Which smartphone OS works best?

Considering a smart phone? Will it do what you want it to? We tested four major platforms to see which is best for specific tasks.

The iPhone includes the option to post the image to Apple's MobileMe gallery, but it lacks the option to send an image via MMS. In fact, it's the only phone among the four reviewed here that doesn't. Both the BlackBerry and the HTC Touch Dual support MMS, but neither has any links to a photo services. The HTC, by the way, is the only phone that doesn't let you use a photo as wallpaper.

Features aren't much good unless you can access them. Three of the four smart phones made the process of e-mailing a photo relatively simple. Unfortunately, the HTC Touch was the exception.

For example, while the other three devices have text to tell you the purpose of each icon, the HTC Touch Dual does not. To make matters worse, not only are the icons not marked, but they disappear about five seconds after you've taken a picture.

After that, if you want to e-mail your photo via the HTC, you must tap the screen to make another set of icons appear. Then you must press an arrow icon to display the photo gallery from which you can select the image you want. Once you select the image, you tap the screen yet again and, finally, icons appear for tasks like e-mailing the image. At least this time, the icons stay on-screen until you use them.

Entertainment

Most of us experience a lot of downtime when traveling, so it's a real advantage if our smart phones are capable of keeping us entertained. The first part of this test compared storage capabilities and how easy it was to get media to the phones. We then played our music collection to test audio playback quality. Finally, we viewed a YouTube video to determine video playback quality.

Acquiring and storing music

Undoubtedly because it is part iPod, the iPhone has a lot of storage -- it comes with either 8GB or 16GB of built-in memory, although it doesn't have a slot for add-on memory cards. By contrast, as is more typical with smart phones, the other three devices have only nominal on-board storage -- 128MB was the most any of the three devices had.

However, those devices all have slots for microSD cards, which have storage capacities of up to 8GB (and which typically cost between US$25 and $40). The HTC Touch Dual and the Nokia E71 have easy-to-access slots on the sides of the devices, but the BlackBerry Curve's slot required taking off the battery cover and removing the battery before inserting the expansion card.

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