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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.

Apple's iPhone is the sought-after smartphone of the moment, but it's outside the reach of some people and not ideal for everyone. Not only is the iPhone expensive at $499 to $599, but some IT departments won't support it, making it impractical for professionals who want to stay on the good side of the CIO.

Fortunately, there are many iPhone alternatives, including those with media players for music, video, and streaming content. At prices ranging from $75 to $450, they're cheaper than Steve Jobs' latest pet project, too.

Businesses generally have different needs than consumers when it comes to smartphones, not the least of which is access to applications. Despite Jobs' promise of "a very sweet solution" for developing and running third-party applications on the iPhone, Apple's plans for supporting business apps are fuzzy. Mobile e-mail provider Visto this week said it will support the iPhone, providing one option for accessing Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus e-mails. But for now, the iPhone is essentially a closed platform.

The iPhone will use AT&T's EDGE network, instead of the faster 3G cellular networks. That means certain applications, especially those that require a lot of server interaction, won't run as fast as they would on alternative smartphones that work with 3G networks.

Apple also has to prove that the iPhone is secure enough for the business world. Other mobile operating system makers such as Microsoft and Research In Motion have put a lot of effort into securely connecting smartphones to enterprise networks.

So it may be worth shopping around before you stand in line at the Apple or AT&T store with credit card in hand. Following are nine iPhone alternatives worth considering.

Nokia E65
(click image to see larger view)
Nokia E65
$449.89 without a carrier contract.
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Nokia E65
The Nokia E65 began selling in the United States earlier this month and comes with several enhancements over its predecessor, the E62. New features include built-in Wi-Fi and the ability to make cost efficient voice-over-IP calls via wireless LANs. The E62 can be integrated into your company's PBX infrastructure using third-party applications. The iPhone comes with Wi-Fi, but it's unclear whether you can actually make VoIP calls with it.

Another advantage of the E65 is its ability to connect to 3G networks, an important capability for streaming video or using bandwidth-intensive apps.

What's not to like? The E65's slide-out design is a nice touch, but the phone lacks a QWERTY keyboard, which means typing is a bit cumbersome. And the E65 offers up to 2.5 hours of talk time on a 3G network and up to 6 hours on a standard cellular network. By comparison, iPhone users can gab up to 8 hours.

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