The Best Phones for Texting

By Sascha Segan  |  Posted 2006-08-18 Print this article Print

Review Roundup: Here's a selection of cool cells that make messaging fun

Almost all phones can do SMS texting, whether to other cell-phones or to e-mail addresses. Instant messaging, on the other hand, isnt quite as universal – not only do you have to make sure your phone supports the IM service you prefer, youll probably need to rearrange your AOL buddy list because of an obnoxious bug/feature in most mobile AIM clients that limits them to displaying your "Mobile" category only. One way to get around this is to manually move your contacts into your AIM Mobile folder on the PC. Also remember that on many devices, IMs are charged as text messages – so get that unlimited SMS plan!

The most basic text-centric phone is the Kyocera Switchback KX21, available on the prepaid Virgin Mobile carrier. With its tween-friendly design and inability to run up a monthly bill, its a great introduction to the world of SMS and AIM for younger kids. Users of other IM systems will be left out in the cold, unfortunately.

For older teens, the Sidekick 3 has a subculture all its own. Im not all that thrilled with the new Sidekick – I feel you might as well get a Sidekick 2 and save your money – but the gadget has a coolness factor which teens seem to demand. Texting actually comes secondary to the Sidelicks great IM client and push e-mail capabilities.

If youre a Verizon family, the LG VX9800 – now sold as "The V" – is the best texting choice. Not only does it flip open to reveal a keyboard, it gets great reception, has a high-quality 1.3MP camera, and plays MP3s through some pretty powerful speakers. It may not handle e-mail that well, but its a real whiz at SMS, and supports AOL, MSN and Yahoo! instant messengers. This being Verizon, youll have to pay a healthy sum for all of those features, though.

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Sascha Segan is PC Magazine's Lead Analyst for mobile phones and PDAs. He is responsible for testing, benchmarking and evaluating mobile phones and other handheld devices. Sascha joined the magazine in 2004 after covering consumer electronics for technology, travel and lifestyle publications, and editing the now hard-to-find book, 'I Just Got a Cell Phone, Now What?' He once helped cover an election in Africa using only a PalmPilot Professional with a modem and attachable keyboard as his traveling gear.

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