The cell phone market is nothing if not dynamic. A couple of years ago, it would have been unthinkable that Blackberry would have slipped to the third most utilized operating system for smartphones.
Android is now number one-and yet that may change with the impending release of the Apple iOS 5 sometime in the fall of 2011. (Not to mention the new Windows Phone 7s have shown signs of being a legitimate force in the near future.)
With all of that turmoil, the obvious question can be overlooked: What is the best smartphone for business-specifically, my business?
To start, the question should be: What is the best smartphone for business users? And the answer often varies based on your job.
For multimedia, perhaps more significant for web development and marketing positions, the iPhone is king. The graphic rendering is fast and sharp, running 720p resolution and up to 30 frames per second. The A4 processor allows for multi-tasking like loading videos, refreshing webpages and making calls at the same time. And the touchscreen functionality, with its multiple contact points, has been groundbreaking in its clarity, speed and ease of use.
Android phones fit much of this same bill-albeit without quite the fast and clear graphic rendering. Android keyboards are touchscreen, and their displays are conveniently larger-like the HTC EVO (which is also 3D, if you want it) or the HTC Sensation. Android phones, since they are a Google product, are also known for their search and mapping speeds. For heavy travelers, this can be a godsend when directions are needed on the spot.
In terms of emailing and correspondence (important tasks for sales positions), Blackberry’s QWERTY keyboard provides for fast, (more) error-free typing capabilities. Any communication with clients, whether it’s from the office or an airport terminal, should be clean; though slightly slower than a touchscreen, Blackberry’s ergonomically designed keyboard buttons ensure this. Blackberry makes the Storm model which uses a touchscreen, but users must still "press" the screen, somewhat negating the advantages of a keyboard and touchscreen at the same time.
Smartphones are extensions of your desk-the importance of their integration with your desktop files cannot be overstated. Each brand of smartphone operating system comes with different ways to communicate with home base.
iPhones sync best with iWorks, unsurprisingly, but few companies base their business around Apple’s answer to MS Office. Android-based phones, like the HTC Thunderbolt or Motorola Atrix, are best equipped to sync with Google Docs, if that is your company’s office platform. Both iPhones and Androids have fast and easy-to-use apps (e.g., Dropbox) that will simply display Office documents; however, the ability to edit them will vary by app.
Though Window’s OS phones are still in single-digit market penetration, they naturally have one of the best integrations with Microsoft Office. If your company exists primarily in Office and spends a great deal of time on the road, going with this up-and-coming system is your best bet. The ability to easily edit while on the go is not to be underrated.
Blackberry brings up the rear in this department. Blackberry’s OS provides apps to view documents and spreadsheets, but the rendering and usability are lacking. They are just serviceable for viewing-and editing is painful. As stated before, Blackberry’s strength lies in email. Otherwise, its OS and user interface aren’t in competition with the rest of the smartphone market.
In the rush of figuring out integrations, graphic renderings, keyboard functionality and processor power, one crucial detail can get left by the wayside: How long does the battery last? There is nothing worse than having to start an important phone call with, "Sorry if I lose you. I’ll call you back tonight if my phone dies."
The current iPhones house an impressively powerful lithium-ion battery that’s good for up to 7 hours of talk time and 300 hours while idle. Android phones vary, but the Motorola Atrix boasts over 530 minutes of talk time and 350 hours of idle time.
Blackberrys, like the Torch, don’t have as an impressive talk-time battery life (330 minutes) but can remain idle for over 430 hours. As Microsoft continues to ramp up to contender status in the smartphone market, they’ll have to make due with the Samsung Focus or the LG Quantum’s low (300 minutes) battery life.
Smartphones have developed so quickly and with such diverse capabilities in the last couple of years that, though they are now essential for most businesses, deciding on which one is right for you should be dependent upon your daily responsibilities. Once you have those tasks prioritized, you’re on the road to finding the smartphone that keeps everything moving.
By Caleb Garling