Smartphone Blockbuster: Which Is Right for You?

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It's the end of June, which means that summer's in full swing and the world's top handset manufacturers are rolling out their hottest new smartphones.

iPhone vs. Droid vs. BlackBerry

We've come to expect Apple to drop its annual iPhone bomb every June, but this month has also seen the sparkling debuts of both the HTC EVO 4G and the Motorola Droid X. And Research in Motion, which has long been the king of enterprise smartphones, will try to regain some of its market share by releasing a new model that's rumored to be called the Torch 9800.

With so many choices for the savvy smartphone consumer out there, how are you to know which model is the best one for you? In this quick guide we'll provide a brief profile of each hit summer device and examine their technical specifications, their enterprise features, the networks they connect to and more.

Blockbuster #1: The iPhone 4

Manufacturer: Apple

Carrier: AT&T

Although there's no 4G in the iPhone 4, it still hits the market as the top mobile consumer device in the world. So what does Steve Jobs' third iPhone sequel have to offer users that past models haven't?

The big thing for many business users will be multitasking, as the iPhone OS 4 will for the first time allow iPhone users to run multiple applications at the same time. OS 4 also includes a bevy of new enterprise features such as capabilities that let IT departments host and distribute key applications, support for Microsoft Exchange Server 2010 and support for SSL VPN clients from both Cisco and Juniper. As Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney told Computer World earlier this month, the new iPhone has taken big steps toward being an enterprise-grade device, although it's still not on par with Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices.

Who should buy it: Apple fans of all stripes should be happy with this upgrade; anyone looking for a strong device that has good, although not ideal, enterprise capabilities; first-time smartphone buyers who want a device that's easy to use.

Blockbuster #2: EVO 4G

Manufacturer: HTC

Carrier: Sprint

As we noted at the time of the EVO 4G's release, this device is a hulking beast of a smartphone that includes a 4.3-inch display screen with a resolution of 800 x 400 pixels and a weight of 6 ounces. The EVO 4G also features the fastest network connectivity of any phone on the market, as it will be the first phone that's able to access Sprint's WiMAX network, which averages between 2Mbps to 4Mbps depending on how strong your signal happens to be. Sprint expects to have WiMAX services available to all major markets in the United States by the end of the year.

The EVO 4G runs on the Android operating system and features Qualcomm's 1GHz Snapdragon processor.

Who should buy it: Anyone who wants access to the fastest wireless network in the United States; anyone who doesn't mind carrying around big, heavy devices.

Blockbuster #3: The Droid X

Manufacturer: Motorola

Carrier: Verizon

Motorola's original Droid, released last November, was the first phone based on Google's Android mobile operating system to really get some attention in the market that comes anywhere close to match Apple's iPhone juggernaut. For the sequel  launched this week, Motorola decided to up its game by giving the new Droid X a screen and a processor that matched the EVO 4G. The new device features tethering for up to five different devices over Verizon's EV-DO Rev. A 3G network, a multi-touch touchscreen display, and support for Adobe Flash. Unlike the original Droid, the Droid X does not feature a physical QWERTY keyboard and instead relies solely upon a touchscreen.

Who should buy it: Verizon users looking for a strong iPhone alternative; fans of the original Droid who want to upgrade to a larger screen and more processing power.

Blockbuster #4: The BlackBerry Torch

Manufacturer: Research in Motion

Carrier: AT&T

This new BlackBerry device, rumored to be called the Torch, will have a slideout QWERTY keyboard and will apparently be the first device to run on RIM's revamped BlackBerry 6 OS, as well as its revamped browser based on the open-source WebKit browser engine. Although we likely know more details on the Torch for the next few weeks, it will be a key release for RIM in its efforts to recapture some of the market share that it has lost to the Apple iPhone and popular Android-based devices.

Who should buy it: Anyone who still longs for a physical keyboard to use; anyone who wants the best and most complete set of enterprise features of all the major smartphones.

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This story, "Smartphone Blockbuster: Which Is Right for You?" was originally published by Network World.

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