Smartphones for the holidays

Featuring the BlackBerry Storm 2, the Motorola Cliq and more!

This autumn, it's all about Android

When the history of smartphones is written, the fall of 2009 may well be remembered as the Autumn of Android. From the Motorola Cliq to the HTC Hero to the Samsung Moment to the Acer Liquid, this fall will mark the first time that four different device manufacturers have announced new Android-based smartphones over the same three-month period. But while the open-source Android has been making the most waves this season, two new BlackBerry smartphones and two phones based on the new Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system have also generated considerable buzz. In this slideshow, we'll break down the eight coolest smartphones of this fall and give you their price, their operating systems, their carriers and their key features.

[Note: All prices listed come with a two-year service agreement and a mail-in rebate unless otherwise noted.]

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The lowdown: The original Storm, released last year, was a commercial hit for Research in Motion, as it sold an estimated 1 million units. However, it was also marred by mediocre reviews and customer complaints about its touch screen interface. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam was quoted in the New York Times this week as saying that he hoped the new device would essentially hit the reset button on the Storm brand and would give customers "what they hoped the original Storm would be." An early review for the device says that while the device still has issues with its touch screen interface, it is overall a significant improvement from last year's offering.

HTC Tilt 2

The lowdown: The big news with the Tilt 2 is that it's one of HTC's two new devices that are the first two smartphones available in the United States to run on the Windows Mobile 6.5 operating system. Although reviews for the new OS have been anything but stellar, AT&T and HTC are hoping the Windows Mobile brand will be enough to score a hit on the smartphone market. AT&T says the Tilt 2 is an enterprise-oriented device that features a tilt screen and a pull-out QWERTY keyboard.

Samsung Moment

The lowdown: Samsung has been placing a lot more emphasis on developing Android-based smartphones this year, after initially falling behind rival device manufacturer HTC, whose T-Mobile G1 was the first Android phone available in the United States. The Moment features a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, a 3.2-inch touch screen display, expandable memory of up to 32GB, a 3.2-megapixel camera and ActiveSync for corporate e-mail access.

HTC Hero

The lowdown: The Hero, released earlier this month, was the first Android-based smartphone to run on Sprint's 3G EV-DO Rev. a network. The phone runs on Qualcomm's 528MHz MSM7200A processor and features a 3.2-inch touch screen as well as a trackball with an enter button.

HTC Pure

The lowdown: This is the second of HTC's Windows Mobile 6.5 devices and it is more oriented toward the consumer than the aforementioned HTC Tilt 2. The device has a 3.2-inch touch screen display and comes equipped with Microsoft Outlook Mobile, ActiveSync and a 5MP camera. The Pure runs on Qualcomm's 528MHz MSM7201A processor.

Motorola Cliq

The lowdown: The Cliq is Motorola's first crack at creating an Android-based smartphone and it's received generally positive reviews so far. The Cliq's most interesting feature is its MotoBlur interface that integrates users' contact lists with social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Thus, if one of your friends has their number publicly listed on Facebook, MotoBlur will automatically give you access to their Facebook page on your contacts list. The device also automatically displays updates your contacts make on their social networking sites on the phone's main display. The phone features a 3.1-inch touch screen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard, as well as a 5Mp camera.

BlackBerry Bold 9700

The lowdown: Previously known as the Onyx, the Bold 9700 is a more traditional BlackBerry model than the Storm, as it features a full QWERTY keyboard and trackball navigation. As the Boy Genius Report has noted, an image of the device has already leaked to the German T-Mobile Web site, which also lists the device's release date as sometime in November. In an early review for the device, described it as "the traditional (no touch screen) BlackBerry smartphone so many of us have been waiting for" and particularly praised its ability to pack 3G, Wi-Fi, GPS and a 3.2 megapixel camera all into the same package.

Acer Liquid

The lowdown: This is one of the most intriguing new phones of the season, as it marks the smartphone debut for Acer, which typically specializes in making notebooks and netbooks . The Liquid runs on the Android 1.6 operating system and utilizes Qualcomm's 1GHz Snapdragon processor. While little is known about the phone's release date or its pricing, we can expect it to use AT&T since the device is GSM-based and since Acer has an existing sales relationship with AT&T.

Fall smartphones: What's your prognosis? Do the Storm's improvements make you think twice about buying one? How are you feeling about the flood of Android devices on the market? Let us know in the comments!

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