iPhone killers

Today’s smartphones can do almost anything—but are all those extras worth the cost?

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by

From the November 2009 issue of the magazine.

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Syndicated technology columnist Marc Saltzman can’t imagine being without his smartphone. He calls it his “digital Swiss Army knife.” The iPhone is currently the world’s top seller, but when you add up all the models running Google’s Android operating system, they’re collectively beating Apple. So which one is best for you?

We asked Saltzman to rate four popular models to find out.

1. iPhone 4
Carrier: Bell, Telus, Rogers
O/S: Apple iOS4.1
Memory: 16GB or 32GB
Screen: 3.5 inches
Available Apps: 250,000
Cost
Phone only (no contract): $659 (16GB); $779(32GB)
Total 3-year contract (includes phone + monthly voice/data plan*): $2,069 and up (32GB model)

Apple’s ground-breaking iPhone still tops most wish lists, but thanks to a starting price of $659, the cost to own this market leader is steep. Still, Saltzman considers it the “quintessential smartphone,” especially because of the large selection of apps. Apple’s innovative FaceTime feature, which allows video conferencing over WiFi networks, is a big plus.

2. Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant
Carrier: Bell, Rogers
O/S: Android 2.1
Memory: 16GB included, expandable to 32 GB
Screen: 4 inches
Available Apps: 100,000
Cost
Phone only (no contract): $499
Total 3-year contract (includes phone + monthly voice/data plan*): $1,949 and up

Featuring a four-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen, this phone has the world’s brightest display. It boasts many of the same features found on the iPhone, but at a considerably lower price point. Images and video are stunning and the Galaxy uses a new Swype method of touchscreen typing, which lets users slide their fingers around the keyboard to spell out words in record time.

3. Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
Carrier: Rogers
O/S: Android 1.6
Memory: 8GB (expandable to 32GB)
Screen: 4 inches
Available Apps: 100,000
Cost
Phone only (no contract): $ 549
Total 3-year contract (includes phone + monthly voice/data plan*): $1,949 and up

With a great MP3 player and high-resolution camera, this device offers a four-inch, scratch-resistant screen—which we found quickly smudged, making it hard to read. While the battery life seemed short, it did offer two unique applications: Timescape, which corrals all your updates into one handy place, and Mediascape, which manages your photos, videos and music.

4. BlackBerry Torch
Carrier: Bell, Telus, Rogers
O/S: Blackberry OS 6.0
Memory: 4GB (expandable to 32GB)
Screen: 3.2 inches
Available Apps: 10,000
Cost
Phone only (no contract): $609
Total 3-year contract (includes phone + monthly voice/data plan*): $1,949 and up

RIM’s latest device provides the comfort of a QWERTY keyboard, top-notch security, and touch-screen functionality. But the phone is heavy, and it’s too easy to inadvertently tap the slider-screen—which can disconnect a call or open an app. Also, the 5MP camera only shoots VGA-quality, as opposed to HD.

Bottom Line: If you’re an app-keener and want a phone that will impress your friends, then stick with the iPhone. However, you can get most of the iPhone’s features at a lower price-point with the Samsung Galaxy S.

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