Hey, look, it's a Top 5 list! I'm keeping this constrained to phones that have at least formally been launched, if not ones that are actually for sale right now. So on the one hand that opens up some grey area for devices that I've seen but haven't really tested (Evo 4G, Galaxy S) but on the other hand it eliminates total vaporware (iPhone 4, whatever HP does with Palm). Got it? Good. Let's go!
UPDATE: A few of you are wondering how I went from being so sky high on the Nexus One to dropping it from my Top 5 completely. Good question. The answer lies in the piles of complaints and customer support issues that have mounted since N1 was launched. While I had no real issues with my loaner when I had it, too many paying customers still have unresolved problems for me to keep N1 in my fave five. Yes, I thought N1 was rad when I used it. But No, I can't really recommend it as a purchase right now. Take that as you will, and my bad for not explaining when I first posted this list.
Top 5 Smartphones - April 25, 2010
1. HTC Incredible (Verizon)
It's not just that you can actually buy Incredible whereas the devices at #2 and #3 below are "launched" but not yet available. It's also that Incredible managed to find a sweet spot between size, power, and pocketability that both Galaxy and Evo are in danger of missing. Incredible's 3.7" display is big enough to display a ton of information at once, but small enough to make for a form factor that feels deceptively small in your hand. And, oh yeah, Incredible is smooth as butter and fast as blazes. I'm not keen on the plasticky fit and finish here, but I also don't think it's anything to worry about, durability-wise.
2. Samsung Galaxy S (GSM)
Okay, so actually if Galaxy S was for sale today and made good on the promises of its CTIA launch party, it might be up there in the Number One spot. I know, that's a change in thinking from my Top 5 CTIA Stories, but I'm starting to think that Galaxy's enormous 4" display might be more consumer-friendly and, y'know, usable than Evo's extra-enormous 4.3" display. Also, now that it's Spring in the Bay Area I'm getting outside more. And the more I use AMOLED phones outside in the sunshine, the more I want Galaxy S's Super AMOLED display to be a winner. AMOLED and bright sunlight do not play well together.
3. HTC Evo 4G (Sprint)
I'm still really excited about Evo 4G, but a month after its launch I have a few reservations. Yes, the prototypes I saw in Vegas were smooth and sleek and sexy and screamed power. But the four in Evo 4G is giving me pause as of late. When HTC's HD2 first came out, I was blown away by its massive 4.3" display. Now that I've had the chance to live with the T-Mobile version of that device for awhile, I'm wondering if 4-plus inches of screen makes for a phone that's just plain too big. And after having used T-Mobile's HSDPA+ network in Vegas, I'm wondering if Sprint's 4G WiMax network is going to wind up being more bark than bite. We'll see. Until then, Evo stays in the Top 5, but not at the tippy top.
4. Apple iPhone 3GS (AT&T)
On the one hand, iPhone OS 4 gives iPhone 3GS a new lease on life in the form of multitasking and all those other new features that are equal parts, "Catching up to Android and webOS," "Giving iPhone users what they want," and "Some actual innovation." On the other hand, now that the inevitable has been leaked in the form of new iPhone hardware on deck for this Summer, it's getting harder to stay excited about a device that hasn't really changed much in the three years since its first iteration hit the streets. Still, iPhone looks, feels, and works like a champ (certain areas of AT&T's network performance notwithstanding).
5. Palm Pre Plus (Verizon)
Now that Verizon's gone and made Mobile Hotspot free for Pre Plus users, this might just be the best value in do-it-all mobile tech. Now that HP's gone and bought Palm, who knows what the heck the future holds for webOS.