When is the Right Time to Switch to a Smartphone?
I recently made the plunge and switched from an ordinary cell phone to a smartphone. The smart-phone is revolutionizing the mobile market and it is a good time to make the switch if you are considering it. There are some very strong reasons for switching to smartphones but they aren’t for everybody. I hope, by sharing my own experiences and reasoning for going to a smartphone that I can help you ascertain whether a smartphone is the right choice for you.
What is a Smartphone?
First of all it might help to actually define what we mean when we says smartphone as opposed to a cell phone. There are a few things that make smartphones different from other cellular devices.
- 3G/4G and WiFi connectivity: If it can’t connect to the internet in at least one of these two manners it isn’t a smartphone. This touches on one of the key elements of your decision regarding your mobile device – do you intend to use it for data applications. If I never checked my e-mail on my phone I wouldn’t have made the switch. The truth is, though, that I do enjoy browsing on the go.
- Social Media Connectivity: This is tied closely to the first point. Although a standard mobile device may be able to facilitate connections to social media portals such as Facebook and Twitter they are not optimized to do so. The enhanced data capabilities of smartphones make them better equipped to handle social media applications. Frequently one or more social media portal will come pre-built into the device. – In the case of my personal device it came pre-loaded with a front-page Facebook widget and a camera that included one-touch sharing to Facebook, Picasa and other social networking sites.
- Expanded Interface: Not every phone with an expanded interface is a smartphone but every smartphone has an expanded interface. This may mean a touch screen, it could mean a QWERTY keyboard or it could mean both.
- Apps and Customization: Smartphones are essentially pocket-sized computers that happen to have phones built into them. Just like any computer a smart-phone has capabilities defined by the software installed onto them. Any smart-phone will have access to several thousand downloadable applications, some free and some of which you will have to pay for. These can display e-books and newspapers, run mathematical calculations, enhance core phone functions, provide entertainment and basically do anything else you can imagine needing a phone to do.
If a phone meets these criteria the chances are that it’s a smart-phone. There are several different types of smartphone available but for the moment the majority of smart-phones operate on one of four platforms: the iPhone, the Android, the Blackberry and the Windows Phone.
The iPhone is essentially the iconic smartphone. It’s expensive but it is frequently at or near the top of the field for specifications. The iPhone also has the greatest variety of apps.
Made in Canada by RIM, the Blackberry is a line of smartphones to fit most budgets. Many businesses prefer the blackberry because what it lacks in variety of apps it makes up for with ease of use and variety of price points. Most Blackberries have a QWERTY keyboard while some high-end models like the Torch feature both a keyboard and a touch screen.
Windows Phone 7 is the new kid on the smart-phone block. Currently there isn’t that great a selection of WP 7 phones available in Canada but more are coming out in the near future (such as the Dell Venue Pro, coming soon from Rogers). WP 7 boasts the backing of Microsoft, a rapidly expanding catalogue of apps and the recent arrangement between Microsoft and Nokia assures that there will be a huge market for these devices world wide. In my opinion this is the platform to watch over the coming year.
I saved my personal favourite smartphone platform for last. Unsurprisingly this is also the platform on the device I recently bought when I upgraded. Android Phones are manufactured by a variety of companies. They come at a variety of price-points from the invariably affordable Acer Liquid series to the rarefied Samsung Galaxy S series.
Android is second only to the iPhone for variety of apps and the Google designed OS is generally stable and easy to use. I bought the Acer Liquid E.
Why Did I Decide to Upgrade?
I’ve always been fond of Acer (having bought two Acer computers in the past) and they make devices precisely how I like them: fast, powerful and simple. If the device runs a little hot (the 1 GHz chip is underclocked to 600 MHz to reduce heat build-up and it still gets warm after extended use) that’s a fine trade-off.
So why did I make the switch?
I am a young urban professional. I lead a busy life and am on the go constantly. With immediate access to e-mail from anywhere in the city I can stay abreast of work and personal communications at any time. My previous phone would take several minutes to load an e-mail and when it finally did load the software limited me to responses with no formatting and no more length than a text message. The old phone had a QWERTY board but the stiff little keys did not make for easy typing. Furthermore the device did not include any predictive text functions – something that slowed my writing down further.
My Android phone allows me to do basic formatting. It has a touch-screen interface that allows for faster entry rates than the QWERTY board on my old phone. It can load e-mails effectively instantaneously and has one-touch access to both my home and work e-mail addresses. If the small keyboard size encourages brevity it is still a far cry better than what I had before.
I have a very large network of friends and contacts. The social media connectivity on my phone lets me organize my time in order to maintain my personal social network more effectively. My work requires me to keep abreast of significant amounts of news regarding the telecommunication industry. Being able to browse tech blogs on the go lets me optimize my day. For this reason the social networking and web-browsing functions of smartphones were central to my decision.
Finally smartphones are fun. With my Android phone I can copy music from my collection, edit the songs to produce custom ring-tones and assign those ring-tones to different people. This may seem frivolous but it is fun and it’s something my old phone just couldn’t do.
For these reasons I decided a smartphone was right for me. I carefully worked out what I needed in the way of both a device and a plan to support the device and bought the device that worked best for me.
If you are assessing whether you should switch to a smartphone consider the extent to which you need mobile data access, the extent to which you need pocket computing and how much you intend to use your phone for peripheral recreational tasks (photography, games, music, etc.). If you come to the decision, as I did, that those three items are important to you it is the right time to switch.
Even better, at MyCellMyTerms.com we will do all the work for you, making sure that when you switch to a smartphone you are getting the best possible rates on your mobile service without the hassle of shopping around.