Three Free Alternatives to the iPhone

Without a doubt, the iPhone is making huge waves in the cell phone world. With its touch-screen technology, versatility, and attractive Apple design, the iPhone looks to be the must-have item for 2007. However, its considerable price tag and exclusivity to AT & T make it an unviable option for some.

So where to go if you want a multimedia phone with all the features of an iPhone? Unfortunately, there's no such thing at the moment. The iPhone's wi-fi capability and touch-screen interface is pretty unique, although competitors are certainly on the way. There are, however, some alternatives to the iPhone – for example, the bar-style Samsung Blackjack, the clamshell Samsung SYNC a707, and the slider-design Nokia 5300 – that are available for the very attractive price of free.

iPhone Alternatives: What You'll Get

It should be noted that while all three of these multimedia phones make good alternatives to the iPhone, none of them really determine what you'd call a replacement. All are attractive, full-featured phones, but if you're really into the iPhone's design and cachet, you might want to just bite the bullet and buy one. But before you drop $ 400 on one, consider that the iPhone hard has the market cornered on cool features:

Digital Camera: A built-in digital camera is no rarity on a cell phone these days, and all three of the cell phones listed above have at least a 1 megapixel camera built in. The Samsung Blackjack, for example, sports a full-featured 2+ megapixel camera loaded with options, while the Nokia 5300's 1 megapixel camera supports streaming video.

Bluetooth: While the Blackjack, the Samsung a707, and the Nokia 5300 lack the iPhone's wi-fi capability, they all feature Bluetooth technology – meaning they'll work with all the latest Bluetooth gadgets, such as wireless headsets and stereo headphones. They also have WAP browsing built in, meaning you can still surf the Web from your cell phone if you so desire.

Music Players: A cell phone with a music player is quite common as well, and all three of these iPhone alternatives come with a built-in music player. They may not have the animated menus and album displays that the iPhone features, but they play music every bit as well, making the iPhone's eye-candy a feature you're maybe not miss. The Samsung a707 even features shortcut keys and external touch-sensitive controls for the music player. Not too bad, considering the price tag.

iPhone Alternatives: What You Will not Get … Or Will You?

Now for the not-so-good news. There are, like it or not, a few things the iPhone has that these phones do not. However, these multimedia phones do not fall quite as short as you might think.

Lots of Onboard Memory: While the iPhone ships with a metric ton of onboard memory – 8 GB for the latest generation – it's not expandable, as the iPhone lacks a memory card slot. While the Samsung Blackjack, Samsung a707, and Nokia 5300 do not come with a lot of built-in memory, they all come with MicroSD card slots, meaning they're expandable to up to 2 GB, making room for plenty of media.

Touch-screen design: There's no way around it: the iPhone's touch screen is pretty cool. But, if you expect a lot of typing and do not want fingerprints all over your phone, consider the Samsung Blackjack, which comes with a full-on QWERTY keyboard. Not quite as cutting-edge, but easily as functional – maybe even more so.

Wi-Fi: Again, this is where the iPhone [] has a definite advantage: wi-fi capability for easy Internet access. That does not mean that these other cell phones can not compete, however; all three come with built-in EDGE technology and PC sync, so they can be tethered to a laptop and you can surf wirelessly on your cell phone's internet connection.

The Nokia 5300, for example, features Class 10 EDGE and can send and receive email using POP3, IMAP, or SMTP, while the Samsung Blackjack is a full-fledged multimedia phone with an office document viewer and Windows Mobile 5.

The Price Tag! At last, some good news. The iPhone is a stylish-looking gadget, but comes with the price tag to match: $ 399 for the 8 GB model. Still, it's tough to beat "free," which is where the rest of these cell phones clock in with a new cell phone plan . If functionality means more to you than fashion, you can pick up one of these multimedia phones and spend that money on something else instead.

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