Walter Mossberg compares European and American smartphones after a visit to the 3GSM World Congress:
The European cellphone industry is preparing for the widespread rollout later this year of so-called 3G phone networks, which will supposedly operate at broadband speeds. And the carriers and phone makers there were showing off various services they hope to sell over these networks.
Yet there is one aspect of wireless communications that the Europeans and Asians don’t do as well as the North Americans — the melding of a phone, an organizer and serious e-mail capabilities in a small, portable device.
U.S. and Canadian companies have produced two fine high-end smart phones that are also great e-mail devices: the Treo 600, from PalmOne, and the BlackBerry, from Research in Motion. A third combo gadget, the Danger Sidekick sold by T-Mobile, is also an excellent portable e-mail device, but it’s too clumsy as a phone.
Two qualities characterize all three of these e-mail devices. They all have miniature keyboards, so you can quickly write e-mails. And they all have sophisticated e-mail software, with rich options for managing your messages.
Probably the best European smart phone is the Sony Ericsson P900, which became available in the U.S. last month. I have been testing the P900 over the past few days, and comparing it both to its predecessor, the P800, and to the Treo 600.
My conclusion is that the P900 is significantly better than its predecessor, and beats the Treo in a number of key respects. But, when it comes to serious e-mail handling, it doesn’t measure up to either the Treo or the BlackBerry. It doesn’t have a keyboard and its e-mail software isn’t sophisticated enough.