Skip to main content

Roundup: 5 Smart Phones for Summer

Multimedia Functions Compared

All of the phones offer multimedia options, while the Nokia N97 and Palm Pre offer 32 GB and 7 GB of onboard memory, respectively. This suggests, as our testing has confirmed, that the other devices are not made for video playback but instead for streaming video content, even if each does support up to 16 GB microSD cards.

Each of the phones supports the main audio formats, MP3, AAC, and WMA. Audio playback was fine on each. As mentioned earlier, the Impression does not come with a standard 3.5 mm audio jack, so you must use the vendor's headphones or purchase an additional adaptor to use your own.

Listening without headphones is an entirely different story. The Nokia N97 is surprisingly quiet compared to the rest, although it has more than one speaker. The Impression gets very loud, but on the loudest setting there is lots of vibration static. The Pre has a similar rear-speaker design, but it doesn’t get so loud that the phone distorts the sounds.

Unsurprisingly, the LG enV Touch offers the loudest music and best sound quality, thanks to the stereo speakers. Leave the phone across the room and the music will come through loud and clear. The enV is also picky about how music is stored on the microSD, and won’t read an entire card to find music, so it’s best to sync directly with your PC instead of just dropping music onto the card.

Nokia’s N97 uses its own software suite for media transfer. Users can opt to drag and drop media files onto either the 32 GB hard drive or a microSD card, so the software isn’t required, but it does help streamline the process and offers an alternative to iTunes. The Ovi Suite is not better than iTunes. Instead, it’s a series of separate applications that individually work fine, but together will slow down your PC and make transferring media a hassle.

Palm stepped around the issue by making the Pre readable in iTunes as an iPod, but this system forces Palm to update the Pre to make sure that functionality still works with each new iTunes update. It’s a crude yet effective method, especially considering how most people use iTunes as a desktop media player. Applications do not transfer through iTunes for the Pre.

Video quality on the N97 is decent, although for a device with so much space, there are so few available video formats. It only supports MP4 video, while the Palm Pre supports MP4, H.263, and H.264, meaning it can play HD content. Considering the difference in physical space and price between the two devices, we expected to see much more from Nokia in this area. Video quality is sharp and resolute on the Palm Pre.