Top 10 Cool Smartphones of 2008

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2008 was a killer year for the smartphone, a prospective iPhone-killer year, that is. Device makers around rolled out their latest and greatest, packing in not only myriad corporate functions, but also a host of consumer-aimed multimedia features. Steve Jobs released a new version of iPhone, the 3G iPhone along with it's App Store, and a host of potential iPhone killers and iPhone clones sought to unseat it from smartphone dominance. Research In Motion joined the battle of the touch-screen titans, and the first smartphone based on the open-source Google Android operating system saw its debut with the HTC-built T-Mobile G1.

Elsewhere, device makers took charge, packing portable devices with enough capabilities to make them pocket-size PCs (or Macs, in the iPhone's case).

Here we take a look at the device landscape from 2008 and, while a difficult task, we pick the 10 coolest smartphones to hit the market this year. This list is not based on just features and functions, but also the coolness factor associated with these devices.



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Top 10 Cool Smartphones of 2008 - BlackBerry Storm

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BlackBerry Storm, RIM's first-ever touch-screen device and BlackBerry's official attempt at dethroning the iPhone. The Storm has it all -- well, except for Wi-Fi, but it makes up for that in other areas. Not only is the Storm cool as all get-out, it packs in enough features and functions to wow the corporate and consumer sectors all in one fell swoop.

The Storm officially hit stores in November, though for most of 2008 rumors and hype swirled about BlackBerry's touch-screen answer to the iPhone. And the day the Storm was released, users were not disappointed.

The Storm boasts all of the BlackBerry functionality users have come to love -- e-mail, messaging, calendaring and more, along with the multimedia functionality they have come to expect, like GPS, video and music.

The Storm also features a 3.2-megapixel camera with zoom, flash and video-recording capabilities. And the Storm's 'clickable' touch-screen, which makes an audible clicking sound and depresses slightly as users type on the touch-sensitive display, is a key differentiator.

The Storm, which runs on Verizon Wireless' 3G network, costs about $200 with a contract and rebates.

Release date: November 21 2008

CNET editors rating:

Average user rating:

The good:
The RIM BlackBerry Storm features an innovative touch screen that provides tactile feedback to confirm your selection. The Storm offers dual-mode functionality for world-roaming capabilities as well as EV-DO Rev. A and UMTS/HSDPA support. Other highlights include GPS and a 3.2-megapixel camera.

The bad:
The Storm's SurePress touch-screen takes some acclimation and the onscreen keyboard is a bit cramped. The smartphone can be sluggish and buggy even after the firmware update.. Speakerphone quality was a bit choppy

The bottom line:
The RIM BlackBerry Storm may blow in a frenzy for Verizon Wireless subscribers wanting a touch screen similar to the Apple iPhone. However, there are bugs and performance issues that prevent the Storm from delivering its full potential.

Specifications:
rand / Type
BrandBlackBerry
Type9500 Storm
Form factorCandybar
ColorBlack
Network
Phone NetworkEDGE, GPRS, GSM, HSDPA (3G), HSUPA, UMTS (3G)
Service800, 850, 900, 1800, 1900, 2100
Connectivity
BluetoothYes
InfraredNo
Wi-Fi (WLAN)Yes
USB2.0
Fax / DataN/A
Display
Main displayColor TFT touchscreen
Color display65000 colors
Dimensions3.3 in.
Resolution480×360 pixels
External displayYes
Memory
Internal memory1GB
External memory8GB
Memory slotsYes
Storage typesMicroSD, MicroSDHC
Basic
BatteryStandard battery, Li-Ion 1400 mAhr battery
Standby time528 hours
Talk timeN/A
Calling
Vibrate alertYes
Photo IDYes
RingtonesMP3, Polyfone
Camera
CameraYes
Megapixels3.15 megapixels
Maximum photo resolution2048x1536 pixels
Digital zoom2.5x
Optical zoomNo
Auto focusYes
FlashYes
Recording videoYes
Second (front) cameraNo
Messaging
SMSYes
MMSYes
T9 text functionYes
E-mailYes
Internet browsingYes
Entertainment
FM radioYes
JavaYes
Audio playerAAC, MP3, WMA
Video player3GP, DivX, WMV, xVID
Features
Add ringtonesYes
OrganiserAlarm, Calendar, Calculator, DataViz document viewer/editor, Notes, Organizer, To-do list, Voice memo
Video callNo
Other featuresBuilt-in handsfree, BlackBerry maps, Built-in GPS, A-GPS, IM
Format
WeightN/A
Dimensions (H x W x D)4.4x2.5x0.5 in.

