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.

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  • SlyMaelstrom
    Where's the HTC Touch Pro 2? It's superior to all of these phones and will be available on all major US carriers by the end of September. It's already out on T-Mobile.
  • jamezrp
    HTC Touch Pro 2? Keep your eyes peeled on this site...
  • jamezrp
    HTC Touch Pro 2? Keep your eyes peeled on this site...
  • georgeb45
    HTC Touch Diamond 2 rulez them all. HTC Touch Pro 2 is the most advanced smartphone but is too large. Diamond 2 has the perfect size and works great. I'm using it for 3 months now and i'm very satisfied with it.
  • nerdherd
    This is a strange review...comparing a Palm Pre to a Samsung Instinct? Why don't we compare apples to apples, like mentioned above where are some HTC phones like the Diamond 2 and the Touch Pro 2? Not to mention some kind of Android or Symbian based phone...
  • Where's the G1? By far the best phone out... Better than all the phones reviewed in this. I would've liked to see it compare against these phones...
  • moullas
    "There are currently three major players in the touchscreen operating system business for cell phones: Apple with the iPhone OS, Google with Android, and Palm with webOS."

    ?? Is this supposed to be an unbiased review? Forgetting Windows Mobile with the largest userbase seems a bit suspicious
  • Noobster15
    Why wouldnt a Iphone be considered a Smart phone?
    It could own all of those Phones
  • Boxa786
    your name says it all, iphone is not classed as a smart phone when compared to true smartphones due to its crippling features, such as;
    No MMS
    No Video recording

    the latest iphone 3gs has many improvements over its predessors, but it still lacks some features compared to the rest.

    Although all these phones mentioned are great, there are other handsets available which should have been included in this review, such as the latest HTC and not forgetting the world number 1 for business users, RIM handsets!
  • kyeana
    If im not mistaken, the pre's app are done entirely in html/javascript, meaning that if they open the app store up to everyone, we should see apps flowing into it in no time.
  • kyeana
    Also im not sure if this has been addressed yet, but the pre did have a bug in is messaging app that caused the battery to drain faster then it should. Perhaps that could account for some of the battery life issues (but of course not all of it, i still would have loved to see a bigger battery in there)
  • Tomsguiderachel
    nerdherdThis is a strange review...comparing a Palm Pre to a Samsung Instinct? Why don't we compare apples to apples, like mentioned above where are some HTC phones like the Diamond 2 and the Touch Pro 2? Not to mention some kind of Android or Symbian based phone...

    There is a Symbian unit in this roundup.
  • Tomsguiderachel
    Thanks to everyone who commented on this article. Here's some insight into our editorial process: we can only include articles for which we have review units in any given roundup. We did not have the HTC Touch Pro 2 when this roundup came out, but we had those 5 phones so we reviewed those. But now, we finally have the HTC Touch Pro 2, so check out: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Toshiba-TG01-HTC-TouchPro2,review-1386.html

    Please keep this in mind when you make comments about missing products in roundups. Not every product is available to every review at every moment in time. We do try our best!