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The 411: Ally vs. Droid

Every two weeks, senior associate editor Nicole Lee answers your questions about cell phones, smartphones, and all things mobile.

Welcome to The 411, my new Q&A column answering all your questions about cell phones and cell phone accessories. I receive plenty of questions about these subjects via e-mail, so I figured many of you might have the same questions, too. At times, I might solicit answers from readers if I'm stumped. Send your questions and comments to me at nicole.lee@cnet.com. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know in the e-mail.

LG Ally
LG Ally Josh P. Miller/CNET

How do you think the LG Ally compares to the standard Motorola Droid? I'm seeing that Verizon is running them for $49 now, so they seem to have quite a price advantage over the Droid, but am curious about whether it is more comparable to the Droid or the lighter-weight Devour? -- Robert, via e-mail

I think the LG Ally compares favorably to the Droid, as the Droid is almost a year old and the Ally is relatively new. The Ally is also much slimmer, which is great if you care about size. I also think it's better than the Devour, which, as you pointed out, is a lot chintzier in comparison.

However, I do think that one of the Droid successors, the Droid X, might have the Ally beat (Thanks to techfr3ak in the comments for reminding me about the Droid 2). The 4.3-inch display is stunning, and the 8-megapixel camera is really great for a camera phone. That said, the Droid X doesn't have a physical keyboard, and the Ally does. In fact, I dare say the Ally has one of the best physical keyboards of most of the Android phones I've seen. Also, the Droid X is $199.99, which is a lot more than the $49 Ally. So it really depends on what you want out of a phone, and whether price is important to you.

I have an old Motorola Z6c. How do I erase the data from the phone and transfer it to a new one? -- Dan, via e-mail

This is a seemingly simple question, but it merits some explanation. For newer phones, like with Android smartphones, you can just go to the settings and hit reset to factory defaults, which will erase everything. But for older models, you might have to do everything by hand. I don't have the Z6C with me at the moment, but I suspect an easy way to transfer contacts would be to transfer all your contacts over to a SIM card, making sure the contacts are successfully transferred, and then hitting "Delete All" in the phone book. With photos, I would try to transfer them to an external storage card (the Z6C has a microSD card slot), and the same goes for music and videos. Another way to store your data would be to attach the phone to the computer via USB, and try to drag and drop the phone's folders to your desktop.

For the last few days I have been surfing the Internet to see if it is possible for me to buy a HTC Touch Pro 2 for Sprint and use it without a data plan. I have Wi-Fi connections most places I go, so I would still be using the phone for the Internet and various features. My searches have resulted in various results, so I don't know which one is correct. So I was wondering whether you could answer my question, can I buy the HTC Touch Pro 2 from Sprint and use it as a phone without paying a data plan. -- Zareh, via e-mail

The short answer is no. Sprint, like the other national carriers, requires you to purchase a data plan when you buy a smartphone, which includes the HTC Touch Pro 2. You could try to get an unlocked GSM Touch Pro 2 and use it with a SIM card for calls, but be careful of inadvertently accessing the network, as that might incur expensive data charges. With a smartphone, we generally advise you purchase some kind of data plan anyway, because of the many ways you can incur a data charge without even knowing it (like with push e-mail notifications). However, if you're savvy enough to turn that stuff off, you could look into a GSM unlocked phone. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own solutions.