Skip to main content

Looking for a Smartphone? Read This First!

What Is A Smartphone Anyway?

All the smarts you need to buy a phone with the power of a computer, not a computer masquerading as a phone.

RIM's first true BlackBerry smartphone is sleek, stylish and small.

Phones these days can do a lot more than just phone calls and text messages and you don't have to sacrifice the numeric keypad to get the extra features. There are plenty of powerful PDA phones and we'll be looking at the best of those in another article, but when you want a phone that looks like a phone and works like a phone as well as doing more, look for a smartphone.

Although the term smartphone is also used for PDA phones like the Palm Treo, BlackBerry and the many Windows Mobile Pocket PC devices, here I will look at keypad-driven smartphones like the Motorola RAZR and BlackBerry Pearl, Windows Mobile smartphones from HTC and Samsung and Symbian smartphones from Nokia, Sony Ericsson and LG (the new LG JoY).

There are three main smartphone operating systems: Windows Mobile Smartphone, Symbian and Motorola's Java-based OS. There are other smartphone operating systems such as Blackberry's OS for the Pearl. These tend to be the products of one company. Here are some Symbian-based smartphones.

There are dozens of Symbian phones with different interfaces and that's just one of the smartphone operating systems.

There are a lot of phones out there with features you'll find in smartphones, but they're not smartphones. Let's call them high-end feature phones. They have cameras, calendars, email software and a web browser, music players and even memory card slots like the LG VX8500 Chocolate. High-end feature phones have proprietary operating systems, instead of one of the mainstream smartphone operating systems listed above and this means you won't be able to add extra software (apart from games if it supports Java midlets) and the address book will often be limited to 500 contacts.

Rule number 1 of 4: A true smartphone is extensible and there's a wide range of extra software to install.

Rule number 2 of 4: Generally, that a phones comes from a specific vendor is no guarantee that it is a smartphone.

Rule number 3 of 4: It is the operating system that makes a smartphone a smartphone.

Join our discussion on this topic