Nothing’s sure to ruin your day faster than finding your smartphone is out of power when you’re miles from your charger. It’s not unusual to find a smartphone needing a recharge within less than a day of heavy usage.
Battery life is usually expressed in terms of talk time – the number of hours a fully charged handset can last in a continuous mobile call. The amount of talk time you get from a handset varies massively. An HTC Legend gives 12.5 hours talk time, compared to a BlackBerry Torch which gives just five hours.
Talk time provides a useful means to compare handsets, but it is not a cast-iron measure of how long a battery will last. The time between charges will vary depending on how the handset is used. Surfing the mobile web or using GPS will quickly drain the battery, so if you expect to be a heavy user, you need to consider how to keep your smartphone topped up.
With many, such as HTC’s Desire HD, you can buy replacement batteries, allowing you to swap in a fully charged one when one is exhausted. Apple’s iPhone offers you no such luxury: if you want an iPhone, plan on buying a car charger or hooking up to a desktop computer via the USB cable at regular intervals.
Email is widely regarded as the killer app for smartphones: it was the application that transformed them from being desirable gadgets to must-have ones.
These days, all smartphones offer some sort of email capability. Unless you have already invested in an email server, you need not worry about some of the advance email features – but can relax in the knowledge that most of today’s handsets can work with third party email providers.
If you make a note of the user name and password your email provider gave you, the sales person in the shop should be able to set up your email for you when you buy your handset.
Screen resolution and whether it is the only input method are important considerations when it comes to choosing a phone.
You need to be sure that you can comfortably read the display. Most smartphones have displays somewhere between 3.5in and 4in – but what matters most when it comes to readability is the number of pixels. Apple’s iPhone 4 crams 960 by 640 pixels into its 3.5in screen; Samsung Galaxy S has a 4in screen but only manages 800 by 480 pixels.
Most smartphones will also use touch technology to turn the screens in to an input device. If you think you’ll need to send numerous long emails or work on long documents, check you comfortable you are with these on-screen keyboards. Some handsets offer a slide-out keyboard, which makes typing easier.
There is undoubtedly a smartphone that is right for you, but how do you ensure you get the best deal?
All of the major mobile operators will offer a range of handsets and contracts and there may be room to negotiate: the mobile operators are keen to land smartphone customers and may be wiling to throw in extras such as hands-free headsets to sweeten the deal.
Whichever route you go down, the key things to consider are:
- What are the penalties for exceeding your call, data or message allowance each month?
- Is the handset you’re thinking about due to be superseded by a new model in a few weeks?
- Can you protect the data stored on the handset in the event it gets stolen?
There are so many options for the smartphone buyer, you can be sure you’ll find a device that helps you in your business life. But there’s always a balance to be struck between flashy features and those that will really help you in your day-to-day life.
iPhone 4. The reasons for not choosing an iPhone can be compelling: it is primarily a consumer device, not a business one; you pay a premium for Apple products and other handsets may have more compelling specifications. Nevertheless, thanks to the focus on usability and the popularity of its App Store, the iPhone has become the smartphone of choice for multitudes of business owners. A handset with 32GB of on-board storage retails for £612 SIM-free.
HTC Desire HD. If you want to rein in the costs but bump up the power of your smartphone, the HTC Desire HD beats the iPhone hands down. The 1GHz processor and humungous 4.3in screen make this a beast of a handset, suitable for even the heaviest users. It’s available SIM-free for £379.
BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105. These days, you can get a lot of smartphone for your money. If you don’t want to splash out on fancy features you may never need, the BlackBerry Pearl 3G 9105 has comes packed with GPS functionality, super-fast web browsing and features such as in-built BlackBerry Messenger. You can find it available SIM-free for as little as £140.