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Don't Like Apple's iPhone? Check Out the Touchscreen Phones of These 3 Companies

Apple shook up the mobile phone playing field with the introduction of the original iPhone a year ago. Phones with touchscreens were nothing new; most Windows Mobile phones have used them for years. But the older phones used resistive digitizer screens, which were operated by a tiny metal stylus. The iPhone uses a capacitive digitizer that’s operated by touching fingers to the screen — a remarkably convenient option, by comparison. It didn’t take consumers long to figure out this was the way to go with touch and other phone makers quickly followed Apple’s lead.

While making a handset with a touchscreen is no big technical feat, the process quickly makes clear the pivotal role that Apple’s UI plays in producing a good user experience. Indeed, UI often ends up being the crucial factor that separates the good phones from the rest. And while the number of phones competing with the iPhone is growing all the time, most come from three companies:

HTC –– Until the last couple of years, HTC was largely making phones for other companies, such as Palm. But once they introduced their own brand to the market, they quickly established themselves as high-end device makers. HTC was also one of the first to dive headfirst into the touch phone pool, and have since produced model after model.

The first (and still available) was the HTC Touch, a phone based on the Windows Mobile platform. Going with the Windows Mobile OS was an easy decision for HTC since it’s a mature platform with tools to handle both the consumer and enterprise markets. The problem is that it wasn’t designed from the ground up for a touch operation, which can severely limit such a phone’s usability. So HTC designed the TouchFLO interface, which sits on top of the Windows Mobile base and adds touch features.

While the HTC Touch wasn’t a bad first attempt, it fell short of being a solid competitor to the iPhone. It followed up this year with the release of the Touch Diamond. A sleek black phone with an enhanced UI designed for touch, it has been well received. And since Windows Mobile has more features than the iPhone, the Touch Diamond was an instant, solid competitor.

This month HTC extended their touch offering with the Touch Pro, which is very similar to the Diamond but also includes a slide-out QWERTY keypad for business users. The lack of such a feature on the iPhone has been roundly criticized by serious email users.

Currently HTC is creating a lot of buzz in the enthusiast community with its yet-to-be-released handset, the Dream. This touch phone is said to be based on the brand-new Google Android platform that T-Mobile is expected to launch next month. Information is gradually leaking out about the Dream — it looks like a device similar to the Touch Pro, complete with a large touchscreen coupled with a sliding QWERTY keyboard.

LG — Electronics giant LG has been making feature phones for years and have produced some solid touchscreen, non-phone devices. Feature phones have typically been viewed as less capable than their smartphone competition, but that criticism is harder to make these days as feature phones can now handle PIM functions and messaging. LG’s first touchscreen phone was the Voyager, which includes two displays — one big touchscreen on the front of the device, as is common, and a non-touchscreen on the inside. The keyboard flips up like a small laptop to be used with the interior screen, making the Voyager a distinctly different type of phone.

Most recently LG has followed up with the Dare, a phone without a keyboard that is touchscreen only. The UI, however, has been optimized for touch operation.

Samsung — Electronics firm Samsung has jumped into the touch phone game in a big way with the recent release of the Instinct, using a media advertising blitz to make clear how serious they were about this new genre. The Instinct has only been out a short while, but it’s already getting rave reviews, and from experts that are known for being hard on such devices. Its web browsing capabilities, notably, rival that of the iPhone.

23 Responses to “Don't Like Apple's iPhone? Check Out the Touchscreen Phones of These 3 Companies”

  1. I love to read these old posts. It is a way to understand which bloggers write things that make sense and stay current with the time, and which ones are just writing something. This blog is one of these that constantly make sense.
    The first touchscreen phone I’ve ever used was the Motorola A1000 back in the year 2005. It was a horrible phone with Symbian OS. Very difficult to use and very, very slow. Seeing it now, the iPhone really changed the industry completely.

  2. shoppingwill

    Om,i love apple phone,but i will buy a iphone especially in economic constraints.For so many functions as GPS,wifi , java ,tv and so on iphone have,acturely iphone is a great value.

  3. i want an iphone.
    but i have verizon.
    i also very much loove the tiny phones.
    Neonode was a very close call for me, yet not for verizon.

    MADDENING really.
    someone wanna let me in on a witty gadget veryvery much like the NEONODE :(

  4. The only reason I’d stick with the iphone is the VAAAAAST assortment of 3rd party applications, games, and tricks. It’s so customizable that the most customized iphone wouldn’t act like the original iphone at all. The other touch-screen phones (besides the blackberries), have very limited if not next to none in terms of available 3rd party applications. iphone killers are basically a joke when they try to label themselves as such.

  5. Great blog. While I can’t comment on any of the other three, I am sorely disappointed in the Touch Diamond. Extremely good looking yes, chick, overambitious but lacking in basic functionality to the point where it is not usable as a business phone. I came to the HTC from a Nokia 95 and that one was 10 times the phone this is, possibly also on account of the dreadful Windows Mobile!

