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iPhone 5 challengers, one year on.

With it looking increasingly like the iPhone 5 will be replaced as Apple’s flagship phone product very soon, I thought it’d be interesting to see how the device’s competitors are doing one year on.

To help me do this, i’ll be referring to The Register’s “Ten iPhone 5 challengers” article of September 2012. I’m sure there are other such lists available. I just know this one was compiled and published at the time of the iPhone 5’s release. And it was conveniently sat in my Reading List bookmarks.

Right then, here are ten year-ago iPhone 5 competitors – let’s see how they are faring today:

Acer CloudMobile

Reportedly a sharp-screened Android phone with a high quality look and feel. It certainly impressed enough to win a Register Hardware recommendation. Sadly, a year down the line, Acer seem to have forgotten about it – the original link 404s and the only mention you’ll find on Acer’s website is if you search the Support pages. Originally £290 SIM-free, the CloudMobile now sells for £170. But only through supplier Expansys. We’re off to a flying start.

Asus PadFone

The PadFone was a 4.3-inch Android mobile that you could stick inside a 10-inch tablet body when you felt the need for a bigger screen. You can’t fault Asus for trying something a little different. Unfortunately British telcos weren’t interested and it doesn’t look like the PadFone ever made it to the UK. The Register’s link 404s, though you can still find the product listed on the ASUS site. If you look about that site you’ll note that more recent PadFone (and look, Dom Joly, a FonePad!) products are available, so clearly Asus haven’t given up on the concept yet. The PadFone 2 was released December 2012 (rather a quick sequel, no?) and is currently free on various £30/month contracts or £599 SIM-free at Carphone Warehouse. Though there doesn’t appear to be any stock. Make of that what you will.

Huawei Ascend D Quad

A quad-cored Android mobile that “caused quite a stir at MWC.” And yet now there’s no mention of the Ascend D Quad on Huawei’s website, though the Ascend family clearly lives on. The Register had price and date “TBC” but, again, it’s not clear if this phone ever actually made it to the shops. I keep having to remind myself that these devices were supposedly iPhone 5 competitors just 12 months ago.


Another phone that came Register Hardware “Recommended” and one of the few in this list that i’ve actually heard of. It is still listed on the HTC website, though has now clearly been succeeded by the HTC One (no X). This phone is still available from various suppliers, though Vodafone is the only UK network still selling it (free on £25/month contract, so long as you don’t mind that it’s only a “nearly new” device). A year ago The Register suggested supplier Clove for a £446 HTC One X – it’s now £360.

LG Optimus 4X HD

A big, well-spec’d smartphone which The Register said “might just be the best Android phone available” and duly made it the Register Hardware “Editor’s Choice”. But the Android world clearly moves quickly – the Optimus 4X HD is still listed on the LG site but the supplier The Register pointed to, Clove, says the model has been discontinued. A year ago this device would’ve cost £460 SIM-free. As far as I can tell, it is currently only available in the UK at catalogue-turned-online-shopping-operation (£349) and TalkTalk Mobile (free on a £15/month contract). Who’d like to put money on the average customer being able to get the latest version of Android running on this phone?

Motorola Razr Maxx

An Android phone from Motorola. The main selling point of which appears to have been the large battery. How’s it doing a year down the line? The link in The Register’s piece redirects to a Motorola support page for the phone and the price tag has £370 struck-through, replaced with £240. But only if you’re willing to buy from a company you’ve never heard of via eBay or Amazon Marketplace.

Nokia PureView 808

Ah, at last, another phone that i’ve heard of. I think we’ve all heard of this Nokia. But only because of the staggering 41 megapixel camera it houses. Without that remarkable feature who was going to go out and buy a phone powered by dead-in-the-water Symbian? The 808 is still proudly listed on the Nokia website but doesn’t seem to be available to buy from any UK mobile network. Or indeed to buy new anywhere other than Amazon Marketplace, eBay and the like.

Panasonic Eluga Power

The Eluga Power looks like it might have been a lovely bit of hardware. Looks like. Even The Register can only provide a link to a Panasonic press release about the phone. No product page. No support page. A cursory web search reveals very little. So, another handset in the list that never actually made it to the UK. The Register were really clutching at next-big-thing straws to find an iPhone challenger, eh?

Samsung Galaxy S3

The Samsung Galaxy S3 is probably the best-known device in this list and, I think, the only device that you see in use in public as often as the iPhone. But of course this model has now been replaced at the top of Samsung’s stack by the Galaxy S4. 12 months ago the S3 would’ve cost you around £485 SIM-free but now would set you back just £347 (Clove). Vodafone seems to be only mobile network still offering the S3 (free on various £25/month contracts), though there are plenty of S3 derivatives available from Samsung in addition to the new S4. Who could forget the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini White Frost, the Samsung Galaxy S3 LTE Titanium and the Samsung Galaxy S3 SuperHD Pea Green?

Sony Xperia S

Sony’s Android smartphone with a superb camera, beaten only by Nokia’s PureView 808, according the The Register. The Xperia S was £349 a year ago but is now available for £239. As long as you buy it direct from Sony. And as long as you want it in White. I’m actually vaguely familiar with the Xperia S as a colleague of  mine owns one. I showed her how to remove the battery. Something she’s having to do to reboot the phone more and more often.


So there you have it, ten iPhone 5 challengers of a year ago. Of which…

  • three were never actually available in the UK
  • only five are still acknowledged as existing by their manufacturer
  • just two (at a push!) are still sold by UK network providers (where i’d guess the majority of consumers will find, try and buy phones)

…and, of course, they’re all now superceded by newer models. Meanwhile, the iPhone 5 is (for a week more, at least) still Apple’s top of the line phone, still starts at £529 SIM-free, still selling and still the phone that all others are compared to.

I suppose you could – and some undoubtedly will – argue that people buying the iPhone 5 right now are being short-changed, paying a high price for year-old technology, and that Android kit is better for customers, always offering more up-to-date hardware. Personally I just see it as Android manufacturers perpetually scrambling on top of each other in a fight to get noticed, constantly repackaging and reframing, with the customer forgotten at the point of sale. At least with the iPhone customers can be assured that their purchase will be supported and see software updates for years to come. But hey, potato, potahto.