WHAT MAKES A PHONE SMART? IF you go by the literal definition, even a dualsim Java phone can be classified as one, since it can run Nimbuzz and Opera Mini. Getjar provides a free library of apps for feature phones, while carriers have their own app markets that you can use to download games and other software. The smart option would be to buy a phone that can take video calls on Skype over Wi-Fi for free. Here’s a concise platform-wise overview on how to buy a smartphone that can run apps:
Apple maintains total control over both hardware, software, and the App store. iPhone’s walled garden and premium pricing have helped create the largest library of free and paid apps. The iPhone 4 doesn’t need to sell itself, especially if you can afford one.
Samsung’s replacement to its feature phone platform, the Wave S8500 touchscreen handset launched recently in India, is one of the first Bada phones. In terms of specs and pricing, Samsung’s S8500 is a lot more competitive than its Android counterparts, but we’ll have to wait and see how the app marketplace matures in a few years.
Skype has been available on the Ovi store for S60 phones since March, and we reckon there’s plenty of value for money to be had in a Nokia E5, E63 or E71. However, when it comes to delivering a touch experience, Nokia’s phones have plenty of ground to cover against Android or iPhone counterparts. Nokia’s Linux development platform Maemo resulted in just one phone, the N900, which was launched a few weeks ago in India. At the Mobile World Conference this year, Nokia and Intel announced that they have combined their Linux development platforms to create Meego. We’re also looking forward to the Nokia N8, which will be running on the Symbian^3 OS.
Research In Motion is a major smartphone player in the enterprise space thanks to its support for push e-mail and encryption. Of late, RIM has been trying to appeal to a younger audience, but there are no student discounts. Compared to Android phones, their usage terms are quite restrictive. Access to basic smartphone features requires a post-paid Blackberry plan, without which you won’t be able to use the push email service on your phone, or run free third-party apps on the Blackberry App store. We have yet to find a Skype-to-Skype app that will enable phone calls on Wi-Fi.
This has the second largest app store after Apple, and retains the largest marketshare for free apps — over 57% of apps on the store are free, twice the number when compared to other handset platforms. It offers good value for money if you are a cash-strapped student with access to a Wi-Fi hotspot. Android devices come in a lot of form factors and flavours. One of the best buys at the entry-level was the Samsung Spica, but it is out of stock and hard to find. You can expect to see a lot of action in this space, with the world’s first dual-SIM Android phone and a mid-range CDMA Android from Reliance expected this year.
Windows Mobile 6.5 phones can be had for the price of an Android, and has its league of satisfied users — what everyone has been waiting for is the Windows Phone 7 series. The latest release will be less open than previous versions, and will be able to run apps downloaded only from the Windows Mobile Marketplace.