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Sure there's a 3G iPhone expected this year, but why wait? There are plenty of phones already available that have 3G and everything else the iPhone has: 8 GB of storage, a built-in music player, a touch screen (often accompanied by a qwerty keyboard), and even add-on features like visual voice mail.
As a follow-on to our story of last June, Nine Alternatives To Apple's iPhone, here are some additional selections to consider. From the top four carriers in the United States: Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Since T-Mobile hasn't widely rolled out its 3G cellular network yet, subscribers will have to opt for phones which use a slower data network. However, even in this case, there are some solid iPhone alternatives to choose from.
One of the most-talked about iPhone knock-offs this year is the LG Voyager. It has a large external touch screen for easier phone and Internet navigation, a built-in music player, and Shortcut Menu icons that appear on the Voyager's touch screen and another set of icons at the bottom of the screen -- all the features that bear resemblance to the iPhone.
What makes the Voyager slightly different are some additional features, such as a full qwerty keypad that slides open sideways, expandable memory that holds up to 8 GB, and 3G connectivity for high-speed Internet access.
The Voyager also comes with multimedia capabilities, including an HTML Web browser; Verizon Wireless' V Cast mobile TV, video, and music service; and the ability to play MP3, WMA, and unprotected AAC files. For more storage room, the phone has a removable microSD memory slot that holds up to 8 GB of memory.
Offering a mix of business and pleasure, the Tilt is the first AT&T smartphone to run Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile 6 operating system. It also includes Research In Motion's BlackBerry Connect 4.0 software, which offers features found in BlackBerry smartphones such as push e-mail.
The Tilt has a slide-out qwerty keypad and a 2.8-inch color screen that tilts up, making it more convenient to write e-mail, browse the Web, and play videos. It also includes Bluetooth 2.0 technology, which allows up to six Bluetooth devices to be simultaneously connected to the smartphone.
A feature that any mobile user will enjoy is the Tilt's GPS-enabled mapping software from TeleNav, a provider of mobile location-based services. TeleNav GPS Navigator provides turn-by-turn audible and on-screen driving or walking directions in addition to 3-D maps and traffic alerts.
The Tilt uses AT&T's 3G network to connect to the Internet and has tri-band UMTS/HSDPA capabilities, which means it can work in other countries. Alternatively, the smartphone's built-in Wi-Fi provides access to hotspots and wireless local area networks.
The Nokia N95 is the ultimate multimedia device and it can be purchased directly from Nokia online or at its flagship stores, which fortunately exist in the United States. It's got an impressive list of features, but even beats the iPhone when it comes to its hefty price tag. Read on if you're willing to shell out nearly $800.
The N95, with 8 GB memory, offers up to 20 hours of video or up to 6,000 songs, according to Nokia. The smartphone can slide two ways. It slides to one side to reveal a keypad for dialing and typing, and to another side to reveal controls for playing music or video.
It also boasts a 5-megapixel camera, built-in Wi-Fi for accessing the Internet using hotspots in public places or enterprise wireless local area networks, and built-in GPS. The GPS feature is especially functional when used in conjunction with the phone's Nokia Maps application, which offers maps for more than 150 countries.
Putting the high price aside for a moment, the N95 offers some advantages over the iPhone, including 3G support, integrated GPS, and stereo Bluetooth. Additionally, the smartphone comes with a built-in RealPlayer for listening to music and watching videos. Then there's the browser, which lets a user zoom in or out of a page with a single key press.
Here's another smartphone which relies entirely on a touch screen. It has integrated TouchFLO technology, developed by HTC, for navigating through the phone's menus with a finger swipe.
The Touch has plenty of entertainment features, although it's best suited for mobile professionals. For example, it uses Windows Mobile 6 with Outlook Mobile, which allows IT departments to easily integrate the phone with their Microsoft Exchange servers for "push" e-mail. The Touch also comes with Office Mobile, Windows Live, and support for thousands of third-party applications. The phone's home screen features one-touch access to e-mail, text messages, calendar appointments, and contacts.
Since Touch has been so closely linked to the iPhone, here are some features it has that the iPhone doesn't: A microSD card slot that supports up to 4 GB of expandable memory, stereo Bluetooth, and high-speed data access via Sprint's 3G EV-DO cellular network.
HTC's product line also includes the Touch Dual with a combined touch screen and keypad and the recently launched Touch Cruise with built-in GPS for personal navigation. However, the phones aren't currently available in the United States.
The thin, cell-phone-like BlackBerry Pearl sports built-in GPS technology and uses 3G cellular for high-speed data access. It also comes with BlackBerry Maps, RIM's mapping application for BlackBerry smartphones running software version 4.1 and later.
The Pearl has many of the features demanded by business professionals, such as calendar management, "push" wireless e-mail, the ability to view documents, and the ability to use the smartphone as a modem with a laptop. But it's considered a "prosumer" device that appeals both to professionals and consumers because of its multimedia capabilities.
