Bolivia - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile


Bolivia a small land-locked country in South America, bounded by Chile and Peru to the West, Brazil to the North and East, Argentina and Paraguay to the South, is named after Independence leader Simon Bolivar. The plurinational state of Bolivia has a total land area of around 425,000 square miles and a population just below ten million making it a sparsely populated country at around 23 per square mile. Bolivia is rich in natural resources but it is still one of the least developed countries in South America. It per-capita GDP (ppp) stands at around $4300. 2005 saw a significant shift in Bolivia’s political climate with the election of Socialism leader Evo Morales and his re-election in a landslide victory in 2009.

Travel Resources:

Bolivia consists of the western highlands in the Andes Mountains and the eastern lowlands with large areas of Amazonian rain-forests and the Chaco Plain. The dry season that runs from May to October is generally the time travelers visit. As the salt desert can flood from December to March it is recommended to bypass that time-frame. Moreover, because of the altitude Bilivia is recommended for the physically fit. Bolivia has many attractions for a visitor. La Paz, the world’s highest capital atop the Andes, is the most popular place to visit with Lake Titicaca, Copacabana, and Tiahuanaco in its vicinity. Other places of interest are the Uyuni (salt desert), Santa Cruz, Sucre, and Potasi.  Bolivian cuisine is mostly lightly spiced but the meals are heavy on the pork, llama meat and potatoes.


ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
Lonely Planet Bolivia978-1741049985$18Introduction followed by great region-wise coverage. The best sites are explained in great detail. Good maps including trekking routes.
Bolivia in Focus: A Guide to the People, Politics, and Culture978-1566562997$13Covers land and people, history, culture, economy, politics, society, and must see landmarks and historical sites. Western Bolivia focus.
Bolivia Travel Map978-1553411376$131:1,250,000 scale. Includes insets with central La Paz and Potosa. Legend includes national parks, and points of interest. Roads to trails marked.
Bolivia Grounded Adapter Plug Kit – GUA and GUBB001FD7CES$15


Philatelic Profile:

