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2011’s bumper crop of smartphones brilliantly outdid everything released in 2010. And just as night follows day, you can be sure 2012’s efforts will be even better.

Whether you want Android, iOS, Windows Phone or BlackBerry, there’s going to be an upgrade worth getting. Here’s our pick of the five phones to look out for and when you’re likely to see them.

1 iPhone 5/6

iPhone 5 placeholder

It’s becoming ever-clearer that the iPhone 4S was an iterative update for Apple. The much-hyped iPhone 5 (or iPhone 6 seeing as it’ll be the sixth generation Apple handset) was apparently rejected by Steve Jobs just before he died, and sent back to the drawing board.

But word is its 4-inch panel and all-metal ‘teardrop’ design could be ready for release as soon as spring 2012. It’s also likely to offer NFC smarts, making it a worthwhile upgrade for all iPhone fans.

2 HTC Edge

htc edge

Said to be the world’s first quad-core handset, the HTC Edge could show up either at CES in Las Vegas in January or, more likely, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona the following month.

As well as lightning-fast speeds, it’ll apparently pack Beats by Dre audio, just like its top-end stablemates, as well as an eight megapixel snapper, 21Mbps HSPA+ support and a massive 4.7-inch screen.

HTC will be desperate for it to succeed after a shocking slump at the end of 2011.

3 Nokia Champagne

Microsoft Nokia alliance

The Nokia Champagne is believed to be the first phone to use Microsoft Windows Phone Tango, the Big M’s budget version of its OS.

Specs remain thin on the ground, but expect it to have a smaller screen than the current top-end Nokia Lumia 800, while retaining software such as the free Nokia Drive and excellent Mix Radio.

This will be Nokia and Microsoft’s chance to show that the OS has a future away from the some of the most expensive smartphones on the market.

4 BlackBerry Surfboard

Blackberry logo hi res

Yes, the name is ludicrous. But no more bizarre than the BlackBerry Colt or BlackBerry London, both previous codenames for this mythical device.

The first to use BBX, Research in Motion’s (RIM) much-needed mash-up of its BlackBerry OS and the PlayBook’s QNX system, it’ll apparently be a full touchscreen device with 3.7-inch screen and eight megapixel camera.

Don’t go thinking this will land soon. BBX phones aren’t expected until the middle of 2012, when it all could be too late for RIM to make an impression against ever-better competition.

5 Samsung Galaxy S3

Samsung Galaxy S3 concept design

Sammy’s had huge success with its Galaxy S phones, despite serious legal challenges from Apple.

The S2 set the standard for Android in 2011, and the S3 will do the same in 2012. Mobile World Congress is where it’s most likely to take a bow, with a 2GHz processor and perhaps even a flexible OLED screen.

Either way, this is the handset to snag if you’re sold on an Android phone and love the very latest software and hardware.

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