Choosing the right Smartphone for you

FRESNO, Calif.

These days, it's hard to go anywhere in public without seeing people glued to their cell phones. And by their nature ... smartphones have made themselves even more indispensable.

Shenea said, "I use it for the internet of course, texting, and my Facebook. It's really efficient for going online. My e-mails come to me, directly to my phone."

Chris Alfara said, "We're moving away from it just being a phone. The simple fact that it makes phone calls is kinda why we're still calling it phone, but it's more of our communication device. And it communicates in multiple ways to everything out there."

Alfara runs the "Phone Stop Store" in north Fresno. He says more customers are coming in -- asking for smartphones.

Worldwide, the sale of smartphones during the third quarter nearly doubled over the same period last year, to 80 million.

From soccer moms -- to busy businessmen -- to tech-savvy students ... he says there's a smartphone to meet every need.

For work productivity -- he says the Blackberry is still tops. For apps, music, and ease of use -- the iPhone is king. And for customizability and multi-media -- the android phones dominate.

No matter what your needs are, the great thing about smartphones is, they consolidate the time and effort it takes to do certain tasks. For example, in the past, if I had to make a hair appointment, I would have to look up the number, call the place, update my calendar, and then tell my family so I had childcare in place. Now, with my smartphone, I already have the number in my contacts, and I just update my calendar which is automatically shared. So much easier!

Consumer Reports put dozens of smartphones through a series of tests. They checked voice quality as well as picture quality and battery life. Testers rated how easy it is to text message, view e-mail, and browse the web.

Your service provide -- however-- often limits the kind of smartphone you can choose.

Consumer Reports says the popular iPhone 4 is a fine performer. But, it's only available with AT&T ... and tests found if you touch a gap on the phone's lower left side, you could lose your connection. Apple is providing a free bumper to fix the problem.

Among the top-rated phones in Consumer Reports' tests are a number of android phones, including the Samsung Captivate, used with AT&T, and the Samsung Vibrant, with T-Mobile. For Verizon, Consumer Reports top-rates the Motorola Droid x and Droid 2. They offer excellent navigation and displays.

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