Thursday, July 1, 2010

Choosing the right smartphone for you

BACK TO BASICS

By Jessica McCurdy Crooks

With all the fuss these days about the new iPhone 4, "Antennagate", and all the other exciting phones coming out, what's the best choice? If you've never used a smartphone before, how should you even think about choosing? In this article, I'll help you think through your options.

These days, it seems like a new smartphone is being rolled out almost every day. A smartphone is basically a cell phone with the capabilities of a PC, in a pocket-sized package. This makes them very helpful, especially for business people who are always on the go.

The biggest issues these days are determining if you really need a smartphone or a feature-rich cell phone, and which type to buy. Of course most people will say that they need a smartphone, after all, they can be quite addictive. Also, to be part of the 'in crowd' owning a smartphone can be seen as a status symbol.

Be smart. Don't buy just because you want to be cool. There's nothing cool about lugging around a slab of electronics. Make your decision baed on your need and budget.

Quick history of the smartphone

The first smartphone came out in 1992 and hit the market in 1993, yes, that was over 18 years ago. So technically, the smartphone has come of age. Over the last 18 years, things have changed rapidly from the IBM's Simon, which way back then had an impressive array of features. Some of these included:

  • An address book
  • A calculator
  • Email capabilities
  • Enabling both the sending and receiving of faxes
  • Games
  • Notepad
  • World clock

These were pretty advanced for the time. Today's smartphones offer these features and much more.

Categories of smartphones

Today's cellphones are a far cry form the cellphones of just five years ago. These days, even the most basic mobile phone has features that can cause them to be called smartphones. Manufacturers create different types of smartphones since users invariably have their own needs. It is for this reason why an iPhone may be the perfect smartphone for one user while a Blackberry is ideal for another.

Smartphones can be broken down into the following types, generally based on operating system:

  • Android: One of the newest offerings on the market. Some say it doesn't yet have all the features that most businesspersons want in a smartphone, but with over 100,000 apps, you're bound to find most of what you need
  • Blackberry: This is still quite popular especially for business people who need to be constantly in contact in more ways than one. Of course, the line between smartphones for business and for everyday use has long blurred and is mostly insignificant today. BlackBerry is most often chosen by those with email-intensive lifestyles.
  • iPhone: Offers the best of both worlds, that it, it's ideal for both the business and personal cellphone user. The iPhone is not without its problems, including reception issues, and often arbitrary limitations on the apps you can run on it.
  • A catchall group comprising all the others. This group includes many feature rich phones that can do many of the things the others can but on a more basic level. There are also not equipped to handle the needs of most business people.