12 Notable Smartphones That Made a Splash in 2009

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12 Notable Smartphones That Made a Splash in 2009

Looking at the market, 2009 may well go down as the year of the smartphone. When the Palm Pre arrived in June, the iPhone was its natural competition. While Apple's darlings still dominate, the playing field has since become considerably more crowded, with competitors running Google's Android operating system, new Windows phones from Microsoft, enhanced BlackBerry devices attracting as many consumer users as enterprise ones, and even PC maker Dell joining the fray. Here are some of the year's most notable phones, whether for the user bases they've inspired or the buzz they've helped build.

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No Title

Apple iPhone 3GSApple's iPhone remains the smartphone to beat. During the fourth quarter of 2009, Apple reports it sold 7.4 million iPhones. Its newest model, the 3GS, features voice controls, the ability to shoot and edit video, a built-in digital compass, landscape- and portrait-mode digital keyboards, a universal search capability, and faster application launch times. It's available in 16GB or 32GB. (Image courtesy of Apple)

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Apple iPhone 3G

The 8GB Apple iPhone 3G deserves a spot in its own right. Users get the 3.5-inch widescreen display with multitouch capabilities, e-mail, Web browsing and multimedia support, and UMTS/HSDPA and GSM/EDGE radios, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 connectivity, assisted GPS, and, of course, access to Apple's App Store, with its more than 100,000 apps—for the lowered price of $99. (Image courtesy of Apple)

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Motorola Droid

Android devices arrived in force in the second half of 2009, and the Motorola Droid, exclusive to the Verizon network, has been called the best of them. It runs Android 2.0, offers 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and features a 3.7-inch touch screen, a 5-megapixel camera that can geo-tag images, the ability to run several applications at once and voice recognition. It also has ties to a slew of Google Mobile Services, including Gmail, the Android Marketplace and Google Maps with voice-guided navigation.

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Palm Pre

The June arrival of the Pre started a new chapter for Palm. Designed by an ex-Apple team, the Pre was touted as being everything the iPhone is, plus having the one thing it lacks: a physical keyboard. While it's no iPhone killer, the Pre received high marks all around, though it had the bad luck of arriving not only days before the iPhone 3GS, but as the market was greeted by a wave of touch-based smartphones, including those running Android. The Pre runs Palm's well-received WebOS platform and features a 3.1-inch multitouch screen, 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, and Palm's Synergy, which aggregates information across apps.

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Palm Pixi

News of the Pixi leaked out as the pre-Pre hype was at a pitch. A less-expensive younger sibling to the Pre, the Pixi also runs WebOS and comes with Synergy, can connect to Sprint's 3G network, and features a 2.63-inch multitouch screen, a dedicated QWERTY keypad, a 2-megapixel camera, universal search, GPS, a full HTML browser, and support for corporate and personal e-mail, IM, SMS and MMS. In November, some retail outlets lowered the Pixi's price, which includes a service contract, to $24.99.

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BlackBerry Bold 9700

Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart has called the Bold 9700 the "best BlackBerry RIM has ever built." The 9700 added 1,700MHz HSDPA to the original Bold, enabling RIM to sell a single SKU worldwide. The 2.44-inch display's resolution was also boosted, and talk time jumped from 4 to 6 hours. In addition to 3G, there's 802.11a/b/g connectivity, plus a 624MHz processor, a trackpad and a dedicated keyboard.

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BlackBerry Tour

The BlackBerry Tour isn't an earth-shaker, just a solid world phone offering global roaming on 3G networks. Offered by Verizon and Sprint, the Tour doesn't come with Wi-Fi connectivity but offers voice and data coverage via EvDO Rev. A/CDMA domestically and GSM/GPRS/EGE/HSPA internationally. There's also GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera, enhanced multimedia capabilities and a slimmed-down form factor, on top of the gold-standard e-mailing capabilities RIM fans expect.

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HTC Hero

In October, Sprint introduced its first Android smartphone, the HTC Hero. The slightly curving 3G smartphone includes Wi-Fi, a 3.2-inch capacitive touch screen with multitouch, integrated GPS, a 5-megapixel camera, a 528MHz Qualcomm processor, a 3.5mm audio jack and integrated Google services. It was the first in the United States to come with HTC's Sense, which focuses on customization, location-aware apps and the user experience. It's also the first Android phone to support Adobe Flash.

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Samsung Reclaim

Even the packaging of the Samsung Reclaim, available from Sprint, is noteworthy: smaller than usual, made of 70 percent recycled paper and printed with soybean inks. The Reclaim, a slider phone with a dedicated keyboard, is partially made of bio-plastics and so is 80 percent recyclable. It offers 3G connectivity, as well as GPS, Web browsing, e-mail, messaging and Sprint TV, and comes with a reclaimed charger that consumes 12 times less energy than a standard one.

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Nokia N97

In June, Nokia released the N97, a flagship device it called the "world's most advanced mobile computer." A long, untraditional-looking slider phone with a high-resolution 3.5-inch touch screen and a dedicated keypad, the N97 runs the Symbian OS Version 9.4, has a 434MHz ARM11 processor and offers talk time of up to 9.5 hours. It's also packed with radios and input options and the ability to support several open applications at once.

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On Oct. 6, Microsoft released Windows Mobile 6.5, and the HTC HD2 was among the first to feature it. The slim HD2 includes Qualcomm's zippy 1GHz Snapdragon processor; a high-resolution, 4.3-inch capacitive touch screen; a 5-megapixel camera; and the HTC Sense platform. Using its 3G connectivity, it can also create a personal Wi-Fi cloud to support other devices. It's scheduled for an early-2010 arrival in the United States.

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Dell Mini 3

On Nov. 13, U.S. PC maker Dell confirmed its entrance into the smartphone world with the introduction of the Android-running Dell Mini 3i. A version for China Mobile features a 3.5-inch touch-screen display, GPS, a 3-megapixel camera, e-mail and messaging support, and a GSM/EDGE radio, while a version for Brazil's Claro network will offer 3G connectivity.

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