It has been said several times now that making a top five smartphones list isn't exactly easy. Instead of things getting easier when you remove Android from the equation, things actually become more difficult. We're now comparing phones with different operating systems, made by some totally different manufacturers. These non-Android smartphones have more time to sit on the shelves and bake before they slip into obsolescence.
After rearranging and reworking the list several times, I finally decided on a list I feel comfortable with, hardly bearing any of the phones I originally chose. Without further ado, here are my top five non-Android smartphones for June 2011:
1. iPhone 4 (AT&T, Verizon Wireless)
How many times this phone has been placed at the number one spot on countless top smartphone lists around the web – even among Android phones – should serve as a testament to the quality of this phone on both a hardware and software level. Sure, it has become fairly dated over the span of a year, but it still outperforms numerous counterparts and offers up one of the most consistent and fluid experiences out there.
With arguably the best display (currently the highest pixel density available on a smartphone) out there, one of the most popular cameras around and the largest selection of applications, it's no secret why the iPhone keeps shooting to the top ... and staying there. Apple knocked it out of the park with the iPhone 4, and the sheer number of people (im)patiently waiting for the next iteration, regardless of what it may entail, speaks volumes for Apple's influence and lasting impression on the mobile market.
2. Dell Venue Pro (AT&T, T-Mobile)
Considering all of the Windows Phones have generally the same specifications across the board, it's hard definitively rank one over the other. But one that clearly sticks out from the pack is Dell's Venue Pro. After a tiresome struggle with the initial launch of the device and immediately being plagued by several bugs, the Venue Pro was expected to be a flop. Instead, it is easily one of the better Windows Phone devices currently available.
With a 4.1-inch AMOLED display, vertical sliding QWERTY keyboard and the option for different capacity sizes, placing this device above its brethren is an easily done. If you're on AT&T or T-Mobile and looking for a WP7 device, I would recommend giving the Venue Pro a shot. If you don't mind ordering it from Dell, that is.
3. Palm Pre 2 (Verizon Wireless)
One competitor that cannot be ignored right now is HP. They may be new to the smartphone realm and lacking the proper talent in their marketing department, but there is no doubt that they have a gold mine on their hands. Not a lot has changed since the Pre Plus aside from slide and design modifications and processor speed, but it was enough to place the Pre 2 in the middle of my top five list.
The 3.2-inch touchscreen display, 1GHz OMAP processor, and 5-megapixel camera of the Pre 2 finally put webOS on the same level as many smartphones. But HP continues to ignore the potential of other form factors. The Pre 3 is a step in the right direction, but let's just hope HP decides to license webOS to other manufacturers so we can get some webOS variety up in here.
4. Samsung Focus (AT&T)
It's easy to argue that any other Windows Phone could make this spot, but the Samsung Focus nudges ahead for two reasons: the beautiful Super AMOLED display and microSD card slot. Sure, the display is a little too saturated at times, but I kind of like it; it gives Windows Phone 7's Metro UI a little more character and pizzaz.
Specs are unsurprisingly along the lines of its brethren with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, 5.0-megapixel rear camera, and a 4-inch display. Like I said, one of the main differentiators from most of the other Windows phones is that the Focus comes with a microSD card slot (that comes with its own little quirks). Although it may be made primarily of plastic and not being the best on paper, some key features easily place the Focus as number four on my top smartphones list.
5. BlackBerry Bold 9780 (T-Mobile)
In the age of large, touchscreen smartphones, BlackBerrys have effectively fallen off of the grid in most top smartphone lists. Their chance of survival in the mobile world has been questioned many times. But for me, it all started with BlackBerry and I still have a strong attachment to them. Even though I find them to be somewhat dull and boring, they are still very good phones, capable of doing much of what thier larger, touchscreen counterparts can.
(Yes, I rank the Bold 9780 above the Torch. Get over it.)
Obviously not equipped with a touch-sensitive display, the 9780 does have its limitations. But an excellent keyboard, spectacular battery life, and one of the best form factors RIM has outed to date make the Bold 9780 the BlackBerry to get. If you aren't on T-Mobile and have the BlackBerry itch, its twin, the 9700 (with less memory), is available on AT&T and the next of kin Bold 9650 is up for grabs on Verizon and Sprint.