This has been one wacky and wooly month in smart phone land. It seemed every day or so for the last few weeks, someone grandiosely unveiled the new latest and greatest, a series of "can you top this" smart phones.
So, if you have yet to choose a new or even first smart phone, hold your breath and get ready to dive into the suddenly deep pool of smart phone alternatives.
But with so many choices, are carriers and handset makers creating too much confusion? Shopping for a smart phone these days is like being confronted by a War & Peace-length diner menu. You get so daunted, you just toss the menu aside and make the safe and easy choice – a cheeseburger.
And in this metaphor, the cheeseburger is an iPhone.
One from column Android, one from column iPhone
This Oktoberfest of smart phones all started when Samsung started selling its three Galaxy S II models, updates of the impressive Galaxy models. Two II S versions (the ones from Sprint and T-Mobile) sport 4.52-inch screens, and the T-Mobile edition hums on an industry-tops 1.5 GHz dual core engine.
My verdict: Shockingly light, but the screens are shockingly lousy in direct sunlight.
On October 4, you may have heard this small company called Apple announced something called iPhone 4S, some retro-phone with just 3G connectivity, a relatively tiny 3.5-inch screen and a smart-alecky voice-assisted assistant named Siri. I may have mentioned it once or twice.
My verdict: Read my "iPhone e4S Hands On: How Big An Improvement"? Bottom line: If you can, wait for the iPhone 5 next summer. But what do I know. In its first weekend on sale – October 14-16 – iPhone 4S set records with 4 million units sold. Cheeseburger deluxe.
The following Tuesday, the 18th, Motorola smacked Apple back with its skinny 7.1mm thin Droid RAZR ("iPhone, iSchmone: Is Moto's Droid RAZR Best Phone?"), another Android phone with a 4.3-inch screen, 1.2 GHz processor and a record 12.5 hours talk time. It became available for pre-order last Thursday for delivery sometime in November.
My verdict: It may not be thin enough to slice through tomatoes or boring conversations, but you sure can chat a good, long time without recharging the battery. Arguably Verizon's best non-Siri-equipped smart phone.
At around the same time, RIM quietly announced BlackBerry BBX, the company's long-delayed operating system for both BlackBerry smart phones and its Playbook tablet – currently, both run different systems. No word on when the first BlackBerrys will run it.
My verdict: BlackBerry is still in the smart phone business? Interesting.
Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, Oct. 18/19 (depending on which side of the international date line you were on), in Hong Kong, Samsung swung back with its Galaxy Nexus, which challenges the Galaxy II S with its 4.65-inch screen and the first smart phone running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich ("Samsung Nexus: Today's New Best Smart Phone?"), available sometime in November.
My verdict: Ice Cream Sandwich borrows a lot from other deserts…er, smart phone operating systems. My compatriot Eric Zeman lays them out here. I'll let you know more when I lay my fingers on one.
Also on the 19th, Sprint announced the availability of the HTC EVO Design 4G world phone, with a high-resolution 4-inch screen, 1.2 GHz processor, Android 2.3 Gingerbread and a 5 MP camera, for $99.99.
My verdict: That's a lot of smart phone for a hundred bucks, an old-fashioned blue-plate special.
All of which happened around the same time Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed new Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" phones would be coming from Nokia, which they did last Wednesday ("Nokia Bows Windows Phone 7.5 'Mango' Smart Phones").
My verdict: I like Mango – as a fruit, a drink and an operating system. But naming your phone "Lumia," which turns out to be Spanish slang for "prostitute" – not a great idea.
Confused? I'm not surprised. As noted, you can make your smart phone life easy and just order an iPhone cheeseburger. Tasty and delicious.