Business Tips: Top 5 Things To Consider Before Purchasing A Smart Phone

Smart Phones are cell phones that have been enhanced with PDA technology to form a combination that takes the best of both worlds and merges it for the ultimate in consumer organization and utility. Corporate types, on-the-go business people and busy executives were the first to embrace this combo tech. However, today just about anybody is liable to have a smart phone.

Smart phones are good for everything from simple texting to heavy-duty web surfing and working on spreadsheets. Deciding which level of smart phone to purchase can be a confusing, daunting task if you don’t know what to look for.

Here are the top five (5) things people consider when going to purchase the latest in smart phone technology.

1. Which level should you purchase?

There are two levels of smart phones. The advances smart phone and its somewhat less feature-rich cousin, the basic smart phone. The advanced smart phone offers laptop-like capabilities including touch screen navigation and full QWERTY-style keyboards. They come with the ability to not only check email via Outlook, Palm Desktop or some other PIM software, but also allows the editing of spreadsheets and text documents. It is, in essence, a laptop in mini form. You can also get standard-sized SD (Secure Digital) storage cards rather than the proprietary micro-sized cards that come with the basic phones. Advanced smart phones typically hold more data than their basic counterparts and come with more functionality and software right out of the box.

The basic smart phone is used more for text messaging and reading email; however, things like full editing capabilities and touch screen navigation are lacking. The advantages come in with smaller size and lower price.

2. Which Operating System is best?
In operating systems, you have a wide variety including Palm, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Danger and Symbian or Series 60. The software used is usually, but not always, tied to the smart phone purchased.

  • Palm is considered by most to be very flexible and it supports a full-featured email. as well as sports a calendar and to-do list and contact/address book. It’s fully synch-able to your desktop PC and is lightweight with a small-sized, thumb keyboard great for texting. It can, however, only run one program at a time which could be a drawback to intense, multi-tasking types.
  • The Blackberry is model-dependent. At the basic, it is the easiest for reading email and email set-up is quite easy, especially if your carrier is T-Mobile. “Push” capability automatically sends email to your device so that you can forgoe manual checking. For email and texting, there is none better than the Blackberry.
  • Windows Mobile 5.0 is Windows on the go. It is great if you only want to load Microsoft software products. It multi tasks easily so that you can work on your spreadsheets while typing text and checking email. If you go with the basic phone, navigation will still be a challenge, but the advanced models take care of this and also adds Office software and better email functionality. If multitasking between programs is what you need, consider Windows Mobile in your smart phone choice.
  • Sidekick’s Danger is text messaging simplicity at it’s best. You’ll see the younger set with Sidekicks all the time as they text the world about their lives. While Sidekick has the corner on the texting market, it isn’t very intuitive for much else including trying to dial the phone.
  • Symbian or Series 60: Nokia phones primarily use this operating system. Considered the most difficult in the areas of set-up and using email in the basic version. The advanced version is easier but has a hard-to-navigate folder based system could prove quite a challenge.

3. Keyboard and display size:

Shape and size play into the usability of your smart phone. Some models have full-sized keyboards that slide out and others have keyboards attached (commonly referred to as thumb keyboards because you type with your thumbs). There are also those rectangular Nokia eye case models that flip open and closed with the keyboard inside. They are still very popular. The Sidekicks are know for their flip up, ready-to-text keyboards.

4. The Network

Depending on what you plan to do with your smart phone determines which plan to consider.. If you are going to be frequently downloading and sending a lot of spreadsheets, presentations and word documents and the like, you will likely need a CDMA-based advanced smart phone because they use a high-speed EV-DO network. Sprint and Verizon have EV-DO networks. If you are just doing a lot of texting, email reading with small attachments, then T-Mobile and Cingular are just fine. They are currently, as of this writing, using the slower GSM-based EDGE network. Each network is priced accordingly, which brings us to point #5.

5. Which plan?

First, your smart phone will always require two plans – your regular voice/text phone plan and an additional data plan for Web surfing and email. Every carrier has a combo deal that is cheaper than each plan separately, of course, so based on your needs, check with each carrier to see where the promotions are. If you’re looking for price and flexibility, Sprint currently has some of the best plans. T-Mobile has the least expensive plans, but remember, they’re currently on a slower network. Cingular is cheap but they’ve recently merged so who knows what will happen now. They are cheap, but they also have a limit, so if you exceed it, you’re looking at much higher fees. Verizon is known as having one of the most consistent, heavy-duty networks running in the states; however, if you’re going overseas, you’ll also need a carrier like T-Mobile.

So, there you have it. My take on the top smart phone points to consider when buying a new phone. Lastly, this isn’t a tip, just a bit of advice. Take your time when considering a new phone. Smart phones are expensive and you’ll be living with it for 1-2 years (on contract). If you rush into what appears to be the best deal at first, you’ll have to suffer with it for a couple years before you can change (unless you pay exorbitant fees). So take your time.

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One Response to “Business Tips: Top 5 Things To Consider Before Purchasing A Smart Phone”

  1. Smart Phone Purchases Top 5 Things To Consider

    Smart Phones are cell phones that have been enhanced with PDA technology to form a combination that takes the best of both worlds and merges it for the ultimate in consumer organization and utility. Corporate types, on-the-go business people and busy e…

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