The first stamps of Bolivia were a set (Scott #1 to #8) of eight in single color Imperfs showing the Andes Condor released in 1867. Several varieties and types of these early issues exist. The stamps catalog for between $5 and $400 with the lower denominations cataloging lower and progressively getting higher. The most valuable is the 50c blue and the dark blue variety which catalog for around $400 MNH and $100 used. Reprints of many of these issues also exist and are more common with catalog values in the $5 to $25 range. Pen cancellations (fiscal use) are also common with catalog values in the $1 to $60 range. This was followed by a few other issues in the Coat of Arms and Arms and the Law themes. Those issues dominated the scene until 1896. Many of those stamps are also very valuable with catalog values in the dollar range for lower denominations to around $150. One exception is the 500c black Coat of Arms Issue (Scott #19) which is valued at over $2000 for MNH or used (Eleven Star watermark variety – the Nine Star variety fetch about one-third this amount). Other significant Bolivian issues from the classic period (till 1940) include:
  1. A set of eight stamps released in 1897 in the Patriots, Generals, and Coat of Arms theme. The set (Scott #47 to #54) catalogs for around $60 MNH or used. The patriots and generals of Bolivia represented are President Tomas Frias, President Jose M. Linares, Pedro Domingo Murillo, Bernardo Monteagudo, General Jose Ballivian, General Antonio Jose de Sucre, and Simon Bolivar. These issues are affordable and catalogs for between a dollar and $6. Genuine vertical imperf pairs exist for Scott #47 and #51 and they catalog in the $75 range. The most valuable issue in the set is the mult-colored Coat of Arms stamp (Scott #54) at around $40 MNH and $50 used. Acquiring a genuine one will involve some work as excellent forgeries exist.
  2. A set of six stamps released in 1916 in the Nature and Architecture themes. The set (Scott #111 to #116) uses a bi-color design in the classic keytypes mold. Monolith of Tiahuanacu (a statue found in the mysterious prehistoric city of Tiahuanaco that has an inferred date of 12,000 BC), Mount Huayna Potosi, Lake Titicaca (largest lake in South America by volume of water located at the Peruvian border - over 200 cubic miles, over 3000 square miles surface area), Mount Illimani, and Legislative Building.
  3. A set of two triangular-shaped stamps released in 1931 to mark the revolution of June 25, 1930 that resulted in General Carlos Blanco Galinda's military Junta taking over power. The set (Scott #205 and #206) is inexpensive at around $3 MNH and a dollar for used. Imperf pairs exist which fetch a premium ($15 to $20). The issue is significant in that it marks the beginning of Bolivia's transformation from laissez-faire policies that ignored the needs of the majority native population.
  4. A set of nine stamps released in 1938 in the Industries theme. The set (Scott #242 to #250) catalogs for around $15 MNH and around $4 for used. The design uses conservative single-colors and the depictions are: native school, oil wells, modern factories, Torch of Knowledge, map of Sucre-Camiri Railroad, Allegory of Free Eduction, Alligorical Figure of Learning, symbols of industry, and modern agriculture. This is another important issue that marks Bolivia's early attempt at political transformation.
The first stamp of Bolivia after the classic period was the “Flags of 21 American Republics” to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Pan American Union. The stamp (Scott #269) is a beautiful multi-colored issue and is remarkably inexpensive at around $2 MNH and a dollar for used. The issue is significant in Bolivia has a significant claim to the formation of the Union - Simon Bolivar conceptualized such an organization aimed at regional solidarity at the 1826 Congress of Panama as early as 1826 although the formation of it took another 64 years. Other significant issues since the classic period include:
  1. A set of seven stamps released in October 1942 to mark the first school philatelic exposition held in La Paz the previous year. The set uses a single color multiple-stamp-on-stamp design. The stamps depicted are Bolivia's first postage stamp and the airmail stamp of 1941. The set (Scott #274 to #280) catalogs for around $20 MNH and around $15 used.
  2. A set of fourteen stamps released on July 1, 1951 to commemorate the fifth athletic championship matches held at La Paz in October 1948. The beautiful set (Scott #352 to #358 and #C150 to #C156) catalogs for around $8 MNH and $6 used. The sports depicted are boxing, tennis, diving, soccer, skiing, and handball on the regular issues and horsemanship, basketball, fencing, hurdling, javelin throwing, relay race, and La Paz Stadium on the airmail variants.
  3. A beautiful set of ten stamps issues on April 24, 1970 in the Butterflies theme. The set (Scott #521 to #525 and C302 to C306) which uses a single-color background and butterflies in original colors catalogs for around $25 MNH or used. The butterflies depicted are papilio crassus, catagramma cynosura, eunica eurota flora, and ituna phenarete in the regular issues and metamorpha dido wernichei, heliconius felix, morpho casica, pailio yuracares, and heliconius melitus in the airmail variants.
  4. A beautiful Parrots set of eight stamps released on May 11, 1981. The set (Scott #661 to #668) catalogs for around $15 MNH and around $5 Used. The parrots depicted are ara macao (scarlet macaw), ara chloroptera, ara ararauna, ara rubrogenys, ara auricollis, anodorynchus hyacinthinus, ara militaris, and ara severa.
  5. Three sets of stamps released in 1997 in the Tourism theme. The sets (Scott #983 to #988, #989 to #994, and #995 to #1000) together catalog for around $30 MNH and a little less for used. The designs show Miners' Monument, Folklore Costume, Virgin of Socavon, Sajama Mountains, Chipaya Child, and Raul Shaw Moreno in the first set (Tourism in Oruro theme), La Glorieta, Governor's Palace, Dinosaur Tracks, House of Liberty, Tarabaqueno, and Statue of Juana Azurduy of Padilla in the second set (Tourism in Chuquisaca), and House of Culture Dorada, Church of Entre Rios, San Luis Falls, Monument to the Chaco War, Temple and Statue of the Virgin Mary Chaguay, and Eustaquio Mendez House in the third set (Tourism in Tarija theme).
Numismatic Profile:

