Got the latest music phone? That's so 1998. If you're keeping up with the ever-increasing multimedia processing power of cell phones, yours should be streaming movies by now. But if you're watching your favorite flicks on a tiny touch screen ... sorry, dude, you've fallen behind again.
The big trend in mobile phones now is size: screen size, that is.
The perfect movie phone is still a work in progress, as you'll see in our reviews, but here are our top five picks of the big-screen babies currently -- or soon to be -- on the market.
LG Thrill 4G
LG Thrill 4G
The 4.3-inch, 800-by-480-pixel screen on this one is a good start. But what makes the Thrill, well, thrilling, is that it provides 3-D visuals by overlaying a "parallax barrier" on the screen -- in other words, you don't have to wear wonky donky glasses.
In addition to exclusively integrating YouTube 3-D, the Thrill can capture high-def movies in 3-D, and the dual-core 1GHz processor means 3-D games don't get choppy or laggy.
There is a catch, though: The screen design needs your head to stay in its sweet spot for the 3-D effect to work.
In other words, forget catching the latest Harry Potter on a jolty road trip.
HTC phones were already pretty hot before the TITAN came along. But with a 4.7-inch and 800- by 480-pixel screen, the aptly named TITAN takes the crown.
It's a bit of a lump in the pocket, sure, but nowhere near the oversized Dell Streak or Samsung Galaxy Tab. And on top of great visual real estate, it offers an 8MP camera, high-def video recording (at 720p) and the new Windows Mobile 7.5 OS, all backed by a speedy 1.5GHz chip.
Windows Mobile is still lagging way behind Android and iOS for apps. For movies, though, this one's a blockbuster.
Samsung Galaxy Tab
Samsung Galaxy Tab
Straddling the divide between the phone and the tablet is the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
The 7.4-inch, 1024- by 600-pixel screen means there's a huge and bright high-resolution display for Web surfing, movie watching and other multimedia munching.
But don't try making a call on it unless you're going for laughs; it's strictly for use with a hands-free headset or inline mic/earbuds. While it would be a tight squeeze to fit this device into your jeans pocket, it's full of features, which include loads of movie codex support (including DivX and Xvid) and great n-level Wi-Fi as well as mobile data options.
Samsung Galaxy S II
Samsung Galaxy S II
With a 4.5-inch screen and 800 by 480 pixels, there's not quite as much resolution on this one as there is on the iPhone 4 (see below), but the Galaxy S II has pretty much dominated sales of smartphones in Europe and the Far East.
That's because it hits the perfect balance of features (8MP camera, 1080p HD recording, 3G/4G and Wi-Fi, etc.) in a long-lasting, beautifully compact, well-designed Android package.
It certainly isn't the ultimate movie phone, if you must munch popcorn on the subway. But it's probably the current frontrunner for the title of "ultimate do-it-all device."
Apple iPhone 4
Apple iPhone 4
The iPhone remains one of the best all-around smartphones in the business.
Though its screen, at 3.5 inches, is not the largest, its bright, clear Retina display is the best on the market, boasting an 800:1 contrast ratio and a 960- by 640-pixel resolution.
So it's pretty damn great at playing movies. But it's also great for all the other stuff too, because the iTunes Store remains the most stuffed for justifiably popular apps and games.
Of course the wireless elephant in the room is the iPhone 5. While the launch has been long-rumored, current projections are that it'll land its big hoofs sometime in October. Buy an iPhone 4 before then and you may be obsolete soon after.
Simon Munk has been writing about consumer technology, video games and outdoor products for more than 15 years, for magazines including Stuff and Blender, and for lots of stuffy British newspapers. When he's not writing, he's falling over in muddy puddles.
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