2012 saw the all-out battle of the Quad Core Android smartphones, the release of Nokia's much-awaited Windows Phone handsets, the shocking success of affordable yet feature-packed Pinoy smartphones, and the flourishing of midrange Android handsets with unique selling points.

A lot of you have been emailing and tweeting me since November last year for my list of the best smartphones of 2012. Sorry for the delay. I deemed it best to take my time in crafting this as I wanted to come up with a really solid and reliable line-up.

If you look at my list below, you'll notice that I've only included smartphones that I own or those that I've extensively played with. Like what I usually say on the site and in TP's social media accounts, I don't think it would be proper for me to say that a handset is "one of the best" (more so, to recommend it to my readers) if I haven't even had the chance to really explore its features.

I opted to not include The Nexus 4, which - based on its technical specifications - is clearly in the upper echelon of releases this year, only because I haven't got the opportunity to play with it. So if you own a Nexus 4 or any other smartphone that you think I should have included in my list (e.g. LG Optimus L7, Sony Xperia Ion, HTC One S, Asus PadPhone 2 etc.), I'd love to read your thoughts about your handset in our comments section.

1. Apple iPhone 5 - When I first saw leaked images of the iPhone 5 in July of 2012, I wasn't too sure if the longer screen and aluminum unibody would actually work. (I dunno, I was a big fan of the iPhone 4S' pocket-friendly size and glass-sandwich construction, which just had this great feel in the hand.) But now that I finally own one (bundled with Globe services), I'm just mesmerized with the hottie. In my opinion, iPhone 5 is currently the phone to beat when it comes to smoothness of touch response, maturity of the platform, the number of really powerful 3D games in its app market, and perhaps, even in terms of design. *whispers* But just between us, what I'm loving about this latest generation device - as of the moment, at least - is the improved front-facing camera, which lets me get clearer and more vibrant self-portrait images for Facebook and Instagram.

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2. Nokia 808 PureView - With its unprecedented 41 MegaPixel camera and the Finnish company's very own PureView 'oversampling' imaging technology, Nokia 808 PureView is quite simply 'The Best Cameraphone in the World Today' (I've said that many times in the past few months and I will keep saying it until everyone totally gets the point.) I have this peerless cameraphone in Red and I absolutely love it!

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3. Samsung Galaxy Note2 - I own a Samsung Galaxy Note First Generation so when I first heard - around June - that the Korean giant was already working on the next iteration to the device, I couldn't help but feel sad and excited at the same time. Sad because my incredible daily phone will finally be superseded and excited because I know that Samsung will definitely come up with a solid follow-up. Thankfully, N7100, which became available in the Philippines during the last week of October, didn't disappoint.

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4. Sony Xperia Acro S - This is the best of the three water-proof and dust-and-grime-resistant phones that I reviewed in one episode of GMA News Network's Pop Talk lifestyle program around Q3 of last year. If my memory serves me right, I gave it a perfect score in the verdict round, which I still stand by to this day.

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5. Nokia Lumia 900 - Nokia's 2012 flagship Windows Phone doesn't only come with the best display that the company could have given it upon its release but also the best design and the most powerful innards. I heard that the stunning WP8 follow-up, the Nokia Lumia 920, is already set to hit store shelves in the Philippines sometime this month, so stay tuned for updates.

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6. Sony Xperia Go - I liked Go so much that I even proudly showed a unit to Mr. Tony Velasquez during my guesting in his ABS-CBN News Channel tech show, Future Perfect, in July 2012. I told him that it became my recommended midrange water-resistant Android smartphone on the merit of its affordable price, powerful innards, rugged construction, and cute design.

best smartphones 2012, sony xperia go philippines

7. BlackBerry Curve 9220 - If you're on a tight budget and you want to be a part of Team BlackBerry in the Philippines, this handset is definitely the right one for you. It runs the latest BlackBerry 7 operating system and supports all the apps that BB fans have all grown to love including Facebook and Twitter for BlackBerry, and - of course - BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), which lets you send unlimited messages to friends who also use a BB. *whispers* Oh, and if you ask me, I think the phone looks better in white. As I've said in a couple of previous TP posts, just because it's called BlackBerry doesn't mean it always has to be Black.

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8. Samsung Galaxy S3 - The Korean company sold 10 Million units of this Quad Core Android smartphone upon release early last year and is now close to selling 30 Million units. If we're just looking at the numbers, clearly, SGS3 - with its pebble-like, nature-inspired design - is the most successful smartphone of 2012.

best smartphones 2012, samsung galaxy s3 philippines

9. BlackBerry Torch 9810 - Released in the Philippines last January 2012, BlackBerry Torch 9810 allows users to enjoy multimedia content and access their favorite BB apps on its large capacitive touchscreen while still providing the accuracy and speed of typing on a slide-out physical full QWERTY keyboard. *whispers* To those who are asking if I own a BlackBerry handset, this is my BB smartphone. Let's BBM! Add me up: 292FFCF5.

best smartphones 2012, blackberry torch 9810

10. HTC One X - Of the 10, this is probably the one that I have the least experience with. In fact, HTC One X is the sole HTC Android release that I got the chance to review this year. But despite the rather limited time that I spent with my unit, I didn't find it hard to fall in love with its sleek design, durable polycarbonate shell, the latest version of the HTC Sense user interface, and its new imaging capabilities collectively called 'ImageSense'.

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Local Greats:

1. Cloudfone Thrill 430x - How many Android smartphones currently out in the market can give you 3 days straight of regular use on a full charge? Well, based on my experience as an owner, this Php 7,777 Dual Core, Dual SIM handset with qHD display and a monstrous 4,160 mAh Li-Ion battery pack definitely can.

best smartphones 2012, cloudfone thrill 430x

2. Starmobile Astra - As I've mentioned in my full review of this smartphone, you'll find it hard to feel short-changed should you get it. If anything, you'll be surprised at everything you're getting - the 4.3 inch IPS display, mobile analog TV, Android ICS OS, Dual SIM capability, Dual Core processor, among others - for just Php 6,990.

best smartphones 2012, starmobile astra

What about Cherry Mobile Flare and Cherry Mobile Titan, you ask? Well, I've seen them and I've played with them a bit but I haven't had the time to check out all of their key features to see if they're truly worth the purchase. Again, if you own either of these phones, I encourage you to share your thoughts about your handset in the comments section. Are they really good or do you regret buying them?

To be added to this list: The O+ 8.9 Phablet! I'm currently using it and I'm totally loving the device. I will definitely add it to the line-up once I've published my review and uploaded my unboxing video!

Other Notable Releases:

1. Nokia Asha 311 - Nokia Philippines has had tremendous success with its entry-level to midrange Asha line powered by the S40 operating system. Nokia Asha 311 was the most-powerful and feature-packed member of this bunch last year. When I got the chance to play with the phone around August, I was blown away not just by the elegant design but also by the smooth Touch Asha user interface and the responsiveness of its capacitive touchscreen!

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2. ZTE Blade 3 V889M - If the quality of this smartphone (released in November 2012) were any indication of what the Chinese electronics giant intends to bring to the Philippines in 2013, then all other Android handset companies in the country might as well start preparing for one big fight!

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All of the handsets that I included in this list have been extensively featured in TechPinas. Kindly use our search bar to look for all related articles and reviews.