Smartphones Get Smarter

By Walter S. Mossberg and Katherine Boehret

The cellphone -- or, more accurately, the device formerly known as the cellphone -- is getting to be more and more like a little portable computer. High-end models, known as smartphones, can handle large volumes of email, complete with attachments; surf the Web at high speed; view and edit Microsoft Office documents; take decent pictures; and play back music and videos.

To manage these laptop-like tasks, they come equipped with faster and faster processors; more and more internal memory; expansion slots for increasingly spacious memory cards; and small, but usable, keyboards, instead of mere phone keypads.

We've been testing two new such phones. One, from Palm Inc., is an improved model of the Treo, which has long been our favorite smartphone. The other, an entirely new design from Motorola Inc., manages to pack most of the Treo's functionality into a much thinner and lighter body, at half the Treo's price.

The new Palm model, called the Treo 700p, uses the Palm operating system and is being sold by both Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. for $399, with a service contract. The Motorola challenger, called the Q, uses Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system and is being sold by Verizon for $199, with a service contract.

The Q is the bigger news here. In the tradition of Motorola's RAZR phone, the Q is a sleek, handsome devil. It demolishes the two biggest problems with smartphones like the Treo: They are bulky and expensive. The Q is a little wider than the Treo 700p, but it's just half as thick and, at 4.06 ounces, is more than one-third lighter.

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Monty Solomon
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