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Choosing the right smartphone for your business

You see smart phones everywhere these days, in boardrooms, courtrooms and doctor’s offices. People use them for everything from finding their way around an unfamiliar city to communicating with friends or colleagues to accessing and working on documents. When choosing a smart phone to use for business, choose one that’s in line with your most important business needs.

Amy Gahran, in her article for Entrepreneur.com, gave three tips that could make the choosing the right smart phone a little less challenging.

Which carrier provides the best coverage in the areas where you spend most of your time? A lot of people say that one carrier is no different from another. Don’t you believe it. If that were true, Cricket would get all the business because it has the best prices. Now, maybe there isn’t a whole lot of difference between Verizon and AT&T, and maybe Sprint and T Mobile also can hold their own, but smaller carriers might not have the coverage you need if you have to travel to rural areas. Take the time to shop around for the carrier(s) that can satisfy this most basic need before worrying about anything else. It definitely makes a difference.

Is it worth it to have a service contract? There’s no law that says you can’t use a pre-paid month-to-month plan. Just make sure you have plenty of minutes and access to Wi-Fi. The problem with two-year plans is that you’re pretty much locked in until the plan expires. If the carrier you chose has worse coverage than you expected, it might just be more economical in the long run to pay whatever penalties are necessary to break the contract and try a different carrier. Folks in Alberta, Canada may not have to worry about that for much longer. The government there is proposing legislation that would cap contract cancellation fees at $50 Canadian.

Which phone is most in line with your business needs? The best way to figure out which phone’s operating system will be the best fit for your needs, try one out. Sometimes stores will have operational display models. Give them a try … without any help from a sales person. You won’t have someone who handles these devices on a daily basis hanging around with you once you leave the store and start using the phone for work. So, test the phone on your own and find out if it’s easy or difficult for you to navigate. Ask friends, family members, colleagues and co-workers what kinds of phones they use, and then ask them what they like or dislike about those phones and whether or not they would recommend them to others.

Depending on how much you plan to use your phone for actual work, such as accessing the Internet or updating documents, you may want to get something with a reliable operating system, like an iPhone. Research In Motion (RIM) may decide to serve only business clients, so if you’re planning to provide your employees with smart devices, BlackBerry could be the way to go.

Once you’ve solved the problem of finding a carrier that provides reliable service in the areas where you will do most of your business, the kind of smart phone you buy becomes probably more a matter of taste than anything else.

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