I need a new smartphone...

I am a happy Sprint customer and I always had Windows Mobile devices ever since I had my Compaq iPaq PDA but I am done with my Palm Treo Pro.

I checked out one of the newer Windows Phones my brother owns and I liked it but I suspect Microsoft might soon be out of the phone business (and certainly will be if Windows Phone 8 doesn’t help their 4% market share) and I know all too well how everything dies when Microsoft stops supporting a product line. Even if they continue on, it seems that there are far less apps available for WP than the other two.

The only WM option for me is the HTC Arrive (for $50).

I am also not thrilled with Blackberry, which is odd since I started using PDAs and later smartphones because of business uses which Blackberry is supposed to be good at… And I have not checked out the newer Blackberry devices, so maybe I am biased from old days when they seemed clunky to me and didn’t offer all the bells and whistles that Palm and Windows Mobile devices had. They also have less apps from what I can tell.

I can get a BlackBerry Curve 9350for $50. It seems the best option if that was the way I wanted to go but a lot of my concerns seem to be an issue with this phone.

Unless I am talked into either of those two options, I am torn between an Android device or the iPhone.

I want to be able to sync my phone with my Outlook information (either through cables or automatically) and I use Microsoft Office (Excel in particular) extensively. Ideally this can be done for free though I am not against buying an app if I must.

I am used to an external keyboard but can be talked out of it.

I surf the net with my phone so a solid browser is key too. I don’t plan on using it as a glorified MP3 player - I have an iPod which does the trick.

I like big screens!

I worry about memory issues since the iPhones are not expansive but can get expensive!

I am not someone who has used a ton of apps though I am sure that’s because there just aren’t many available for the older Windows Mobile platform.

I would like decent battery life!

I am eligible for a phone upgrade from Sprint which means I can trade two years of contract for $150 off my phone. I would rather not pay a fortune for this phone (i.e. $100 or less with discount).

The 8GB iPhone will run me $100 with each subsequent doubling of memory another $100. Would 8GB be enough even for my non-MP3 self?

There are quite a few Android options! The ones that stand out (with physical keyboards) are:

Samsung Transform Ultra ($50)
Motorola XPRT (Free)
Samsung Epic 4G ($100)
Motorola ADMIRAL($100)

I welcome feedback on this and thank you all in advance for your advice!

Wait until the Samsung Galaxy S III gets released in a month or so on all American major carriers, it’s a beast of a phone that blows everything else out of the water.

There’s an MS outlook compliant android app that is essentially mobile outlook on steroids called Touchdown which is what most outlook users with android phones use. I have used it and it is very full featured.

These are all terrible options. They all run Android version 2.3 or lower (the most current version is 4.0,) and are old and outdated. The Epic 4G is two years old at this point, so it would be a really bad decision to then get locked into a two-year contract with it, making it four years old by the time you were eligible for another discounted phone.

I hate to break this to you, but it’s damn near impossible to get a good phone with a keyboard now. On-screen keyboards have gotten a lot better, and most people prefer a thinner phone to a slide-out keyboard, or more screen-space versus a Blackberry-style keyboard.

Also, of those phones, only the Epic has 4G, and it’s not “real” 4G. It uses the WiMAX network that Sprint has officially abandoned. They are in the process of installing LTE towers in major cities now, though they will probably never have has much 4G penetration as Verizon or AT&T, simply because they started out with WiMAX and wasted a couple years on that.

If you’re determined to stick with Sprint, then you have a few options for Android phones:

The Galaxy Nexus. It’s manufactured by Samsung, but all the software is pure Google Android. There isn’t anything added by Samsung or Sprint. You might not know this, but this is a big deal. Every other phone (that isn’t a previous version of the Nexus,) has manufacturer and carrier branding. The manufacturers all put their own special flavor of Android on the phone, which might add one or two neat features, but overall detracts from the smoothness of the phone, and the performance. Carriers then often insist on uninstallable apps you’ll never use. The Nexus has none of this. So even though it’s been out for almost six months, it runs smoother than a lot of phones just released. As far as specs go, it has a 1.2 GHz, dual-core CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of internal storage space, though it does NOT have expandable storage with a MicroSD card like most other Android devices. There’s a reason for this, but it’s complicated and no reason to get into it here.

