PHOTOGUIDE: Cash is burning a hole in your pocket …: Got $200 or $300 for a dazzling device?

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So you’re sick of that grimy flip phone you’ve faithfully (pathetically) toted around for two years – an eternity by any measure, except if you happen to enjoy immense wealth.
And you really don’t get the math about monthly service options and their costs, or you choose not to. After all, the device is in your hand – in public! – all day. Nobody cares what foolish monthly price you’re willing to pay to rock out, text, browse or, heaven forbid, be productive. You gotta pimp the ride, doood.
Let’s see, what can sorts of gadgets can you get for $200 to $300? And let’s face it: the 3G iPhone’s new pricing is the invisible factor that determines how your choice will play on the street – or that trendy bistro where you’re planning to see and be seen. The usual suspects (er, vendors) crop up at all the carriers, of course. But it nags at you that – suddenly! – a few choice price cuts in carriers’ portfolios have also bolstered the ranks of handsets costing between $100 and $200.

Verizon Wireless’ baker’s dozen
Begin at Verizon Wireless, where on July 6 the carrier offered 13 device options for $200 or more, the most choices in that price range of any top-tier, U.S. carrier. (The availability of Vcast music and video, VZNavigator and Get It Now on these devices is almost a given, as is broadband speeds; check the details. Some prices are dependent on mail-in rebates.)
There’s a BlackBerry 8830 World Edition, a QWERTY-equipped smartphone slab with CDMA and GSM in red or silver, for $200. If you do a lot of thumbing under the table at meetings around the globe (or wannabe) and thus enjoy actual keys – not to mention Research In Motion Ltd.’s approach to security and enterprise-grade features –you’re already tempted.
But wait – there are three choices from LG Electronics Co. featuring “touch navigation,” a subtle differentiator from the too-touted-term “touchscreen.”
The Dare, at $200, offers a three-inch screen, tactile feedback, handwriting recognition and a 3.2 megapixel camera/camcorder and its design is reminiscent of another famous touchscreen device. The Venus, also at $200, delivers two screens, one for navigation, with a slide-out, alpha-numeric keypad. The Voyager, at $200 – wait! make that $150 as of July 6 (hmm…) – offers a horizontal flip design with outer touchscreen and inner QWERTY.
Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. has two devices at Verizon Wireless at $200, or did a week ago. The Samsung Flipshot, at $200, offers 3 megapixel imaging with a flip display that rotates 180 degrees for panoramic views and it cables to your TV or PC for big screen action.
Samsung’s Glyde was $200 until last week, when it suddenly – suddenly! – was reduced to $150, which employs an outer touchscreen and a horizontal slide-out QWERTY. Don’t forget to look over Samsung’s SCH-i760, which combines touchscreen, scroll wheel, alpha-numeric keypad and slide-out QWERTY with productivity and music packed in for $300.
Then there’s Verizon Wireless’ own, seductively named and rebadged SMT-5800 (thanks, HTC Corp.), which for $200 offers a smartphone with both an outer alpha-numeric keypad and a horizontal slide-out QWERTY keypad, loaded with Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile 6.0 Standard and other productivity applications.
Maybe you’re a productivity kook, in which case you can pay out $300 for Palm Inc.’s Treo 700wx, packed with productivity features, touchscreen and a bevy of media and messaging capabilities. (The Treo 755p is out of stock; it was reduced to $100, from $250, last week.)
Rounding out Verizon Wireless’ offerings are the rebadged XV6800 and XV6900 (thanks, HTC), at $250 and $350, with touchscreens, QWERTYs and imbued with productivity and entertainment features.
Sprint Nextel’s Instinct
Let’s begin with the obvious: Sprint Nextel’s new market-combat-ready handset, Samsung’s touchscreen Instinct, was readied for market at $200 until Apple made its pricing move last month. Upon launch, the Instinct had gotten another $70 worth of subsidy to hit the market at $130, where it reportedly is attracting large numbers of consumers.
What’s left in the $200 and up range? Devices from Palm, RIM and HTC.
