By Ben Bowers
on 11.19.08

3 Carriers, 3 Phones, 1 Winner

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Grab yer partner do-si-do. It’s a Gear Patrol phone-down.

GP.FEATURE.gif2008 has been an amazing year for cell phones. The masses have spoken and features once considered highly advanced such as: touch screen technology, internet connectivity, and email access, are now becoming standard in any smartphone worth its silicone weight.

In a similar trend, mobile software has also exploded as carriers loosened their grips to give 3rd party developers a piece of the mobile app action. The main beneficiaries of all of this is of course is us the consumer, but with so many phones out there now to choose from, making the right decision on your next phone isn’t easy.

To help we’ve put together our take on the three flagship smartphones from AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. The Blackberry Storm, Apple iPhone 3G and T-Mobile G1 face-off after the jump.

Blackberry Storm

blackberry-storm.jpgAfter the release of the iPhone, you can bet RIM wasn’t going to lose their dominant market share for lack of innovation. Scheduled for release on Friday Nov. 21, this new iteration in the popular Blackberry series is sure to shake things up in the smart phone world.

Featuring a tactile click response screen, the phone looks to appease touch typers and button mashers alike. How it actually performs though remains to be seen. Our bet is of all the other phones out there, this will surely give the iPhone its biggest challenge yet. Its lack of integrated Wi-Fi though is a serious misstep on RIM’s part and could be a deal breaker for those who don’t live in areas with high 3G penetration.

Editor’s Note: Familiarity with Blackberries in the business world and slick technology is enough to make any road warrior drool. That said, if multimedia versatility is what you seek, the G1 and iPhone pack better features to meet your needs.

Cost: $199 after $50 mail in rebate and two year contract agreement. Minimum cost of associated phone plan TBD

T-Mobile G1

t-mobile-g1.jpgSpeaking of iPhone competition, the T-Mobile G1 is now out. Whether it’s the iPhone killer that the hype promised is another story. It could definitely use some more help in the looks department, and its android platform is yet to be bug free. That said a full QWERTY keyboard makes it stand out for those adverse to touch typing.

The camera on the G1 is also slightly better than the iPhone’s, taking 3.2 megapixel snapshots as opposed to the iPhone’s 2.0. It’s also slightly cheaper than the compeition at $179 and comes with a Google powered app store of its own and access to Amazon’s DRM free music store.

One irksome feature the T-Mobile G1 happens to lack is a standard headphone connection (what the hell Google?). Expect to shell out extra change for an adapter or a special set of headphones to use for tunes. Also, compatibility with Microsoft’s exchange server isn’t currently available, so forget accessing corporate email accounts directly on it for now.

Editor’s Note: If you’re still hooked on buttons and price is an issue, consider this your best bet. The fact that Google has its back will only make it stronger in the future.

Cost: $179 with two year contract agreement. Minimum cost of associated phone plan $65. See also: T Mobile G1

iPhone 3G

iphone-3g.jpgAs the first to market, the iPhone 3G set the bar for consumer expectations and sent other companies scrambling to plot its demise. Currently though, none have managed to mimic the iPhone’s large built in media storage capacity, or create such an active pool of 3rd party application developers – a major plus.

We’re sure that’s part of the reason why the iphone is currently the best selling consumer headset in the U.S. according to the NPD Group. Integration with your iTunes library and the iTunes store is simply icing on the cake.

Editor’s Note: All bias aside, considering its competitive price and impressive multimedia features, the iPhone 3G is deserving of today’s current smart phone crown. Especially if portable media is a must and typing without buttons isn’t an issue.

Cost: $199 for 8 gig with two year contract agreement. Minimum cost of associated phone plan $70

Also See: iPhone 3G First Impressions

Other Alternatives

Not satisfied with any of these? Don’t worry there are plenty of other capable smarts phones and we’ve taken the time to mention other stand outs below.

HTC Fuze (a.k.a Touch Pro) | AT&T:

Pros: Stereo Bluetooth, 3.2 mega pixel camera, comes unlocked for use with international SIM cards.

Cons: Expensive at $299 with a 2 year contract agreement and $50 mail in rebate.

Nokia N96 | Not Available in U.S.

Pros: 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss Optics, built in Flash and 16GB hard drive.

Cons: Since it’s not carried by U.S. companies, you’ll have to pay a hefty fee for an unlocked version to use state side.