Page last updated at 23:01 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 00:01 UK

Smartphones: A pick of the crop

By Tim Weber
Business editor, BBC News website

Smartphone sales are set to dominate the mobile phone market - so what's on offer now? Here is a pick of some of the latest clever phones on the market:

Apple: iPhone 3GS

Apple iPhone
It is two years since the iPhone was launched... even now rivals are reluctant to use the 'i-word'

Spec: Touchscreen 3G (HSDPA) phone with 16 or 32GB of internal memory; 3 Megapixel camera; Wifi; GPS; weight 135g.

Pros: Huge storage, very user-friendly interface, seemingly endless supply of apps - software to customise your phone.

Cons: Expensive; battery can not be replaced by the user, and battery life has been criticised; no slot for memory cards; its touchscreen keyboard is disliked by some users, and some owners report problems synchronising the phone with their computers.

Verdict: The iPhone continues to be the benchmark to which other smartphones have to live up. Since its launch the stand-out smartphone, it now has to face rivals that in some aspects surpass it.

HTC: Hero (T-Mobile G2 Touch)

HTC Hero - T-Mobile G2 Touch

Spec: Touchscreen 3G (HSDPA) phone with 512MB internal memory, expandable with MicroSD card; 5 Megapixel camera; Wifi; GPS; weight 135g.

Pros: Excellent touchscreen and very responsive software keyboard; seven home screens - easily navigable by touch and trackball - allow plenty of space for active widgets that show next appointments, latest e-mail, messages, tweets etc; rapidly growing app store; contacts book integrates with messages sent via Facebook, email and SMS.

Cons: Not the slimmest of phones, and as with all rivals heavy web use cuts into battery life.

Verdict: Driven by Google's Android operating system and enhanced by HTC's Sense user interface, the HTC Hero (T-Mobile G2 Touch) is the strongest challenger of the iPhone and in many aspects surpasses Apple's product.

Nokia: N97

Nokia N97

Spec: Touchscreen and slider keyboard 3G (HSDPA) phone with 32 GB of internal memory, expandable with MicroSD card; 5 Megapixel camera; Wifi, GPS, weight 150g.

Pros: Very good keyboard; huge amount of storage, good camera.

Cons: awkward navigation that always seems to require one click more than expected; home screen widgets are temperamental; managing wifi and bluetooth is difficult; battery barely lasts a day; thin application store; the oddly placed spacebar will throw most new users.

Verdict: The N97 feels very chunky, and may work best for fans of the Symbian operating system, but newcomers to the software may take some time to get used to it. I found it very difficult to persuade the widgets on the phone's home screen to do what they were supposed to do.

Palm: Pre

Palm Pre

Spec: Touchscreen and slider keyboard 3G (HSDPA) phone with 8GB internal memory; 3 Megapixel camera; Wifi; GPS; weight 135g.

Pros: Very compact phone with an unusual but easy-to-use interface. Good internal storage and great integration with Outlook and online mail services.

Cons: Memory not expandable, heavy for its size, applications can hang; tiny qwerty keyboard takes time to get used to; very small apps store.

Verdict: Not a phone for fat fingers, but its compact pebble format and wonderful touch screen make the Pre an alternative to both the iPhone and HTC Hero.

Research in Motion: Blackberry Curve (8900)

Blackberry Curve 8900

Spec: GPRS/Edge phone with keyboard; small internal memory, expandable with MicroSD card; 3.2 Megapixel camera, Wifi; GPS; weight 110g.

Pros: Cheap; good integration of social networking apps and other software; full qwerty keyboard; easy to use.

Cons: No 3G high-speed data access; no touchscreen; browser is slow even when connected to wifi; applications respond sluggish at times; poor camera.

Verdict: A great entry level smartphone with well integrated applications, but not your choice if you spend a lot of your mobile life on the web.

Samsung: Jet

Samsung Jet

Spec: Touchscreen 3G phone with 2 GB internal memory, expandable with MicroSD card; 5 Megapixel camera; Wifi; GPS; weight 110g.

Pros: Very responsive touchscreen; excellent software keyboard; fast; user-friendly interface.

Cons: Phone struggles to multi-task, eg radio can cut out when other applications run; very slim application store; screen widgets have little functionality.

Verdict: Overall a good phone, very functional, but let down by the lack of applications.

Microsoft: Windows Phone 6.5 (software)

Windows Phone 6.5

Spec: N/A

Pros: Much simplified user interface focuses on smartphone essentials; great integration with office email and Microsoft office applications, and synchronisation with Windows PCs.

Cons: Solid but unexceptional software; exploring deeper layers of the navigation exposes the fiddliness of older versions of Windows Mobile; very small apps store.

Verdict: While I tested a phone running the new Windows phone 6.5 software, phones designed for it were not yet available. Overall, the software is an improvement on Microsoft's previous efforts, but compared to rivals, the user interface feels old-fashioned and too plain for what you would want to get out of a smartphone.

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