The Evo 4G LTE: The newest offering from HTC. It has one of, if not the best, screen of any phone right now. 1.5 GHz, dual core CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 16 GB of storage, and it does have an SD slot. Unlike the Nexus, it’s not Pure Android. It has a version of HTC Sense installed, as well as some Sprint apps. The HTC Sense issue has been reported as causing problems with the phone. It seems that Sense is too aggressive with it’s memory management, and will close apps after just a very short time of inactivity, or after switching to another app. So, for example, you’re in the browser, looking at SDMB, then you switch to your music player to start a song. You switch back to the Boards, and the app closed, so now it reloads the app AND has to reload the page…if you’re on a cell connection, this could take a while and it’s annoying. In the meantime, it then closed the music app and your song stopped playing. The Evo LTE also doesn’t have a user-replaceable battery like other Android devices. This might not seem that big a deal, but today’s smartphones average ~24 hours on battery with moderate use, so it’s nice to be able to buy a spare battery and have it around in case you can’t charge your phone.

Samsung Galaxy SIII. - This is the third generation of the Galaxy S phone (for reference, the Epic 4G in your post is the first Galaxy S generation.) It has an amazing screen as well (hard to say if it’s better/worse than the EVO LTE…they use different technologies. The S3 will have deeper and better blacks and more vibrant colors, but there can be some pixelation, especially with whites, though most people never notice it.) 1.4 GHz, quad core CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and either a 16 GB or 32 GB storage (32 GB is $50 more.) It also has an SD card slot, so you can add even more storage if you’d like. This one has Samsung’s TouchWiz software installed, which I think is less intrusive than HTC Sense, and doesn’t have that app closing problem. Samsung also put a lot of neat features in this version, like a voice-command function similar to Siri on the iPhone, though not as polished.

All of these phones have Android 4.0/Ice Cream Sandwich/ICS, though as said, only the Nexus has the “standard” version of it. That’s my recommendation, just because IMO all of the manufacturer and carrier branding on phones is a detriment.

If you think you’d rather have an iPhone, wait a while, I think the current rumor is a new one is getting announced in a couple months.

Windows Phone 7 is extremely, extremely nice to use. The Arrive is a very solid phone, especially for $50 and especially if you want a keyboard.

WP may fail in the long run, but…it won’t be today, and it won’t be for at least a couple years. Long enough for your next upgrade cycle. MS will bleed money into their mobile division to keep it afloat if they need to; they know they can’t just concede that market to Apple and Google. WP gets more and more competitive with every update, and is already much more user-friendly than Android.

There are fewer WP apps than Android or iPhone, but I rarely find myself missing anything. Most of the “big deal” stuff is there, and there’s unofficial apps filling in a lot of the gaps. I used Android for years and was a big evangelist (I do cellphone tech support professionally), but am almost entirely converted to WP7 at this point.

Android is basically a pocket computer, with all the good and bad that that entails. It’s a platform that’s mostly ideal for hackers. WP7 and iOS feel much more purpose-built for your pocket, and have elegance in spades.

Missed the edit, but wanted to add: My real, honest advice is wait if you can. WP8 and the next iPhone will both likely launch this fall, and both will probably bring lots to the table. Rumors have Sprint getting a well-specced Nokia WP8 phone with a keyboard, which could be an extremely nice fit.

If you can’t wait, I don’t think you’ll regret it. I just purchased a Trophy (essentially the same phone as the arrive minus the keyboard) and absolutely love it. I 100% prefer it over the top-of-the-line Android devices. If you offered me a Galaxy Nexus to trade, I’d do it only because I could sell the Nexus and buy another Trophy and pocket the difference.

I really wouldn’t get a Blackberry unless you really need it for business or something similar. Using them is like stepping back 10 years in terms of user interface and the number of apps they have. I have a Samsung Galaxy SII which is an excellent phone, and the SIII looks set to be a lot better.

I also would recommend waiting for the Galaxy S3 which will be available on Sprint in a couple of weeks. I have played with it a bit and it seems a stellar device and that’s also the consensus on the web both among professional reviewers and buyers. I read a fair number of gadget blogs and forums and I have yet to come across someone who has used the phone and dislikes it.