Read full review @ CNET

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Top 10 Cool Smartphones of 2008 - Apple iPhone 3G

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When it comes down to smartphone slickness in 2008, none outshined the Apple iPhone. Probably the most noteworthy smartphone release of 2008 was the Apple iPhone 3G, the second-generation iPhone that caused a ruckus when it was released in July. The 3G handheld built upon the iPhone's now-iconic legacy, tying in support for AT&T's high-speed 3G network.

The iPhone 3G, which comes in 8 GB and 16 GB models, is the touch screen of all touch screens, featuring a 2-megapixel camera, e-mail support for IMAP and POP services, Wi-Fi, GPS and a Safari browser.

For many, the iPhone's draw is the display, a 3.5-inch widescreen touch screen with 480 x 320 resolution. The display features multitouch and pinch capabilities to ease navigation and selection. The iPhone 3G is also a multimedia titan that offers support for nearly every video and audio format known to man and integration with the iTunes music store.

It also offers access to Apple's App Store, a marketplace where developers can build and sell apps for users to download, for a fee, to their devices. The smartphone also lets users view a host of document formats, including the Microsoft Office suite.

The Apple iPhone 3G clocks in at 4.5 by 2.4 by 0.48 inches and runs $199 for the 8 GB model and $299 for the 16 GB model.

Release date: July 11 2008

CNET editors rating:

Average user rating:

The good:
The Apple iPhone 3G offers critical new features including support for high-speed 3G networks, third-party applications, and expanded e-mail. Its call quality is improved and it continues to deliver an excellent music and video experience.

The bad:
The iPhone 3G continues to lack some basic features that are available on even the simplest cell phone. Battery life was uneven, and the 3G connection tended to be shaky. Also, the e-mail syncing is not without its faults.

The bottom line:
The iPhone 3G delivers on its promises by adding critical features and sharper call quality. The iTunes App Store is pretty amazing, and the 3G support is more than welcome. Critical features still are missing, and the battery depletes quickly under heavy use, but the iPhone 3G is a big improvement over the original model.

Specifications:
and / Type
BrandApple
TypeiPhone 16GB
Form factorCandybar
ColorBlack
Network
Phone NetworkEDGE, GPRS, GSM
Service850, 900, 1800, 1900
Connectivity
Bluetoothv2.0
InfraredNo
Wi-Fi (WLAN)Yes
USB2.0
Fax / DataNo
Display
Main displayColor TFT touchscreen
Color display16.000.000 colors
DimensionsN/A
Resolution320x480 pixels
External displayNo
Memory
Internal memory16GB
External memoryNo
Memory slotsNo
Storage typesNo
Basic
BatteryLithium Ion
Standby time250 hours
Talk time8 hours
Calling
Vibrate alertYes
Photo IDNo
RingtonesMP3, Polyfone
Camera
CameraYes
Megapixels2.0 megapixels
Maximum photo resolution1600x1200 pixels
Digital zoomNo
Optical zoomNo
Auto focusNo
FlashNo
Recording videoYes
Second (front) cameraNo
Messaging
SMSYes
MMSYes
T9 text functionYes
E-mailYes
Internet browsingYes
Entertainment
FM radioNo
JavaYes
Audio playerAAC, MP3
Video player3GP, MPEG4
Features
Add ringtonesYes
OrganiserCalculator, Calendar, Reminders, Currency converter, Built in hands free, Photo album, Photo editor, Voice memo, Google maps
Video callNo
Other featuresBuilt in hands free, Voice dial, Voice memo
Format
Weight4.8 oz.
Dimensions (H x W x D)4.5x2.4x0.5 in.

Read full review @ CNET