The first coins were produced by the mint in the Imperial City of Potosi following the discovery of the world’s richest silver mine in the area in 1574. The first type was a cob with the Hapsburg arms in Obverse and Cross with Quartered Castles and Lions in Reverse. The Cob types continued through the 18th century until milled pillars and bust pieces were introduced in 1767. Milled coinage with Charles IIII and others in Obverse continued the time of independence in 1825. Republican coinage era (Sol or Scudo Coinage) with a new monetary system (8 Soles = 1 Peso, 16 Soles = 1 Scudo) was introduced following independence and that period continued through 1870 when Reform Coinage denominated in Centavos appeared.

Numismatic items of Bolivia include:


ItemPrice RangeDescription
Coins$2 and upCommon coins in UNC from the 1950s and prior dates start around $2. 18th century Carlos IIII silver coins start around $30 in F. Crude Potosi Cobs start around $50. Cobs with rare assayer marks, early error varieties etc start around $100. Gold proofs such as the 1979 Republic of Bolivia 4000 Pesos, UNICEF Year of the Child Proofs, etc go well into the 100s.
Exonumia$15 and upCochabamba tokens in UNC start around $15. Commemorative tokens in bronze from the mid-19th century start around $25. 1865 Potosi Campaign Medals, Bolivia centenary silver shields etc start around $100.
Paper Money$1 and upCommon UNCs from the 60s and prior dates start around $1. Z Replacements and Error Varieties from the 60s and prior dates start around $20. Specimen issues from the 80s and prior dates start around $50. UNC bundles from the 60s and prior dates start around $100.


Collectible Memorabilia:

Tarabuco's (near Sucre) traditional fabrics are one of Bolivia's great souvenirs. Other items are minerals, art and antiques.


ResourcePrice RangeDescription
Mineral Samples$10 and upSmaller samples of Sulfur, Jamesonite, Stannite, etc start around $10. Prices go into the 100s for bigger samples or precious and semi-precious samples like amethyst, ametrine, and vivianite.
Art$5 and upPrints of old photos showing local scenes in La Paz and such start around $5. 19th century antique maps and original oil paintings fetch into the 100s.
Antiques$100 and upAndes Indian sash belts and such start around $100, Quenua Indian and other Ponchos a little more. Original Indian rugs and blankets fetch even more.


Last Updated: 12/2015. 




    Bhutan - Travel/Philately/Numismatics/Memorabilia Profile

    Bhutan is a small land-locked country in South Asia sandwiched between India and China. Bhutan’s landlocked borders were established around the 7th century and the country has managed to hold its own since then. The Kingdom of Bhutan has a total land area of just under 15,000 square miles and a population of around 650,000. Bhutan has a varied climate with the tropical Southern plains, cool winters and hot summers in the valley, and extreme winters and cool summers in the northern Himalayan ranges. It is however considered as one of the most isolated areas of the world – it took until 1962 for Bhutan to release its first postage stamps for international use. Even today, Bhutan has just one airport – the airport in Paro which is considered one of the most challenging airports in the world due to its location in a steep valley. Bhutan's economy is based on agriculture, forestry, tourism, hydroelectric power exports to India, and the sale of postage stamps. More than half the country’s population is engaged in sustenance farming. Bhutan is using a balanced approach toward modernization with a focus on Gross National Happiness. In 1999, it became one of the last countries to introduce television with the lifting of a ban on television and internet. The per-capital GDP (ppp) stands at around $5000 with the economy growing at a very rapid pace in the last few years.

    Travel Resources:

    For most visitors, Bhutan is a spiritual journey than anything else. Tourists experience Bhutan as part of a travel package since the government regulates tourism. Bhutan can be described as an expensive getaway at around $200 per person per diem on the average. Drukgyel Dzong, Rinpung Dzong, Bumthang Dzongkhag, Phobjika Valley are but a few of its attractions. Bhutanese cuisine is very spicy as chilly is used extensively. Meat is consumed almost as the rate of vegetables.


