1st Place: Nokia E71
It's probably fair to say that few would've predicted a Nokia device would be our smartphone of the year. Not because the company creates bad handsets but that there are so many other manufacturers out there that are synonymous with smartphone devices so for Nokia to gazump them all and take our top prize is quite an achievement.
What makes it all the more surprising is that on first look the E71 doesn't seem particularly impressive, either on the specs front or the design front. Sure, it has all the latest must have features but nothing extraordinary and the plain silver finish is, if anything, a little austere. Once you get the device in your hand, though, you realise what all the fuss was about.
The build quality is fantastic with as much as possible of the handset being made from sturdy resilient metal. It's also incredibly thin and narrow, making it one of the most pocketable smartphones on the market.
Add in a superb keyboard, GPS with proper turn-by-turn navigation, a better than average 3.2 megapixel camera with LED flash and just about the best battery life we've seen from a smartphone and you have an unbeatable combination.
2nd Place: Blackberry Bold
It was a very close call between the Nokia E71 and the Blackberry Bold for our choice smartphone of 2008 but we felt the former's incredibly long battery life and slim, yet rugged, design just edged it ahead. Nevertheless, the Blackberry Bold is a still a superb device.
The screen is stunning, managing, as it does, to pack in the same resolution as the iPhone and remain bright, vivid, and crystal clear while being only half the size. Likewise, the combination of the signature Blackberry roller ball and a very nice keyboard make navigation and writing, lightning fast.
To top it all off this is the nicest looking Blackberry we've seen with a glossy black front, chrome trimmed sides, and a faux leather back that also makes it among the most comfortable smartphone devices in the hand.
3rd Place: Motorola Q 9h
If you thought the Nokia E71 was a bit of a surprise, then you ain't seen nothing yet. The Motorola Q 9h is unashamedly a budget smartphone with a smaller than average screen, rather dull, old-school design, while glamorous extras like GPS and Wi-Fi have all been left out. So what's it doing being our third choice smartphone of the year 2008?
Quite simply, it does what it can do very well.
In particular, there's HSDPA connectivity for fast data rates no matter where you are. There's also another very good keyboard (one simply can't overstate how important a good keyboard is for a smartphone) accompanied by support for all the usual email standards and the Opera Mobile web browser is already loaded. Combined, this lot should satisfy all you mobile data needs.
To top it all off, the whole package is slim, lightweight, and so low cost that you can afford to kit out everyone in your office with one of these, without breaking the bank.