The low down: Best Mobile Phone 2009

It's been an excellent year for mobile phones with so many of the manufacturers finally up to speed with the demands of the public. Where touchscreens haven't completely taken over, a strong cult of the QWERTY still exists and even a few handsets offer the choice of both.

Where hardware has traditionally been the difference between phones, software is fast taking centre stage with the growth of platforms like Android and the birth of new Linux-based OSes promising a quality of user-experience like never before. And still, of course, there is Apple.

So, with the Vodafone Pocket-lint Gadget Awards 2009 just around the corner, we take a look at the five models fighting for the chance to be Best Mobile Phone 2009. Which will get your vote?

 

Apple iPhone 3GS

 

Type
iPhone OS touchscreen

Release date
19/6/09

PL review rating
9/10

 

There's no doubting that the iPhone is a wonderful handset. In recent times, it's become the phone by which every other is measured and most who dislike it do so because of distaste for Apple rather than anything else. In many ways, the 3GS is an excellent representation of just the feeling that the Cupertino company can cause.

There were not many hardware improvements to the 3GS over the 3G, but Apple seems to have done just enough to stay ahead of the pack. The obvious gaps have been plugged in that it now takes video, it supports Bluetooth and the camera sensor is a notch better at 3.0 megapixels - still no flash though.

Probably more of the improvements are deeper inside though with a 2x faster performance from an 833MHz processor, underclocked at 600MHz, an improved OS and an oleophobic screen to help keep those smears at bay. Strangely, though, it's probably the internal compass that users notice the most.

With over 100,000 apps available for download and millions of units sold worldwide, the 3GS continues to take the iPhone name higher and higher. But will Apple's just enough be enough to take the gong this year?

 

HTC Hero

 

Type
Android OS touchscreen

Release date
24/6/09

PL review rating
9/10

 

The Hero was unveiled at a gala event in London in June, not long after the iPhone, and many see HTC's handset as Android's coming of age. The third of the Google OS phones, it also added a custom OS of its own in HTC Sense allowing a more seamless integration of your phone contacts with those on your social networks too.

The 3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen is near perfect, its has a strong 5-megapixel camera, stylish good looks and all sorts of well thought out features like the protective teflon cover. Complete with everything you could possibly want from Adobe Flash support to a simple 3.5mm jack, the only possible complaint you could level at it is that it's not an iPhone.

 

HTC HD2

 

Type
Windows Phone OS touchscreen

Release date
4/11/09

PL review rating
9/10

 

HTC has become a real force in the smartphone market over the last 2 years and what more proof could there be than having a second handset in our top five? This time the company brought Windows Mobile 6.5/Windows Phone to the forefront with the HTC HD2.

If this was a competition on pure specs, then the HD2 would win hands down. It's by far the fastest with a 1GHz Snapdragon processor sitting inside and it's got the biggest screen at 4.3 inches and 480 x 800pix WVGA resolution. Like the Hero it has both a 5-megapixel shooter and the HTC Sense custom OS, managing to make an already much improved Microsoft platform look really quite good.

For some the HD2 is simply too big, but one feature that you just can't ignore is that you can use it as a Wi-Fi router with data coming over the mobile network. The real trick here is that you won't be charged for tethering. An outsider as it's Windows Phone, but definitely worth a shout.

 

BlackBerry Bold 9700

 

Type
BlackBerry OS QWERTY

Release date
16/11/09

PL review rating
9/10

 

The phenomenon that is BlackBerry rolled on just in time to make the deadline for our 2009 awards. Another year, another flagship model and, like Apple, RIM hasn't made a world of changes to last year's edition with the launch of the BlackBerry Bold 9700. The stark surprise was the switch of the trademark roller ball for an optical trackpad, but fortunately it works just as well.

The best QWERTY in the business is still doing its thing, while the phone itself is smaller and lighter at just 14mm thick and 122g, the screen too has had to shrink down and just occupies a titchy 2.44 inches. The 3.2-megapixel camera is fairly modest as well, but it's always been about the BlackBerry look and feel that has kept the handset's cult following going strong. The 9700 hasn't disappointed an inch here with a classy mock-leather outer and an excellent OS inside with a seamless user experience.

These phones aren't for everyone, but those who like them would crawl through broken glass with their flies unzipped just to get their hands on one.

 

Palm Pre

 

Type
Palm webOS QWERTY/touchscreen

Release date
30/10/09

PL review rating
9/10

 

While the Palm Pre arrived with a bang, it was delivered with an apologetic whimper. 10 long months the good people of the UK had to wait for this cracker of a phone, which dominated proceedings at CES back in January. Despite the eventual damp squib of an impact, the actual handset is an excellent piece of kit which would rule the roost if only it had quite the wealth of third party applications as on iPhone and Android.

It has a touchscreen equal to the iPhone's and probably a more intelligent OS too. It offers a QWERTY keyboard, albeit on the small side, just in case you grow weary of multitouch. The display is bright, the processor strong and the storage high, if fixed. Print an Apple logo on it, fool some more developers and it might just take over. One day.