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Six Best Smartphones of 2009

Palm Pre

Carrier: Sprint Nextel (S)
Price: $150-$750

Pros: The card-shuffle multitasking is pretty sweet and routinely updates contacts, calendars and messages from various sources including Facebook, Outlook and Gmail. The Web search function is also noteworthy, automatically pasting search terms into various engines. The pinching and double-tap zoom is as easy to navigate as the iPhone's, but the sliding touch screen also yields to a keyboard when needed. With Wi-fi, Bluetooth, an airplane mode, Microsoft and Mac compatibility and voice quality that reminds you it's a phone, why didn't user excitement soar with Palm's stock price this year?

Cons: Because as much as the Pre tried to combine the best of the BlackBerry and the iPhone, it fell just a bit shy of both. The Palm OS can be a bit lethargic at times, while its tiny, cumbersome keyboard, weak 3.1-megapixel camera and meager 8-gigabytes of memory combine the worst of RIM and Apple's worlds. While Sprint's service area is bigger than AT&T and T-Mobile's, it's smaller than Verizon's and doesn't allow for an international configuration. Most of the Pre's apps are holdovers from older Palm products, and its newest apps still aren't ready for prime time. And it's almost 2010 -- where is the voice dialing?
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