Contacts on an Apple iPhoneTo be fair, the iPhone already comes with a number of pre-installed applications that can do a variety of different things, but sometimes third-party apps just do the job better. You might have downloaded better iPhone alarm clock apps, for example, or you may have bolstered the functionality of the camera by taking advantage of some great iPhone photo filter apps. Why can’t you do the same thing with your contact list?

Going further than the default Contacts app are a number of free iPhone address book apps. Each of these alternatives brings something special to the table, organizing your contact list differently, integrating with some of your favorite social networks, or otherwise making it easier for you to stay in touch with the people you love.

Brewster Address Book

Brewster Photo-Based Contact List

Brewster Photo-Based Contact List

Download from iTunes Store

As you make your way through your iPhone contacts, you may come across a name or two that you recognize, but you can’t remember what they look like. It’s so much easier to put a face to a name when your app puts a name to a face! The Brewster app does exactly that, giving you large photos for every contact. What’s more, Brewster is designed to merge all your contacts, not only from on your phone, but also through a variety of social networks and communication services. These include Facebook, Gmail, LinkedIn, Foursquare, and Twitter. This way, when you look at the contact information for John Smith, you’ll see not only his number, but also his information and updates from across those networks.

Cobook Contacts

Cobook Alternative iPhone Address Book

Cobook Alternative iPhone Address Book

Download from iTunes Store

Working in a similar way as Brewster, Cobook also pulls in information from social profiles and combines them with the existing information you have with your iPhone Contacts list. You get a different iPhone address book with “rich contact profiles” that include automatic pictures and the latest tweets. Perhaps more importantly, Cobook is more effective with organizing your contacts, since you are able to add tags and merge contacts together. Using tags is a great way to group together similar or related contacts.

Smartr Contacts for iPhone

Smartr Contacts with Automatic Ranking

Smartr Contacts with Automatic Ranking

Download from iTunes Store

The whole idea with Smartr Contacts is that it’s able to automatically pull in all your contacts from the various places where you may know them, identifying the name and contact information so that they are better integrated. This includes contacts from your main list, as well as email, calendar, and social networks. A face is added to every name and email address and contacts can be ranked by importance. The contextual interface is useful too, since you can see all the emails and calendar events associated with each contact.

Tacts Smart Contact Manager

Smart Groups with Tacts for iPhone

Smart Groups with Tacts for iPhone

Download from iTunes Store

Aside from offering a totally different look for your iPhone address book, Tacts is also quite effective in helping you organize your contacts. You can create groups, sorting contacts within the group based on name, company, department, city, or state. The app can also create automatic “smart” groups based on your user-defined rules. For work, for instance, you might create a group based on email addresses that use the same company domain. Other features include detailed search, optional T9 keypad, and over 60 icons to customize your groups.

Youlu Address Book

Back Up iPhone Address Book with Youlu

Back Up iPhone Address Book with Youlu

Download from iTunes Store

Sometimes, you want as clean and straightforward an interface as possible. For that, the Youlu iPhone address book app could be among the best. It doesn’t get much cleaner than this. You can search for contacts by name, initials, phone number, and more. Contacts can be organized into groups for ease of organization. The entire list can be synchronized on Youlu.com so, if you ever lose or wipe your iPhone, you can restore the list in no time at all. And, yes, there’s QR code support to quickly add new contacts too.

Image credit: marcopako / Flickr

###