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Gadget wars: Battle of the touchscreens

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Feb 06, 2009 at 07:37pm IST

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Four of the big guns in the touchscreen game, four different Operating Systems but only one can be worth your time. We’ve pitted four of the most hyped totally touchscreen handsets against each other in various categories to get YOU, the ones who wanted to know, a winner.

Although in the very recent video comparison we’ve stated that these handsets do cater to different crowds depending on requirement etc., (and to a large extent we are still of that opinion), we still wanted to see for ourselves, as well as provide our avid readers with an answer to the question- which one would you pick given a choice?

So as promised, here’s a more comprehensive look at the four handsets and what they have to offer. And this time... we have a winner! Read on.

Gadget wars: Battle of the touchscreens

THE WINNER: BlackBerry Storm 9500 has the best features among the four.

Design

For a portable device as important as a mobile handset, design is everything. It's not essentially about just the design and styling although that is something every one of us would consider when purchasing a phone. The handset has also got to be easy to tote around and since we're talking about touchscreen, it should also have a large, clear display to work with.

Handsets
Dimensions and Weight Screen Size and Resolution
Nokia 5800 111x51.7x15.5 mm
109g
3.2-inches
360 x 640
BlackBerry Storm112.5x62.2x14 mm
155g
3.25-inches
360 x 480
HTC HD115x62.8x12 mm
146g
3.8-inches
480 x 800

Apple iPhone

115.5x62.1x12.3 mm
133g
3.5-inches
320 x 480

From the specs listed above and testing, the most sensible choice, when it comes to strictly design is the Nokia 5800 XpressMusic for its light weight compact design makes for easy and comfortable portability.

Aside from the handset being easy to carry around while still providing users with a large display and also managing to be well designed and slim enough to be 'discreetly' carried around in your pocket (if you know what I mean), the UI should also be easy to navigate and it should have enough storage space for all requirements.

Handsets User Interface Storage
Nokia 5800 Colorful large icons, accelerometer
transitions are jerky, multiple data entry methods including handwriting recognition. The double tap for selection is a bit annoying sometimes and the stylus is required in a few instances.
81MB internal
8GB microSD provided
BlackBerry StormA little cluttered but screen tap technology is very intuitive and responsive. Multiple keypads offered with auto full QWERTY only in landscape mode. 1GB internal
1GB microSD provided
HTC HDTouchFLO 3D is well designed and provides easy access to most settings. Stylus is still required for using certain functions. Accelerometer not available for most menus, an full QWERTY only available when accessing the browser.
512MB internal
No microSD provided

Apple iPhone

Clear, vibrant interface, very intuitive, accelerometer is smooth and fluid. Only QWERTY keypad is available with no landscape function except in browser. 8GB or 16GB internal, no expansion

The iPhone is definitely on top when it comes to interface as it really has the most user friendly OS dedicated entirely to finger touch technology. It also has the most amount of storage to offer as is, without having to splurge on external memory although all the other handsets do support it.

So taking both the above aspects into account, the iPhone is well designed although a little weighty but it has a superb display and UI to match. If you're looking for just looks with plenty of storage and a snappy looking User interface then the iPhone is something to very seriously consider.

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Multimedia

For those of you, and I'm sure those numbers are quite large, who are looking for a handset to cater to their multimedia needs, take a look at what these four handsets can offer, from file transfer to the quality of audio and video playback and media features that are in-built.

All of these handsets are thankfully equipped with a standard 3.5mm handsfree socket, including the HTC HD of course, so you're free to utilize your own set of earphones.

Handsets Multimedia Features
Nokia 5800 Great sound quality, with EQ presets and customizable option. FM radio works well too.
Simple copy paste option for file transfer.
Supports Bluetooth with A2DP
Supports 16:9 video playback and TV out (cables included)
Decent 3.2MP AF camera with Dual LED flash. Plenty of settings
BlackBerry StormGood sound quality from the audio player, EQ presets available
NO FM radio.
Copy paste file transfer.
Bluetooth A2DP support
Videos look really good on the display
3.2MP camera is ok with basic settings, LED flash but there's an Issue with video recording
HTC HDDecent sound quality with EQ presets and customizable option.
FM radio also had decent pick-up.
Copy paste file transfer.
Stereo Bluetooth support
Video playback was bad with too much framing irrespective of file conversion
The 5MP camera has no flash, but quite a few settings, images are just ok.

Apple Phone

Good sound quality, EQ presets available.
No FM radio.
File transfer only through iTunes.
No A2DP support
Videos look really good on the display.
2MP camera has no features, flash or video recording, but images are quite decent.

The 5800 XpressMusic is the perfect multimedia device for the youth segment that offers plenty of relevant features for the same and delivers quite well on these fronts. The 5800 is a very clear winner in this segment.

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Business Features

Although this may not be priority for some, having at least some business functionality is imperative when it comes to the price you’re willing to shell out for a touchscreen mobile. And if you are looking for something that caters to all your business requirements then this segment is what you’ll want to see.

Handsets
Connectivity, Biz Apps and Browser
Nokia 5800 EDGE/GPRS, Bluetooth, 3G, Wi-Fi.
Push Mail, no on-board MS doc. editor, Mail for exchange supported.
Native browser supports Flash but selecting tabs is not very easy.
BlackBerry StormEDGE/GPRS, Bluetooth, 3G, BIS, BES (Vodafone locked).
Push Mail, no PDF reader on-board (mail attachment only) on-board Word, Excel doc reader/editor.
Native browser has no Flash support, but details render quickly enough, though small thumbnails look pixelated on zoom.
HTC HDEDGE/GPRS, Bluetooth, 3G, Wi-Fi.
Push Mail, on-Board document editors for all formats available,
IE browser lacks Flash support and Opera is sometimes a bit erratic. Page rendering doesn't look too good.

Apple iPhone

EDGE/GPRS, Bluetooth with no file transfer option, just mono headset support, 3G, Wi-Fi.
Push mail, no PDF reader. No on-board editors for MS documents.
The Safari browser is fast, doesn't support flash, but pages look pretty good after rendering

One also needs to take into account that with emailing capabilities, which all these handsets have and editing that would most likely be required for documents you're going to need a very user friendly form for data entry. From testing, the best onscreen keypad is to be found with the Storm and the tap-screen display technology enhances its usage.

Even without Wi-Fi functionality, the BlackBerry 9500 Storm is the best business handset on the whole with plenty of applications designed for messaging, emailing and web browsing.

Like I said before though, each handset has been designed to cater to various segments and their prices will, in most cases, determine those. But if you're looking at a handset that caters to all needs from Business to Play and has enough features to fill in any gaps, then the BlackBerry Storm, even with its shortcomings is a good choice. It's a good looking handset with great touchscreen technology and a pretty good battery life to use it all with.

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