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The Countdown Continues: The Top 5
They just keep getting better and better! We pick up our list of the best cell phones of 2007 at number 5.
5. Best-Value PDA Phone: Palm Centro From Sprint
Palm loyalists who want to replace their aging Treo with a sleeker handset should check out the company's affordably priced Centro. The Centro gives you the overall feel of a Palm handheld, along with such traditional Treo advantages as a comfortable keyboard, a simple user interface, easy e-mail setup, and software for accessing Microsoft Office apps. The Centro has some cool entertainment tools, too: a Pocket Tunes music player, a 1.3-megapixel camera, and the ability to run Sprint TV. A minor criticism: The plastic cover feels a little cheap.
$100 with a two-year contract, http://www.sprint.com/
4. E-Mail Champs: BlackBerry 8800 Series or Curve 8300 Series
Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices are speedy, reliable, and incredibly easy to set up for e-mail. My main quibble: The Web browser on these devices lacks graphics panache. Still, if you're an e-mail hound, go for one of the models in the BlackBerry Curve 8300 series or the BlackBerry 8800 series. Here's my simplistic overview of these units' distinguishing feature(s):
AT&T BlackBerry 8820: GPS, Wi-Fi, global phone
$350 with a two-year contract, http://www.wireless.att.com/
AT&T BlackBerry Curve 8310: GPS, global phone, camera
$300 with a two-year contract, http://www.wireless.att.com/
Sprint BlackBerry 8830: GPS, global phone (unlocked GSM)
$300 with a two-year contract, http://www.sprint.com/
T-Mobile BlackBerry Curve 8320: Wi-Fi, global phone, camera
$250 a two-year contract, http://www.t-mobile.com/
T-Mobile BlackBerry 8800: global phone
$350 a two-year contract, http://www.t-mobile.com/
Verizon BlackBerry 8830: GPS, global phone
$300 with a two-year contract, http://www.verizonwireless.com/
3. Multipurpose Phone: HTC Shadow From T-Mobile
Take some of the positive elements of a Windows Mobile smart phone (such as e-mail, Live Search, and phone-as-modem functionality), throw in Research In Motion's SureType alphanumeric keypad (popularized by the BlackBerry Pearl series), and you get HTC's Shadow--one of the most intuitively designed Windows Mobile 6 phones I've ever seen. Buttons and on-screen menus work harmoniously to make navigation a snap. For example, the nav wheel in the center feels responsive and is generally fun to use. Pluses include Wi-Fi; support for PDF, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files; and preloaded IM apps such as AIM, ICQ, Windows Live/MSN, and Yahoo. Also on board is a 2-megapixel camera that features a camcorder mode and a microSD slot. Unfortunately there's no GPS. Still, the Shadow is a fine phone, and a decent music player to boot.
$200 with a two-year contract, http://www.t-mobile.com/
2. Innovative Design: Apple iPhone
Everyone has covered the iPhone to death so I'll keep this brief. I own one, and I like it more now than I did on day one. The virtual keyboard takes some getting used to, though I've come to appreciate the word recognition feature, which learns certain terms that I use frequently, making text entry less of a hassle. IMAP e-mail support has improved. And for the moment, the iPhone's user interface, multitouch capabilities, and Web browser are unbeatable. Not that it's perfect: There's no GPS, and I experience a lot of dropped calls in San Francisco, which is presumably a shortcoming of the AT&T EDGE network. Despite these shortcomings, I enjoy using it.
$399 with a two-year contract, http://www.wireless.att.com/
1. 2007 Grand Champion: AT&T Tilt 8925 by HTC
The Tilt offers just about everything I could ask for in a smart phone. The package includes GPS, Wi-Fi, 3G, international roaming, responsive performance, a range of messaging options (including IM, Outlook, and BlackBerry Connect), and stereo Bluetooth for music headphones. It also features a 3-megapixel camera with video capture; support for an optional microSD card; and preloaded Microsoft Office Mobile including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. The Tilt 8925 also has a unique design element: When you slide the 2.8-inch touch screen to the left and tilt it up, the device looks like a tiny laptop. Of course, the QWERTY keyboard is too small for full-touch typing, but it works fine for thumb-typing.
$400 with a two-year contract, http://www.wireless.att.com/
Comments or questions? Drop Grace Aquino a line.