Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Business Cell Phone (e.g. Smart Phone, PDA): What Features Should You Look For Most; Part I

What features/factors do you consider most important when choosing a business cell phone....and why?

I asked this question of a rather large business networking group .... and you can guess the answers were all over the board. There were some similarities and some interesting differencies too.

Here's a few for your education and enjoyment:

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* "When I had to choose one, I looked one with full qwerty, touchscreen, windows mobile so I could run word, excel and one that was easy to sync with my outlook and has a full browser.

I chose the HP 6945 communicator that has, above the mentioned features, GPS and built in camera.

I use it a lot, and I mean A LOT, and I´m completely satisfied with it."

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* "How well does it receive signal, how do I sound to callers as well as how do they sound to me. Does it sync with exchange wirelessly - email, contacts, calendar. Size and speed. Can I use my voice to dial by contact name or number. Lastly - what is the monthly service bill?"

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* "It depends on your business requirements. In the past, our requirements has been good service, good connectivity, less drops, good value for money, and good service. Yes, service is important.

We also have no need for picture phones, music players, video players, and a lot of the other bells and whistles. Our business has multiple phones, only one of which requires use of txt messaging. We turn off all the others.

We have been doing well with these. We have a simple LG vx3300 or LG vx3200, which has been an incredible phone for us.

We are currently researching an upgrade to a smart phone, which supports pda like features. We are a systems admin firm, we need support for secure shell access to remote servers. We are looking at the blackberry. We currently use a palm device for some remote access. We are looking for full qwerty keyboard."

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* "First of all, globally, I look at:

- Battery Autonomy: don't want to be disconnected during an important conversation

- Is there any kind of calendar, tasks and contact sync/management within a PC with an USB connection..?

- If travelling: triband or quadband phone (US, EUR, Asia...)

- Connexion options: bluetooth to connect accessories or use mobile as a modem, 3G or UMTS to connect to useful sites (directories, maps, email...)

- And if needed: a push email solution (treo, blackberry..)

So, you can find good phones in this list: Apple Iphone (not UMTS for the moment), Nokia N95 or any smartphones."

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* "I have a fetish about people trying to claim that they are unable to get a hold of me, which I find more often than not, a cop-out. To combat this, in a business phone, I tend to gravitate toward smartphones with software upgradability, Wi-Fi, quad-band GSM, some sort of broadband capability (EDGE, HSDPA, etc.) and a QWERTY keyboard interface.

For now, I am using a Nokia E90. Although the phone is on the bulky side, it allows me to receive e-mail, surf the web, access enterprise mail, tether to my laptop, edit MS Office files, as well as, Skype (to keep my phone bill under control when overseas), and basic GPS functions. In emergencies, I even use it to sub for a laptop.

Its not perfect by any means, particularly in size and form factor, but its probably one of the better phones I have had in a while."

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* "It would be the Apple logo. Because the iPhone reaches further into my workflow than others can, that workflow being mac and online services based. There is no better alternative.

Perhaps for corporate research purposes you could swing buying both a Mac mini and an iPhone, for the cost of another high end business phone.

Just as a heads up (my having read some of the later entries now) the next release of iPhone software includes Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync technology, including push email, push contacts/directories, push dates/calendar, and remote wipe/erase functionality and all that other good networking, VPN and centralised policies stuff."

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* "I like the BlackBerry 8320. Mainly because the calendar syncs up with exchange/outlook. Not to mention its keys are easy enough to be used with one hand. The battery life is good as long as you dont go installing GoogleTalk or Gmail as a third party software that continually goes out to the web. The only thing this needs to be a perfect device is the tethering capability. There are ways around it but its not designed to be an easy thing."

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* "I'm still looking for the Holy Grail of cell phones!

It naturally has to function well as a cell phone. But if it could also function as my laptop, GPS, and media player for travels, it would then become invaluable.

The iPhone is very close. It has the phone, VM, messaging, media and usability down quite well. But, it's not 3G (yet), so connection throughput can be improved dramatically. The GPS is done through triangulating cell towers instead of a satellites (not nearly as quick or accurate).

On the very positive side, browsing with an iPhone has taken the device to the lead for business users. You get a real browser in Safari that blows IE mobile away.

Our MarketShare stats are showing that over 1 in every 1000 page views browsed today is coming from an iPhone. That's incredible!

Anyway, can't wait till the 3G / GPS version comes out - rumors are that it will be soon.

Side note - I have an HTC on the AT&T network, and am browsing quite successfully with Opera Mobile currently. Great solution as well!"

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More real life comments on the question will be shared in Part II of this series. So stay tuned.

For anyone currently looking for a business cell phone......here's a convenient website that will help you search for and compare phones, providers, and call plans: Business Cell Phone Comparison

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