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The Best All-In-One Smartphones

The Best All-In-One Smartphones

By Michelle Hainer

As a busy mom to a newborn and a two-year-old toddler, Nikki Goth Itoi of San Francisco has come to appreciate the ease that technology affords. Which is why when she walked into an Apple Store last October to upgrade her laptop, she also left with a brand new iPhone.

“It’s so nice having a system for photos, emails and blogging that works so smoothly,” says Itoi about Apple’s supersleek version of a so-called smartphone. “Even my two-year-old knows how to click on the flower icon and find the photos, which is both a good and bad thing!”

If you’ve gone cell phone shopping recently, you’ve probably noticed that a cell phone just isn’t a cell phone anymore. Today’s cell phone has morphed in many cases into an all-in-one gadget that might also be a digital camera, personal digital assistant (PDAs), MP3 player or mini laptop that lets you surf the web and send email.

But which all-in-one gadget is right for you? To find out, check out these four devices that have gained favor with many gadget lovers:

The Apple iPhone
Cost: $399 for the 8GB model; $499 for the 16GB model. The iPhone currently only works with AT&T wireless calling plans.
Who it’s best for: People who love having the latest “it” gadget.
Why people love it: The iPhone is about as close to perfect as gadgets come. In addition to a phone, you can also browse the web, check email, take pictures and cart along your music and video collection. (The iPhone also functions as an iPod.) “It’s got a really nice camera application,” says Joel Evans, founder of Geek, a technology web site that offers news and reviews of products. “I’ve taken plenty of pictures on the fly, and it’s easy to share them.”

The BlackBerry Curve
Cost: Around $250 (some wireless providers will offer rebates).
Who it’s best for: Working moms or dads who need to check email regularly.
Why people love it: This is the lightest version of a BlackBerry that comes equipped with a full keyboard. And, like all BlackBerry devices, you can use it to check email, send text messages and browse the web. The trackball makes navigation easy, and your kids will love that they can access their Facebook page from it. “BlackBerrys in general are fantastic,” says Evans. “They do what you need them to do, and they it well right out of the gate.”

The Palm Centro
Cost: Around $100.
Who it’s best for: Tech-savvy teens on a budget.
Why people love it: The price can’t be beat. (You can buy one for each family member for the price of one iPhone.) “One of my favorites,” says Evans, who likes the device’s lightening-fast Internet connection and small size. (The Palm Centro weighs just 4.2 oz.) In addition to the applications that come with a standard Palm, you’ll also get Instant Messaging, Google Maps Mobile, Documents to Go and more.

Sprint Mogul
Cost: $199 with mail-in rebate.
Who it’s best for: Professionals who are Microsoft devotees.
Why people love it: In addition to an integrated GPS system, Bluetooth capabilities and high-speed Internet, the Mogul comes equipped with Windows Mobile, which includes Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. And since there are a number of applications available for download, “you can basically get it to do whatever you want,” says Evans.

For Itoi, the iPhone is not just trendy -- it has helped her family stay connected, too. “Our extended family lives so far away, so when I travel with my two-year-old, I can show him pictures of the people we’re going to visit,” she says. “It helps him remember who all the aunts and uncles are.” Now that’s technology at its best.

Michelle Hainer is a freelance writer and editor in New York.