The phrase "There's a phone out there for everyone," though somewhat corny, is true. Smartphones are quickly becoming the device of choice for many cell phone users, but with the slew of new devices landing in the marketplace, it's challenging to decide which device is right for you.
I often get asked about my personal device preferences by friends, family, and various other people when I talk about my job description. Usually, I respond with the "what's best for me isn't necessarily best for you" line, but most of them continue to press me about it. So, in an attempt to be more open, I've made a list of what I believe to be the "Top Five Phones as of August 2009." I've done these types of lists before, but it was especially tough this year, because of the great launches we've seen to date. Lots of great devices, only five slots - which ones will make the cut?
1. Palm Pre (Sprint)
The first place spot is reserved for a device that is revamped inside and out, and Palm's move from last in the lunch line to the big leagues with a device that's functional and easy to use is nothing short of revolutionary. The introduction of webOS ushered in another OS competitor, and it's certainly up for the challenge. Offering things like the popular "cards" function for multitasking, Synergy, and the Palm Profile feature, the Pre sports a new slider design with a touchscreen and full QWERTY keyboard. Granted, the iPhone is a good media device, but the Pre one-ups the iPhone by offering an overall better experience when it comes to professional use. With good usually comes bad, and the battery life is short of terrible. Hopefully it will be fixed in future OS updates.
2. Apple iPhone 3GS (AT&T)
You just knew it was going to be in the list somewhere, didn't you? Despite the fact that MMS and tethering are missing (AT&T's fault, not Apple's), the device has a great multitouch display, a large App Store, and of course, a built in iPod. With the beef up to a faster processor, more storage space, and a revised OS, it's back in black. Better yet, for those that don't want to spend the $199.99 to purchase the 16 GB iPhone 3GS, the 3G model is still available for $99.99 (and if you really want to go low, $49.99 for a refurbished model on AT&T's website).
3. BlackBerry Tour 9630 (Verizon/Sprint)
The challenge here really comes down to which BlackBerry is "better," and I would argue away from that and more to the tune that there is a BlackBerry device that fits everyone. The Tour isn't right for everyone, but neither is the Bold, Curve 8900, or Pearl Flip. It all depends on your wants and needs. That being said, if I was forced to pick the BlackBerry with the best all around package, I would choose the Tour. Combining a keyboard similar to that of the Bold in a Curve-like shell, the Tour is perfect for those that "love the keyboard on the Bold but hate the size," or those that "love the Curve but hate the keyboard." Though Wi-Fi is notoriously absent, the Tour ships with a 3.2 megapixel camera and a newer OS build (188.8.131.52 at launch).
4. HTC Touch Pro2 (T-Mobile)
We're always talking about revisions when it comes to BlackBerry, Palm, and Apple, but rarely do Windows Mobile users get to share the same joy. For some reason, manufacturers think that boxy, bland Windows Mobile devices with a basic screen and a simple keyboard will suffice, and as a result, we get an endless supply of similarly styled handsets (think Motorola Q9/Q9m, Palm Treo Pro, HTC Snap/Ozone, etc.). What makes the Touch Pro2 so revolutionary is the shift back to an up-to-date, functional device, and more importantly, the first Windows Mobile phone that can really compete in the smartphone wars of 2009. A vibrant 3.6-inch tilting touchscreen, 528 MHz processor, Wi-Fi, and a comfortable keyboard make this the Windows Mobile device to have. Available on T-Mobile now, the Touch Pro2 is slated to land on Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint in the near future.
5. Nokia E71 (unlocked version, NOT E71x)
If you read my work, you know that I'm not a fan of Symbian (and have criticized it frequently), which is Nokia's OS of choice. That being said, I do think the E71 offers two primary things that put it on the list: form factor and battery life. Judging by form factor alone, the E71 deserves an award for its gorgeous, slim, metal design. In my opinion, based on looks alone, the E71 is the best device on the market, bar none. And the battery life is nothing short of phenomenal. When I was using the device, I was able to make it 4 days without a charge (moderate use), and 10 days when leaving it on my desk. In today's world of smartphones that require charging several times a day, the E71 is a shining star in the battery department. Of course, S60 is slow, old, cumbersome, and lacks features that competing operating systems offer, thus moving it down to the fifth place slot.
Honorable Mention: HTC myTouch 3G, Nokia E75, HTC Hero, BlackBerry Bold, BlackBerry Curve 8900, LG enV Touch, LG enV3.