James’s earlier post about the iPhone losing some luster for some owners has some good commentary going on. Drop in and add to the conversation, especially if you purchased an iPhone. Does it still glitter like gold for you? I posted my basic thoughts and won’t repeat them here, but the post got me thinking about alternatives to the iPhone. There actually are plenty that do much of what the iPhone does, if not more. While the folks that have used smartphones for years won’t learn much here, there’s no question that a larger audience is starting to understand what a smartphone is, largely in part due to the Apple iPhone. For these folks, here’s a listing of some iPhone alternatives for Sprint customers, not in any particular order. If there’s value in a follow-up for Verizon or T-Mobile customers here, I’ll do the same.
1. The HTC Mogul. This phone runs the latest Windows Mobile platform, WM 6, which I’ve found to be much more stable than its predecessors. Many folks will say that Windows Mobile devices continually lock up and need to be reset daily, but my T-Mobile Dash runs this operating system like a champ. I have yet to see these types of issues and I’ve been using the platform since May.
The Mogul can be had for $299 after rebate, which is half of the 8 GB iPhone cost. Do you get half of the features? Heck no, you get a solid phone that also has a touchscreen, although you’ll likely need to use the included stylus from time to time. The Mogul has a unique slide-out physical keyboard for tapping out e-mail, typing URLs and much more. The data radio is considerably faster as well since it uses technology called EV-DO which allows for downloads of around 500- to 800-kbps. By comparison the EDGE radio in the iPhone yields speeds that top out around 200 kbps a best, so you’ll get data around four times faster with the Mogul.
There are other features in the Mogul that the iPhone doesn’t have, but to be fair, I should compare the media functionality since the iPhone is an iPod. While you can’t use iTunes purchased media on the Mogul, Sprint does offer their Music Store for the Mogul and unlike the iPhone, you can download media directly over the air with this handset. We have a first look video of the HTC Mogul right here.
2. The Motorola Q. This phone runs the older Windows Mobile 5 platform and doesn’t offer a touchscreen. However, the lighter operating system allows for quick navigation without touch and for a mere pittiance of the cost: $149.99 is the final price after rebates. If you can live with a smaller screen and don’t want or need a touchscren, this is worth a look. The device sacrifices the screen size to put a very usable keyboard on the front face of the phone, making for a thinner option than the Mogul. Like the Mogul, this phone works well with various Microsoft Office products and offers the same e-mail compatibility as the iPhone for GMail, Yahoo! Mail and more.
This phone also has the faster EV-DO radio and while it might not be as "fun" as the iPhone, you can use third party applications to watch YouTube videos, listen to tunes, and even watch your home television with additional equipment like a Slingbox.
3. BlackBerry 8830. Did I say "BlackBerry", as in a productivity device? Yes, I did because the 8830 is under $200 after rebate and takes a step out of office and into the world of fun. Although the iPhone offers, Google Maps, it doesn’t offer an integrated GPS like the 8830. It’s one thing to know how to get somewhere, but having a good starting spot is important too. The 8830 also offers a media player, which although is nowhere near the experience of an iPhone, is a nice compromise if you need productivity features along with your media.
Like the Q, the BlackBerry 8830 offers a full QWERTY keyboard in lieu of a touchscreen, but enhances it with a responsive trackball and tons of useful keyboard shortcuts. Checking mail is a snap with the BlackBerry; something it’s long been known for. Additionally, this phone uses both Sprint’s network (known as CDMA) and can also use the GSM network like the iPhone; GSM is prevelant out of the U.S., so this is great for travelers. James recently purchased this phone on his Verizon account and has a humorous look at it since he bought it while folks were standing in line for the iPhone.
There’s no way to briefly hit every function and feature when comparing these devices to the iPhone, so I haven’t even tried. However, I should mention a few features that all three of these options have in common:
- Each can be expanded in memory through a memory card; the iPhone has a fixed amount of memory, either 4- or 8-GB.
- All are capable of the faster EV-DO speeds for downloading information or surfing the web. Again, these speeds are roughly four times faster than the EDGE on the iPhone.
- All three devices have Bluetooth radios for wireless transfers of data, voice, music and more. The iPhone also has Bluetooth, but only for using a Bluetooth headset.
- All three devices are capable of voice-activated dialing, a feature not present on the iPhone.
Again, this is not an end-all, be-all comparison and for people familiar with smartphones, there’s nothing new here and I expect long-time smartphone device owners to add great commentary. However, if the iPhone is your first "smartphone" experience, it’s worth mentioning that there are alternatives that might be better suited for you as a Sprint customer. I’m not suggesting that one device is "best" and others are "second best"; that’s a choice that only you can make based on your needs and your budget. There’s no question that the iPhone excels at what it can do, but it’s definitely worth pointing out what it can’t yet do and which devices can fill those gaps.