I get this question a lot: Noah, which is better, the "blah blah phone" or the "blee blee phone." Could be iPhone and G1, could be RAZR and KRZR - my answer is always the same: "Depends on what you want to use it for."
It's true. I'm a super nerd cell phone geek and admitted gadget addict, and I still haven't found the absolute perfect phone. I have my particular wish list and nothing out there quite suits it to a T. Through trial and error I wound up with a device that fits my particular needs better than any other device can, but I'm still on the lookout for something better. Occupational hazard, I guess.
By way of helping you find the best phone to fit your mobile lifestyle, I'll break down my own prioritized wish list and shopping process. Don't make my list your own, but rather use it as a model: Figure out what you really want your phone to do and be, prioritize that list of features, and then look at available devices and service plans across the carriers that work in your neck of the woods.
Here's how it goes for me ... My prioritized list:
NOTE: I honestly am thinking I'd be better off without mobile Email and Web. I know, it sounds crazy, but I have a serious information addiction problem and my work keeps me online so much anyway, that maybe some "forced down time" when I'm on the go would be a good thing.
So there's my list, and there it is in order of importance to me. What's interesting to me is that, in the process of making this list, I realized two seemingly contradictory things:
1. I'm seriously considering killing off my data plan and living life without Email and Web on my phone. I really could use a break from my addiction to the Net, and if people really need to reach me they know how to get me via call or text.
2. Since I both haven't killed off the data plan yet and also review phones for a living, I'm super attracted to phones with great mobile Web and Email experiences.
Based on my list, I can easily narrow down the phones that might make me happy. No 3.5mm headphone jack? Then you're not the one for me, simple as that. You might not care, but I sure do. Bulky and heavy? Bye bye. Again, lots of people love their thick, thick Nokia N95s and I can totally understand why. But I will never share that love on a personal level (objectively, I'd be a fool not to see the N95 for the powerhouse it is).
So what phones fit the bill for me? Right now I carry an Apple iPhone but use it unlocked on T-Mobile. But it's far from perfect. I miss MMS messaging, really want a physical QWERTY board, and the iPhone's camera sucks. So I'm always on the look out for something better. Nokia's E71 is almost it, but has a 2.5mm headphone jack. I hate adapters and dongles and so just couldn't get myself to embrace the E71, even though it's super sexy and powerful.
I've got my eye on the Sony Ericsson Xperia X1, along with the BlackBerry Bold and BlackBerry Storm, both of which will be out soon and - at least on paper - fit every one of my criteria. I worry about the new BlackBerrys' Web browsing capabilities, though - since they require data plans, I require them to have top-notch Web browsers. I'm also curious to see how the Samsung T919 and HTC Touch HD stack up, even though the latter will not be available in a true US edition.
There's that whole kick the Web addiction thing, though. If I cut myself free from the chains of a data plan, I could rock the Nokia XpressMusic 5310. It's slim, it's light, it does SMS/MMS and Email, and it has a 3.5mm headphone jack. And it comes in a black with orange version. I like orange.
But could I really live with such a "low end" phone, and one that lacks a QWERTY board and a flash for the camera? I mean, I do review phones for a living, after all.
Decisions, decisions ... We all have to make them. Choosing a cell phone can be tough, but it should be fun, too. Just remember that there is no definitive "best phone." Figure out what you want your device to do for you, narrow down your list of contenders, and then go try 'em out if you can. "The best" is only good if it works for you.