Guide to smartphones

The rise and rise of the smartphone has seen mobile technology reach a whole new level and if you're in the market for a new mobile, the chances are you will be looking at a smart phone.

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These handy little gadgets allow you to call and text just like any other mobile phone but are powerful enough to become your very own pocket PC, running software, wi-fi internet, storing and playing media.

Before you splash your cash on a Smartphone, it is important to consider what you will be using it for. From screen size to camera capabilities, make a list of essential elements as it will help you to narrow down your options.

For instance, if you're a text addict or need to send emails on a daily basis, a phone with a Qwerty keyboard rather than the touchscreen variety, will speed things up so a Blackberry (or similar) may be the answer.

The operating system is also an important factor when choosing a phone. Smartphones run on a variety of different platforms, or Operating Systems (OS), which manage the programs on your mobile and allow the user to download applications, or apps, directly from the phone.

Among the most commonly used OS are Android, created by Google and favoured by HTC and Samsung; iPhone, Apple's OS designed exclusively for their range of smartphones; Blackberry, an excellent OS for business people; Symbian, used by such mobile giants as Nokia, and Windows Mobile, developed by Microsoft.

If it's the apps you're after, you can't go wrong with an iPhone which allows you to download a whopping 300,000 apps. However, business users may prefer the apps available on Android, Blackberry or Windows phones.

Here's a quick round-up of the best and most popular smartphones on the market:

iPhone 4
It's not without its problems, but the iPhone remains hugely popular. Fabulous picture quality, the highest-resolution screen available and the biggest selection of apps and games of any smartphone, Apple continue to lead the way.

HTC Desire HD
Possibly the top Android phone available, the HTC boasts a 4.3 inch screen, a powerful processor and the option to upgrade capacity with a Micro SD card.

Samsung Galaxy S
Rivalling the HTC Desire HD's Android performance, this lighter, slimmer smartphone offers a superior screen, thanks to advanced AMOLED technology, email and instant messaging, a good quality 5 megapixel camera... and it's a looker.

Blackberry Torch 9800
The newest Blackberry offering includes a slide-out Qwerty keyboard as well as touch screen facility, ideal for business people on the go.