Smartphones have the potential to increase your productivity and streamline your business responsibilities. You can track and manage leads, process credit card payments or take care of whatever task is most important to you. The key is to find one that meets your specific needs from within the universe of available brands and models.
Review the spectrum of smartphone considerations listed here to help make the best choice:
One of the most important factors in choosing a smartphone comes down to how you will use it. Besides making calls, do you expect to check work e-mail or browse the Internet? Will you need to work on documents and spreadsheets? Each brand of phone has its own strengths. The iPhone and Droid are both easy to use and can help you access a large selection of apps, while the BlackBerry is known for its strong e-mail capabilities. