Business Smartphones: Explore Your Options

Smartphones are a category that is evolving faster than you can say Blackberry. This overview will help you make a smart choice.
Posted February 18, 2010
By

Joseph Moran

Joseph Moran


If you already have conventional mobile phones, your existing carrier is a good place to start exploring smartphone options, because if you have voice coverage it’s a safe bet that you have data coverage too.

On the other hand, you may or may not have access to the fastest kind of data connection, known as 3G (for third generation). A 3G network is an important prerequisite to smartphone use because it provides an Internet connection fast enough to handle tasks like Web browsing, e-mail and file downloads, multimedia streaming, etc.

3G network performance varies — Verizon and Sprint use EV-DO technology, while AT&T and T-Mobile use HSPA — but it’s generally in the range of 400 kbps to 1 Mbps (or more) for downloads, compared to around 100 kbps for non-3G connections. While you can make do without a 3G connection in some cases, without one, your thumbs will likely spend more time twiddling than typing.

Of the four national carriers, Verizon provides the widest 3G coverage (in terms of geography, not necessarily population), followed by Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile. Regardless of which  carrier you have or are considering, you’ll want to be sure that 3G is available in your area and anywhere your employees frequently travel.

Each carrier offers coverage maps at their respective Web sites, but the maps don’t always make it easy to distinguish between 3G and ordinary data access, so don’t hesitate to check with the carrier if you’re unsure.

Once you’ve verified the availability of 3G coverage the next step is to consider the cost of data access. While mobile phone voice calling plans tend to be pretty simple — you get x number of minutes a month and pay y for each extra minute used, data plans can be a bit more complicated.

Generally, smartphone data plans range from $30 to $60 above the cost of voice service, but prices vary depending on the type of device, how much data you plan to transfer each month (lower cost plans with transfer caps are often available) and the added services you want, such as text messaging (SMS), push e-mail service or tethering. (More on these last two in a moment.)

Read the rest at Small Business Computing.




Tags: smartphones, smartphone, smartphone review


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