It is that time of the year in which I draw up my traditional list of smartphones used during the year gone by and rate them. Here is my list of smartphones that I used in 2010:
- LG GW550 (March 2010) – Windows Mobile 6.5
- Nokia N900 (April 2010) – Maemo 5
- HTC Touch Pro2 (July 2010) – Windows Mobile 6.5
- Nokia E5 (August 2010) – Symbian S60 3rd Edition
- Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini Pro (September 2010) – Android 2.1
- Apple iPhone 3GS (November 2010) – iOS 4.1
- Palm Pre (November 2010) – WebOS
- Nokia N8 (November 2010) – Symbian
There were eight (8) in all. I will run a countdown ending with the device that I consider the best smartphone that I used in the year.
Number 8: Palm Pre
What can I say about this device in order to be fair to it? I couldn’t get mobile internet settings to work with it, so I was left with a totally disconnected device. Battery life was piss-poor too, often dying by the end of the day even without any internet connection. Wi-fi wouldn’t work either. USB mass storage wouldn’t work either.
The WebOS user interface was lovely, but of what use was that when all I could do was make calls and manage SMS? The Palm Pre was a disastrous misadventure for me. ‘Nuff said.
Number 7: LG GW550
Email was a strength of this device. Everything else worked but nothing was spectacular or superb (which is not a bad thing for a mid-level smartphone).
I found the lack of a task manager an irritation though. What is the use of multi-tasking without a task manager?
Number 6: Nokia E5
The E5, a Symbian S60 3rd Edition smartphone, is a mid-range device with everything working fine too and almost nothing spectacular (which is not a bad thing for a mid-level smartphone). The 5 megapixel EDOF camera wasn’t bad though.
There was little to complain about on the E5. Simply put, it is a sensible choice for the user who is not looking for spectacular performance in any one area.
Number 5: HTC Touch Pro 2
The large screen is a joy to watch videos on, and HTC’s customisation of the user interface made one-handed use possible in some situations. In addition, it sports one of the best hardware QWERTY keyboards on a mobile device.
Number 4: Apple iPhone 3GS
The 3GS is an excellent device with a sleek user interface, but with so many limitations, functionality-wise. By way of example, there is no bluetooth file transfer and no USB mass storage. For the most part, if you took pictures or recorded videos, the only way to get them off the device is via email.
Apple’s lock-down and the over-dependence on iTunes simply made this one of the most restricted smartphones that I have ever used.
Besides those limitations and some UI quirkiness (no landscape mode in lots of places), the 3GS shines in text entry, web browsing, and email integration. It is a device of which you can say that everything works except for those things that Apple left out.
Number 3: Sony Ericsson X10 Mini Pro
The Mini Pro is a smartphone that I will remember with fond memories for a long time. It is a dimunitive touchscreen device with a side-sliding QWERTY keybaord. Functionality-wise, there was little lacking.
Sony Ericsson had optimised the Android UI and one-handed usage of the device is a breeze. In addition, despite its size the Mini Pro performs like a champ.
The 5 megapixel camera is also one of the best in its class.
Number 2: Nokia N8
The N8 is the top-specified smartphone in the market till date, easilly outgunning every other bloke on the block. The new Symbian user interface, while not the sleekest on the market, is a fresh breath of air against what I considered the poor S60 5th Edition that came before it.
While the N8 ticks the checkboxes on all fronts, media is where it shines the most, though. Record a video in HD and you can edit it on the device itself. Take stunning 12 megapixel shots, edit them right on the phone and send by email, Bluetooth or upload to Facebook and other social networks.
Number 1: Nokia N900
The N900 is a superb internet/multi-media pseudo-tablet
The Maemo user interface is a breath of fresh air (and that super-sharp screen is unforgettable too). The browser remains the best browser on any smartphone till date. The N900 also shines with social integration, and has the best Skype-integration on any smartphone on the market till date as well.
I cannot forget that the Carl Zeiss 5-megapixel camera (while a far cry from the N8’s 12-megapixel version) also is a strong point of the N900, as is the very good (though 3-row) sliding QWERTY.
I had initial issues with email, which were later resolved. The battery life was not impressive in any way and is probably its Archille’s Heel. But the same can be said for many devices from competing platforms.
Interesting, but it seems that the N900 is still selling well. It is reported that Amazon listed the N900 as “the most frequently purchased as gifts in the wireless category” just a few days ago. Besides, it is still continually being updated and chances are that it will get a MeeGo update soon.
When you have used and sold a phone and each time you remember it, see it or read about it you wish you could have one again, you know that phone has won your heart. The Nokia N900 is that phone. It is without any controversies my best smartphone of the year 2010.
Moving on in 2011…
There are currently no rumoured or announced devices that I am gunning to own in 2011 (though that can change really fast). There is just nothing out there that sounds compelling enough for me to drool over.
However, I am thinking of getting my hands back on an N900 though. I’d like to see the improvements that subsequent updates have brought to the device, and if possible see MeeGo run on it. And perhaps the battery life has improved? Yeah, a guy can wish, you know….
In addition, the announced enhancements coming to Symbian means that the Nokia N8 will almost become a totally different device, software-wise this year, so I am looking forward to that too.
But don’t count on me going through 2011 without getting my hands on some of the latest devices that will be pushed into the market. Afterall, that’s where the fun is.
So, you’ve seen my list and now know my smartphone of the year 2010. What is your smartphone of the year 2010, and which smartphones do you have your eyes set on in 2011?