Now, which one is for keeping?

The last few weeks has seen this writer inundated with top mobile phones for review, across different countries and different circumstances.

With a wide range of prices, the selection gave plenty of options.

All phones had outstanding battery life, but the HTC was the stand-out after all the devices were given hard workouts and left on until they died.

Nearly 17 hours of work and standby made the HTC the winner.

The first one landing on the desk from Nicole Bain at Gen-i Dunedin was the Nokia 625 which I took to Hong Kong on a birthday-inspired trip to the races.

The bright orange back was eye-catching to say the least and I found to my surprise the phones were just being rolled out in Hong Kong in the main electronic district of the city.

Also, in Hong Kong you could get a bright yellow back and a distinctive lime green one proved tempting.

Having used Nokia phones before, with the Windows operating system installed, the phone took no time to organise.

Some other reviewers have complained about text size and the photos being a bit blurry when zooming in.

There was nothing like that for me.

I used the phone for email, social media, texting family and friends and sending photos through email and loading to Facebook.

As I found before, the Nokia is a breeze to use when taking and loading photos.

Standing three storeys above the Happy Valley race track, taking photos and loading them for my family to see was child's play.

The phone was slightly larger than I would prefer for a holiday trip and, to be fair, I did not use all of the options for the Office application.

But weather, maps, news feeds from Hong Kong and the Bing search function all worked exceedingly well.

Windows has been criticised for playing catch-up with Samsung and now Microsoft owns Nokia - the 625 was the last phone Nokia made before the takeover - there is still some work to do.

The main sticking point for this reviewer is the photos of contacts rolling over on the front of the screen and the size of the tiles which meant the home screen stretched down well beyond the screen edge.

Every time you needed something, you had to scroll rather than having a screen like Samsung with small icons.

Oh and ''suitable'' games were hard to find.

On returning home, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 arrived to review.

Having used Samsung phones for many years, the Android system is a favourite.

At first, the device seemed flimsy, not helped by the faux leather effect on the thin plastic back.

The Note 3 is slimmer than its predecessor with a larger screen. The S Pen is a drawcard for the Note. Samsung has made a larger pen with better functionality.

The 13-megapixel rear camera is a bonus for anyone wanting a device for both work and play.

Surprisingly, the Note seemed no larger than the Nokia device when placed in an inside jacket pocket, although it was.

Hovering the pen above icons opened the programs quickly.

Samsung also promotes its new software and better multi-tasking, with one of the Note's major selling points given its large form factor.

A launcher called Air Command is designed to make the S Pen more useful, bringing up a menu of tools that let users organise and act on handwritten notes.

The one function I really appreciated was writing down a number with the S Pen before using new software to save it in the address book or call directly.

Eventually, I learnt how to write down a contact's new details, name, address, email and number and converting that into an address book.

One thing which bugged me was working out how to manoeuvre photos around.

Being used to an Android, I thought it would be easy but I could not always get them to go where I thought they should.

The programs for such things as text and spreadsheets are easy to use and a definite improvement on earlier devices.

The good things include the S Pen being juiced up.

The device is ideal for someone wanting to work on something slightly bigger than a phone and smaller than a tablet.

It is not for everyone.

However, Nicole saved the best for last, arriving one day with an HTC One.

If there ever was a time I wanted to text and say I had lost a phone, or would not give it back, it is the HTC.

What a device.

Metal back and sides, large screen, curved to fit your hand, the list continues.

Samsung and Apple should be aware the HTC One combines a stunning design and some of the most powerful software around to provide what C-Net described as the best phone on the planet.

And who am I to disagree?

Not content with inventing a new machining process to allow the body to be all aluminium, the Taiwanese firm has extended the screen to the edges of the chassis further than before.

It is thinner than its predecessor and slides into a pocket easily.

While not light, the metallic finish makes it a premium phone.

C-Net wrote in its review Samsung should hope buyers of the S4 did not put that phone beside the HTC.

This is my phone of the year.


Product review

• Nokia Lumia 625 (RRP $399)

• Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (RRP $1199)

• HTC One (RRP $999)

Best phone

HTC, best battery life, best design, best screen.