To celebrate the iPod's 5th Birthday earlier this week, I give you my current Top 5 Music Phones. While none are yet challenger's to the iPod's dominance in the realm of mobile music, the convergence of cell phone and portable audio player is certainly well underway. Apple may or may not enter the market with their own music playing phone next January. For now, these are your best bets in music phones:
1. Sony Ericsson w850i - Unlocked GSM
Sony's flagship Walkman phone (at least until the w950 comes out), the w850i features a ton of built-in memory, a Memory Stick, and a new Flash-driven interface. SE Walkman phones are always tops in sound quality and usability. Only hitch: it's brand new and selling for $450+ online.
2. LG Fusic - Sprint CDMA
The Fusic is compact, cute, and rocks a built-in FM transmitter for easy broadcasting of your tunes to car stereos, boom boxes, and anything else with an FM tuner. Also, it's a flip with external music controls arranged in that circle so familiar to portable music player fans.
3. Sony Ericsson w810i - Cingular GSM
Now that it's available as a carrier-subsidized option, the w810i is a bargain. Who cares if it's a few years old? The 810 packs SE's best-in-class Walkman software, a 512MB Memory Stick expandable to 4GB, quality earbuds with a 3.5mm adapter for your favorite 'phones, and perhaps the best 2MP camera available in a phone. I've been using the import-version w800i for awhile now and it sounds as good as my iPod. If you want something newer, try the K790/800 series of phones; they're not Walkman phones, but feature an excellent music player and 3.2 MP camera.
4. Nokia N91 - Unlocked GSM
This gets a nod more as a proof-of-concept than a phone you'd actually want to own. Sporting a rare 3.5mm headphone jack and a 4GB hard drive alongside Wi-FI connectivity and a 2MP camera, the N91 can do everything - on paper, at least. Problem is this phone is a beast, at 113 x 55 x 22mm and some 164g. Now that flash memory is available in capacities 4GB and greater, maybe Nokia will release a streamlined N91. Or maybe the N95 plus a big memory card will be the phone everyone wished the N91 was.
SEE ALSO: Samsung SGH-i300, also with built-in 4GB hard drive.
5. LG Chocolate - Verizon CDMA
This is one that I personally didn't like when I tried it out, but legions of satisfied users swear by. The form factor and fact that the interface is Flash-driven are great. The touch-sensitive controls and general wonkiness of the UI left me cold. Still, it's the most stylish way to access Verizon's high-speed online music store. As an alternative, check out the LG 8300 flip phone (also for Verizon).