CNET Top 5
Smartphones that won't kill you (as quickly)While the jury is out on phone radiation, here are five top smartphones that hedge your bets.
The SAR Rating Ã¯Â¿Â½ specific absorption rate --- itÃ¯Â¿Â½s the governmentÃ¯Â¿Â½s rating of how much a cell phone is treating you like a bag of microwave popcorn. A measure of watts absorbed per kilogram of body mass. NobodyÃ¯Â¿Â½s really sure what it tells us, but it remains the only yardstick youÃ¯Â¿Â½ve got now in our third decade of the debate over whether cell phones cause cancer. So here are the Top 5 smartphones of 2010 that rate high by CNET and lowest on their SAR number. #5 is the Samsung Vibrant with a CNET Rating of 8.3 and a SAR number of .89, just over half the legal limit of 1.6. Pretty low. This T-Mo Android phone is a looker with a 4Ã¯Â¿Â½ AMOLED screen and, 16GB of memory and speedy performance. But much of that helps make the battery life a bit soft and the screen is way nicer than the plasticky case around it. Oh, and no camera flash. Odd. #4 is another Sammie, the Epic 4G on Sprint, CNET Rating 8.7 and SAR rating of .68, under half the limit. This guy can utilize SprintÃ¯Â¿Â½s 4G network as the name implies and has everything else including 5MP camera, big AMOLED display and 5 device hotspot ability. Unfortunately, all that stuff needs a place to live and the Epic is just plain huge. Except on its SAR number. #3 is the HTC Legend on, well, not really on any carrier in N. America because it isnÃ¯Â¿Â½t compatible with 3G networks there. But if it works where you are yourÃ¯Â¿Â½ll enjoy a phone with a CNET rating of 8.3 and a SAR number of .565. Nice and low. Another Android phone with an AMOLED screen but mixed results from its built in camera. The #2 smartphone in our list is the Samsung Fascinate on Verizon, CNET Rating of 8.3 and SAR number of a mere .57. Sister phone to the Vibrant, but on Verizon and with some service tweaks Ã¯Â¿Â½ including the annoying lock-in of Search to Microsoft Bing. Before we look at the #1 letÃ¯Â¿Â½s update the SAR story: The FCC recently announced that it no longer is sure what the hell this number tells us and that any phone under the 1.6 SAR rating is as safe as any other, which doesnÃ¯Â¿Â½t really make sense because the number represents radiation absorbed by your body. So while the mystery continues, the choice to play it safe remains yours. Which brings us to the #1 smartphone in our list: The Samsung Captivate. CNET Rating 8.3 and SAR number of just .42 -- A quarter of the limit. This phone is the virtual twin of the Fascinate and the Vibrant, but running on AT&T. So notice how the phone you buy is not the only factor in radiation Ã¯Â¿Â½ the network its on has a big impact. Another reason to think about carrier and For all out smartphone reviews, go to CNETÃ¯Â¿Â½s cell phone sections and to CNETÃ¯Â¿Â½s SAR ratings, which sort them by maker, top cleanest and dirtiest.