The smartphone is small enough to fit in a pocket, but perhaps too small for some mobile users. For those who want a more traditional BlackBerry look and feel, there's the BlackBerry Curve 8310 from AT&T. It also comes with built-in GPS and provides a personal navigation service through TeleNav GPS Navigator, which includes turn-by-turn voice and on-screen directions, moving maps, and traffic alerts.
The new Windows Mobile 6-powered T-Mobile Shadow is the size of a BlackBerry Pearl and appeals to both consumers and businesses, especially when it comes to its quad-band global roaming capabilities.
The Shadow is stylish. It has a large glossy screen, a metallic finish, and a small form factor -- small enough to be tucked away in a pocket, in fact. T-Mobile teamed with HTC to eloquently integrate the phone's form and function. Its user interface contains a combination of a spin dial and sliding icons to interact with the phone in an enjoyable and intuitive way.
Other features include built-in Wi-Fi, a 2.0-megapixel camera, a music player, expandable memory through a microSD card slot, as well as e-mail, text messaging, instant messaging, and picture messaging capabilities.
Unfortunately, the Shadow shares the same flaw with the iPhone: lack of 3G.
The Moto Q9h, or the Moto Q Global as AT&T calls it, has the ability to access high-speed cellular data networks through its built-in 3G technology and it's the first Moto Q smartphone sold in the United States with worldwide roaming capabilities.
The Moto Q9h incorporates quad-band EDGE technology that works around the world. The smartphone can be used in more than 135 countries for e-mail and Internet access and in more than 190 countries to make or receive phone calls.
The smartphone uses Windows Mobile 6 operating system. Other features include Opera Software's advanced mobile browser, Documents to Go for document editing, seven shortcut keys, a 2.0-megapixel camera with flash, and built-in GPS. AT&T is providing two location-based services that take advantage of the smartphone's GPS capabilities: TeleNav GPS Navigator for turn-by-turn voice and on-screen driving directions and TeleNav Track for managing mobile workforces.
Verizon Wireless and Sprint also offer Moto Q models with 3G, but they don't come with global roaming. Sprint's Moto Q9c costs $150, while Verizon Wireless' music-centric Moto Q9m costs $200.
The XV6800 is designed for business professionals that require high-speed data, e-mail, Internet, and Microsoft Office access when traveling or working remotely. It runs Microsoft's latest Windows Mobile 6 Professional operating system, so users can get their business e-mail pushed automatically to the smartphone from Exchange servers.
The smartphone operates on Verizon Wireless' third-generation cellular network and it also can act as a modem when connected to laptops through BroadbandAccess Connect, a Verizon Wireless service for sending and receiving data. As another option, users can access the Web via the smartphone's built-in Wi-Fi technology.
The XV6800 has a slide-out qwerty keyboard and a touch-sensitive LCD screen that can switch from portrait to landscape view. The phone's memory can be expanded through the microSD memory card slot, which supports up to 8 GB. Other key features include a 2.0-megapixel camera with flash and video capture, stereo Bluetooth, video messaging, and Windows Media Player 10 Mobile for playing music and video.
The Sidekick LX is a more feature-packed, improved version of T-Mobile's popular Sidekick device. The LX is thinner, has a large WQVGA screen with high-definition LCD technology and iconic swivel display, a 1.3-megapixel camera with flash, multimedia messaging, and mood lights that go off when a user receives a phone call, text message, or an e-mail.
The phone does have a Web browser but lacks Wi-Fi and 3G, which means you'll have to rely on T-Mobile's slow EDGE network for data connections. It may not be as revolutionary as the iPhone, but it does have a full qwerty keyboard that's a lot more comfortable to type on than a touch screen. The Sidekick LX is a fun multimedia phone for consumers, but isn't recommended for business use.
Don't worry, the LX wasn't affected by a recent defect that caused T-Mobile to temporarily halt sales of the Sidekick. Some customers experienced their Sidekick Slide phones powering off when the slide door on the front side of the phones was opened or closed. The Sidekick slide is manufacturer by Motorola, while the Sidekick LX is by Sharp.
Youth-oriented wireless carrier Helio, which runs its business as a Mobile Virtual Network Operator or a reseller of wireless services, offers a mobile phone that has it all. Helio's Ocean has a dual-slide screen, and comes with messaging capabilities, a media player, built-in GPS, and a new YouTube application that allows subscribers to capture video on the phone and upload it to YouTube, GPS-tag videos, as well as rate and comment on videos posted on YouTube.
The iPhone also comes with a YouTube application. However, users only get the option to watch videos (that are categorized as "featured" and "most viewed"), bookmark videos, and share them with others. iPhone users can't comment on YouTube content or upload their own content directly from the application. Additionally, the Ocean comes with 3G, so the video-streaming experience is a lot faster.
For business users, there is an Ocean-like smartphone running Windows Mobile 6 available from AT&T. The 3G-powered Pantech Duo, which costs $200, is both smaller and a little lighter than the Ocean. It comes with two keyboards: a standard phone keyboard, and a qwerty keyboard that's a bit too small and uncomfortable to type on. The Duo is flimsier than the Ocean, especially the sliding function that reveals the qwerty keyboard.