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Top 5 Superphones to Watch

There are smartphones and there are superphones, and the latter category is heating up to a boil. While it sometimes seems that the release of cool new phones slows down to a trickle, this year it’s becoming more of a firehose. It can be trying to keep up with the Next Big Thing in the phone world, so it makes sense to pick out the 5 best superphones to watch.

HTC EVO. It was only announced yesterday but the EVO became the top superphone to watch. Take an Android (s goog) phone, put a giant (4.3-inch) display on that baby, throw 4G into the recipe and then stand back. The EVO is expected on the Sprint (s s) network “this summer” and already has enthusiasts buzzing like crazy. Sprint and HTC are adding mobile hotspot capability to the EVO, so that high-speed 4G connection can be shared over Wi-Fi with up to 8 devices. Sweet.

Nexus One. The Nexus One is already out on the market, but with Google adding a carrier a week (it seems) it is still a hot commodity. The Nexus One on Verizon is widely anticipated to be arriving soon, and many are excited about getting this great phone on the Verizon network. That will bring the number of carriers serving the Nexus One to four in the U.S., which challenges the old business model.

HTC Desire. If it seems that Android is dominating this top 5 list, it’s because it is. The Android space is white hot right now and many of the hot phones are running the OS. The Desire is a “non-Google” version of the Nexus One, with an updated form and the HTC Sense interface that is so popular. It is only in Asia and Europe initially, but you can bet some U.S. carrier will be bringing this superphone to these shores based on the popularity of the Nexus One.

HTC HD2. This phone has been out for a while, but it’s only just become available for T-Mobile customers in the U.S. The HD2 is basically an EVO without the 4G, and with Windows Mobile onboard for fans of that platform. The HD2 is the best phone I have personally evaluated, bar none.

Samsung Galaxy S. This phone was just announced and it puts Samsung’s mark on the superphone space. It has an Android backbone augmented with Samsung’s own secret sauce, “Smart Life”, which integrates a user’s online networking into the UI. The Galaxy S uses a fast processor and a big (4-inch) AMOLED screen to bring the web home.

This list is by no means complete, and not all will agree with these choices. These 5 phones do demonstrate how far the smartphone has progressed at what seems like lightning speed. All of these phones have a fast processor (1 GHz or better), lots of memory and big touchscreens. All but one of the phones is running Android, which is no doubt the hottest platform currently. Hopefully that may change when Windows Phone 7 (s msft) finally hits the pavement.

Four of these superphones are made by phone giant HTC, a testament to the innovation the company is bringing to the space. It is almost scary how many great phones they produce, and all of them superphones. It is no wonder Apple (s aapl) is worried about them.

36 Responses to “Top 5 Superphones to Watch”

  1. I think that looking exclusively towards hardware in search of the superphone is the wrong approach. Surely, hardware will be a necessary foundation, but most of what will be “super” in the superphones of tomorrow is going to be software.

  2. Nameless

    To be frank, devices like these should’ve started appearing two, three, or even FOUR years ago.

    But it didn’t become mainstream because HTC rested on their laurels and kept pumping out weak sauce handhelds with 2.8″ QVGA screens, slower CPUs, the same meager 64 MB of RAM, and a HIGHER price tag than old favorites like the Dell Axim X50v/X51v, HP iPAQ hx4700, Fujitsu/Siemens Pocket LOOX 720 and N560, etc. because they happened to be phones! (Ironically, HTC actually built those Dell and HP models…)

    It was only until the iPhone that everyone got a wake-up call and competition started happening again, though I am most certainly not fond of the dumbing-down that seems to be the trend as a result. (points out what Windows Mobile 6.x and prior can do that Windows Phone 7 can’t)

  3. Danny Noonan

    Gonna have to break out a new category when the next gen iPhone is unleashed this summer. I’m thinking SuperDuperPhone. This is the Chuck Norris phone. This iPhone will release a bag-o-hurt on the competition. Android fanboys get ready because Cupertino is bringing the pain this summer.

  4. Come on. The HD2 is not the EVO with WinMo and without 4G. I’m not going to go through the list of specs that the EVO has that the HD2 doesn’t since I’m not getting paid, but they are stark and dramatic.

    • Alice…it is a very simple answer….because you cannot buy most of these phones quite yet in the US. Wait and time will tell. Of Course who cares if you have the best selling phone? All that matters is that it works for you.

    • Didn’t you know. By definition, a superphone is phone for a superhuman.

      Fewer people are convinced they’re superhuman any more so they settle for an easier phone to deal with like the iPhone.

