HotHardware Holiday Gift Guide 2010

Call Your Friends Over: Smartphones

What's Christmas without calling far-away siblings and wishing them the happiest of holidays? It's a craptastic Christmas, we'll tell ya! Here are a list of our favorite smartphones from this year...just be sure to mention that you're not picking up the monthly bill to whoever gets one!

BlackBerry Torch 9800 - $0.01 on a 2-year AT&T contract


RIM claims BlackBerry 6 "retains the familiar and trusted features that distinguish the BlackBerry brand while delivering a fresh, approachable and engaging experience that’s powerful and easy to use." In other words, RIM says it has taken everything you like about a BlackBerry and added some cool new features and options that will improve your overall experience with the phone. Many long-time BlackBerry users will tell you this is exactly what they want—familiarity but with a more powerful and faster web browser, more social networking capabilities, better support for multimedia, etc.

HTC Droid Incredible - $0.01 on 2-year Verizon contract

The word "incredible" certainly invokes high expectations, so you can bet users will demand great things from this phone or there will be plenty of complaints. Given that the phone is made by HTC, a long-time and very popular player in the smartphone space, and the fact that the Incredible is hitched to Verizon Wireless' network, the phone certainly has a few things going for it; with HTC's Sense UI probably the best feature of all.

HTC EVO 4G (Sprint) - $99

HTC's EVO 4G isn't just America's first 4G handset, it's also the hottest selling Sprint phone of all time. Some might say it's no real surprise given the hype surrounding it, but we're not so sure that HTC and Sprint don't deserve even more credit for the accomplishment. Be warned, though: this smartphone requires a $10/month extra data fee atop the standard $30/month fee, so be sure to only give this to friends in 4G places.

Samsung Epic 4G Android Smartphone - $180 on 2-year Sprint contract

The most popular and powerful Android phones currently available are quite possibly members of the Samsung Galaxy S line. Powered by Samsung’s very own 1GHz Cortex A8-based Hummingbird processor and featuring a four-inch Super-AMOLED (active matrix organic light-emitting diode) capacitive touchscreen with a 480x800 resolution, it’s no wonder that Samsung has already sold over 5 million Galaxy S-branded phones. The latest member of the Galaxy S family is the Samsung Epic 4G Android Smartphone, which adds two unique features that the other Galaxy S handsets lack: a slide-out keyboard and 4G capabilities.

Apple iPhone 4
- $199+ on 2-year AT&T contract

Apple's design and hardware changes are all rather impressive, and despite adding more CPU horsepower, Apple has managed to improve battery life over the prior iPhone models. We wish that they would've taken the opportunity to add physical Orientation Lock and Camera Shutter buttons to the edges (the button layout around the edges is effectively the same as on the iPhone 3GS and 3G), but those are minor quibbles in the grand scheme of things. The phone's new display is simply awe-inspiring and gorgeous.

Dell Streak Android Tablet / Phone - $350+ on an AT&T contract

The Dell Streak Android tablet is available right now. (In fact, not only has it already been available in the U.K. since June, but we first got a glimpse of it back in January, when it was still being called the Dell Mini 5.) With an 800x480, five-inch (diagonal) screen, some might question the Streak’s claim as a tablet—especially when you consider that the current über-tablet, the Apple iPad, has a 1024x768, 9.7-inch screen. But a five-inch display is really too big for a phone—even the HTC Evo 4G has only a 4.3-inch screen. So the Streak really fits somewhere between a phone and a tablet—you could call it a “phablet.”  Recently Dell updated the Streak with Android 2.2 aka FroYo, along with their Stage UI, so it also has been freshly dialed-up with software and performance.

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