Cell Phone/Smart Phone Buying Guide

For business people and technology junkies, cell phones are no longer simply just for making phone calls. Thousands of applications are available for smart phones that make them solid performers in organization, business, multimedia and communication. However, choosing a smart phone can be difficult with all of the models available on the market. Categorizing these different models to different types of people can be difficult, if not impossible, as they all incorporate features dedicated to all user types. For that reason, a smart phone buying guide will review the top smart phones on the market and accent features that are important to all users and special concerns for business people and multimedia interests. In addition, the two major smart phone operating systems will be discussed here.

iPhone 3GS

The iPhone 3GS consists of several models that primarily range in the amount of storage space included with the smart phone. Some models like the 16GB version can cost as much as $800.00 in some stores. However, the most moderately priced 8GB model starts at only around $99.00. This new phone from Apple focuses on third party application functionality with the ability to run multiple apps at the same time and in the background of the phone while you perform other tasks. In addition, the iPhone 3GS allows users to organize their apps into separate folders for quick access later. When switching between applications, you will not drain the battery much faster than when running a single app and each open application will appear in the bottom of the screen.

Of course, the iPhone 3GS includes all of the features of the previous model with a unified mailbox and web browsing capabilities using the powerful browser - Safari. Included on the smart phone is a 3 Megapixel camera and the phone itself can double as an mp3 and movie player. You can access maps to help get directions to millions of locations and shop for new apps or merchandise directly on the phone. The iPhone 3GS is tailored to people that are perhaps buying their first smart phone but ranges up to models that are appropriate for business power users. The unified mailbox allows business users to combine all of their mail from work into one place. Finally, the ability to place applications in different folders allows the user to keep work and personal applications separate.

iPhone HD/4G

The iPhone HD/4G is considered the primary upgrade to the iPhone 3GS series and includes a high definition camera that performs as well as many of the top end digital cameras on the market. The camera included on the iPhone HD/4G is the major upgrade from the iPhone 3GS with 5 Megapixels, an included flash and editing capabilities like red eye reductions and themes. You can also record high definition videos and store them on the quite large 16GB or 32GB hard drive. The iPhone HD/4G smart phone is considered to have the sharpest display available on the market with new Retina Display technology. Of course, like other iPhones, this model does not focus only on pictures and video and also functions as an excellent iPod.

Just like the iPhone 3GS, the iPhone HD/4G includes the ability for users to organize their applications in folders and create custom screens to display them in an easy to access interface. This smart phone is primarily designed with the multimedia buff in mind but can still function as an excellent cell phone for the business person. The high definition interface is a serious upgrade from previous iPhones and the large hard drive allows for storage of hundreds of minutes of music or video. For the book lover, the iPhone HD/4G also includes a free download for iBooks. The 16GB model starts at $199.00 while the 32 GB model is a modest $100.00 more at $299.00.

Blackberry Curve

The Blackberry Curve series is the upgrade from the much smaller Blackberry Pearl and is distributed by AT&T. A primary upgrade feature from the Blackberry Pearl is the inclusion of a QWERTY formatted keyboard located directly on the phone interface (while the Pearl had two letters per key due to its smaller size). The Blackberry Curve smart phone series is one of the few smart phone lines that includes a keyboard directly on the face of the phone rather than relying on a touch screen or pull out keyboard. Obviously, this makes the Blackberry Curve excellent for text message enthusiasts or business people that type a great deal of thorough emails directly on their smart phone.

The Blackberry Curve includes a full size headphone jack on the side along with programmable application buttons on both the right and left for quick access to favorite applications. For access on the screen, the Blackberry Curve includes the familiar track ball and buttons carried over from the Pearl series. One of the more user friendly aspects of the Blackberry Curve is that all emails, SMS texts and other communications are stored in the same spot for quick and easy access. By pressing the track ball on the front of the smart phone, you can bring up your contact list, send a message or email and reply to any stored messages on the phone. Many of the popular Blackberry Curve models range from $150.00 to $409.00. Some are a mere $0.01 with a qualifying smart phone plan.

BlackBerry Storm

Available from Verizon, the Blackberry Storm is the first touch screen smart phone from Blackberry. Of course, the major difference between the Blackberry Curve and the Blackberry Storm is that the QWERTY keyboard on the former is replaced by a touch screen and four buttons on the bottom of the device on the latter. The features that the Storm does maintain are the customizable application keys on both sides of the device and the full 3.5 millimeter headphone jack on the right side. The back of the phone is dedicated to the 3.2 Megapixel camera which includes a very bright flash for photos taken when there is not a great deal of available light. Under the cover on the back is the pre-installed memory card (8 GB stock) and the programmable SIM card for roaming.

The home screen of the Blackberry Storm includes 8 customizable buttons for quick access of applications or other features on the smart phone. Pressing the Blackberry key on the bottom of the device or pressing down on the screen will allow you to access the full menu. As far as the keyboard is concerned for messaging, holding the smart phone upright will allow you to type on an auto correct keyboard with two letters per key (sure type format). If this fails, turning the phone on its side will change the format of the screen to allow for a full QWERTY keyboard. The Blackberry Storm from Verizon ranges in price from around $299.00 to $449.99.

Blackberry Bold

The Blackberry Bold is very similar in construction to the Curve as it features a full on-face QWERTY keyboard and is small and curved in design. The familiar scroll key and send/end call buttons are present above the keyboard on the smart phone. The same features as the Curve and Storm such as the full headphone jack and application keys on the sides of the device are still present on this smart phone. New features to this phone are the frets included on half of the keyboard to make it easier to locate keys and an easier to grip faux leather back that makes this one of the most comfortable and easy to use phones in the series.

