There are probably some technical terms to understand when it comes to buying a good phone, too, right? Errr... no. Smartphones do have CPUs, and RAM, and displays and connectivity. But nobody talks about them. It’s just accepted that a modern smartphone will do a pretty good job at keeping up with the demands of a person on the move; and that an older phone will be out-of-date within a couple of years. Besides, the unit’s power is immaterial next to the more limiting factor of how connected you are- and that’s a function of the network, not the handset.
There are form factors to consider, ranging from some pretty teensy displays through to ‘phablets’ (somewhere between a phone and a tablet PC) which you’d be lucky to squeeze into your pocket. Even so, this is just a case of size and comfort, and you can try them all out in your friendly local phone shop. Branscombe adds that if you’re a heavy user, it’s worth getting a phone with an SD card slot (a space to add extra memory).
Your network and contract are much-of-a-muchness, too. The following advice is applicable across the board:
- Network coverage is generally good. But you obviously want good call coverage in your home and office, so remember, you have a cooling-off period in case you’re in a black spot.
- Stop worrying about minutes. Very few people use up all the minutes on their contract, whereas most businesspeople underestimate their data usage. Go for a high-data contract.
- And ask for a 12 month contract rather than the current norm of 24. Nobody publicises them, but they are available!
So, what does differentiate a good phone for business from a bad one? Branscombe says “As before, the magic question is: what do you want to do? And whether you can do it will come down to the Operating System and the Apps which are available for it.
“For a business, I think you want rock-solid email, and the ability to flip seamlessly between the cheapest and most effective ways of reaching people at any one time. With Windows Phone’s People Hub, I can flip between text messages, email, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, all in one familiar interface.
“If you travel, for example, text messaging can get really expensive. Using a hotel’s wi-fi to flip channels and avoid call charges is really handy. And of course, this works for dealing with suppliers and clients as well as colleagues. It’s just seamless to talk to anyone in the way which they find most comfortable.”
That seamlessness also means being able to work on any document, anywhere. Branscombe says, “On a Windows Phone, documents, emails, photos and everything else I do are synced automatically – without even a button press – to my SkyDrive; and from there down to my PC and other devices. Plus, Office documents are rendered on my phone with 100% integrity. A client can email me a document. I can open it on the bus, seeing changes, annotations and everything else; make some edits and then save it to SkyDrive. When I get back to my desk, it’s there – perfect and complete, and in an ordinary folder like all my other stuff. That really is time saved.”
Phones are launched with even greater alacrity than PCs, and it’s a landscape which is changing all the time. Don’t hesitate to interrogate your phone retailer: they want to sell phones and contracts, whereas your requirement is much more subtle; you need a product which will do the job of making your specific business easier to run.
Whether you’re buying a PC or a smartphone, the mantra is “It can’t just be shiny and new, it’s got to do what you want it to do.”