  6. Om, they’re both poor substitutes for the iPhone. ;) I haven’t lived with either one, so I don’t know how qualified I am to pick one over the other. But I can tell you, the Dare seemed like more fun whereas the Instinct was frustrating for me. I do like the Instinct has already seen a firmware update – you don’t see that too often for non-OS phones. And like I said Sprint’s all-you-can eat plan is VERY compelling – it includes Sprint video services and GPS, plus data, voice, text, etc.

  7. Okay. I love Apple products and even I’m frightened by @ronald g. I don’t think he was serious.

    Frankly, I have been a loyal customer for many years and grew up on Apple products (1st pc was an Apple][+). That said, Apple has really disappointed me this past year or so. I have the new iPhone and had the first. If I hadn’t of accidentally crushed my first one, I would have returned the 3G and gone back to it. I’ve had to restore it couple times, each time I do it totally hoses my contact database. The mailboxes are duplicated; picking up servers I haven’t used in years! Can’t know for sure right now, but I think some of the Apps from the store have made it buggy.

    Hopefully, kinks will get worked out, but as of now, the experience has been diminished. And for real: what the heck is up with no copy n paste and no MMS?

    If you’ve picked this up, Apple, you’ve really irritated this faithful customer.

  8. I would love to buy 1 of those other phone… which ones have:

    Built-in wi-fi that runs faster than the iPhone’s?
    Which phone opens Word, Excel and PDF file attachments?
    Weigh less than 5 ounces?
    Which of them are thinner than iPhone at 0.5″?
    Which can I install more than 2,000 different apps into?
    Which can I write my own code for?
    Which phone has more than 8-16 BILLION bytes of ram? (Without buying extra mem cards)
    Which have a better/faster browser than Safari?
    Which have 100 accessories that I can buy at stores all over the world?
    Which phones cost less than the iPhone’s $199?
    Which have multi-touch screens bigger than 3.5″?
    Which phone sells more than 1 million units… just in the 1st weekend?
    Which phone has more than 3 GPS methods? (Cell, satellite, wi-fi.)
    Which phone gives you high-speed, UNLIMITED data for under $30/month?
    Which phone has more than 25,000 developers writing apps for it?
    Which phone can I buy in more than 62 countries?
    Which screens are sharper than 163 pixels/inch?
    Which screens can display more than 16 million colors?
    Which has a built-in battery that last 5-10 hours of continuous talk-time?
    Which phones let me leave 5000 songs on my home computer, but still play them on my phone from anywhere in the world?
    Which phone let’s me listen to more than 1,000 free radio stations, even though it has no radio in it?
    Which phone can play 10,000,000 movies/videos/TV shows, without storing any of them in the phone itself?

    Certainly something other than just the iPhone can do all this stuff.

  9. @Ronald G

    the iPhone has Real OSX (TM) which means 3rd party apps wont mess the phone up… NOT!
    It has a real desktop class OS, which means it should have cut and paste out of the box… NOT!
    It has a REAL OS which means it will the phone will be secure… NOT!

    It has a real os, which means…. what exactly? Nothing really.

  10. I agree with Dave Zatz above that Sprint’s all-in-one pricing is appealing. Sprint’s Everything Plan sure was the deciding factor for me when I bought my Samsung Instinct. Another deciding factor for me were the movie ads—very appealing, very slick, and right on target. The Samsung Instinct, all in all, is a fine product. It may not be flawless at all times, but there’s always a workaround. It’s packed with so many useful stuff that there’s hardly any downtime for me. If TV is slow, I do web. If web is slow, I do picture/videomail. If mail is slow, I do MP3, radio, photo slideshow, or view sideloaded videos. Or just play with Live Search and Navigation. Or simply make phone calls. Or listen to Visual Voicemail. Or text message. Great product! Great network!

  11. Ronald G.

    The “only” problem with the other 3; they AREN’T an iPhone! The difference is “inside”! Having a “real” OS that is integrated with its other components makes the iPhone superior to ANY challenger on the market; even WITH its problems and draw backs. You KNOW APPLE will correct all of them and WILL be better for it! We who are loyal to the Company merely sit back and wait as the hysteria swirls around us. Peace to you all traveling with us in CyberSpace!

  12. Its notable that the web browser on the HTC Touch Diamond and Touch Pro also rival the iPhone, with better rendering and reflowing,one-handed hardware controls for zooming, support for flash, and ability to do simple things like cut and paste web content and download files to local memory.

  13. LG Dare has an interesting ‘home page’ layout and customization – it’s pretty cool. Samsung Instinct is appealing since Sprint’s All-in plan includes unlimited data, unlimited phone, unlimited text, and unlimited video and GPS.