A few weeks ago, we wrote about 10 reasons not to buy an iPhone -- at least not yet. Several people responded, saying, "Okay, you've convinced me -- but what should I get instead?" Good question! In this article, we'll take a look at a few alternatives that provide some advantages over the iPhone in its current incarnation.
Phone manufacturers are coming out with new models all the time, so this represents only a sample of the many available alternatives to the iPhone.
1. HTC Touch
One of the iPhone's big selling points is the touchscreen, but it's not the only phone on the market that offers one of those. The HTC Touch is at the top of the list of iPhone lookalikes.
In addition to the touchiness of its screens, the phone has a similar-sized display to the iPhone, and the interface looks very similar. It runs Windows Mobile 6 Professional and includes Wi-Fi support. It also has a 2-megapixel camera built in, like the iPhone.
A successor to the HTC-manufactured Dopod 838 Pro has been launched overseas in the form of the HTC TyTN II (pronounced "Titan Two"). The TyTN II and a 3G version of the HTC Touch are expected to arrive in Australia by 2008.
2. Nokia N95
Another potential iPhone killer, the Nokia N95 does most of what Apple's phone does, and more. With a 2.8-inch QVGA screen and 8GB of internal memory, it gives the iPhone a run for its money. And it outdoes Apple's offering when it comes to the integrated GPS with Nokia maps and the 5-megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics. You can shoot DVD-quality videos up to 30 frames per second, and there's a TV-out port so you can play those videos on a full size television set.
The Nokia Web browser with Mini Map lets you zoom out to a full-screen view of a Web page and then zoom back in to the area you want to read, with the text automatically adjusting.
The Nokia N95 is an impressive phone. The bad news: it doesn't include a hardware QWERTY keyboard, which some say is the biggest drawback of the iPhone.
3. Nokia N99 (maybe)
For at least the last nine months, mobile phone enthusiasts have eagerly speculated on the release of the Nokia N99. There are photos -- very possibly fake -- of a prototype all over the Web, and the specs are enough to wow anybody (and put the iPhone to shame): 16GB of internal memory, a 3.2-inch screen, a 9-way joystick control, GPS, WLAN, and a 7.2-megapixel camera. And it has the QWERTY keyboard that the N95 and the iPhone lack.
But the bad news about this one is even worse: it's currently not available anywhere, nor has Nokia even confirmed its existence. Patents for a Nokia slider are on file, though, and phone fans continue to hope. You can, at least, see what Nokia-watchers hope it will look like.
4. Blackberry Pearl 8100
This is not your father's Blackberry (or even your big brother's). A far cry from the clunky, somewhat awkward mobile e-mail devices first introduced by RIM, the Pearl is sleek, slim, and pretty, and its phone functionality works just as well as its text -- something that couldn't be said for the first RIM phones.
The Pearl 8100 is the first Blackberry that offers a full set of multimedia features. It comes with only 64 MB of memory and the screen is small and supports only 65,536 colours, but it does only weighs 3.1 ounces, too.
You get a QWERTY keyboard, 1.3-megapixel camera, BlackBerry Maps, Web browser, media player, and organiser for storing and syncing contacts and calendar information.
The Curve is a quad-band GSM phone (800/850/1800/1900MHz), meaning you could take it pretty much anywhere in the world where mobile phones exist, and it should work as a basic phone and e-mail client. The bad news, however, comes in what the Curve doesn't offer. There's no HSDPA. There's no GPS -- which the 8800 offers, albeit without maps. There's no Wi-Fi. There is Bluetooth though, including Bluetooth audio.
Naturally enough, being a BlackBerry, there's support for BlackBerry and POP3 e-mail, along with some less business-centric applications such as media playback and the strangely hypnotic and yet still awful BrickBreaker game.
6. Palm Treo 680/750
Once upon a time, the Palm Pilot was the PDA to own, especially in the business world. As handheld computers and mobile phones merged, Palm lost a lot of the market, but many folks still consider the Palm to be the best.
Whether you prefer Palm OS or Windows Mobile, there's a Treo for you. The Palm Treo 680 runs Palm OS and is a quad-band GSM (850/900/1800/1900 MHz) phone. Originally released with Windows Mobile 5, the Palm Treo 750 now comes with Windows Mobile 6 (available as a free upgrade for existing customers) and runs on Telstra's HSDPA Next G network.
Whichever one you choose, you'll be able to do something that iPhone owners can't do: install additional applications to enhance the functionality of your phone. Find out more about both on the Palm Smartphones page.
Palm's latest consumer smartphone, the Treo 500v, has launched in Europe and is expected to make an appearance Down Under at some stage.
7. Samsung Blackjack
The BlackJack is a quad-band phone that takes advantage of high-speed HSDPA networks. The screen is small, taking up less than half of the phone's surface, but the QWERTY keypad is large. It runs Windows Mobile 5, supports Microsoft push e-mail, and includes a 1.3-megapixel camera/camcorder, which lacks a flash.
It's relatively light and thin (3.5 ounces, .46 inches) and supports Java-based games, unlike many of its Windows Mobile 5 competitors.
8. Motorola Q 9h
Another HSDPA phone, the Motorola Q 9h has a QWERTY keyboard and a smart, subtle design that'll fit in at home or the office. The phone sports a 320x240-pixel display and supports push e-mail for those organisations with Microsoft Exchange Server.
9. The ultimate mobile phone
If none of the above tickles your fancy, and if you carry a mobile phone purely as a status symbol, consider this alternative: a phone from Goldvish Luxury Communications, in a solid gold case encrusted with diamonds. These devices don't surf the Net any faster than the phones we've mentioned here, yet some of them sell for more than a million dollars. Now that's a status symbol.
10. Apple iPod Touch
While not a phone, the iPod Touch has many of the features of the iPhone including iPod music playback, the Safari browser, Wi-Fi, support for YouTube, pictures and videos. Who says you need to buy an iPhone to enjoy (most of) its benefits?
Best of all: it sports the same gorgeous wide-screen, multi-touch display and chic styling that has made the iPhone a winner. If you're not yet convinced, see our article 10 reasons to buy an iPod Touch over an iPhone and make up your own mind.
Read the full review of the Apple iPhone, and its alternatives, below.