Top 5 Smartphones for College Students 2010-2011

A cell phone is as much of a necessity for college student as textbooks, a laptop and an MP3 player. Smartphones are popular for students, but can carry costly monthly bills. As a college student myself, I am always looking to save money on my phone bill and upfront cost. We based our picks for best cell phone for college students based on the following categories: price, features, design, popularity and monthly price. Because smartphones have so many features, we focused our article on total cost, including monthly price. The links provided are directly to the phone company that provides the phone, which gives you a full list of tech specs and details.
BlackBerry Curve 8530 Virgin Mobile $299 (Link) Best Monthly Value Phone

BlackBerry smartphones are one of the most popular styles of smartphones on college campuses, followed by the iPhone and Android OS devices. We picked the entry BlackBerry Curve 8530 with 3G data and voice from Virgin Mobile because the phone requires no annual contract, and monthly fees start at a mere $35/month with unlimited messaging, email, data, web browsing and 300 anytime minutes. Of course, there are more plans ranging from $35-$70, with the most expensive plan as an unlimited everything plan. This phone features SMS (text messaging), MMS (multi-media messaging), 2.0MP digital camera, HTML internet browser, organizer, track pad and of course the great iconic BlackBerry design.

Apple iPhone 4 AT T; $199-$299 (Link) Best Overall Smartphone

The Apple iPhone 4 is a great phone is you want something simple and easy to use, and do not care about an expensive monthly plan. The phone features video chat, 5MP digital camera, excellent high-resolution Retina display, ability to multitask, HD video recording, email, internet browsing and of course access to the Apple apps store. The phone itself is great, but with monthly plans starting at $60 for a mere 450 minutes, 200MB of data and 200 messages, we feel that the plan is expensive for what you get. Of course, if price is not an obstacle, the Apple iPhone 4 will be the envy of your friends with its great looking design and vast array of useful features. Also, keep in mind that if you go over your monthly data limit you will have to purchase more data for the month for a reduced price.

HTC EVO 4G Sprint $199 (Link) Best Multimedia Phone

The EVO 4G is easily one of the best smartphones available on the market today. The phone features 4G data and voice service, as well as 3G, large 4.3″ screen, 8MP digital camera, front facing camera for video chatting, fast processor and access to the Android apps store. This phone from Sprint made our list because of the affordable $69.99 everything data plan with 450 minutes, which includes unlimited data, messaging, voice mail, navigation and 450 minutes. Overall, the EVO 4G is an affordable smartphone with an affordable plan. However, we would have liked to see unlimited voice included on the plan, but that is available for $99.99/month.

BlackBerry Bold 9700 T-Mobile (Link) Best Texting Phone

With my desktop computer and 64GB iPad, I rarely use the internet browser on my smartphone. The reason? The browsers, even on more advanced phones like the EVO and iPhone, are relatively slow and are projected on such a small screen. The BlackBerry Bold 9700 features a decent 3.2Mp digital camera with video capture, great physical QWERTY keyboard, organizer, mobile browser, texting and much more. I own the Bold and love the full QWERTY keyboard for sending emails and texting. It is much faster and accurate than most virtual keyboard are. However, the Bold has a horrible internet browser that rather slow and hard to see on the tiny screen. If you are looking for a phone for Facebook, texting and email then the Bold is for you, and if you are looking for something is geared towards multimedia, then the EVO or iPhone is the best choice. Plans start at $60 for 500 minutes and unlimited text and web, and go up to $80 for unlimited everything.

DROID X Verizon $199.99 (Link) Best Phone for Tech Junkies 

The DROID X is loaded with great features that rival or beat the competition. The phones features a large 4.3″ display, 8MP digital camera with HD camcorder, Android OS, great multimedia player, internet browser and much more. Verizon has a variety of plans that range from $70 to $120 for the DROID X. This phone is rather expensive for college students on a budget, but for students who can afford it, it one of the best smartphones on the market.

Samsung Jack Smartphone (AT&T;) – A Non-Techie Review

Like many of us, I receive copious emails every day. In fact, it often becomes difficult to actually get anything done when I am spending all of my time checking, deleting, and responding to emails from individuals and those pesky list servers (especially when multiple people forward me the same email). Because I’m in college, I typically sleep later than most working adults, meaning that by the time I get out of bed in the morning, I often have fifteen or twenty emails from “real world” – people who start their day at a reasonable hour. Thus, I eventually decided that I needed a way to keep up with my correspondence in a more convenient way – rather than having to track down a Wi-Fi station every hour to make sure my inbox doesn’t become too flooded. Because I hate to be like everyone else, I decided not to purchase an iPhone (the touch screen also makes me uncomfortable) and I wanted a phone with 3G coverage for a reasonable price which, for me, ruled out anything Blackberry. Eventually, I settled on the Samsung Jack smartphone. What follows is a non-techie review of what it does well and what it does not, which should give you a better idea of whether or not to purchase this phone based on what you’re looking for.
On the Plus Side

1) The phone’s design is certainly a highlight. It seems like Samsung did their best Blackberry Curve impression with this one, which is not a bad thing at all (though most people assume that I am holding a Curve when they see it). In the end, though, the Jack feels good in my hand and is not at all awkward. It is also not very big, but I have had no problems typing with the keys as they are slightly raised and easy to work with. I keep the phone in my pocket, where it fits very nicely.

2) The Jack’s battery life has been a pleasant surprise. The specs claim 7 hours, but I can usually get it to last 9 or 10 (though without constant activity). This has been a huge plus and only a few times has it run out of charge when I still needed it. I should note that this is not the busiest time of year for me as far as email goes, but the phone has impressed nonetheless.

3) The calendar application has been very handy. I am one who swears by the “write it down… cross it out” philosophy, but the Jack has helped me clean that up a little bit (and it was getting somewhat unruly). I doubt that this is a special feature in any way, but it’s an application that I’ve liked a lot.

4) The camera (3.2 mega pixels) is stellar and makes a huge difference in picture quality versus the typical 2.0 mega camera phones. I’m not a big picture person myself, but my friends (who are) have been very impressed. Again, I do not think this is a big difference compared to competitor phones, but know that if you purchase the Jack, you will get this feature built- in.

5) Finally, perhaps the most exciting aspect for me is Microsoft Office Mobile. The funny part is that I am an Apple product fan traditionally, but the ability to open Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents that are attached to emails is a very big time-saver for me. At the very least, it allows the user to review documents on- the- go and, for the more ambitious, to edit them from the phone. If you’re looking for a way to increase productivity, this is a huge plus.

On the Minus Side

1) For whatever reason, Gmail will not download its mobile app on the Jack. I’ve looked online, and it seems that this is not just a problem with my phone. It has not affected me because the email is still pushed from Gmail to the phone (and I can view the “normal” Gmail site on my web browser), but this may be annoying for some.

2) If you’re looking to watch videos or stream multimedia, this is not the phone for you. While the Jack can do these things, the screen is small and doing so uses up a ton of data. For me, this is not a huge consideration, but if it is, the iPhone might be the way to go.

Conclusion

Clearly, I have been pleased with the Jack (there are more pluses than minuses above). It is not a perfect phone, but I would recommend it to those looking to boost productivity, especially if a QWERTY keyboard is a necessity for you. It has been worth my investment so far, and I have no complaints.