It's been a busy Spring and early Summer in the world of cell phones. New handsets, new features, live TV and downloadable music on the carrier's decks... and that whole iPhone thing. Sounds like it's time for a new Top 5 list.
This one only takes into account phones that you can actually buy and use right now. So there's no SE p1i or K850, no Nokia 6500 series, and no Samsung F700 ... look for those on a new Top 5 Coming Soon list ... coming soon.
1. (tie) Apple iPhone (AT&T GSM) & Helio Ocean (Helio CDMA)
The battle of the summer super phones is a dead heat, mainly because neither one turned out to the "perfect cell phone" that we all wished they'd be. Ocean takes the always-connected lifestyle a step further with support for a million kinds of email and IM, mobile mySpace and YouTube, and that "shape shifting" dual-slider format. But it's chunky and kind of cheap feeling.
Apple's first foray into the mobile phone market sold over half a million units in its opening weekend, but reviews have been mixed. While most people were won over by iPhone's rich, response multitouch display and innovative user interface, power users decried its virtual keyboard, lack of smartphone functionality, poky data speeds, and hefty price tag. Still, it's a bold step towards the near-future of true handheld computing and Apple products really hit their stride around the third generation, so June 29, 2007 may turn out to be a historic moment in cell phone history.
3. Nokia N95 (Unlocked GSM)
That "other" super phone also hit the streets earlier this year, and while it packs nearly every feature one could hope for this side of a QWERTY board, it also commands a whopping $750 at Nokia stores. On the plus side you get a 5MP camera with VGA video recording, WiFi and GPS, a big, bright display and the flexible power of the Series 60 interface. On the negative side, the N95 is a little chunky, eats batteries, doesn't do 3G is the US, and somehow doesn't feel quite as luxurious as a flagship Nokia should. Still, it's a viable alternative to your current phone, digital camera, iPod, and GPS unit all in one.
4. Sony Ericsson K790a (Unlocked GSM)
This one's a little bit of a throwback, but all of these new handsets got me thinking about what really makes a good media phone. The original CyberShot handset has a 3.2MP camera with a real Xenon flash, a media player with stereo Bluetooth, and is a great value now that its successor - the K810 - has hit the shelves. Until SE's recently announced 5-megapixel K850 is available, the K790a reigns supreme as the most versatile SE - and one of the finest camera phones - built for use on American networks.
5. (tie) HTC Mogul (Sprint CDMA) & Blackberry Curve (AT&T GSM)
Business phones got fun this year. Sprint's new flagship Pocket PC and AT&T's new high-end Blackberry both feature 2MP cameras and media players with stereo Bluetooth support in addition to those roomy QWERTY keyboards and office suite applications. The Mogul runs Windows Mobile 6 and throws a touchscreen and EV-DO high speed data into the mix, while the Curve sports the Pearl's well-received trackball and, of course, that famous push email system. Each has its minor faults, but will more than keep you connected - and entertained - while you're away from the office.