Nokia 5110, Dec. 2000 to ~May 2004: This ancient phone seemed like the most popular model in the world for a few years when everyone was first starting to get cell phone plans. It was simple and easy to use, which led to its widespread appeal. Carriers: PowerTel, which quickly switched to VoiceStream before becoming T-Mobile.
Motorola v300, ~May 2004 to June 2005: I bought this phone a few months before traveling from Atlanta to Chile, where I decided I didn’t want to have a cell phone anyway. So I found a better use for this phone — as an alarm clock. Even in that purpose, it didn’t last too long because the different electric sockets in Santiago eventually burned the phone out. Carrier: T-Mobile
Blackberry Pearl 8100, June 2005 – July 2009: My first smartphone, the Blackberry Pearl served me well. The full keyboard made a huge difference in texting, and its email system kept me on top of my messages. I was proud to have the original Blackberry Pearl, which I believe to be the only model in which you could change the color of the scroll wheel using a program called BlingBall. I went through two Pearls, with my first getting smashed when I fell off my bike on the way to work at the Hawaii Capitol. Carrier: T-Mobile
Palm Pre, July 2009 – March 2011: The Pre was a step up from the Pearl. If it had been released a few months sooner, marketed better and run faster, it could have competed with the iPhone. I especially liked its card metaphor multitasking system, which had a look and feel that still hasn’t been replicated outside of Palm products. The battery life was terrible, and the hardware was weak. I went through three Pres and eventually got frustrated with its speed, small screen size, battery life and lack of apps. Carrier: Sprint
Samsung Epic 4G, March 2011 – present: By far, my best phone yet. It’s speedy, has a large screen and good battery life with the Juice Defender app. I like the horizontal keyboard better than the portrait keyboard on the Pre. It’s also much more sturdy. On the Pre, my microphone jack would eventually lose connectivity with my earphone plugin, which forced me to get the Pre replaced a few times. That issue hasn’t happened with the Epic, and it’s survived quite a few drops already. It’s larger than I was used to, but I wanted the bigger screen. I enjoy the Android operating system. The only phone that currently rivals the Epic and meets most of my preferences is the Evo 3D, but it doesn’t have a physical keyboard, which is pretty nearly a dealbreaker for me. Carrier: Sprint