Monday’s Top 5 Tablets post was so much fun I decided to make another list today. I’m running a bit behind today thanks to an 11th hour invite to Google’s Inside Search event, so forgive my tardiness here. But alas, a few hours later, here are my current Top Five Phones.
A quick note: Thanks to everyone who commented on the Tablets post, and double thanks to those of you who chimed in with Top Tablets lists of your own. I’ve long maintained that in consumer tech, as in many things, there is no “Best For Everyone” list. So while my job is try all sorts of devices and weigh in with my opinions, that doesn’t mean that what’s good for me will be good for you. Also, as I try to explain in the writeups about each device, I take many factors – including value and overall consumer appeal – into consideration here. And so on and so forth, caveat emptor.
1. Apple iPhone 4 (AT&T/Verizon)
In all honesty, as objectively as I can state it, I just plain think that iPhone 4 is the most consumer-friendly smartphone on the market. Does it do everything an Android phone can do? No. (Then again, it’s got a few tricks up its sleeve no Droid can match – though, honestly, not as many). But it does so many things so well, with such ease, that it’s the best overall smartphone out there in my opinion. I won’t argue against anyone who prefers Android for their particular reasons, and I still want to see webOS and/or WP 7 emerge as a true third challenger, but from ease of use to apps to ecosystem to design, iPhone 4 is my pick of the current litter. I only wish I had Verizon, and not AT&T service. Beware, though – my bargain basement #2 pick is seriously making me consider jumping ship when my personal contract is up.
2. LG Optimus V (Virgin Mobile)
No, I’m not kidding. This is where the mobile market is at right now: There’s one device that’s captured my imagination, and the only way I can get it is to pay out the ear on a two-year contract. After that are a ton of very capable, but very much all the same phones in a wide variety of shapes and sizes on a bunch of post- and pre-paid carriers that more or less all do the same thing. We call them Android phones. Would I rather have an HTC Sensation than an LG Optimus V? Of course. Am I willing to sign a two year contract and pay an extra $960 over the course of those two years for it? Nope. Optimus V on Virgin gives me a decent, not great, Android 2.2 phone with 1200 voice minutes and unlimited data for $40/month – literally half the monthly fee that T-Mo wants for a comparable plan (unlimited voice + 2GB data).
Also, since I’d be contract free on Virgin, I can upgrade to the Motorola Triumph – a legitimate mid-to-high end Android phone – when it comes out later this Summer. Sell Optimus, pick up Triumph, and still come out way ahead.
3. HTC Sensation (T-Mobile)
In a world where monthly rate plans don’t matter, Sensation would be my Android phone of choice. At least until Samsung’s Galaxy S II launches in the US. Those who don’t call me an iPhone fanboy usually call me an HTC fanboy. There’s a kernel of truth in there, anyway: I do really like HTC Sense. Sensation packs the latest version of Sense along with dual cameras and access to T-Mo’s ever-improving HSPA+ network. In the short time I spent with it a few weeks back, I grew quite fond of it.
4. HTC ThunderBolt (Verizon)
This one’s a tough call. None of Verizon’s current line of 4G LTE-compatible phones offer Tegra 2 processors. And as fast as Tegra 2 is, Verizon’s LTE is even faster in terms of my daily smartphone needs (I know, I’m comparing CPU cycles to download speeds, but you get the idea). Samsung’s Droid Charge is LTE capable and has gotten many, many positive reviews – but there’s that HTC Sense thing I mentioned before. I could pick up a Droid Charge and customize it to my liking with Android apps and widgets; such is the beauty of Google’s mobile platform. But I think I’m gonna stick with HTC on this one and go with ThunderBolt. Hopefully Verizon would then see fit to launch a dual-core, LTE-capable phone before my 30-day return window closed so I could trade up without penalty.
5. Palm Pixi Plus (Verizon)
Call this a foolhardy act of love. I love webOS, I really do. And while I’d much preferred to have written, “5. Palm Pre 3 (Verizon),” Pre 3 just isn’t out yet. Veer is, but it’s A. AT&T only, and AT&T is terrible out here in the Bay Area, and; B. Too small to house a normal headphone jack. So forget that. I never much liked Pre’s form factor, to be honest, preferring to sacrifice its extra screen space for Pixi, a thinner device without a ridiculous vertical-slide mechanism. Verizon’s Pixi is the best Pixi because it’s on the best network (at least where I live). Is the Pixi Plus really the fifth best smartphone in the world? Let’s call it “arguable” and leave it at that. But I’d be remiss not to include a webOS device in this list because, frankly, webOS is still all that and a bottle of Hot Sauce … unless HP totally blows it by not getting Pre 3 and TouchPad out the door and onto store shelves before Labor Day.