According to Gartner (IT) , smartphones were the fastest-growing segment of this year's mobile phone market, with sales rising from more than 318 million units in the fourth quarter of 2008 to 411 million last quarter.
(IT) The struggle for smartphone dominance escalated just as rapidly, as Nokia (Stock Quote: NOK) and its Symbian OS phones watched their market dominance wither. Nokia's share plunged from 47% at the end of last year to 39% last quarter. Meanwhile, Research In Motion's (RIMM) (Stock Quote: RIMM) BlackBerry products held 20% of the market all year, but heard Apple's (AAPL) (Stock Quote: AAPL) footsteps as the iPhone's share went from 11% to 17%. It hasn't been a three-horse race. With RIM, Apple, Google (GOOG) (Stock Quote: GOOG), Motorola (MOT) and Palm (PALM) seeing huge gains from their smartphone businesses, there were enough riches to go around.
(IT) (NOK) (RIMM) (AAPL) (GOOG) (MOT) (PALM)
Cons: It may be popular, but the iPhone still won't let users change the battery or take flash photos. Its 3-megapixel camera is the weakest among its peers, its Bluetooth connection still doesn't allow for file transfers, it doesn't have a memory card and its voice quality remains pitiful. On top of all of that, U.S. users are saddled with an AT&T (T) plan that costs roughly $90 a month and sometimes offers the service equivalent of cans and string. If AT&T were a tent, the iPhone would be the lone pole propping it up.
T-Mobile MyTouch 3G by HTC
(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?
BlackBerry Storm 2
Carrier: AT&T and T-Mobile
—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.