    • Barkleyfan

      Marketing. Out off the box my Droid was only slightly better than my 3gs. With root, it’s all the Nexus One delivers, plus a physical keyboard. On a superior network. If I’m lugging around something the size and price of an iPad, I want more power and less restrictions. For those of us who want a superior convergence device, Apple doesn’t really deliver. if you want a status symbol, however…

  5. Why there are no blackberries in the list, I thought you guys in North America are big funs of BB phones. I own HD2 and agree that it is great phone – flag ship.

    • IMHO these days BB can’t be seriously considered a smartphone – it is a great messaging device par none. But the Blackberry Storm, the new Bold show the limitations of BBs as a contender for the newer phones represented by iPhone and the Android phones.

  6. I always wonder when I see reviews of “smartphones” and “superphones” that the telephony part is almost never reported on. No comparison of how well the phone makes calls under adverse conditions (in the basement, in the rain or snow) or how well it handles switching towers and the like. People are always testing “wifi range” and “battery run-down” in PCs but never on smartphones? Don’t those tests exist? If not, can’t someone devise a common set of testing so that at least we can see how well the “phone” part of a superphone works.

    • Steve W

      Who needs tests? If Jimmy were to conduct tests, he could only test the two available phones. If Jimmy published the test results, the results would be compared against the test scores of other phones. That would reveal the difference between “smart” and “super”.

      Can’t have that.

  7. That’s the price Apple pays by not sharing its plans in advance. Future products get left off lists like these. :)

    Of course, the way the year is going this list will be updated a dozen times going forward.

    • Well yeah, kind of silly putting the HD2 in there since we already know it’s becoming obsolete with WP7. A useful list for those looking to get a smartphone should include the iPhone refresh and WP7 devices, but as you said, we’ll need to wait and see how the coming months go.

      In a related story, I’ve seen the price of the TP2 drop $100 this past week. Looks like as I predicted, sales of WM6.x devices will flop. Blame WP7 or Android?

      • Scoopster

        One answer your question, Luscious: On a consumer level, no, I wouldn’t recommend WM 6.x to my friends. But on an enterprise level, there are many good reasons companies want to run only WM or BB (security being #1, slow technology turnover and installed base of applications being #2, and more). Until another platform, other than BB, can satisfy the enterprise CIO set, WM6.x will be relevant (i.e. not obsolete).

      • Christopher

        Hasn’t Microsoft already mentioned that Windows 6.5.x will still be around for enterprise users and such? I thought they renamed it Windows Mobile Classic or somesuch thing.

  8. The Evo makes the iPhone obsolete. Now, if iPhone 4G does not have a bigger screen than 3.5″ and doesn’t have that A4 CPU, It’s the year of the Evo. iPhone 4G will be just another smartphone. Fanbois will try to squeeze iPhone in obviously, Even if they know that it’s irrelevant.

    • You base “which phone everyone should buy” just on bigger and bigger screen size????

      I wish that was all a device was all about.

      Why not get a 10″ iPhone: It’s called the iPad and will be for sale next week.

    • Gavin Miller

      ‘The Evo makes the iPhone obsolete’.

      You’re right! My 3GS now no longer does all the cool stuff it could do yesterday, because today it’s ‘obsolete’.

      • Oh wow. I didn’t think that your gonna make a stupid comment like that when I looked at your pic. According to your definition of obsolete, The things you can do yesterday can’t be done today? I have a VCR. It’s obviously obsolete. But I can still play VHS in it like yesterday. OMG! LMAO!

  9. unwired

    Yes, how daring of you not to include the iPhone! Don’t you know that tech bloggers are required to mention Apple in any tech article with the word ‘super’? :)

    By the very same token, the Palm WebOS phones were inadvertently excluded.

    I jest, of course – very nice lineup. I do think Apple will respond once they decide it’s customers are deserving, and I would not altogether rule out Palm, but today clearly belongs to HTC, Android and Sprint.

  10. Nice overview –
    I agree with your choice of superphones but I’d personally pick the iPhone 3GS too – and remove the Samsung. But that’s my opinion ;

    It’s really -almost scaring- how HTC dominates this list.


    • It’s not that much of a surprise–HTC churns out phones at a crazy rate, clones, near-clones, tossing in enhancements here and there. They’ve manufactured about 80% of all Windows Mobile phones, under their name and others; at a guess, they probably have manufactured a majority of Android phones, and a miscellany of others like the Palm Treo 750 & 750w and the Sony Ericsson Xperia One.

  11. Gavin Miller

    Don’t you be creating yet another category now James! Superphone indeed…. ;-)

    Nice phones though, this year is going to see some incredible tech you can carry in your hand. The EVO looks amazing. HDMI out!