Touchscreen phones that do it all – which one is the best all-rounder?

Touchscreen phones – in addition to making and taking calls, they also do video, music, games, photos and internet. But which is best at doing it all? Luke Coleman assesses five of the latest touchscreen handsets.

Can you imagine if you had to lug around every digital device you own, everywhere you went? You’d have your iPod, a digital camera, portable video player, Game Boy, digital photo viewer, a camcorder, your computer to check emails and tap into the content riches of the web… and, of course, your mobile phone.

Luckily, there’s no need to carry everything anymore now that smartphones have really come into their own. Today, a good smartphone will replace your all of those devices and bundle them up into one beautiful handset. And while they may not offer the full functionality of your standalone digital camera or portable gaming device, they’re getting pretty close.

When it comes to ways of stocking your smartphone larder, you are spoilt for choice too. You can transfer content from your PC via USB or microSD card, or create and store video, photos and audio recordings using microphones and cameras built into the handset. You can then share these with others via email or post them up on a file sharing site for the whole world to see.

With Wi-Fi and 3G network access you can also download or stream the whole gamut of multimedia – video clips, TV shows, internet radio stations and music – from your favourite websites and enjoy them wherever you are. You can watch YouTube while waiting for the bus, or download a games application, or buy a song from a music site and zap it to your phone, or watch select shows from Foxtel, or the network TV news.

A smartphone does really put a world of entertainment in your pocket and allows you to update it on the move, but be sure to check the fine print on any plans before signing a contract with a telco. Wi-Fi hotspot and 3G data access can be expensive if you exceed your monthly quota, and the blow-out in costs will really take the fun out of your new toy.

The contenders

So we’re looking at the cream-of-the-crop smartphones to see which best satisfies your mobile entertainment and multimedia needs while fitting nicely in your pocket: the Apple iPhone 3GS, Samsung HD Icon, HTC Magic, Nokia 5800 Xpress Music, and Nokia N97.

They’re the best phones from the best mobile-makers – but are some smartphones smarter than the others?

We look at each of these phones, and how they perform in terms of: