There are already many iPhone-like touch-screen cell phones from companies like Samsung available, but now the search for the iPhone killer is really underway. T-Mobils’e G1 (we have already reviewed it here), which is affectionately called the Google phone, was the first, but CES is showing us previews of many more to come.
Although it was officially announced at the Nokia World 2008 Conference in Barcelona last month, Nokia’s N97, shown in Figure 1, took a prominent place at CES 2009. The N97 uses the 5th edition of the Symbian operating system. When you slide the screen up, it tilts up at a great angle for effective viewing of the screen. Although it is not the first sliding phone with a tilting screen, it is Nokia’s first rendition of this feature and it is very well done. The N97 also has an excellent keypad. The phone has a great look and feel and runs faster than many others we’ve seen.
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Figure 1: The Nokia N97.
Some of the new features of the N97 include a resistive touch screen that can be used wearing gloves, and the ability to display widescreen videos in the true 16 x 9 format. The phone sports a 5-megapixel camera phone with a Carl Zeiss lens and a built-in flash. This smartphone will also provide easy access to social-networking sites and a Web browser that supports streaming Flash videos.
The GPS sensors are bolstered with an electronic compass. We envisioned ourselves using it to immediately know which way to go when we emerged from the Metro when navigating unfamiliar large cities.
The N97 will be available in Europe in mid ’09 and in the US shorting after that.
The Storm is one of the few new phones that was actually released previous to CES, but it is the newest BlackBerry and it took center stage at CES. The Storm, shown in Figure 2, has an innovative touch screen that kind of clicks when you press it. This is quite useful for many functions, but really gives you a weird feeling when typing and will take some getting used to.
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Figure 2: The BlackBerry Storm.
The BlackBerry operating system makes this another great corporate phone with push email for up to ten accounts. As usual, BlackBerry does a great job with this new phone.
The Palm Pre
This phone that was just announced at CES may well be our choice for having the most potential as an iPhone killer. Palm, which is making their last ditch effort at a new operating system, has announced not only the hardware, but also their new Palm Web OS operating system.
The Palm Pre, shown in Figure 3, has a resistive touch screen that is very responsive. It also has GPS, Wi-Fi and a slide out full keyboard. You may remember that Palm was a pioneer of the touch screen with the Treo and it has taken full advantage of its touch screen knowledge to create a responsive multi-touch touch screen that supports gestures like those used in the iPhone.
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Figure 3: The Palm Pre.
At first glance the phone looks ultimately useful with features that will appeal to corporate BlackBerry users as well as personal iPhone user. Palm has announced that the Pre will be available through Sprint in the 1st half of 2009. That is the only potential drawback that we see for the Pre. It is doubtful if Sprint can make it widely available enough to get out into the marketplace. But if Palm can make some quick associations with other carriers, the Pre may well be the one to watch.