy S2.

The second place goes to Apple iPhone 4s partly because we anticipated iPhone 5 so much but we will have to wait a little more.

The third place id not that exciting. In 2010 it went to HTC Desire and this year once again we were looking at HTC products for the third place nominee. Among HTC smartphones the most notable is HTC Sensation but it falls far behind the two leaders and the HTC brand has lost a lot of popularity recently. On the bright side the rest of competition does not seem to get any closer to HTC: Windows Phone 7 smartphones are boring and unattractive, the only MeeGo phone was crude and all is desperate in the Symbian land. So the third place rightfully belongs to HTC. The competition however mainly concerns Apple and Samsung and we have all reasons to believe it will be the same in 2012.

But the third place does not go to HTC Sensation as you could think. This HTC flagship was too unbalanced: very humble time on battery, the Sense UI was too complicated. All in all it does not look very good against the competition. The previous flagship Desire S, on the other hand, was a very successful model with an attractive price tag and it takes the third place.

In 2011 smartphones have finally became leaders in all segments. No one remembers regular phones anymore. A touchscreen has become a must and the hard button dial pad looks very obsolete today. There are those who still long for hard buttons and there is offer of combo phones with buttons and touchscreens but they will never become popular.


Traditionally this is the land of the Korean companies who offer as much as possible for the smallest possible price. In 2010 the winner was Samsung Wave and amazingly this phone had a long life and even in 2011 it was still setting the bar for other phones in its price range. And although bada had very decent sales people wanted Android. LG did very good with their Optimus Prime one of the cheapest smartphones with decent functionality together with a good quality body and a comfortable screen resolution for Android (there are cheaper QVGA smartphones but they often encounter compatibility problems with software). This smartphone became a real peoples phone with record high sales and the first place we give it is well deserved.

There were a great number of new releases during the year but it was a year of smartphones and Android. Sony Ericsson released the unexpectedly successful Ray that combines good looks, style, good body materials with some pretty basic Android features. Most importantly the price was not too high and it takes the second place.

At first we wanted to give the second place to a 2010 phone but then we thought that novelty is more important. The contenders in this category were HTC Desire S, Samsung Galaxy Ace and Samsung Galaxy S thats right the price for the first Galaxy S went so low that it was one of the most popular phones in 2011. It also received a lot clones with different processors, screens and so on. That is why give put Galaxy S on the third place.

In 2010 Galaxy S became the second in the bestseller nomination and the fact that it is still in our chart tells just how strong this product is. Two year of popularity on the mobile market is a really big deal.

When we were looking for contenders for this nomination we wanted to include regular phones as well but it turned out that in 2011 in terms of the price to quality ratio regular phones are no match for smartphones. This is evolution of the market regular phones are simply dying out.


There was no intrigue in this section as well. Apple iPhone 4s gets the first prize again as it had no competitors in this category.

There is no point to select the second or third best solution here, but we would like to mention a special model with its own face Motorola RAZR XT910. It will never become a bestseller and its image status is more appreciated by the manufacturer itself, but the new RAZR is difficult to ignore. Lets wait and see how the market reacts to this handset.

Mass Innovation

Touchscreen phones came to the fore in 2011. They were offered by all manufacturers and included not only smartphones. It was possible to buy cheap phones with tiny screens or more advanced gadgets. Samsung became the king of this segment and for many its models became their first touchscreen phones. The best were not necessarily the cheapest ones, but middle of the road Samsung Corby II and Star II. They offer excellent value for money, but the strongest point here was the redesigned interface. Ordinary phones are very easy to use now. Our choice goes to Samsung Star II.

Music phones are becoming things of the past as even the most budget offerings get FM radio, memory card support and m3. Nevertheless, it is still possible to stand out from the crowd, which was achieved by Nokia with X1-01. It is one of the most popular music phones, where this feature is clearly highlighted.

Protected models continued their development in 2011 and one of the most interesting solutions was Sony Ericsson Active. This is a smartphone with the special covering to work with the touchscreen in the rain.

Out of Competition

This is the most intriguing category, which combines heroes and antiheroes. Samsung made a splash with Galaxy Note. It combines a mobile phone with a tiny tablet for those who like to draw and take notes. It is almost an ideal companion for creative types.

Among Android phones we have to mention the first dual core handset LG Optimus 2x. It did not become an iconic solution due to excessive price at the start and slow software updates, which was an issue with many Android models.

The first gaming smartphone Sony Ericsson Play was several years late to the show. SE disappointed many by trying to rejuvenate an old project. Promotion was not enough and we ended up with zero sales and dust gathering on the shelves.

2011 did not feature many clear cut leaders. The majority were mentioned above. Blackberry 9900 Bold was noticeable with its touchscreen and QWERTY keyboard combined. Its operation time is miserably low especially for RIM. At the same time it clearly beats Nokia E6 in terms of keyboard quality and performance stability. RIM fans must be happy.

Unfortunately, Nokia is going downhill and due to its own managers it will take a miracle for the Finnish powerhouse to survive. We were shown too many flagships starting from the first and last Meego handset Nokia N9. This model scared not the rivals, but partners, who declined to purchase the phone in considerable amounts. At the end of the day Nokia manufactured only 100,000 items for the world market. It was logical in the absence of demand. An interesting OS in the buggy body was the major failure of 2011.

Nokia decided not to learn from mistakes and created another flagship 800 Lumia, which had the body of N9 with Windows Phone 7 inside. Another flagship had mediocre characteristics, costs a lot and sells poorly despite a colossal promotion budget. The future of Nokia depended on this phone, but we can now clearly say that it failed. Traditionally for Nokia you get a defect affecting operation time. The company promises to fix the issue in February. So far the developers are busy elsewhere. May be they are trying to add the language switch key in old models on Symbian.

There are many things we can criticize Windows Phone 7 for, but the main point is that it develops too slowly. At the same time there are positives too. HTC Mozart failed everywhere, but when its price was slashed to 200-240 Euros 9 months after the start of sales it became very attractive for consumers.

It is obvious that Symbian phones are outdated. Moreover it is negatively affected by lack of support and buggy apps. On the positive note we have to mention Galaxy Nexus as the first phone with Android 4.0 under the hood.

Users Vote

This year was predictable and somehow boring. There was no intrigue and key models were known even before their launch. The same happened in the tablet segment, where Apple iPad2 reigned supreme, while others tried to catch up without much success. The gap is too big so far. Subsequently we did not award prizes to tablets, but in our user vote you can express your opinion.

In this article we have a ranking of best products according to Mobile-Review.com. We would also like to know how you perceive the market and which products you like. Until midnight of December 31, 2011 you can add any model in the categories described above to participate in a final vote. You can also offer additional categories. The voting will start on January 1, 2011 until the end of the month. Take part in the vote and offer your favorite models. Happy New Year!

Do you want to talk about this? Please, go to our Forum and let your opinion 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), Robert Mugattarov (mugattarov@gmail.com)

Published — 13 January 2011

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



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