Smartphone Palooza: 10 Hot Touchscreens Compared

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Multimedia and Navigation

What good would a smartphone be without some cool multimedia features? All ten of the touchscreen models here are solid overall, but not all of them deliver top-notch photos and videos.

Of the ten models discussed here, the Nokia N97, the Samsung Galaxy, and the Samsung Omnia II have the best three cameras. Each has a 5-megapixel lens, autofocus, and an LED flash. The not-yet-released HTC Hero has a 5-megapixel camera, too, but no flash. Three of the ten smartphones also have secondary front-facing cameras for video calls: the Nokia N97, the HTC Touch Pro2, and the Samsung Omnia II (see "Five Tips for Great Photos With Your Cell Phone").

The iPhone 3G and the Palm Pre are only smartphones in this cohort that can't record video (for the Pre, video recording is coming in a future update). The new iPhone 3GS adds video-editing features and can upload video directly to YouTube. Thanks to the 1.5 Android software update (see "Apple iPhone 3GS Takes Aim at... the Flip?"), the three Google Android phones--HTC Hero, T-Mobile myTouch 3G, and Samsung Galaxy--can upload video straight to YouTube as well.

The Symbian OS 9.4-based Nokia 5530.
GPS is very nearly a standard feature on touchscreen smartphones these days, with only the Nokia 5530 omitting the technology. And if you're a cell phone photo buff, you may be able to use your phone's built-in GPS capabilities to generate automatic tags (called geotags) that indicate where each picture is being taken. In addition, all phones except the Palm Pre and the iPhone 3G have an electronic compass option to identify the direction you're heading toward (see "Geotag Your Digital Photos").

Only three of the ten smartphones come with an FM radio tuner: the Nokia N97, the Nokia 5530, and the Samsung Omnia II. The tuner on the HTC Touch Pro2 is factory-locked, so your access to the feature depends on your wireless carrier. One nice Nokia N97 feature is its ability to stream music to your car radio via its built-in FM transmitter.

The T-Mobile myTouch 3G and the HTC Touch Pro2 are the only phones in our group that lack a 3.5 mm headphone jack. This is a common omission with HTC-manufactured phones, which instead depend on a proprietary USB connection to double up as a headphone port.

All ten phones do a fairly good job of browsing the Web, though the two iPhones and the Palm Pre are at the top of the list. The HTC Hero will be the first model to offer built-in Adobe Flash support; other Android phones, along with Nokia and Palm models, will have the feature later this year. Currently, the Nokia N97 uses a scaled-down version of Flash called Flash Lite.

Next: Connectivity, Storage, and Battery

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