Okay, so the iPhone 3G is going to be the second coming of Jesus in pocketable form, but maybe you're a rebel and don't wanna look exactly like the estimated 27 million other tools expected to be running around with an iPhone by 2009. You wanna be different. (Or maybe you can't seem to break out of that damn Sprint contract.) Still, you do want a touchscreen, 3G data, a music player and all that jazz. Is there an iPhone clone worth buying from your carrier? Relax, we've done the work for you and broken down the top three nationwide carriers' best iPhone wannabes into a single chart.
To sum that up, the Instinct is easily the best, most feature rich iPhone clone on the block, and at $129, is a steal for Sprint customers. My major problem with it is the touchscreen itself-I think the Vu's touchscreen is way more responsive. (Wilson likes it just fine, favoring it over Verizon's cloneys.) The Vu has everything superficial down right-the touchscreen, keyboard (best of the bunch) and phone body-but is really lacking in the feature department, and therefore not really worth the new $199 price, which hinges entirely on its Mobile TV function. If you married the Vu's body and touchscreen to the Instinct's features and price, you'd have a champion here, and a serious iPhone challenger. Too bad LG and Sammy hate each other.
The Voyager isn't considered an iPhone clone anymore, not in the strictest sense, though most of its problems stem from Verizon software rather than the hardware. As Wilson said in his review last fall, it's ambitious but flawed-and the flaws are mostly on Verizon. I'm really hoping Verizon lets the Dare just breathe, because the Vu proves LG is best left to its own devices. The Glyde is just a truly terrible phone. Most clay bricks are more responsive than its touchscreen, especially around the edges, and the crappy, sluggish Verizon software doesn't help. And its keyboard ain't much better.
One thing they all have in common is a shitty browser. There isn't a mobile browser that touches mobile Safari yet. Even when they could render HTML correctly, moving and zooming around the page (especially ones that aren't mobile optimized) is an exercise in self-control-how long can you take it before stabbing your eyes out. Opera mini does load on the Vu, and it's better than the included browser, but it worked kinda wonikly at times. For me, that's a critical flaw in all of these phones.
Best to worst: Instinct, Vu, Voyager, and Glyde.
UPDATE: Check out our review of the LG Dare, which gives the Instinct a run for its money