Tips On Buying A Smartphone

Get tips on buying a "smartphone" for yourself or as a gift for the holidays.
Published: Nov 9, 2006
Author: Michael E, Callahan
Tucows Editorial Feature

Tips On Buying A "Smartphone"

by Michael E. Callahan aka Dr. File Finder

As part of our series designed to help you with your shopping during the holidays, today we're looking at "Smartphones." Since a smartphone is aPDA combined with a cellular phone, you may also want to read the article Tips On Buying A PDA

Basic Considerations

If you're buying a smartphone as a holiday gift for yourself or someone else, there are several considerations. If the recipient is already using a PDA, then operating system is something to think about.If they're already using a Palm device, for example, they may want a Palm-based smartphone. Or, they may want to change. Best to make sure before you buy.

You'll find there are a wide range of Palm and Pocket PC/Windows Mobile smartphones to pick from. You'll also find a large number of sources online where you can purchase a smartphone. One thing to remember isto be sure your cellular provider supports the phone!

Battery Life?

I've had a number of smartphones and both Palm and Windows Mobile devices have appealing features. Many have Bluetooth, some have wireless, and some will even have cameras. Keep in mind that the morey our smartphone does, the more power it will need. Nearly all Windows Mobile and Palm devices have Lithium ion batteries. If the smartphone will be used a lot, you may want to look at purchasing an extra battery and possibly some alternative chargers. There are gadgets available so you can charge your smartphone in your car, from an electrical outlet,and via a USB plug into a computer.

Entering Text

Just one function of most smartphones is the ability to handleemail. That means entering text. You'll find that there are a variety of ways text can be entered. The thing to ask yourself, isWill this method work for you?" Smartphone devices with touch screens will often have software that produces a keyboard you can type on.

A number of smartphones offer keyboards that slide out from the phone. I had one of these in my Verizon XV6700 phone. The problem I found was that while it sounded like a good idea, I almost never used it. On top of that it made the phone thicker and heavier. So, while a built-in"keyboard" sounds like a neat idea, give it some thought first.

It's my opinion that a "touch screen" is not the way to enter text or dial a phone number. I personally had great difficulty trying to do so. For me having a keyboard on the front of the phone is the best bet. I currently have a Motorola Q from Verizon Wireless and it's extremely easy-to-use.

As you can see in the screen shot, the "Q" is very thin and the keys are easy to type with. Without trying to sneak a keyboard under the phone you get a device that's thinner and lighter. I did some research and you can find similar phones from Sprint, Cingular, T-Mobile, and others service providers.

Other Options

In looking at smartphones you'll find a wide array of features. For example, some have slots for storage cards so you can carry more data with you. These are handy for carrying photos, music, documents,and more. Speaking of music you'll find that some smartphones even offerstereo sound. With a memory card and some small speakers or a headset you have an MP3 player as part of your smartphone.

Bluetooth wireless is a feature I think every phone should have,"smart" or not. With a Bluetooth wireless headset you can answer your phone by simply tapping the device that's in your ear. Certainly a much safer way to talk on the phone if you're driving and even if you're not.Some phones, like the Motorola Q, come with built-in voicerecognition that makes it very easy to call numbers. If you have aPocket PC/Windows Mobile device you can also purchase Microsoft VoiceCommand and control your phone by voice. Voice Command not onlydials your phone, but can also tell you about contacts, appointments,and more.

Summing It Up!

To me there's no question that carrying one device is more practicalthan carrying two. In my experience, however, you may lose some featuresif you go from having a PDA and a phone to just having a "smartphone."It's difficult to pack all of the functionality of a PDA into aphone, but they're gradually getting there. If you're planning ongetting someone a smartphone as a gift remember to take everything intoconsideration. Operating system, keyboard, entering text, Bluetooth,memory slots, and more.

Having had several types of smartphones I think for me the ideal phonewould have a keyboard like the Motorola Q and a touch screen. That givesyou the best of both worlds. Just remember that any smartphone you lookat is going to be a melding of PDA and phone. Look for the features thatare most important and make sure the phone is supported by the cellularprovider.

About Michael E, Callahan

Michael E. Callahan, known around the world by the trademarked name Dr. File Finder, is regarded as the world's leading expert on shareware. Dr. File Finder works with software programs and developers full-time, and in the average year he evaluates 10,000 programs. Since 1982 he has evaluated over 250,000 software and hardware products. Mr. Callahan began evaluating software online in 1982 and no one has been at it longer. He currently works doing online PR and marketing for software companies, and is the Senior Content Producer for Butterscotch.Com.

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