6 WVGA Smartphones that Push The Mobile Web Envelope.

Updated on 05 November 2009 by

Finally, after years of waiting and wishing, I can finally say that there are smartphones on the market that offer fast, high quality internet experiences and offer the web-focused user a converged product on which they can do tasks that, until now, required a true mobile computer. In this article I take a look at 6 of the best.


An 800×480 (WVGA) resolution on a screen of 3.5 inch and above offers a much more comfortable way to access documents and web pages and unlike the ARM11-based smartphones, the new Cortex A8-based devices are powerful enough to download and present complex pages in a way that is familiar to desktop web users. There’s even enough processing power to start using Web-based applications although at this stage, we wouldn’t recommend relaying on that possibility.

Over the last few months we’ve seen 6 smartphones announced that break into this new area of MIDPhones and it looks like there’s a lot more to come. In fact, this feels much like the early days of the netbook. A new sub-category driven by mobile Internet.

Over the last 48 hours I’ve added as many WVGA phones as I could find. There are 19 in the database as i write this but not all of those are what I would call MIDPhones. Only those with the new generation processing platforms (and screens bigger that 3.5 inch diagonal) earn that title so I’ve picked them out and summarized them here.

Continued on next page…

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25 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    New article: 6 WVGA Smartphones that Push The Mobile Web Envelope. http://bit.ly/2QFPPm

  2. Alessandro Tucci says:

    RT @chippy: New article: 6 WVGA Smartphones that Push The Mobile Web Envelope. http://bit.ly/2QFPPm

  3. Jon Lustig says:

    Groan, still can't use any of these. RT @chippy New article: 6 WVGA Smartphones that Push The Mobile Web Envelope http://bit.ly/2QFPPm

  4. ゲンジンアロ says:

    RT @chippy: New article: 6 WVGA Smartphones that Push The Mobile Web Envelope. http://bit.ly/2QFPPm

  5. rustle says:

    Good summary and all the reasons why not to buy them ;)

    The problem is that many consumers (situation in Europe) are comparing these devices to smartphones, they are not aware of a MID market. For them neither processing power nor software availability is important. They also think that a netbook is a notebook but smaller, but this is a whole another problem.
    What is important for them is “bling” factor of a touchscreen in a phone/multimedia device. These MIDphones are competing with iPhone.

    And real geeks are still playing with their n810 from Nokia. And what are n810 competitors? ;)

  6. Patrick says:

    You mean they are comparing them to dumbphones aka featurephones if quote: “For them neither processing power nor software availability is important.”

    Consumer market is not composed out of geeks, remember that we are only 0.001% of smarphone consumers out there.

  7. rustle says:

    Yes, you’re right, my mistake.

    Consumer generally wants – phone+PMP+camera+sometimes web, qwerty and real OS are obsolete.

    MIDphones – neither MID, neither smartphone, cons of both :)
    Processing power that could not be fully used cause of form factor and software environment – not a real MID (but with Android and Maemo it is surely better than with Symbian). Limited battery life for a phone. These devices are also not really for geeks but overbuilt for a massive consumer. Not much sense for either group – only marketing forces.

    Masybe I’m a geek, but for a price of one of these I can buy Archos 5 and a decent phone – and I’d be happier (even more with a BT keyboard) :)

  8. squirrel says:

    Only HD2

    Web browsing is one of the basic functions of a MID. Even some months earlier, iPhone was the most fast and convenient when used as web browsre inspite it’s not a WVGA MID.
    Today, i think only HD2 can be a competitor because of multitouch capasitive creen, so i thinkong of byuing only it

  9. squirrel says:

    iPhone and Samsung OmniaHD – are both based on Cortex. Inspite they are not WVGA, both are worth mentioning here

  10. Chippy says:

    As the article was about WVGA phones, they didn’t quite make the article!

  11. squirrel says:

    Of course Chippy, that’s your right to define borders. But its too formally. The subject of the article is _mobile web_ and iPhone is still one of the best for fast web browsing; and there is a little difference between WVGA and OmniaHD 640*360 screen
    I’m not for placing all Cortex phones here. I think Blackberry has too small screen

  12. Vakeros says:

    Sorry Squirrel but have to disagree about the OmniaHD with 640*360. Older websites are aimed at an 800 width resolution. But PPI is important too, which is the prime reason I am interested in the HD2 more than the Omnia2.

