Choosing the right smartphone

Generally speaking, almost all countries around the world have abandoned analogue mobile phones because digital offers a bit more possibilities and are far flexible. Smartphones are plentiful and varied with a lot of features and bundles to consider. This can be overwhelming especially if you consider how much you have to shell out for a smartphone and all the accessories that go with it. This post is for the smart shopper who’s objective is to get the best device for your money but most importantly your device must stay relevant for at least 2 to 3 years. Devices come and go and unless you have a million dollars to spend, it is a wise thing to make the perfect choice. There are some important considerations and questions that you must answer before settling on a Smartphone.

1. Do you really need a Smartphone?
This question is the most ignored by many people. Do you want a Smartphone because “everyone” own one? You don’t need a Smartphone or any mobile phone for that matter if your current means of communication suits your lifestyle. There are several modes of keeping in touch that you have already in existence that takes care of your staying touch – snail mail, physical address, meeting at a cafe, land line telephone, via a home PC you have access to email and other internet communications like Skype. Consider the nature of your occupation and your need to stay in touch. What type of person or organisation will contact you? After these questions you will know if you do need a Smartphone or not, then take the next step.

2. Investigate the choices available to you
First visit wikipedia and search for a “list of telephone operating companies” in your country of residence. Make a note of them and ask your friends about their experience with their providers. Ask real questions (what is your monthly bill? have you experienced drop calls? who do you call when you have a problem?) Alternatively, you can also write down 3 to 5 important questions and search on the internet via 4 comparative search engines – don’t always trust what one search engine says(most are Adwords, Metatags and Keywords). Use Google, BING, Yahoo and Lycos. *DON”T search for phrases like “best smartphone”, “cheapest deals”. Rather search for “hidden fees at telecom XYZ” , “rude customer service at telecom XYZ“, “Smartphone will not be repaired by provider XYZ” and other worst case scenario-type queries. Doing this will give you an idea of the pros and cons of your chosen provider.

3. Prepaid, Prepaid(registered) or contract(1 year) or contract(2 years)
Your keeping in touch needs combined with the usage fees will determine which type of service you decide. Nearly all of the GSM networks provide a combination of the above. Choose prepaid if you wish to take full control of your calling costs; add a registration of your SIM and you can keep a fixed mobile number. The tricky part are the contracts – 1 year or 2 years. A thumb rule is first try and then commit. Choose a commitment for a year and renew over a period. Remember GSM operators are not your friends! They provide a service! Which you pay for! Always be on the lookout for a better deal (nowadays you can switch providers at least 2 months before your contract ends).

4. Choosing your Smartphone
Having asked yourself all the above questions and performed all the tasks, you are now ready to choose. There are basically 5 PLATFORMS from which all Smartphones are built – the APPLE iOS platform (with its iPhone), the BLACKBERRY OS platform (with its Curve, Bold, Pearl, Torch and Storm), the SYMBIAN OS platform (Nokia C-range, E-range, X-range and N-range), the WINDOWS OS platform (Nokia 700 series and other providers) and the ANDROID platform (too many to list but notable are Google, HTC and Sony Ericsson). GSM Arena is one of the few sites that lists nearly all the Smartphones available over the shelf.

So what are your “keeping in touch” and communication needs? Will you call a lot? Will you be called a lot? Send texts or emails whilst on the train? Are you on call more than 10 hours then consider a Smartphone with longer battery life instead of touchscreen. Or your clients need confidentiality, immediate email response and file security at all times, then consider a Blackberry. Maybe you are in the creative industry and work a lot with heavy multimedia, then probably Apple is the choice. Or you need total flexibility with battery life, touchscreen, agile software, easy manipulation to show products or projects, then any of the Android phones will do just that. For the conservative types who want hassle-free, all round performance and designs that are evenly balanced then a Symbian from Nokia or the Sony Ericsson are the choices. Let this proverb guide you “one man’s meat is another man’s poison“.

I mix gadgets – I love the MAC Pro for producing cinema; Dell’s Studio XPS for music production; Macbook Air for travel and the iPad for presentations. My Smartphone is the Blackberry Torch – which is an all-rounder(battery life, 5mpx camera, touchscreen and qwerty) for me; and a backup is my Swedish Windows CE powered Neonode N2.

5. Bundles versus per call charges
If you find a great deal on bundled minutes and texts (read the FINE PRINT), then you are in luck otherwise prepare to spend heavily, if you go outside your bundle agreement. And it happens! A SIM only, per call/ per sec 1 year contract with NO internet contract is probably the overall deal worth considering.

In conclusion, choose the Smartphone that is durable, with excellent after sales service, ideally simlock-free, works flawlessly with your provider’s network and fits your lifestyle! Happy Holidays!

My two cents! Stay Professional!

Published by Sal Souza

Sal Souza is an International Designer (Graphic, Visual, Multimedia, Broadcast Media, Industrial, User Interaction, User Experience) and IT Consultant with expertise in New Media, Web 3.0, IPTV, DTV, Media Production, Product Prototyping, Desktop Software, Interactivity, Mobile Applications, Traditional Knowledge, Geographical Indications and Cultural Goods. He lives and works in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

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