Those familiar with or upgrading from previous Blackberry devices will notice the seldom changing interface of the home screen and menu layout has not changed very much from previous devices. The Blackberry key opens the full menu and allows you to interact with the applications located there to move them to a folder or delete them from the screen to reduce clutter. As in the past, this important key is also essential to composing messages and interacting with texts sent to the smart phone. Scrolling down from the main menu allows you to access the settings menu that has not changed at all from previous models. The major upgrades on the Blackberry Bold to user friendliness and comfort make this smart phone a solid upgrade from previous models. Without a qualifying cell phone plan, the Blackberry Bold ranges in price from about $447.00 to $518.00 depending on the store and the specific model in the series.

Motorola DROID

The Motorola Droid is the first Android OS smart phone from Verizon wireless and features two distinct models that differ mainly in storage space and keyboard functionality. The cheaper model features only a touch screen keyboard while the upgrade allows the user to pull out a fully functional QWERTY keyboard for easier typing. If you are uncomfortable using a touch screen keyboard, it is in your best interest to invest in the latter model. The Droid features a quite large 3.7 inch screen that is perfect for browsing the Internet or viewing pictures and video on the device. The Droid is one of the best smart phones available for people primarily interested in accessing these special features in their smart phone.

The camera included with the Motorola Droid is one of the best features on the phone as it is a 5 Megapixel camera with auto image stabilization, auto focus and a flash. It is also capable of recording DVD quality video. Because the Motorola Droid runs with the Android OS, the layout of the screen includes 3 home pages and functions primarily by allowing the user to scroll their finger across the screen to access more applications, zoom into any documents or pictures and customize menus. The overall layout of the device itself includes a headphone jack on the top of the phone and several keys on the sides for quick camera access and volume/zoom adjustment.


The HTC G1 is another Android OS powered smart phone that has a very similar lay out to the Motorolla Droid as far as hardware is concerned. The large screen is intended for touch based interactivity and the front of the phone includes the typical buttons like send/end keys, a home key, back key and track ball. The unique feature of this smart phone is that the keyboard does not slide out straight but actually pops to the right when accessed. The keyboard is a full QWERTY interface to allow for quick text messages and emails. Even if you are holding the cell phone upright, the screen will switch to a horizontal view when the keyboard is accessed.

One major difference between the HTC G1 and other similar Android OS powered devices is that the camera does not come with an included flash for low light photography.


The HTC Touch HD is another Android OS powered smart phone that features touch screen technology and a high definition 3.8 inch display screen. For users familiar with touch screen smart phones, you will notice that the screen is resistant - meaning that it requires some pressure to activate. As such, the HTC Touch HD often comes packaged with a stylist pen. The HTC Touch HD comes with a 5.0 Megapixel camera on the back with auto focus but no flash. A major difference in the software interface from other Android OS smart phones is that the tabs on the bottom of the screen are raised in 3D to make viewing each option easier. You can simply scroll across these tabs to locate other applications or menus along the bottom.

The HTC Touch HD is obviously well suited for users interested in viewing high definition movies or pictures but also excels in its handling of email. Through a single email tab, you can access all of your email accounts and scroll through different messages in a letter style folder. Reading the message and replying is as simple as pushing on the respective message and using the either touch screen or pull out keyboard (depending on the specific model).

iPhone OS4

The iPhone OS4 was previewed by Steve Jobs of Apple on April 8th, 2010 and is the operating system that powers the new iPhone 3GS and iPhone HD/4G smart phones. Some of the most important upgrades with this operating system including the expansion of multi tasking for new smart phone models. In the past, applications created only by Apple could be run in the background while other tasks were being performed. However, the iPhone OS4 expands this offering to all third party apps. This means that you can run an application like Skype in the background while listening to music or making a telephone call. When running multiple apps, you can simply tap the home button twice and all currently running apps will appear on the bottom of the screen.

Another new feature of the iPhone OS4 is the unified mailbox which combines mail from all email addresses into a single mailbox. This eliminates the need to jump to different mailboxes to check different messages. Of course, this new unified mailbox still allows users to sort their mail with a variety of variables like email origin, sender and subject. Finally, security is a major upgrade with the iPhone OS4. Users have the option to use a pin code to encrypt all emails and messages to protect them from online theft - a growing concern in the smart phone industry as more sensitive online activity is being performed on mobile devices.

Android OS

The Android OS (otherwise known as the Android G1) was developed by Android Inc. and later acquired by the Internet giant, Google. One of the most innovative features of the Android OS is that, while many smart phone operating systems feature only a single home screen, the Android OS features 3 that you can customize with your favorite applications and widgets. By running your finger across the screen, you can switch between home screens and access your applications. To add applications to a home screen, you can either drag them there from another or hold down on the screen to open a customization menu. All menus on the Android OS are accessible by drawing your finger up from a selection tab and choosing the function that you wish to run.

The browser included with the Android OS functions much like Google Chrome. Your Gmail accounts are automatically synced into one unified mailbox if you choose that option. You can also keep them separate through multiple in boxes that you can place on respective home screens. Using the Android OS is an interactive experience. By turning your phone on its side, the screen will automatically reformat into another layout that is useful for browsing the Internet or typing. Some smart phones with the Android OS have the capability to transfer applications and files between phones simply by touching them together. When using the browser or reading an email, the scroll speed is very smooth and you can zoom in or out of the window by either using the respective buttons or by pinching or expanding your fingers on the screen.