    ResourceISBN or ASINBest PriceDescription
    Lonely Planet Bhutan978-1740595292$17Perfect mix of history, culture, itineraries, architecture along with detailed region-wise coverage.
    Bhutan Travel Map978-1553411390$131:380,000 scale. Legend includes hotels, camping sites, Dzongs, and other points of interest.
    Radio Shangri-La: What I learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth978-0307453020$14A good mix of personal experience and research in a book that is both educational and inspirational.
    International Travel Grounded Adapter PlugB001ISR9B6$4


    Philatelic Profile:

    Bhutan, a small land-locked country in South Asia sandwiched between India and China has a total land area of just under 14,987 square miles and a population of around 700,000. The first stamps of Bhutan were a set of seven designs in conservative tri-colors showing local scenes released in April 1962 for inland use and reissued in October 1962 for international use. The set (Scott #1 to #7) designs were Postal Runner, Archer, Yak, Map of Bhutan, and a portrait of Druk Gyalpo the Dragon King Ugyen Wangchuk and Paro Dzong the fortress-monastery. The set catalogs for around $5 MNH or used. This was followed by a few issues in other local themes and certain international themes. Significant among them are the following issues from the 1962-66 time period:
    1. A set (Scott #8 and #9) of two stamps released on October 10, 1962 to mark the World Refugee Year. The issue is significant in that UN declared 1959-60 as the World Refugee Year and the issue came two years later. This is because Bhutan hadn’t started issuing stamps in 1959-60 time frame. The set catalogs for under $10 MNH or used. 5ch surcharges on these 1nu and 2nu stamp respectively issued in 1965 are rare and valuable. Each of those (Scott #68 and #69) catalog for around $35 each for MNH or used.
    2. A set (Scott #15 to #23) of nine stamps released on April 16, 1964 in the “Bhutanese Dancers” design. The colorful set is also fairly inexpensive at less than $5 MNH or used. Surcharges on part of this set were issued in 1965 and they are more valuable. Each of those (Scott #70, 71, 74, 75) catalog for around $12 MNH or used.
    3. A set (Scott #31 to #33) released on November 22, 1964 in memory of those who served in the service of their country. The design shows “Flags of the world at half-mast” in gray, silver, and gold backgrounds respectively. The stamps are valued at around $5 MNH or used. Imperf versions and a souvenir sheet also exist which are valued somewhat higher. Although the theme is global, 1964 was an especially tumultuous period in the country’s history – in April 1964, Jigme Palden Dorji, the prime minister was assassinated by an army corporal. An assassination attempt on the third Druk Gyalpo (Dragon King), Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, followed in 1965. The underlying reasons for the problems are unclear – distrust between the Wangchuk and Dorji families, opposition to India’s interference in Bhutan, and power struggle between the Dorji and Yangki (family of Druk Gyalpo’s Tibetan mistress) families are factors.
    4. A set (Scott #47 to #52) released on April 25, 1965 to mark New York World’s Fair. The design is unique as it attempts to show architecture from the rest of the world alongside Bhutan’s historical monuments. The themes show Bhutan’s historical monuments in the foreground with a lightly shaded single-color image in the background. The designs were skyscraper and pagoda, Pieta by Michelangelo and statue of Khmer Buddha, skyline of NYC and Bhutanese Village, and Georoge Washington Bridge, NY and foot bridge, Bhutan. The set catalogs for less than $3 MNH or used. Souvenir Sheets and Imperf versions which fetch double that also exist.
    Starting in 1966, Bhutan started pioneering stamp designs that were innovative, colorful, and creative. The purpose was to attract the philatelic industry. This strategy was a huge success as stamp sales to the philatelic industry became Bhutan’s chief revenue producer for many years. The first such issue was a set of nine stamps issued on July 8, 1965 that show a portrait of King Jigme Wangchuk. The circular designs used lithography on embossed gold foils. The set (Scott #83, a-h) is valued around $20 MNH or used. Other significant Bhutanese stamp issues since 1966 include:
    1. A set of twelve stamps (Scott #91-91k) released in the space theme released on October 30, 1967. These stamps are the first 3-D stamps ever released. The technology used a simulated 3-D effect using a plastic overlay. The designs were Astronaut walking in space, Orbiter and Lunar Module docked, Lunar Module, and Astronauts. The set catalogs for around $30 MNH or used. The next ten years saw many such sets and most of them are valued in the $10 to $30 range. The most valued among them is the Birds set (Scott #104 to #104g) of eight stamps released on August 5th 1969. The beautiful set catalogs for around $50 MNH or used. The designs sho owl, red birds, hawk, penguin, macaws, bird of paradise, duck, and pheasant.
    2. A long set (Scott #252 to #269) of twenty six stamps released in 1978 in varied themes that were surcharges on previous issues from the 1967-76 time period. The set is valuable at around $120 for MNH or used.
    3. A stamp (Scott #1135) issued on December 17, 1996 celebrating the Penny Black, the world’s first postage stamp. The stunning design features a 22-karat gold lithographed and embossed Penny Black in a dark-brown background. The stamp catalogs for around $10 MNH or used.
    4. A beautiful sheet of six stamps (Scott #1324 a-f) released on June 1, 2000 celebrating Bhutan’s Dzongs. Dzongs are massive but beautiful structures built starting around the 16th century under the direction of a high lama without the use of any architectural plans – instead, spiritual inspiration was the guiding light! The structures were built for religious or defense purposes. The set is very inexpensive at around $2 – nevertheless, it is an important issue that showcases architecture unique to Buddhist kingdoms of the Himalayas.
    5. The first-ever CD-ROM stamp released in May 2008 to mark the hundredth anniversary of its hereditary monarchy and the coronation of its fifth King, His Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk. The CD features an 8-minute documentary about the country’s five monarchs along with a web portal. The CD-ROM stamp catalog for around $10. This release was followed by a few more CD-ROM stamps. They are also valued around the same range.
    Numismatic Profile:

