The Smartest Smartphones of 2008

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BlackBerry Bold: Dare to Be Bold

Initially released in November in the United States, the BlackBerry Bold 9000's launch was hindered by various software glitches and issues with AT&T's 3G network. Now that it's finally widely available, the smartphone is quickly building a faithful fan base thanks to it's stunning 480 X 320 display, blazing 624-Mhz processor and inimitable, full BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard. Aimed specifically at businesspeople, or power users, the Bold also packs 3G, Wi-Fi and GPS.

(AT&T; GSM; $299.99 with two-year service contract)

Apple iPhone 3G: A Touch of Brilliance

Apple's iPhone 3G needs no introduction. The second generation of the company's first smartphone has quite literally taken the world by storm. Specifically, Apple shipped upwards of 10 million devices in 2008, making it the number two smartphone vendor in the world behind Nokia and bumping both RIM and Microsoft downward. The iPhone is jammed packed with features, but what stands out are its intuitive touch-based UI, best-of-breed Safari browser, high-end media player/iPod and the iTunes App Store.

(AT&T; GSM; 8GB, $199 with two-year service contract; 16GB $299 with contract)

Nokia E71: A Smartphone with Style

Nokia's business-oriented Eseries devices aren't new, but you couldn't tell that from the latest addition to the line, the Nokia E71, which is thinner, lighter and heck of all lot better looking than its Eseries siblings. First released early last summer, the Symbian S60-powered device has aGPS, 3G, Wi-Fi a 3.2 megapixel camera, outstanding battery life and more. The keyboard's a bit cramped for me, but it's a full QWERTY and could be great for folks with smaller digits.

(Unlocked; GSM; $442)

Palm Treo Pro: Jewel in the Rough

Palm has seen better days--to say the least--but the company's struggles didn't keep it from releasing one of the hottest Windows Mobile (6.1 Professional) devices to come out of 2008: The Treo Pro. Along with GPS and Wi-Fi, the candy-bar-style device, first released in August, also packs both a 320 X 320 touch screen and a full physical keyboard. Though not officially available through any U.S. carrier quite yet, AT&T is expected to announce the device any day, and rumors suggest both Sprint and Verizon may soon debut CDMA variants of the Treo Pro.

(Unlocked; GSM; $549.99)

HTC Touch Pro: A Touch of Class

In June 2007 came the HTC Touch. In mid-2008, the Touch Diamond. Then the HTC Touch Pro, the best smartphone of the bunch, landed in the United States, first with Sprint in October 2008 and with Verizon a month later. Compact and feature-packed, the 3G Touch Pro's rocking Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional; HTC's innovative TouchFLO, touch-screen-based UI; GPS; Wi-Fi; and a 3.2 megapixel camera. Its rear panel is also designed to look like jagged rock--hence the clever name.

(Sprint and Verizon Wireless; CDMA; $299 [Sprint], $350 [VZW] with two-year service contract)

BlackBerry Storm: All Touchy Feely

RIM's first touch screen BlackBerry, the Storm, thundered into the United States in November to much fanfare, but unfortunately its launch was hindered by poor quality OS code. Verizon has since shipped an OS update that did away with, or at least improved upon, many of the early problems, and the device is beginning to shine. With a unique, 360 X 480 SurePress screen that clicks when you press it, GPS, both CDMA and GSM functionality and an entirely new BlackBerry OS, the 3G Storm is a force to be reckoned with. (Verizon Wireless; CDMA & GSM; $199 [after rebate] with two-year service contract)

This story, "The Smartest Smartphones of 2008" was originally published by CIO.

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