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6/28/2007
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Nine Alternatives To Apple's iPhone

Not every businessperson wants or needs a $500 smartphone. Here are some highly capable options.

Nokia E61i
(click image to see larger view)
Nokia E61i
$456 without a carrier contract.
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Nokia E61i
Finally Nokia has given businesspeople what they want in a smartphone: Slick design, 3G support, built-in Wi-Fi, and VoIP calling.

More than anything, however, the E61i is about improving the mobile e-email experience. Users can set up e-mail using the settings wizard, then use the WLAN Wizard to locate available wireless networks. They can view and edit e-mail attachments with Quickoffice, ZIP Manager, and Adobe's Acrobat Reader. Apple's iPhone syncs up with personal contact databases and can view Microsoft Word and Excel files, but it doesn't have the enterprise integration capabilities of smartphones like the E61i.

If you're looking for a smartphone with a full Web browser, the E61i is a good pick. Its Mini Map Browser lets you view Web sites as they're meant to look.

When stuck at the airport, you can listen to tunes using the E61i's music player, which supports MP3 files, or stream live video and audio. In terms of style and design, however, the Nokia phone doesn't compare to the iPhone; you'll get fewer ooh's and aah's.

BlackBerry Curve
(click image to see larger view)
BlackBerry Curve by Research In Motion
$200 with 2-year AT&T contract and rebate.
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BlackBerry Curve
Upgrading from an older BlackBerry model to the Curve 8300 is like trading your 1999 Dodge Neon for a 2007 Lexus LS. The new BlackBerry is aimed at prosumers, the millions of working professionals who bring consumer technologies to work. Its big advantage is the "push" e-mail service that makes BlackBerrys the smartphones of choice in the business world.

The curve is like the iPhone in several ways. It comes with a mapping app called BlackBerry Maps, while the iPhone comes with Google Maps. And the Curve has a media player for music and video, while the iPhone comes with the guts of an iPod built in.

One of BlackBerry Curve's drawbacks, like that of most other smartphones sold in the United States, is its lack of Wi-Fi support. You can use Curve as a wireless modem for your laptop over RIM's network, but you won't be able to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots at airports or coffee shops.

BlackBerry Pearl
(click image to see larger view)
BlackBerry Pearl by Research In Motion
$250 with 2-year AT&T contract; $150 with T-Mobile monthly plan and rebate.
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BlackBerry Pearl
What makes the BlackBerry Pearl unique from other BlackBerrys? A sleeker design, digital camera, multimedia player with a stereo headset for MP3 and AAC music files, and an expandable memory slot.

The cell phone-like Pearl weighs 3.1 ounces compared with the 4.8 ounce iPhone. If history is a guide, people are reluctant to abandon cell phones for bulkier devices.

The Pearl's 64-Mbyte flash memory, expandable with a 2-Gbyte MicroSD card, gives you flexible storage for music, pictures, videos, and data files. The iPhone comes with 4 Gbytes or 8 Gbytes of storage, but storage capacity is fixed, so once you reach the limit, you'll need to make room before you can add more music or other files.

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