Palm’s Treo 700wx, at $200, offers broadband speeds, a QWERTY, five-way navigation button, Windows Mobile software, e-mail options and use as a modem for laptops. The Treo 755p, also $200, tucks the formerly external antenna inside, is Sprint TV-enabled, and includes most features on the 700wx.
The BlackBerry 8830, for $220, has Sprint Nextel’s Worldwide Service allowing the use of a GSM SIM card when you travel internationally, is designed for one-hand use with navigation button, QWERTY, GPS and media capabilities.
Last but not least, Sprint Nextel offers HTC’s Touch ($250) and Mogul ($300), both of which combine productivity and multimedia functionality in one package, like many smartphone offerings these days. The Touch offers the vendor’s patented TouchFlo technology for navigation, Windows Mobile 6.0, messaging options, the Sprint Music Store and is Sprint TV-enabled. The Mogul offers a horizontal, slide-out QWERTY, Windows Mobile 6.0 software and 2 megapixel camera and camcorder.
T-Mobile USA’s high-end offerings
T-MobileUSA’s high-end offerings, indeed, most of its portfolio, are MyFaves-enabled. The Motorola Razr2 at $200 continues to sell, with its slim, clamshell profile, CrystalTalk voice quality, messaging options including picture messaging, Bluetooth and music capabilities.
T-Mobile USA is famous among messaging fiends for its Sidekick offerings, the Slide and LX, both priced at $200. The LX was reduced to $150 in early July. On both models, oriented horizontally, the screen itself slides out and up to reveal a QWERTY keypad. The Slide offers always-on, one-touch instant messaging, e-mail, 1.3 megapixel camera, picture messaging and more. The LX offers high-definition LCD display, QWERTY, 1.3 megapixel camera with flash, mood lighting for the keypad and the usual bevy of messaging and music options.
The BlackBerry 8800 ($200) is a quad-band world phone with QWERTY, trackball navigation, Internet-based and corporate e-mail options, instant messaging, HTML Web browsing, built-in GPS and music options. The BlackBerry 8820, at $350, is a personal productivity/corporate monster, with Wi-Fi calling option for hot spots including the carrier’s HotSpot@Home service, plus high-speed Web browsing, Internet-based and corporate e-mail options, instant messaging, HTML Web browsing, built-in GPS and music options.
The T-Mobile USA Wing (courtesy of HTC), at $300, is GPRS/EDGE- and Wi-Fi-enabled, offers a horizontal slide-out QWERTY, Windows Mobile software, 2 megapixel camera, with messaging and music options, Bluetooth and voice-activated functions.
AT&T Mobility’s ‘other’ offerings
Yes, AT&T Mobility’s the one shaking the tree – that is, selling the iPhone – which is not without its hazards.
It also has perhaps the least number of high-priced options from the greatest variety of vendors.
Do we need to mention the iPhone 3G, at $200 (8 GB) and $300 (16 GB)? Read all about it on anyone’s cave wall.
Motorola delivers its Z9 and Razr v9 for $200 each (though the latter was out-of-stock in early July.)
The Z9 is a slider for $200 with AT&T Mobility’s first turn-by-turn navigation, aided by GPS. The feature set includes a 2 megapixel camera and video recorder, stereo Bluetooth, and video and music options and HTML browsing.
LG’s Vu ($200) is a touchscreen device with eerily familiar design that can deliver AT&T Mobility TV and more of the carrier’s services on a three-inch screen (with horizontal viewing option), 2 megapixel camera and video, music, messaging and multi-tasking capabilities.
The Samsung Access, at $200, is a bar-style device designed to deliver most if not all services offered by the carrier – TV, music, video, you name it. With Bluetooth and PIM functionality for productivity.
Palm’s Treo 750, also at $200, offers a QWERTY with highlighted alpha-numeric keypad, productivity functions, internal antenna, Windows Mobile 5.0, multitasking between voice and data.
The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 ($250) represents RIM’s efforts toward consumer appeal, or make that “prosumer,” as productivity is always the focus of functionality at RIM. The design is slim, rather than slab, and it’s a quad-band world phone with Wi-Fi reception. The camera/video recorder is 2 megapixel.
Finally, the AT&T Mobility Tilt (courtesy of HTC), at $300, offers a touchscreen and horizontal slide-out QWERTY. It packs in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3 megapixel camera, messaging, music – the works.

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