If you're looking for a slim, pocket-size phone, consider the Samsung Galaxy [video] and the Samsung Omnia II: With a thickness of just 0.46 inch each, they're the slimmest units in our group, followed closely by the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS at 0.48 inch each. If you want a colorful phone, your best bet may be the Nokia 5530, which comes in five color combinations (and also weighs the least of any smartphone here).
Sending e-mail or text messages should be a breeze from any of these smartphones, but only three of them have a full QWERTY keyboard: the Palm Pre, the Nokia N97, and the HTC Touch Pro2. The Palm Pre has the smallest physical keyboard of the three, as it is oriented vertically.
The remaining seven smartphones feature touchscreen keyboards. Though typing on a glass/plastic screen takes some getting used to, your keyboarding speed should improve within a week or two. The software keyboards on the iPhone and Android phones are quite similar, and they are designed to predict (and offer to complete) what you are typing as well as to make corrections.
Most smartphones are available from particular carriers at a much-reduced price when you make a two-year commitment to the carrier's wireless service. The overall cost of ownership thus depends on which call and data plan you choose. (For more information, see our buying guide, "How to Buy a Cell Phone.")
For a snapshot-style glimpse at the wireless network performance of AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon on a particular day last spring in 13 major U.S. cities, see "A Day in the Life of 3G."
Specifications and prices for unreleased phones are subject to change by the manufacturer and by the wireless carrier. The prices and specifications listed here are correct as of July 1, 2009.
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