What do you need in a smart phone? That’s tough to say when the definition of “smart phone” seems to change every few months. Based on the five tested devices here, choosing one based solely on features becomes difficult. The Instinct S30 is compact and easy to use; the Impression makes for an excellent texting device; the enV Touch has a good camera, great GPS and excellent hardware; the N97 has a ton of features, extremely long battery life and lots of storage space; and the Pre is an excellent Web-browsing handset and has a great camera and an excellent touchscreen.
Multimedia users who want music and videos on their phone should seriously look at the Pre and N97, if the iPhone is out of the question. But even if the iPhone is an option, these phones should still be considered. The Pre does an excellent job of playing videos and music, and the N97’s ability to play FM radio and to hold up to 48 GB worth of media is almost unbelievable. If video isn’t a necessity, the enV Touch is perfect for listening to music loudly, thanks to its excellent stereo speakers.
For the consumer looking for a simple device that’s easy to use, the Instinct S30, Impression, and enV Touch all work well. While the Pre and especially the N97 may be daunting to your average non-tech savvy individual, the other handsets will allow anyone to take advantage of enough functionality to enjoy more than just a simple phone call.
If you’re looking to drop the point-and-shoot camera for a cell phone with a great built-in camera, the Pre, N97 and enV Touch are excellent devices. The Pre produces vibrant pictures with great contrast and the enV Touch has several unique camera options that make it even more enticing than the Pre. The N97 is best for someone looking for advanced features, such as setting the white balance, exposure, or ISO settings.
Each of the handsets provides excellent call quality. The Pre synced our contacts list quickly and easily, but is small to hold when talking on the phone. The enV Touch’s speaker phone is the best one we’ve ever tested. The N97 did freeze on occasion, which meant phone calls had to wait until either the phone started working again or we rebooted.
Anyone who needs quick access to the Internet should look no further than the Pre or enV Touch. The Pre loaded Web pages faster than any tested device over WiFi networks and was only outdone by the iPhone through the cellular service. The enV Touch surprised us with its fast and accurate Web page loading and is excellent to use either with the touchscreen or a pointer and keyboard.
If applications are important, then the Palm Pre is your best bet. Its app store is still in beta, but we’re confident that when it opens developers will be pouring their own applications into the marketplace just like with the iPhone. The N97’s Ovi Store is already fully open, but from the applications available and from the phone itself, we can’t share the confidence that we have with the Pre.
While the Palm Pre is an excellent device that we believe will go far, our personal favorite is the LG enV Touch. The enV Touch is a wonderfully designed cell phone that offers two excellent screens, surprisingly good touch response from a resistive touchscreen, a great camera with some excellent functions, loud and crisp stereo speakers, and an excellent physical keyboard to boot. It’s simply a brilliant piece of engineering and design.