My top 5 smartphones available today

Some very exciting smartphones have been announced, but many of these have vague shipping dates. There are still some excellent choices available today and here is my take on what I like.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

I posted my Top 10 smartphones of 2011… for now article last week and received some great feedback from readers. Looking back on that post, I agree now with many readers that I should have only let phones that were available or known to be coming in a week or two on the list since devices like the Palm Pre 3 may not be available for months. This current top 5 list below only has phones that are available now and ones that I honestly do think are worthy of consideration.

Number 1: HTC ThunderBolt

You may have read that I purchased the HTC ThunderBolt on launch day. This is a device that is similar to the HTC EVO 4G and other large 4.3 inch display devices that HTC makes. However, it has LTE and once you experience the speeds of this network technology you really can't go back to much less.

Others have confirmed some of my ThunderBolt experiences too and agree that the device is very fast and responsive, even though it just has a second generation single-core Snapdragon processor. The display is also excellent and I watched a couple of movies last week with the rock solid kickstand propping it up. The battery life is not very good on 4G, but easily goes more than a day on 3G.

I am making a major commitment and keeping the HTC ThunderBolt on a Verizon line while I have a T-Mobile family plan for my standard needs. The ThunderBolt is one of the most capable devices today and if you have a need for speed there is currently nothing else like it.

Number 2: Dell Venue Pro

There are Microsoft haters out there who won't even think of giving a Windows Phone 7 device a chance, but I can honestly say that my T-Mobile SIM has been spending most of its time in my Dell Venue Pro ever since I bought it and put in my 32GB microSD card. The operating system is a breath of fresh air with an amazing collection of Xbox LIVE games and a fast-growing list of applications, now past the 12,000 level and growing. It may not have everything that iOS and Android currently have, but it gets the job done and in a way that is seriously enjoyable.

Number 3: Nokia N8

I have an orange Nokia N8 and even though it is a Symbian device that was released last October there are still several features of the device that no other smartphone manufacturer has yet matched. One of the best is the penta-band 3G so this device could serve as a bridge device for AT&T and T-Mobile customers who want 3G no matter what the new company decides to do with the two competing wireless frequencies.

If photos are important to you then you will not find a better camera phone available. The aluminum body comes in five cool colors and unlike many smartphones today, you will actually experience top notch phone calls and RF reception. You also cannot overlook the amazing FREE Ovi Maps support that gives you free offline navigation around the world.

Number 4: Apple iPhone 4

The iPhone 4 is now available on both AT&T and Verizon. The iPhone 4 is one of the only smartphones available that you can trust will get you through the day on a single charge, the Nokia N8 is another, and this may be vitally important to some people while others are fine with carrying a second battery to pop in their Android device. Apple does a great job with industrial design and the iPhone 4 feels great in your hand. The display has amazing clarity with the 3.5 inch 960x640 pixel resolution. If apps are important to you then the iPhone 4 also rules in that department.

Number 5: Motorola Atrix 4G

The Motorola Atrix 4G is one of the first dual-core smartphones available and as Kevin Tofel posted in his review it really is a great phone. In addition to the dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 processor, the Atrix 4G has a 4 inch 960x540 pixel resolution display, 1GB RAM, 16GB internal storage and microSD card slot, HDMI port, 5 megapixel camera and 1.3 megapixel front facing camera.

There is also unique docking accessories for the Atrix 4G so you could turn it into a netbook device if you wanted to try to work on a bigger display on the go. If AT&T had a network that provided faster speeds then this would be rated higher, but their current network is almost laughable when comparing with Verizon or T-Mobile.

Final thoughts on these top 5

So, there's my current list of favorites that are available now. I would add other Windows Phone 7 devices like the Samsung Focus (AT&T) and HTC Arrive (Sprint) if you are on those carriers and want a Windows Phone 7 device too. The HTC EVO 4G on Sprint is also still a great device that closely matches what we see in the ThunderBolt.

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