In the previous mobile segment of Tech2’s Gadget of the Year I covered my choices for the best budget handsets of 2009. It’s now on to the multimedia handsets in this feature so here’s my list of the handsets that made the cut into our Gadget of the Year.

Multimedia phone of the year – Sony Ericsson W995Rs. 22,749

Sony Ericsson’s W995 of their Walkman series handsets is a real class act. It offers all the possible multimedia features one would expect out of any handset. From a really good 8MP camera to kick ass audio and an FM radio and motion based games, the W995 covers all bases. It even has a built in kick stand at the rear so it can be propped up for easy viewing. It doesn’t have a document reader (except for .TXT files) not that it makes too much of a difference considering it’s a multimedia handset and delivers in spades on that front.

Good – The handset may be quite squared off but it’s nevertheless a smooth slider with an altogether great design
The Walkman music player is capable of really good audio
The handset’s 8MP camera produces really good images
SE has included plenty of free games and apps with the W995
To ensure you have enough room entertainment SE has bundled the W995 with an 8GB M2 card and a small but loud portable speaker
Bad – SE still doesn’t support XviD or DivX video playback
Rating – 4.5/5

Runner up – Nokia 5800 XpressmusicRs. 12,999
The 5800 Xpressmusic is actually quite the icon handset of the year. In fact it did well enough for Nokia to re-launch variations of the handset like the 5230 Xpressmusic and the 5800 Navigator with lifetime maps. Sure it had a few bugs when first reviewed but some managed to get fixed with frequent updates. Nevertheless, the 5800 was a very media friendly device that also offered quite a bit in terms of connectivity as well and it’s still quite popular with quite a few mobile users even today.

Good – The 5800 is well designed and the touchscreen is quite responsive.
The touchscreen S60’s music player is really good.
Its built-in FM radio has good pick up and quick scanning.
Nokia has included quite a few relevant accessories.
Bad – The camera quality is ok but I expected more
The battery life is average at best
Rating – 3.5/5

Best value – Corby S3650Rs. 7,100
The Samsung’s Corby is the latest mobile phenomenon, so much so that the handset has spawned a wide range of variants with QWERTY keypads in funky shapes and colors and additions in terms of connectivity to suit quite a few price ranges. Even this model, the S3650, is quite complete for its prices as one can’t expect Wi-Fi or 3G capabilities in its price range… just yet. Social networkers will love it as it’s fully loaded with widgets for all the popular sites including Twitter and Orkut. Its multimedia capabilities work out just fine as well and it’s the best touchscreen multimedia handset out there in its price range.

Good – The design is simple yet chic with replaceable rear panels in a range of colors
Samsung’s TouchWiz UI is very responsive.
It’s preloaded with plenty of Social Networking tools.
It’s audio capabilities are quite good.
Even its 2MP camera is capable of producing very decent images.
the S3650 also has a good battery life.
Rating – 5/5

There were of course quite a few other multimedia rich handsets that made the list but out of the vast number, these three really stood out this year. Stay tuned for more of Tech2’s Gadgets and Games of the Year. All the prices quoted are MOP.

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