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2007 in Review: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

19th December 2007

As with last year, there were many more "good" phones on the market than bad and ugly ones. These are our picks of the best, worst and most repulsive handsets of 2007.

The Good..

A great year for many manufacturers, with a variety of handsets that have a lot going for them.

Honourable mentions

Just to show that the big names don't have it all their own way, the Swedish-designed O2 Cocoon impressed us with looks and features. We like the cheap and stylish Sagem my150X and the Motorola FONE proved to be both clever and cost effective. The Nokia 7500's mad design may not appeal to all, but you have to admit that it looks like nothing else.. apart from the Nokia 7900. Another mad looking phone is the Samsung Serenata, a handset that looks like it has dropped out of the future via a wormhole. Two Korean 5 megapixel camera phones fighting it out are the LG Viewty and the Samsung G800 - both seem to be excellent devices that will scare the competition. Another Nokia, the Nokia E90 brought the Communicator series bang up-to-date, but it didn't really capture the public imagination.

Runners up

Nokia 6300

There are plenty of phones with more impressive features than the Nokia 6300 - it only has a 2 megapixel camera and it's not a 3G device for a start. But people love this phone, and it has sold exceptionally well during 2007. The Nokia 6300 looks great, is easy to use and delivers all the features that most people want.

The metal case is a particularly appealing design feature, the buttons are a practical size and the QVGA screen is far better than the previous generation of midrange NOkia handsets.

The Nokia 6300 should continue to be popular well into 2008, and with good reason.

 Nokia 6300


Apple iPhone

To a large extent, the most talked about mobile phone of 2007 was the Apple iPhone. A beautifully designed touchscreen phone with a highly polished user interface that makes most of the competition look backwards, the iPhone was clearly different from most of its rivals.

It's certainly one of the most iconic handsets ever made - and it definitely turns heads. Although many people say that they don't like the iPhone, those same people will want to have a play with one if someone takes it out of their pocket in the pub.

From the point of view of market impact.. well, there are pre-iPhone handsets and post-iPhone handsets. This is the device that every manufacturer wants to beat.

 Apple iPhone

Winner - Best Phone of 2007

Nokia N95 and N95 8GB

Initially the Nokia N95 looked like a niche handset - expensive but feature packed, it seemed like the sort of thing that only a few people would aspire too. A 5 megapixel camera and GPS seemed more that most people would ever need.

Somewhat surprisingly, when the Nokia N95 finally hit the streets it was a huge sales success, although the initial buggy software was a drawback. However, Nokia have continued to improve the software for the N95 throughout 2007, and recently the N95 8GB has joined the N95 in the shops. The biggest single drawback with the N95 is the lack of a touchscreen, but most Nokia users don't seem to mind too much.

 Nokia N95

..the Bad..

The Virgin Lobster flopped, taking its digital broadcasting platform with it. The Sharp GX33 was another massive disappointment from this once mighty Japanese manufacturer, but there was worse..

Bringing up the rear

Nokia N76

Although 2007 was a good year for Nokia, the Nokia N76 was probably the lowest point in those twelve months. Clearly a RAZR-wannabe from the styling, the Nokia N76 instantly alienated many long-time Nokia users, many of whom would have liked a decent 3G clamshell device.

But there was worse to come - the build quality of the N76 was appalling. Specifically, the paint started to come off after a few weeks use and this led to an exceptionally high number of returns. In July 2007 the N76 was unceremoniously dumped by Vodafone due to these problems, and sales of the handset never recovered.

 Nokia N76


Apple iPhone

No handset polarised opinions during 2007 more than the Apple iPhone. Although it has many good points, the list of bad points is equally impressive. The iPhone lacks 3G, the camera is only two megapixels and lacks autofocus and flash, you cannot send MMS messages, third party applications are not allowed, the battery is not replaceable and it is absurdly expensive.

Although the iPhone sold well in the US, when it finally hit Europe sales were not as high as expected, to an extent because European consumers could understand the drawbacks due to a more competitive marketplace. Worse, the single carrier agreements (AT&T in the US, O2 in the UK, Orange in France and T-Mobile in Germany) mean that most consumers have to swap carriers to use it.

Part of the appeal of the iPhone is that Apple is not a traditional mobile phone maker, so it can think outside the box. But unfortunately, Apple's lack of experience in the market also shows through.

 Apple iPhone

The worst handset of 2007

Motorola ROKR W5

For us, the Motorola ROKR W5 really sums up what a mess Motorola is in. Motorola's fatal addiction to the RAZR line continued all the way through 2007, completely ignoring the fact that consumers are mightily bored of this once-iconic design.

This phone pretty much sums it up - essentially a repainted W510 which itself was virtually identical to the ancient V3i, Motorola somehow felt that customers would bite if they branded it is a ROKR.. a brand that will forever be blighted by the awful ROKR E1.

Since the W5 was announced, Motorola have ditched their CEO and undergone a major reorganisation. Perhaps the W5 will never see the light of day in most markets.. we just hope that something more interesting does.

 Motorola ROKR W5

..The Ugly

The Emporia Life is a huge brick-like device that looks like a relic from another era - but we actually rather like it's exceptional ease of use. The rugged JCB TOUGHPHONE isn't going to win any beauty contests either, but then it's macho rather than pretty. The Samsung i620 manages to be a good phone that just looks wrong, and the bizarre looking Samsung P110 may thankfully never venture into the light of day.

Not quite scraping the bottom of the barrel

LG Jaguar

Budget phones can be quite stylish - the Sagem my150X for example. But the LG Jaguar (also known as the KG130) is a grim example of cheap and nasty phone design. OK, it's pretty good value for money and it has a better spec than some of the bargain basement competition, but it's the sort of device that you'd feel ashamed to show to your mates.

LG have made some great handsets during 2007, so we can forgive them for churning out this horrid little thing.. perhaps just this once.

 LG Jaguar


Motorola RAZR2 V8 Luxury Edition

What can we say? Actually, the RAZR2 V8 isn't a bad handset, but the Luxury Edition is just way over the top.

You'd have to be Paris Hilton to carry this one off. The unusual mismatch of design features and over-zealous application of gold paint turn what it quite a neat phone into a visual nightmare. Hats off to Motorola for giving it a go - but honestly please keep this thing away from us.

 Motorola RAZR2 V8 Luxury Edition

The ugliest phone of 2007

Nokia 8800 Sirocco Gold

The original 8800 Sirocco is an attractive and quite desirable phone - but Nokia thought that it wasn't enough and dipped the whole thing in gold to come up with the frankly ridiculous Nokia 8800 Sirocco Gold.

Where at least the RAZR2 V8 redeems itself technically, the 8800's specifications are way behind the competition. And where the original Sirocco had an understated elegance, this silly blingy phone just draws the wrong kind of attention.

Fortunately, Nokia have redeemed themselves somewhat with the 8800 Arte, but there's a fair chance that the one with artificial gemstone will make 2008's ugly list..

 Nokia 8800 Sirocco Gold

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