    The first coins of Bhutan were issued in 1780 and were copies of previously used coins of Cooch Behar using Debs (Half Rupee). The first issues in VF are affordable at around $25. The era of hammered coinage continued through four periods until 1927. The undated issues are not especially valuable trading in the few dollars range. Decimal coinage started with the introduction of Bronze coins in 1928. The first coins with Crowned Bust in Obverse and symbols on nine-sections in Reverse catalog in the $100 range for UNC and a little higher for proofs. Other numismatic items of Bhutan include:


    ItemPrice RangeDescription
    Coins$3 and upCommon UNCs start around $3. Large Silver Proofs from the 1990s start around $30. 1970s and prior UNC complete year sets start around $100. Ngultrum Gold Proofs from the 1990s start into the 100s.
    Paper Money$1 and upCommon Ngultrum Banknotes in UNC start around $1. Z Replacements and Bundles start around $20. Scarce Bundles, First Issue UNCs etc start into the 100s.


    Collectible Memorabilia:

    Buddhist art, textiles, and antiques are the sought after items. Items tend to be on the expensive side. With antiques exercise caution as it is illegal to take out of the country anything more than hundred years old.


    ResourcePrice RangeDescription
    Ethnic Clothing$200 and upHandwoven Kira Kushutara sheets and blankets.
    Antiques$30 and upSilk woven tapestry’s and small bronze curios start around $30 and the more exotic ones made of silver are valued well into the 100s. Hand Woven Pure Silk authentic Kira woman dress (national women’s dress) can fetch into the 1000s.
    Art$15 and upBuddhism, King, and War themed 19th century prints start around $15 with framed bigger prints priced well into the 100s.



    Last Updated: 12/2015. 
     

