These days, mobile phone can do so much more than merely make phone calls on the go. Today’s high-end handsets – known as smartphones – come fully loaded with an eye-boggling array of features and functions. These include email, calendars, productivity tools and social media apps, as well as many not aimed at the business user.
The good news is that whatever your budget, there’s likely to be a smartphone that meets your needs. And if you’re willing to commit to a long contract with a mobile operator you can get a sleek, powerful handset for free.
The variety of handsets available can make choosing the right one difficult. Some smartphones come packed full of features – such as digital cameras and music players – that may not be much use for the business users. What’s more, the hidden costs of using your smartphone, such as roaming charges, can quickly turn it into a budget-draining gadget.
Choosing the right smartphone for your business requires an honest appraisal of how the device will be used. Some businesses accept that a smartphone can become a user’s primary communication device, even allowing a degree of personal use. In such cases, a full-feature handset makes sense. But for those wanting a device solely for business use, it won’t matter if Angry Birds isn’t available.
In order to pick the right handset, you will need to establish how its capabilities meet your needs. Important considerations include:
- Requirements from a handset
- The handset’s processing power
- The screen resolution
- Data network coverage
- Running costs
What you need
Smartphones are rapidly becoming a must-have for the busy executive, providing a convenient and lightweight means to work on the go. They allow you to work on documents, respond to emails; some can even act as a hand held GPS system, helping you find your way to that make-or-break meeting.
One of the easiest ways to differentiate smartphones is through its operating system – the pre-loaded software that defines the look and feel of the handset. There are several different operating systems available, but the three most important are Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry.
Despite their differences, all smartphone operating systems offer a broadly similar set of functionality, so if your primary reason for getting a smartphone is to be able to access the internet on the go, you can take your pick.
However, if there are specific applications you need to run on your smartphone, such as your customer relationship management software, you need to consider whether it is supported by the operating system and whether your handset has the processing power to run the software acceptably.
Also, some handsets are not available on certain networks. It might seem that a specific handset ticks all of your boxes, but if it’s only available on networks whose coverage is patchy in your area, you need to rethink.
The major players
Google’s Android is the fastest growing operating system in the smartphone world and has – by some counts – already moved ahead of Apple’s iOS and Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, with Android accounting for 30% of smartphones, while iOS and BlackBerry make up 27% each of sales according to market watcher Neilsen. The other major operating systems include Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, HP’s WebOS and Symbian.
But operating systems only tell part of the story. When it comes to handsets Apple’s iPhone dominates the market – thanks in part to the fact that only four versions of the iPhone exist. Research in Motion is the only maker of BlackBerry handsets, but produces far more models than Apple. The other smartphone operating systems have numerous manufacturers making their handsets, fragmenting the market. Samsung, HTC and Motorola are the major makers of Android-based smartphones and Windows-based ones.