It's been a few months since I've done a Top 5 list, and there's a slew of new handsets on tap for Fall that could shake things up. But now that Summer's over here's the best of the best in mobile phones:
1. Apple iPhone - AT&T GSM
Trying is believing. Now that you can get an iPhone for $299 (while the 4GB model lasts) and unlock it for use on any GSM network, my view on the iPhone has changed. I got one, flicked my fingers across it, unlocked it, added apps and hacks to it, and haven't put it down since.
I have to admit, I feel rather ostentatious carrying the thing around in public - I generally prefer the low-profile style of hi-tech handsets that most people wouldn't recognize. But iPhone can do so much, and looking at Websites, photos, and videos on it is so much fun, I'm going to carry it around with me for at least a bit longer. If only it had a better camera (with flash and video recording) and a 3G data radio.
2. HTC 8925 "Tilt" - AT&T GSM
Okay, this one isn't actually out yet. But it will be any day now, and as soon as it is it will become the best smartphone available through any US carrier. HTC's next-gen flagship handset picks up where the 8525 left off with 3G data, more horsepower under the hood, a sliding/titling display, and a 3MP camera.
The 8925's not-so-distant cousin, the TyTN II (aka Kaiser) has been available across the pond for a little while now. Power-hungry AT&T customers are just chomping at the bit for Tilt's stateside release. And, oh yeah, it'll do BlackBerry email via BlackBerry Connect, too.
3. Nokia N95 - Unlocked GSM
Now that Nokia's announced a version of their flagship phone compatible with US-spec 3G networks, could we actually see one picked up by an American carrier and offered at a subsidized price low enough to make it a competitive option in the states? Maybe. Of course, Nokia also just announced a non-US version of the N95 packing 8GB of onboard flash memory, which makes me scratch my American noggin' just a bit.
Still, the N95 is the most full-featured handset currently available - at least in terms of specs. 5MP camera with video, 3D gaming, full Web browser with WiFi, GPS, media player ... the list goes on and on. But with iPhone now available for just over half of N95's price, Nokia's got some reshuffling in order if they really want to be the multimedia computer of choice in people's pockets. The newly unveiled entertainment-focused N81 could be a more interesting choice than the N95, depending on how it's priced.
4. Sony Ericsson K850 - Unlocked GSM
Okay, this one's not really out yet either, but I can't put the now-discontinued K790a on another Top 5 list, can I? The K810 didn't provide much more than a cosmetic "upgrade" over it's Cyber-Shot predecessor, but the 850 promises a 5MP camera with full 30 fps video recording, and 3G data in the same slim candybar form factor that made the 790 so popular.
The k790a is still the only phone I've ever used that can take decent photos in the dark, and its Web browser, RSS reader, Email client, and - yes - tennis game are also quite good. So I'm pretty interested to see what's new on the k850. Maybe Sony Ericsson upgrade the music player to the full Walkman version.
5. The Entire Vodafone Christmas Lineup
Yeah, it's a little silly to include that ... but have you seen Vodafone's just-announced offerings for this holiday shopping season? Wow. Makes me a little sad for all the techno-geeks here in the US.
Mostly I'm interested to see what Samsung's Ultra Smart F700 is really like once it's finally released. Already I'm expecting the worst since Vodafone's touting a 3MP camera on the F700 instead of the 5MP shooter it was originally announced as having. No matter - full touch screen, slide-out QWERTY, and ultra-fast HSDPA ... I gotta make some friends in Europe before the New Year.