Two Top 5 lists today. This first one is the Top 5 handsets I've actually gotten my paws on in some final or close to final form. The second will be the Top 5 I haven't used, or have only groped semi-functional demos of. Clear enough, right? Good, let's get started:
1. Apple iPhone (AT&T)
Problems abound with the new iPhone 3G, from lag during text entry to horrific voice and data service on AT&T in major metropolitan areas. But iPhone is still the best all-around handset in the game, which means it's still the phone I carry every day and still rests atop my Top 5. The closely monitored App Store extends iPhone's functionality into smartphone-meets-mini computer land, and the best-in-class touchscreen, Web browser, photo viewer, and media player make iPhone the easiest and most fun to use multimedia-rich feature phone out there. Beware, though, Apple: the competition is creeping closer and I personally am jonesing for a QWERTY board on my phone. Lucky for you T-Mobile and Google botched what should have been a home run in the G1 (see my Top 5 I Haven't Yet Used list).
2. BlackBerry Bold 9000 (Rogers - Canada; Coming Soon to AT&T)
I never thought I'd actually lust after a BlackBerry but the Bold changed all of that when I tried it out at CTIA a few weeks ago. It's everything a business phone should be with a healthy dash of style to boot. Slim, powerful, and multimedia-rich thanks to a gorgeous new display, gussied up media player and Web browser, and integrated 3.5mm headphone jack and camera w/flash. Could I actually leave my multitouch iPhone experience for the trackball and QWERTY board of Bold? Ask me after it launches in the US; the answer might just be Yes.
3. HTC Touch Pro (Unlocked GSM; Coming Soon to Sprint)
If the Touch Pro had an integrated headphone jack it just might be my #1 right now (what can I say, I listen to music on my phone daily and hate Stereo Bluetooth (recharging + inferior sound quality = I'll stick with wires, thanks)). Thanks to a potent combination of the gorgeous TouchFLO 3D interface and a slide-out QWERTY keypad, the Touch Pro serves up the best Windows Mobile experience I've seen to date. The VGA touchscreen is small but super high-res, which caused me some data entry issues on Pro's kid brother, the Touch Diamond. Not so here, thanks to that QWERTY board. Pro also adds a flash to the 3.2 MP camera, which is a nice touch. Look for Touch Pro to rule the WinMo roost on Sprint, VZW, and AT&T here in the States ... at least until Sony Ericsson finally launches the Xperia X1 (another device HTC had a part in creating).
4. Nokia E71 (Unlocked GSM)
Sexiest Nokia ever. I know the hardcore phone phans will cry foul on this one, claiming that the N96, N95, and/or N85 should all be ranked higher than the E71. But for me the E71 gets the nod for three reasons: Style, All-Around Functionality, and Mass Appeal. The E71's metal body is shiny and sleek, the QWERTY board is entirely usable, and the phone packs a ton of connectivity and functionality. While the other Nokias I mentioned may have higher-res cameras or larger displays, the E71 brings plenty to the table and provides a legitimate BlackBerry/iPhone alternative for the power user and more style and pocketability than the oversized N95/96. If only Americans could learn to embrace Symbian ...
5. LG Lotus (Coming Soon to Sprint)
This is my wildcard and it could come back to haunt me :-) I was really impressed with Lotus when I tried it out at CTIA. Why? LG and Sprint packed a ton of functionality into a relatively small, easy to use phone. QWERTY? Check. HTML Browser? Check. High-speed data? Check. Sprint Music and TV? Check. Camera? Check. Dual-displays? Check. The big questions here are, 1) How will it perform under daily usage in the real world, and; 2) Will people take to the somewhat strange square shape of the thing?
Honorable Mention: LG Dare (VZW), LG Voyager (VZW), BlackBerry Curve (Multiple Carriers), Nokia N96 (Unlocked GSM), HTC Touch Diamond (Sprint), Samsung Instinct (Sprint), Nokia XpressMusic 5310 (T-Mobile)