The year 2008 has been a momentous one for the mobile industry, and in particular, the smartphone space. A record 39.9 million smartphones were shipped globally in the third quarter of the year, according to market research firm Canalys. That's 28 percent more phones shipped than in the same July through September period of 2007, and smartphones now make up some 13 percent of the overall handset market, Canalys says.
That's a whole lot of smartphones.
And though the line between "regular" mobile phones, or feature phones, and smartphones gets blurrier every day, there are a select few uber handsets that still stand out from the pack. Whether it be stunning design, new and innovative functionality or exclusive features, the following eight handsets are our picks--in no particular order--for the best smartphones of the year, and each and every one is worth a look.
Best of all: You've still got all the handsets of 2009 to look forward to.
T-Mobile G1: Say Hello to Android
The T-Mobile G1, released on October 23, 2008, is the first smartphone powered by Google's open-source, mobile operating system (OS), Android. Though not as powerful or full-featured as many had hoped, the 3G device clearly shows the promise of the Android OS. And with a slider-style, physical, full QWERTY keyboard and touch screen, Wi-Fi and GPS, the G1's certainly no slouch.
(T-Mobile; GSM; $179 with two-year service contract)
Sony Ericsson Xperia 1: Experience Xperia
The name Sony Ericsson isn't exactly synonymous with "smartphone," but if the company keeps rolling out devices like the Xperia 1, that may soon change. Originally released in the fall of 2008, the Xperia 1, which runs Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional, is unlike other smartphones due to its innovative navigation key and customizable home screen "panels," making for a truly unique user "Xperi-ence." And the fact that it's got 3G, a 3.2 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi and Assisted GPS (aGPS) doesn't hurt, either.
(Unlocked; GSM; approximately $800)