Adding to the problem of finding the right smart phone is each mobile phone provider sells phones that are unique to them, so that makes it difficult to compare. Even so, we teamed up with Consumer Reports to test smart phones at each of the different providers.
Amita Persaud uses her BlackBerry smart phone as more than just a phone.
"My smart phone is my calendar," said Persaud. "It's my MP3 player. It's my camera. It's my banking. It's my e-mail access, my Web browsing. I can keep in touch with everyone through social networking. You name it, I have it on my cell phone."
Consumer Reports has put dozens of smart phones through a series of tests. To check voice quality, a high-tech dummy is hooked up to a computer that simulates phone calls. Software analyzes the incoming and outgoing sound.
Since many people also use their phone as a camera, Consumer Reports tests picture quality. And testers rate how easy it is to text message, view e-mail, and browse the Web. And they also assess how long the battery lasts.
The very popular iPhone 4 is a fine performer. However, Consumer Reports tests found if you touch a gap on the phone's lower left side, you could lose your connection. Apple says to call to request a free bumper to alleviate the problem.
Among the top-rated phones in the Consumer Reports tests are a number of Android phones, including the Samsung Captivate, used with AT&T and the Samsung Vibrant, with T-Mobile service.
"These phones were among the highest scoring in our ratings, particularly when it came to their displays, which are especially adept at showing high-definition video," said Consumer Reports tester Mike Gikas.
And for Verizon, Consumer Reports top-rates the Motorola Droid X and Droid 2. They offer excellent navigation and displays.
For Sprint-Nextel, Consumer Reports top-rated the HTC Evo 4G. The Evo is the first phone to work on Sprint's 4G network, which is faster for browsing the Web and uploading video files.