How to Choose a Smartphone (May Edition)

by Reads (12,407)

The last time we looked at smartphones, the Treo 650 was just getting out of the gates, and a number of Windows Mobile models were yet to be released. Since the smartphone market changes as often as gas prices, we at BargainPDA want to refresh your list of current smartphones, as well as give some strengths and weaknesses of the models that are out. There are a few models that we announced last fall, that are either no longer for sale, or have not even made it to market; and so stay tuned in our smartphone guide for those as well.

Now that spring and warmer weather have given you a reason to get out the house, let BargainPDA get you up to speed with one of the most versatile class of devices for that nice workday outside.

First Off; What Is a Smartphone?

Due to some confusion in the recent news concerning what is a smartphone and what has sold more than another, BargainPDA will give you a clear definition of what a smartphone is so that you are not skewed by misrepresented data.

A smartphone, or PDA-phone, is simply a device that is both a digital organizer that supports multiple forms of input (various forms of handwriting recognition and/or attached/unattached keyboard) and has phone functions.

Essentially, this knocks out most devices that may have digital organizer functions, but not multiple forms of input. Devices that have multiple forms of input but not phone functionality without additional software are not included.

Current Model Roundup

Here is a listing of current smartphones along with the carriers who carry them.

Cingular:
Audiovox SMT 5600 Smartphone
BlackBerry 7100g
BlackBerry 7290
PalmOne Treo 650
Siemens SX66

Sprint:
Samsung i500
PalmOne Treo 600
PalmOne Treo 650
PPC-6600
Samsung SP-i600

T-Mobile
BlackBerry 7100t
BlackBerry 6230
Sidekick II
BlackBerry 7230
BlackBerry 7730
PalmOne Treo 600
BlackBerry 7290
HP iPaq h6315

Verizon Wireless:
Blackberry 6750
PalmOne Treo 600 with and without camera
Blackberry 7750
BlackBerry 7250
Samsung i700 PocketPC
Samsung i600
Audiovox XV6600 with and without camera

Smartphones Not Sold by Carrier
Sony Ericsson P910a
Nokia 9300 Communicator

Possible Upcoming Models (Carriers in parentheses if known)
HP iPAQ hw6500 Mobile Manager (Cingular, T-Mobile)
Samsung i730 (Verizon Wireless)
PalmOne Treo 650 (Verizon Wireless)
HP iPAQ h6300 (Cingular)
BenQ P50
HTC/MDA IV (T-Mobile?)

What Can You Do with A Smartphone?

A smartphone is not just a phone, or data organizer, or a personal information manager, or picture/video viewer, or email client, or a web browser. It is all of those things. The trick to finding out one that will work best for you, is trying to figure out what you most want to do and then from there the choices get a lot easier.

For example, if you are a person who mainly wants a phone and the ability to do some appointment and task making, then you might not want to get something as expansive as the SX66. Devices on that end of the spectrum tend to be able to replace laptops and full computers for all but the most delicate of tasks, and even if you can get by on the screen size, there is a ton that you can do.

For the most part, a smartphone will do these things:

Make and receive phone calls

  • Organize your personal data; such as appointments, memos, and tasks
  • Send and receive email
  • View websites (though mobile formatted websites are best as they are optimized for the smaller screen)
  • View and/or edit MS Office documents

 

With additional software, many models can view pictures, take/view videos, login to office networks, or become GPS units. The key is making sure that you get a device that best fits your usage expectations, and then getting ready to open that wallet.

The Not So Positive Aspects of a Smartphone

Though recent news would make it seem that everyone will eventually get to the point of using a smartphone (most say as soon as five years from now), there are many reasons why a person might not feel that a converged PDA and phone device would work for them. Reasons range from too many compromises on size versus function (for example, there are PDAs with phone functions that are larger, and phones with PDA functions that have too small screens or not enough input options) to cost (most smartphones can be had in that $300 and up range, with many costing over $500 even after carrier subsidies).

Another issue with smartphones is the issue of cameras versus no cameras. In many job areas, there is a need for a device as versatile as a smartphone, but very often, the models that would be best supported do not have models that do not have a camera. Much like their not so smart brethren, smartphones have been indulged with camera gluttony. Not that having a camera is a bad thing, except when the camera is of bad quality. But, when the lack of model variance leads to lack of acceptance, there should be something done on the side of manufactures and carriers.

Conclusions

Having said all of that, if you are a mobile worker and need to have both information and your phone at your fingertips, a smartphone would be a great addition, and consolidation of your resources. The key to getting a good model is to make sure to check out the reviews, such as those here at BargainPDA, and also check with your local mobile phone carriers as to which ones experience the most sales and most service calls. Having so much in one device does present more opportunity for an issue to arise, but the advantages of increased productivity (meaning a better feeling vacation) can make a smartphone a smart call for you.


Related News:
Can a Smartphone Work for You (One Device or Two)? (9/25/2004 7:47:00 PM)

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