Saturday, December 11, 2010

Best Smartphones of 2010

January 14, 2011 update: We have an updated smartphone buyers guide at this link.

Nothing has improved more in 2010 than smartphones. A high end smartphone is probably the most desired product in the Philippine market. If you bought a laptop or netbook in 2009, you probably would be happy keeping it till next year. At this point, no matter what smartphone you bought in 2010, you are probably aching to replace it.

1. Apple iPhone 4. Love it or hate it, it is the standard by which all others are judged. Apple did not invent the touchscreen smartphone, but it is responsible for making the touchscreen phones the form factor for high end smartphones. Nokia and Blackberry, the previous leaders in this category are now suffering loss in market share for their slow transition into the touchscreen world. 

With its fourth generation smartphone, the iPhone 4, Apple has its most legitimate claim to being at the top. It has a fast operating system now matured operating system with a slick user friendly interface. The web browser is excellent. The 3.5 inch screen has the highest resolution of any mobile phone screen at 640 x 960 pixels. The Samsung manufactured 1 GHz Apple A4 processor is the fastest processor in a smartphone today bar none. The 16GB or 32GB of internal storage is top of the class. The  camera and video recording have improve substantially. Some of its competitors have a larger screen, or more RAM, or a better camera,  but would be less capable in some other category but any head-to-head comparison will result in a win for the iPhone or at least a draw. the Android OS is more powerful allowing true multitasking, and the Android browser is more capable since it support flash, but iOS strikes back with a more user friendly interface and Apps which "just work" which is the benefit of centralized development.

At Php38,500 for the entry level unit this is one expensive phone, but even there the iPhone lucks out. If you are a prepaid user or a postpaid user whose lock-in is up, an iPhone a Globe Telecoms Plan 1799 with just a cash out of Php10,800 looks pretty good. You can get it free at Plan 3799.

2. Samsung Galaxy. At Php30,990 for the 16GB model (with a official Samsung warranty) it is not the most expensive Android phone in the Philippine market, but it is the best Android phone in the market. With a 1GHz Snapdragon processor and discrete graphics it rivals the iPhone for speed and any other Android phone for speed. The 8GB to 16GB storage options is less the iPhone 4, but it does have a MicroSD slot, allowing you to expand internal storage to up to 48GB. It 4.0" screen is neither the largest screen on an Android in the market (that honor belongs to HTC) nor is its 480 x 800 pixel display the highest resolution in the Android world (that distinction belongs to Sony Ericsson) but it more than makes up for that by having the best display on an Android phone thanks to Super AMOLED technology. Basically, it is the best Android phone in the local market. Whether it, or the iPhone 4 is the best smartphone in the local market is subject of debate, but it is one of these too. If you can forgo the official warranty for a store warranty, the 8GB version is priced at Php26,000 which also makes it the best mid-priced phone in the local market.

3. Nokia N8. Nokia's Symbian^3 is nowhere near as good as Apples iOS or Google Android, and there is nothing Nokia can do about that right now. So what do you do? It simple, put in the best camera which has graced a mobile phone, 16GB or memory, USB-on-Go, HDMI port, a aluminum case and price it as a mid-level smartphone. It is not the best. But at its Php22,000-Php24,000 price range, I think it is the best at that price point. And if the camera function is important to you, it is simply the best choice at any price point. Another point. If you are used to Symbian smartphones, Symbian^3 is going to be pretty easy to adjust to. It is not the best "smarthphone" in the market, but it is the best "feature" phone in the market.

Update: There is a known issue with this unit not powering up or powering down unexpectedly. You can read about it here at the Nokia Conversations blog interview and watch the interview with Nokia’s Excecutive Vice President Niklas Savander at this link. 

4. Samsung S8500 Wave. It does not run iOS or Android. It is not a Symbian phone and not even a Windows phone. It runs Samsung own bada. This means you wont be able to use Apples 300,000 Apps or Android 100,000 Apps, but have to rely on bada apps, which right now number less than a thousand. It does have a great 3.3-inch 480 x 800 Super AMOLED screen, slick interface, a decent camera, HD recording, good multimedia capabilities all in a aluminum case which makes it look more expensive than it is. It will pretty much do everything you want a smartphone to do, except for edit documents. For Php18,300, its a steal.

5. BlackBerry Curve 9300. A QWERTY messenger is still todays standard for a business phone, and BlackBerry's still make the best messaging phones. BlackBerry's top of the line QWERTY messaging phone is the Bold. But these days, for Php25,000, you probably will go for a touchscreen phone. Enter the lower end BlackBerry Curve 9300.  Priced at around Php15,000, the Curve is still a viable choice. You lose the bolds higher resolution screen, get a lower end camera and a host of other features. But the BlackBerry Curve 9300 will alow you to avail of push email through its BES or BIS service. Bascially, that is what you get a Blackberry for. Its 90% of a Blackberry Bold, at 60% of the price.

6. LG Optimus One P500. At Php12,990 retail price you get a phone running Android 2.2 (Froyo), with a 3.2 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen display with 320 x 480 pixel resolution, 600MHz processor, 419MB of RAM and 170MB of internal storage. For the camera, it has a 3.2MP autofocus camera. Connectivity options are the expected: GPRS, EDGE,  HSDPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g, Bluetooth 2.1 with A2DP, a microUSB port and as well as a built in GPS transceiver with A-GPS support. All-in-all not a bad package, for Php12,990. It's the best budget Android, and probably the best budget smartphone in the local market.

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