My Phone of the Year

by James Whatley on 30th December 2009

Now that’s a fair amount of linkbait right there, but before I reveal which handset I’m going to bestow such a high prize upon (chortle), let’s first cover off those who definitely haven’t won my phone of the year.



The first phone it’s definitely not, is the iPhone.

Before you all launch into the whole ‘iPhone is the best thing in the world’ spiel and flame me from here well into 2012, just stop and think. The iPhone was – and arguably still very much is in its 3GS form – a luxury device.

Costing at the absolute minimum £300 – £400 either on PAYG or on contract, the iPhone has priced itself out of the competition by attempting to manufacture an allure of exclusivity. Yes, the iPhone is a great handset, but phone of the year it is not.

Nor for that matter, is the HTC Hero.

An Android device heralded by some as the best yet, after having a hands-on, I must say that I still prefer the HTC Magic. Either way, the still ‘in beta’ Android OS is yet to break into the hearts and minds of the mass-market. Though I have a very strong suspicion that – what with the upcoming Nexus launch next month and the apparently awesome work that the Motorola Droid is doing stateside – Android will truly arrive in 2010.

What about the Palm Pre? Er…Not a chance.

Which of course, leaves us with Nokia.

Is it the N97?
No. The early firmware troubles playing a key factor here, leaving the mobile users of the world divided. The mini may yet turn things around, but has arrived too late for this party.

Could it be the N86 8MP?
Close, very close in fact. For me, the N86 would have snagged it, but you simply don’t see it anywhere. I know that I personally have been responsible for at least ten sales of the N86 from an extended network of friends reading the N86 review I wrote earlier this year. However, the networks didn’t buy into it and – as we all know – without operator backing, nothing sells.

So what does that leave us with?

Of course, the N900 – right? Wrong. The N900 has only just been released! So how on earth could it even be a contender? Even though Dan loves his and I love mine, here – the N900 does not win. Not this year anyway.

No, the handset that I’ve chosen as my phone of the year is…

The Nokia 5800


This phone, launched in January 2009, brought touchscreen smartphones to the masses in a way that no other handset has yet to reproduce. Two years ago, such an accolade would have gone to the Nokia N95; ubiquitous, funtional and a big step towards change in the mobile computing world. You couldn’t move for N95s when you asked anyone what phone they had.

For me, this year (and based on entirely the same science), the 5800 snags it.

I’ve had one in my possession since around March or April, and I am STILL using it. Be it as a secondary device or as an email device, this small yet functional phone is the 2009 equivalent of the N95, no scratch that – the N73. Not the best in class by any stretch, but pitched at exactly the right price, at exactly the right market, this handset has sold by the bucket load. The 5800 has repeated that success. On the tube, on the bus, in the pub and on the street, I see the 5800 everywhere.

Available for less than £200 SIM free, the 5800 is a fantastic entry level device for all ages. Featuring a surprisingly capable 3.2mp camera, Nokia’s first touch screen (and forerunner to the Xseries range), is still to this day a regular in my pocket. Its design is simple yet durable and  is perfect for the days when you just need something to last all day, without fear of crashing halfway through an important call/email.

It’s light, cheap and it just works.

For me, the 5800 is my 2009 Phone of the Year.

What’s yours?

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