      Best Values in Unlocked GSM Cellphones - A Comparative Review

      Unlocked cellphones are the standard in many parts of the world. In the US, the major service providers use a subscription revenue model that relies on heavily discounting the upfront cost of a cellphone and making it up by tying customers to a long-term contract (2 years or more) that assures a steady stream of monthly revenue. To prevent customers from using the phone with a competitor’s service, they lock such phones. For consumers, there are several disadvantages to this approach including the fact that one has to jump through hoops to use it outside the country. For this reason, unlocked cellphones are a popular choice among a small segment of the population.

      Service providers have prepaid options that allow these phones to be used with AT&T, Verizon, and other service provider networks. Unlocked GSM cellphones are a popular choice because they can be used outside the US more easily – use a SIM card from the local provider. These work with GSM providers in the US such as AT&T and T-Mobile. It will not work on CDMA providers such as Verizon, Alltel, and Sprint.

      For a best-value comparison, we used the spreadsheet below sorted in ascending order by price:



      ModelThumbnailPriceFeaturesComments
      Motorola Motofone F3


      22.99Dual-band GSM – will work in USA but not in Europe and Asia. Ink Display – easy to read even on direct sunlight, GPRS, 250 contacts, clock, alarm, 4.5 hour battery. 3.8 x 2 x 0.8 inches ; 4.3 ounces Excellent Value. Consider quad-band GSM cellphones, if you plan to travel outside the US frequently. The same model sold in Europe and Asia also has dual-band but covers the other two frequencies used there (900/1800) instead of the two (850/1900) used here.
      Motorola V195


      $50Quad-band GSM – will work globally. Classic clam-shell design in the legendary v300 style, GPRS, dual-LCD, polyphonic ringtones, Bluetooth – hands-free calling, SMS/MMS, 10MB memory (not expandable), 8-hour battery, 1.8 x 0.9 x 3.6 inches, 4.4 ounces Excellent Value for global use. Close-out pricing may be available on the V191, the older model.
      Motorola SLVR l6i


      $139.99Quad-band GSM – will work globally. GPRS/Edge Data, FM Radio, Camera, Bluetooth – hands-free calling, Speakerphone, Polyphonic ringtones, mp3 ringers, SMS/MMS, 10MB memory (not expandable), 5.8-hour battery, 4.33 x 1.93 x 0.41 inches, 2.82 ounces Rip-off.
      Nokia 5030 XpressRadio


      $79.75Quad-band GSM (850/1800/1900) – will work globally – one of the most popular models in the Asian market – Nokia OS, 4.3 x 1.8 x 0.6 inches; 2.9 ounces Excellent Value.
      Nokia 5300 XpressMusic


      $89.75Tri-band GSM (850/1800/1900) – will not work globally – older networks in many parts of the world use the 900-band were it won't work. MicroSD Slot (2GB Max), MP3 player, Camera, Bluetooth, Java Games and Apps – Nokia OS, 6 x 9 x 12 inches; 3.6 ounces Good Value, if you need a single-device to handle phone, music, and camera needs.
      Samsung Blackjack i607


      $119.99Windows Mobile Smartphone with QWERTY keyboard, 3G – UMTS/HSPDA, Quad-Band GSM – works globally, Camera, MicroSD Card Slot, 5-hour battery, 4.45 x 2.32 x .46 inches. Weight: 3.5 ounces. Excellent Value for a 3G phone. Lacks Wi-Fi, but users on a 3G data plan won’t need it. No touch screen but the below $100 pricing is outstanding for a smart phone with the full feature set.
      Motorola SLVR l9


      $289.99Features of Motorola SLVR l6i PLUS better camera, FM Radio, Expandable Memory, digital/video player, noise cancellation, 6.7-hour battery, 4 4.4 x 1.9 x 0.4 inches; 3.4 ounces Rip-off.




























