Thursday, January 31, 2008
While Apple's iPhone has definitely garnered lots of attention, and even some respect, one thing that it has also prompted is a lot of competition. In many ways Apple is an icon, and for that reason alone its products sell. Hoping to build a similar reputation, a lot of other companies have developed devices with which they hope to put their best feet forward and maybe even grab some of Apple's market share for themselves.
One of the devices that seeks to do this is the Prada phone which was designed through a concerted effort between South Korea's LG electronics and the Italian fashion house. In many ways the Prada phone is the most like the iPhone of all of the gadgets that are intended to compete with it. The Prada phone is slightly smaller than the iPhone, but uses the same touch screen technology for its interface. Like the iPhone, most of its face is covered by the touch screen which can be configured for everything from dialing phone numbers, checking email, and composing text messages to selecting music to listen to or viewing a video on the screen which provides a wide screen view in portrait orientation. While there are a number of similarities between the iPhone and the Prada phone, there are definitely differences under the hood considering the fact that the iPhone runs OS X and can be used for some productivity functions.
Another gadget that's meant to compete with the iPhone is the Nokia N95. The Nokia N95 also has a large screen, but has dispensed with touch screen technology in favor of a limited selection of more normal buttons. This model is very much designed to be a multimedia entertainment platform by enabling its users to watch video either on its own screen or when outputted to a full sized TV screen. The really remarkable thing about the Nokia N95 is that it takes digital photos with resolutions as high as five megapixels! There are still some pretty decent digital cameras around that aren't capable of that!
The Verizon VX9400 has also skipped the whole touch screen option, but provides access to a an extensive keypad and a large screen by making it so that the screen can pivot ninety degrees to convert from a compact configuration for storage to a useful configuration that presents a wide angle screen and the keypad for use at the same time. While one can't help wondering if this model, with its weirdly wide screen at the opposite end from the gadget's sound pickup, would be uncomfortable to talk on, it surely holds plenty of advantages. For example, it should be easy to manipulate the controls while watching video. This gadget also comes with two gigabytes of built in storage capacity for plenty of multimedia.
The Samsung Upstage is based on an interesting concept, but may not be usable enough to really provide that much competition for the iPhone. The Upstage's defining feature is that one side has all of the features of a phone while the other side presents a big screen. The screen is capable of displaying GPS data and video while allowing for access to music. The major detraction of the Upstage is that, at more or less the same size as an iPod Nano, the Upstage simply doesn't have a big enough screen to be particularly functional.
While only time will tell whether or not any of these gadgets can win the hearts and minds of gadget lovers, they're definitely a strong indication of the innovation that the iPhone has prompted.