Despite the initial cries of disappointment from the tech press, the Apple iPhone 4S is reportedly almost sold out heading into its official launch on Friday. If you're ready to upgrade your phone but can't get a hold of an iPhone 4S on Friday, don't forget that there are plenty of great alternatives in the smartphone market right now.
I know that there are also plenty of you out there who are tempted by an iPhone but want to avoid getting locked into the Apple ecosystem or simply don't want to give up your loyalty to Android or BlackBerry. So, for those of you who can't (or refuse) to get an iPhone 4S but are looking for a phone upgrade, here are five devices worth considering.
1. Droid Bionic
This is arguably the best Android device on the market. It's not the coolest looking or feeling device. It has a similar odd shape to the Motorola Droid X with extra thickness on the side of the phone that has the camera. But, it's a sturdy device and it's wicked fast in hardware, software, and the Verizon 4G LTE network. It also has much better battery life than the HTC Thunderbolt (the former Android king) and Motorola's Webtop software lets you use this device like a computer using the desktop or laptop dock.
2. Samsung Galaxy S II
If you have iPhone envy because of the svelte design, then the Samsung Galaxy S II is the phone you should consider (see below). It is thin, well-designed, relatively powerful, and has a brilliantly bright screen. It doesn't feel nearly as cheap as the plasticy first-gen Galaxy S phones. Plus, the Galaxy S II is available across lots of different carriers in the U.S. and internationally (unlike the Droid Bionic) and it's less expensive than the $300 Bionic.
3. Motorola Photon
This is a cousin of the Droid Bionic mentioned above, only this one has a better hardware design and it runs on Sprint instead of Verizon. It's another speed demon. It has a dual-core NVIDIA Tegra processor and runs on the Sprint/Clearwire WiMAX network for 4G. Like the Bionic and Motorola Atrix, the Photon includes the Webtop software and the ability to dock into a PC-like experience on the desktop or into the laptop dock. You can't do that with an iPhone.
4. HTC HD7
Don't forget about Windows Phone 7, especially since its big upgrade to 7.5 "Mango" is happening this fall. WP7 offers a solid experience, especially for smartphone novices, and the number of apps available are climbing rapidly. The best WP7 device I've used is the HTC HD7, which reminded me a lot of the HTC Thunderbolt, in terms of hardware design. There are also similar models such as the HTC HD7S (AT&T), the HTC Trophy (Verizon), and the HTC Titan (in the U.K.).
5. BlackBerry Bold 9900
Since some of you are still loyal to BlackBerry and even more of you are still locked into using BlackBerry because that's what your company uses, I have to mention the BlackBerry Bold 9900. As far as BlackBerries go, it's the best one yet. It doesn't have the versatility of iPhone and Android, because of the lack of apps, but it still does email and messaging really well, the web browser has improved immensely, the display is great (albeit a little cramped), and it has most of the biggest mobile apps (Kindle, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.). And, if you still prefer a hardware keyboard, it's got the best one that RIM makes.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the upcoming book, Follow the Geeks (bit.ly/ftgeeks).