      LG KP500


      $99.99

      Features of Motorola SLVR l9 PLUS 3-inch touchscreen, better camera and camcorder, Bluetooth Stereo Music, 8GB MicrosSD exapansion slot, 3.5 hour battery, 0.5 x 2.2 x 4.2 inches ; 3.2 ounces Excellent Value. The pricing is outstanding. So, go for it!
      Nokia X3 Slider


      $139.99

      Features of LG KP500 PLUS 24 hours of music playtime, direct access with camera key, over the air software updates, up to 7.5 hours talk time, 3.78" x 1.94" x 0.56", 3.63 oz Good Value.
      Nokia E63-2


      $169.99

      Features of Motorola SLVR l9 PLUS Wi-Fi, 3G (UMTS), Access to corporate/personal email; QWERTY keyboard, Bluetooth Stereo Music, Better Camera and Camcorder, Media Player, MicroSD Slot (upto 16GB), Text to speech, IEEE 802.11g wireless, Symbian OS 9.2 – Java Apps, Email – POP3, SMTP, IMAP4, GPRS/EDGE – Class 32, WAP 2.0, 10.5 hour battery, 2.3 x 0.5 x 4.4 inches; 4.4 ounces Excellent Value for global business use.
      Nokia 5530 XpressMusic Tourchscreen


      $189Features of Nokia E63-2 PLUS Touchscreen Display, one-year unlimited music download, Better Camera, newer development platform, TV output, lighter MINUS 3G capability, slightly lesser talktime (battery). Good entertainment oriented phone.
      Nokia 5800 XpressMusic Tourchscreen


      $219.99

      Features of Nokia 5530 PLUS 3.5G, Integrated GPS, Geo-tagging, Accelerometer Sensor, Better Battery. Excellent value for entertainment oriented phone with touchscreen Wi-Fi and integrated GPS. Also, the one-year unlimited music access is unique to Nokia's "Comes With Music" Edition phones.
      Nokia E71


      $227.54

      Features of Nokia E63-2 PLUS GPS, Metal Casing, Better Camera, and 3.5G Network (HSDPA). Good alternative to E63-2, if you need GPS.
      Blackberry Curve 8900


      $319.99Features of Motorola SLVR l9 PLUS Wi-Fi, GPS using Blackberry Maps, Trackball Navigation, Access to corporate/personal email; QWERTY keyboard, Bluetooth Stereo Music, Better Camera and Camcorder, Media Player, MicroSD Slot (upto 16GB), Text to speech, IEEE 802.11g wireless, Blackberry OS–Apps, SMS/MMS/Email/IM, GPRS/EDGE – Class 10, WAP, 5.5 hour battery, 4.3 x 2.4 x 0.5 inches; 3.9 ounces Expensive but is a standard among business users.
      Nokia N97 Mini



      $369.99

      Features of Nokia E71 PLUS Wi-Fi, Resistive Touch Screen, 3G (HSDPA), Storage – 8GB Internal , expandable to 16GB through external MicroSD slot, 5MP Camera, Geo-tagging, Symbian OS v9.4 – Java Apps, A-GPS with Nokia Maps, FM Visual Radio, N-gage, 4.2 x 2.2 x 0.6 inches, 5.29 ounces. Good alternative to iPhone with no contract!
      Nokia N900 Mobile Computer Smartphone



      $399.99

      Features of Nokia N97 Mini PLUS Maemo 5 Linux Based OS, 32GB storage, 1GB Memory,Fast Multitasking, Full QWERTY keyboard, 4.4 x 2.3 x 0.7 inches, 6.38 ounces. Excellent alternative to iPhone with no contract!




      Summary:

      There are plenty of choices in the unlocked GSM phone market. A basic phone that can be used globally can be had for around $50. On the other end of the spectrum is smartphones like the Nokia N900 that pack a large number of features along with touch-screen, apps, and GPS functionality for a premium price. We chose Nokia E63-2 during this holiday season – our requirements were for a smartphone that could be used globally for a reasonable price and this Nokia fit the bill nicely. For consumers who want an unlocked Apple iPhone, buy.com has those but the pricing is steep at about one grand. HTC Nexus One by Google is the newest entrant in the market – it has a nice feature set that should give the high-end products a run for their money in the coming months.





      Last Updated: 08/2010.

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