Roundup: 5 Smart Phones for Summer

Applications Compared

These days, it seems like most phone application developers head straight for Apple’s iTunes platform. Finding proper applications for more generic phones like the Samsung Instinct S30, the Impression, and the LG enV Touch is more difficult.

Still, applications are available. Each has a subscription-based GPS service and streaming entertainment apps from service providers, basic email, contact and calendar functions, and rudimentary games. They all also come with instant messaging built in.

The N97 comes with a slew of built-in applications, from QuickOffice to Qik, which lets you stream video directly from your phone to the Internet. The number of applications built into the phone is more than we’ve ever seen, but most are small and often useless. Having a dictionary and a zip code finder on the phone is great, but these apps are rarely used.

Nokia also opened the Ovi Store, where users can download first-and third-party apps for Nokia devices either on a PC or directly on the phone. Currently, the list of available apps is astonishingly small. Most are also either useless for regular users or are not really apps at all, but media downloads, such as videos, are available. The Ovi Store on the N97 has a poor interface and navigating it is more of a hassle than it’s worth.

The Palm Pre was the only tested device that seemed to have real promise in the app-platform area. While the company’s app store is still in beta (and to be fair, Apple’s app store opened over a year after the iPhone’s initial release), it offers several excellent downloadable applications, such as Pandora for radio and Tweed for Twitter. Unlike the N97, business apps for the Pre are scarce and there are currently no standard document or spreadsheet applications.

Yet, even in beta, the Pre’s app store makes navigation and downloads easy, both over WiFi connections and through Sprint’s network. Both the N97 and Pre can also run multiple applications simultaneously, unlike the iPhone, though the N97 slows down significantly, in part due to its slow processor. The Pre continued to run well even after having several Web pages and applications open.