2011: Best and Worst Smartphones of the Year

2011 has been a great year for mobile phones as worldwide sales of mobile devices totaled 440.5 million units at the end of the third quarter of 2011. The market grew 5.6 percent from the same period last year, according to Gartner, Inc. To satisfy that growing market, smartphone makers released countless mobile devices. Some of the smartphones released this year really pushed the bar for mobile devices with great aesthetics and superb performance. But just as there were really great phones this year, there were also the stinkers that consumers didn't and shouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. Here are some of the best and worst smartphones of 2011.


1: Apple iPhone 4S

Apple's latest generation iPhone had a record opening weekend with sales exceeding 4 million devices. Critics thought the phone was just a minor upgrade from the iPhone 4 and there were problems with the 4S' battery life but overall this phone was one of the highlights of the year. The Siri virtual assistant really made this phone stand out from the rest. The iPhone 4S also features the A5 processor with dual core graphics, 8 mega pixel camera, and a stunning 3.5 inch widescreen multi-touch display.

2: Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Just as the iPhone 4S is Apple's flagship smartphone so is Samsung Galaxy Nexus for Google's Android system. Currently the only phone running the latest Android software Ice Cream Sandwich, the Galaxy Nexus is the phone for the Android early adopter.  While the software is the main selling point for the Galaxy Nexus, it has decent hardware too. It has a big 4.65 touchscreen with Samsung's AMOLED technology, a 1.2 Ghz dual core processor with 1Gb of RAM and 32 Gb of onboard storage.

3: Motorola Droid RAZR

The Motorola Droid RAZR has the distinction of being the thinnest smartphone in the market today. The RAZR is a hallmark name for Motorola as it's the name of its best-selling phone back in 2004. The Droid RAZR is a worthy successor to the original Droid. It doesn't have the Ice Cream Sandwich OS but it's still one of the best Android smartphones available today. It may only be 7.1 mm thick but the Droid RAZR packs a punch.  It has top of the line specs with LTE radio, 4.3 inch 540x960 Super AMOLED display, dual-core 1.2 Ghz processor and 16 Gb of internal storage with a microSD card slot for expansion purposes.

4: Samsung Galaxy S II

Samsung's Galaxy S II is a gorgeous slim phone packed with the best hardware around. It has a 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus display, dual core 1 Ghz processor, Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS, 8 megapixel camera and 1 Gb of RAM.

5: Nokia N9

It's easy to dismiss the N9 as Nokia's failed experiment with the MeeGo operating system but that would be a disservice to the smartphone. The N9 is a beautiful phone that doesn't deserve the early death Nokia gave it. Its hardware and software were both excellent. Fortunately Nokia is adopting the build and design of the N9 with its future Microsoft phones.


1: Sony Ericsson Xperia Play

There was a lot of hype surrounding the Sony Xperia Play as it was supposed to be a mix of smartphone and gaming console. However it failed to live up to expectations as its hardware was devastatingly mediocre and the poor quality of its screen made it difficult to play games on. Gamers stayed away from the phone and those looking for a smartphone didn't want the bulky gamepad. A loss-loss situation all around.

2: Nokia E7

The E7 was Nokia's last ditch effort with its outdated Symbian OS before it switched to Windows Phone 7. The E7 had decent hardware but it was overshadowed by the sluggish and antiquated Symbian platform.

3: HP Veer 4G

Hewlett Packard's had a terrible year. From plummeting stock prices to CEO shake-ups the company was looking for a device that could put it back in the game. Unfortunately the company came up with Veer 4G.  The tiny 4.3 inch phone was too small to comfortably browse the web or even interface with the webOS software.

4: LG Enlighten

The LG Enlighten was an entry-level Android smartphone that was lost in the shuffle. It had a physical slide out keyboard, runs on 2.3 Gingerbread and has 3G Mobile Hotspot capability. If you're saving money and still want a smartphone, the LG Enlighten will suit your needs just don't look for anything more.

5: Samsung Dart

Samsung makes some of the best smartphones but sometimes the company can also come up with some of the worst. The Samsung Dart runs on Android and is priced as an entry level phone but considering its specs and performance, the phone isn't worth it. The device is made out of lightweight plastic, a 3.1 inch display made out of plastic and a 600 Mhz processor that's downright sluggish.