  13. medah4rick says:

    im still not sure what a midphone is. the iphone 3gs should be considered a midphone. is it excluded because it doesn’t multitask?

  14. Vakeros says:

    No, it is excluded because it isn’t WVGA.
    I agree you need to have a line somewhere. Personally I think anything less than WVGA is useless for browsing the web. I have a phone which is 3 years old. I could browser it then using mobile IE. But it is hard work and I hated doing it and was only for emergencies.
    With the new, higher resolution (and quicker) phones that are coming out, they start to be usable by consumers and not just geeks. When the iPhone becomes WVGA I would consider buying it, but not before then.

  15. squirrel says:

    “anything less than WVGA is useless for browsing the web”
    Vakeros, next statement is “much more” true: “iPhone is the best MIDPhone for web-browsing” – because its fast and has multitouch and 800*480 is only the third requirement for good web-experience

  16. Vakeros says:

    Interesting ordering. We might have to agree to disagree. For me 800×480 is the minimum res. for web-browsing. I don’t care about speed, if I am having to move around or zoom in and out. This is where size of the screen also becomes important, and PPI should be taken into account. The higher the res. the bigger the screen needs to be (at least if you see things at native resolution.) There is an argument for having higher res. and just bump up the dpi to 125%. The disadvantages of a bigger screen is size (obviously) and battery life.
    I don’t make many phone calls. I don’t receive many phone calls and I wouldn’t have a phone on me at all if it didn’t also have the Pocket PC feature set.
    Also HD2 compared with iPhone 3GS – I expect they will be of similiar speeds (if HD2 isn’t faster), it also has multitouch (which I don’t care about – I would probably prefer resistive, especially as the icons can now be large enough to be operated with your finger properly).

  17. TareX says:

    Netbooks based on Tegra 2 (Cortex based) have already been demoed http://armnews.wordpress.com/2009/10/09/tegra-2-netbook-unveiled/

    So till these make it in devices by April 2010, I think I need to hold off any purchases… Simply because as you’ve pointed out, with more functionality, comes a more dire need for better battery life… These devices offer near-laptop fucntionality, and are always in your pocket…

  18. TareX says:

    Also, for web browsing, it’s important to have smooth flash rendering, which again Tegra seems to offer with hardware accelerated flash… So yes while all these devices currently available are a great step forward, it’s difficult to make a purchase when the next evolutionary step towards near perfect handheld browsing is a few months away…

  19. squirrel says:

    I want smth 4,8″ on Tegra 2 :-)

  20. Omnia says:

    Where is OMNIA 2??

  21. Chippy says:

    Don’t forget that Dell Streak!

  22. squirrel says:

    Dell Steak is just an idea, isn’t it?
    When will it come? Is it based on Cortex or Moorestown?

  23. squirrel says:

    Chippy, where did you see “Archos 5 Android Internet Tablet 8GB version selling for 240 Euro”? I cannot find it anywere (not in Archos.com nor in Amazon.de)

  24. Chippy says:

    There’s a pulldown menu here.

  25. xemone says:

    If only the droid had a HSDPA version. . . .maybe soon? But the HTC HD2 looks like the best choice right now….well except the price. I haven’t used a WVGA smartphone with 3.5″ or larger screen size but most users say web browsing is unbearable on such displays. One issue (as pointed out by rustle) is how the processing power in certain devices are curbed because of their form factor or a missing piece of hardware. It’ll be unthinkable at this stage to make a snapdragon device with a VGA screen…..why would anyone do that?!

    The Dell Streak does look very promising though, not just because it looks like its 5″ screen wouldn’t offer anything less than WVGA but because it’s styled like a smartphone and I can imagine holding one up to my ear….I’ll probably look like a nerd but definitely not as nerdy as a square-ish OQO 02 or S5 glued to my cheeks (same 5″-ish screen).

    I wouldn’t even bring the SE Xperia X1, X2 and HTC Touch Diamond 2 into this cuz the sub-3.5″ screens just ….. one thumb and there’s barely 40% of the screen left :-)

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