The obvious question is why is there no de facto winner in the smartphone space? In my quest to find the right smartphone, I have been through the following phones in the last three years (thankfully I can sell all the old ones on Ebay!).
PHONE CARRIER OS
Motorola v-60 (verizon) MOTO
Samsung sgh 4?? (t-Mobile) SAMSUNG
Blackberry 957 (att wireless) RIM
Blackberry 7200(?) (att wireless) RIM
Samsung sph-i500 (verizon) WINDOWS
Sony Ericsson T608 (verizon) SONY
RIM 950 (Cingular) RIM
Samsung sgh-i700 (verizon) WINDOWS
Palm Treo 600 (sprint) PALM
Blackberry 7750 (verizon) RIM
Blackberry 7100 (cingular) RIM
Current Phone: Blackberry 8700 (cingular) RIM
In my search, I have yet to find a device and network working together that satisfy all the criteria below:
- Must have QWERTY keyboard for email and text.
- Must have push email
- Must have sync tools to PIM on desktop
- Must have decent high speed internet
- Must have good voice quality
- Must have good design/ form factor: has to to work ergonomically correct as a phone and emailer
- Decent battery life
- Decent Network (ideally verizon)
Right now I am using the Blackberry 8700. A good device, but not the holy grail. The rub I have with Blackberry is that the voice quality is less than optimal. This is both the phone and the network (cingular). Unfortunately Blackberry has not cracked the code for designing thier candybar/qwerty to work well when it is placed next to the ear. Further, I don’t think the voice technology is up to par with the likes of the Motrolas or the Samsungs. I use this phone because it has all of the above criteria satisfied more than any other smartphone on the market. But let me say this is still not an ideal phone becase the voice can be VERY bad. I mostly blame Cingular for this. I have heard the new Palm 700 with windows (Verizon) is quite good but is a bit kludgy when it comes to navigation and the battery life is poor.
As far as outlining the good/bad qualities in the different competitors in the smartphone:
Blackberry: GOOD: mail/messaging, GOOD battery life, BAD: Voice and sound quality, BAD: phone design for using as a phone, GOOD: no stylus needed
Palm: GOOD:: New windows OS (Treo 700), GOOD:best design for QWERTY phone, BAD: PALM OS is too crashy, BAD: Battery life, BAD: stylus needed, BAD: new windows OS is clumsy
Samsung: GOOD: voice quality, BAD: Battery life, BAD: Crashy and slow, GOOD: Windows OS, BAD: heavy and large phones
So if I could put together the ultimate smartphone:
- It will work on Verizon
- It will have good voice/sound technology
- It will have push email (blackberry)
- It will be comfortable on the ear when you use as a phone–form factor like Palm
- It will have the battery life of a blackberry
- Ihe OS will be stable and fast
So the winners in each of the criteria above:
Best QWERTY keyboard: Blackberry (full keyboard)
Best mail: Blackberry push service
Best sync tools: Blackberry (Intellisync)
Best internet: Verizon EDVO
Best voice/sound technology: Motorola (hopefully the moto Q comes out sometime this decade)
Best industrial design: Palm 700
Best battery life: Blackberry (no contest)
Best network: Verizon (no contest)
So a conclusion?
I’d say the closest to the mark are the Blackberry 8700 and the Palm 700w. Neither of these devices are ideal. The Blackberry shortcomings are the fact that its on the Cingular Network and the fact that it has poor voice and sound quality. The Palm 700w scores big because its on Verizon and because you can work on MS office docs, but the battery life is not great and the Windows OS for the Palm is still half baked.
The one outlier here is the pending Motorola Q smartphone which seems to be in a constant state of delay. This phone better be good, as they keep delaying its launch, which is becoming quite tiresome. I know of several people who gave up waiting for this phone and bought the Blackberry 8700 or Palm 700w instead.
Anybody have any thoughts here?
See follow up entries on this issue:
Second in series
Third in series
Fourth in series
Fifth in series