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Touchscreen mobile phone reviews

We found quality, features and performance differ enormously between models.
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Touchscreen phones

Test results for 18 touchscreen mobile phones, priced from $129 to $859

Mobile phones were first introduced to Australia in the 1980s. Over time they evolved from a large brick-like device to a slightly smaller brick. During the 1990s, pocket-sized phones with unique designs were all the rage. The early 21st century has seen the arrival of the mobile phone that can be most things to most people in a constantly connected world. 

The introduction of the Apple iPhone in 2008 made the smartphone more accessible. Its unique touchscreen display and online application store proved extremely popular. At the time, touchscreen technology was still considered to be in its infancy but within the space of a few short years it became widely available. Today touchscreen phones can be purchased at all price points, from $100 prepaid models to $1,000 models that can virtually perform as a mobile office.

Google’s Android operating system is making sure Apple doesn't have everything its own way, with Android-based touchscreen phones now dominating both sales and media attention. Recently, the Android OS eclipsed both Apple and Nokia as the most widely used smartphone operating system in the world. See our article on smartphone operating systems.

To get the full picture, see our video on 5 things you need to know before buying a mobile phone, as well as HTC Desire versus iPhone 4.

Models tested

  • Apple iPhone 4 16 GB
  • Blackberry 9520 Storm 2
  • HTC Desire
  • HTC Legend
  • HTC Wildfire
  • LG BL40 New Chocolate
  • LG GD880 Mini
  • LG GT540 Optimus
  • LG GW620
  • Motorola Milestone
  • Nokia 5230
  • Samsung GT-I5800 Galaxy Apollo
  • Samsung GT-I9000 Galaxy S
  • Samsung GT-S5620 Monte
  • Samsung GT-S8500 Wave
  • Sony Ericsson U5i Vivaz
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 mini pro

How we test

Ergonomics Our testers assess each phone’s keypad, touchscreen and keyboard, as well as general handling and menu controls.

Ease of use A user panel determines how easy it is to answer a call, store a number into memory and dial a number stored in memory.

Web browser performance is scored on how easy it is to start the browser, navigate to sites, enter addresses and use favourites and bookmarks. A practical test on content downloads is also carried out and extra points are awarded for Wi-Fi connectivity.

SMS use is tested by writing and receiving an SMS and checking the suitability of the display for texting.

Display Our testers look at the size of the display as well as quality of the image with regard to sharpness and colour clarity.

Sound quality For both incoming and outgoing calls, our testers carry out a number of acoustic measurements, such as frequency response. A user panel also rates the sound quality of calls.

Camera Our testers assess the phone’s digital camera capabilities to produce an image in different lighting situations. The resulting photos are printed and rated for resolution, colour reproduction and noise. They also look at how easy the phone is to use in picture-taking mode.

Music quality Our testers measure the ability of the phone to perform as a music player. They test the phones with the supplied headphones as well as a set of reference headphones. They also assess how easy it is to navigate playlists, music transfers, volume control and available memory.

Durability Our testers simulate falls from a table or out of a shirt pocket up to 25 times, as well as storing the phones in hot, damp conditions and carrying out a rain test.

Battery life This is mainly based on the time-in-use result, but testers also consider the charging time and battery status warning.

Sensitivity They measure the phones’ receiving sensitivity and sending power on both the GSM and 3G bands (particularly important in areas with poor network coverage).

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