Compiling a list of today's best smartphones is easy. The hard part is actually deciding which phone to buy.
Apple's iPhone 4 and two HTC phones, the Droid Incredible and the EVO 4G, are consistently named among today's best smartphones. But these three devices are not created equal: each has different hardware, different software, and very different costs associated with them. Here's what you need to know about each device before deciding which one is right for you.
If you have a favorite cellular carrier -- or are limited by which carriers offer decent service in your area -- choosing between these phones could be easy. Each is an exclusive offering from its carrier: the iPhone 4 is only available from AT&T, the Droid Incredible comes from Verizon only, and Sprint is offering the HTC EVO 4G.
The choice between the three phones may be a little tougher if you're basing your decision on the software alone. The iPhone 4 runs Apple's slick new iOS 4, which offers features (like multitasking and the ability to create folders) that finally bring it up to par with Android's features.
Both the Droid Incredible and EVO 4G run Android 2.1, a more customizable operating system. But Android lacks the polish and pizzazz that Apple's iOS offers. And while both of these handsets should see an upgrade to Android's newer version 2.2, the timing of those upgrades is not certain.
The iPhone 4, Droid Incredible, and EVO 4G all sport a similar design. Each is a touch-screen-only phone (no hardware QWERTY keyboards here) that sports a big display and minimal hardware controls. The iPhone 4's screen is the smallest of the bunch; at 3.5 inches diagonally, it's noticeably more petite than the 3.7-inch screen on the Droid Incredible. Both of these screens dwarf in comparison to the 4.3-inch display found on the HTC EVO 4G, though.
You can get a 16GB iPhone 4, a Droid Incredible, or an EVO 4G for $199 upfront (though the 32GB iPhone 4 costs $299). Keep in mind, though, that getting this price requires that you sign a new two-year service contract with the cellular carrier. And, if you're an existing customer, you need to make sure you're eligible for the upgrade pricing.
But the money you spend on the phone itself is a drop in the bucket compared to what you pay for the service over the life of the phone. And this is where the phones differ greatly. If you opt for the cheapest iPhone 4 service plan from AT&T, you'll pay approximately $1320 for two years of service on the phone. The Droid Incredible will run you about $1680 in service payments to Verizon Wireless for that same two years. And, with the HTC EVO 4G, you'll end up paying at least $1920 to Sprint for the phone's service. (Note that all of these prices are before any taxes or fees.)
For a more detailed breakdown on just how much you'll pay for service with these phones, see Smartphone Cost Comparison: iPhone 4 vs. Droid Incredible vs. EVO 4G.
High-Speed Data Service
You've heard the saying, "you get what you pay for." But is it true in this case? Is the service that the HTC EVO 4G offers worth $600 more than what you get from the iPhone 4? The answer to that will likely depend on where you live.
HTC's EVO 4G is the only smartphone available today that supports 4G high-speed networks. Both the Droid Incredible and iPhone run on 3G data networks. 4G networks are supposed to be anywhere from four to ten times faster than today's 3G networks , so the speed boost you get should be noticeable.
But 4G networks aren't available everywhere. As of this writing, Sprint's 4G network is available in only a handful of cities. And whether you live in a one of those cities or not, you are required to pay a premium for 4G service.
All three of these phones offer camera with reasonably high resolutions. The iPhone 4's camera packs in 5 megapixels, while the shooters on both HTC phones feature 8 megapixels. All of the phones feature a flash and an autofocus, and all three capture video clips. Where the iPhone 4 and EVO 4G can record HD video at 720p resolution, though, the Droid Incredible's video clips max out at 800 by 400 pixels.
Nothing compares to actually holding a phone in your hand and trying it for yourself. If you're still trying to decide which smartphone is right for you, head over to a retail store and try one for yourself. And check out the handy chart at the end of this page for more help in comparing these three phones.
|Apple iPhone 4||HTC Droid Incredible||HTC EVO 4G|
|Price (cheapest monthly plan)||$54.99||$69.99||$79.99|
|Operating System||iOS 4||Android 2.1||Android 2.1|
|Size (inches)||4.5 by 2.3 by .4||4.6 by 2.3 by .5||4.8 by 2.3 by .5|
|Screen Size (inches)||3.5||3.7||4.3|
|Screen Resolution||640 by 960||480 by 800||480 by 800|
|Camera||5 MP||8 MP||8 MP|