UPGRADE


What’s new and hot for cell-phone savants? The iPhone’s all the buzz, but it’s not the only name in town.

By Chris Tucker

BECAUSE WE COULDN’T DO A PHONE PAGE WITHOUT MENTIONING IT
It’s not a Treo … it’s not an iPod … it’s an iPhone — the most hyped communications device since, uh, the telegraph. Fortunately, for Apple and the whole of society, the iPhone has turned out to be just about everything its worshippers expected: It has visual voicemail so you can see which messages you want to hear; savvy sensors that turn off the screen when you’re talking, thus saving battery life; and the best Internet browsing on any handheld so far (you can see real web pages, not just clips). Oh, and there’s a little music player too. $499 for the 4 GB model, $599 for the 8 GB one. www.apple.com

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?
Speaking of the visual voicemail on the iPhone, there is a way to get into the game without having to face the gulp-inducing price tag of the Apple device. A little company called SimulScribe can transcribe your calls to text. When a message comes in, you’ll be notified and can then decide whether to read it, listen to it, or junk it altogether.

The service started out for BlackBerrys only, but Windows Mobile and other versions began launching it this summer. Free download; $10 per month for 40 messages, 25 cents per message thereafter. www.simulscribe.com
 
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1. Big Fun with a Tiny TV
If you think no airport line or cab ride should be devoid of Stephen Colbert, CSI: NY, or, at the least, some ESPN sports clips, you’ll love the Verizon Wireless V Cast Mobile TV, which moves light-years beyond the jerky cell-phone TV of 2004. It’s broadcast quality, showing 30 frames per second, which means sharp images, more or less fluid transitions, and mostly readable text. You might wish for stronger sound, but your linemates would hate you. Service is $13 to $25 per month, depending on the options you choose, with purchase of a phone ($150 to $200) and a two-year agreement. www.verizonwireless.com

2. Role-Playing
Spider-Man may have a double identity, but the Samsung SCH-u740 is a dual-hinge beauty that has even more roles to play. Just want to make calls? Open the phone vertically, like with a standard flip handset. Rather text-message? Open it horizontally, and type away on the full qwerty keyboard. The organizer and the camera function in both modes. Call quality, by the way, is great — loud and clear. $60 to $149 with a two-year agreement. www.samsung.com

3. Destination Found
Nobody will tell you to get lost once you flash the stylish Nokia N95 — and even if they do, you’ll find yourself fast with the help of the N95’s integrated GPS, which features maps of more than 100 countries, point-to-point routing, and directions announced in a crisp English accent. Also on board: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a 5 MP camera with Carl Zeiss optics and more editing options than you’ll find on many low-end cameras. And it all adds up to $749. www.nseries.com