There has been an influx of flagship phone announcements during the third quarter of 2009, with more to come in the months leading up to the end-of-year festive shopping period. But is it the best time to buy a new mobile phone?

During the last five years mobile phone technology has undergone a huge transformation. It has evolved from the color screens and text-based email featured in yesteryear's newest smartphones into a new breed of superphones that function as all-in-one portable computing devices with real-time notifications, integrated WiFi, multi-touch screens and graphics cards that can play HD movies with more clarity than many TVs found in today's households.

Entering the fourth quarter of 2009 there has been an enormous push by mobile makers to release new flagship phones featuring this stunning technology.

According to IDC's Oct ober 29 third quarter phone shipment report, the five biggest mobile manufacturers worldwide (Nokia, Samsung, LG Electronics, Sony Ericsson and Motorola) are hoping to ride on their newly released technology-rich phones to boost fourth quarter sales. But not all will manage to release flagship devices in time for the busy end-of-the-year shopping rush.

Both Motorola and Nokia will release their flagship devices (the DROID and the N900) in early November 2009. Sony Ericsson's flagship device, the XPERIA X10, won't be out until the beginning of 2010. Meanwhile, the economic crisis has forced manufacturers to drop their prices in a bid to stay competitive within the cut-throat mobile phone market.

So should you hold off until 2010 to buy your device or do you jump in now?

"We have seen strong price erosion already this year so I would not advise to wait next year for that reason," Carolina Milanesi, research director, Mobile Devices, Technology & Service Provider Research, Gartner, told Relaxnews on November 3.

"What we will see next year is more choice as vendors such as Samsung, LG and Sony Ericsson step up their commitment to smartphones. I would also expect good promotions from operators for Christmas in an attempt to encourage sales."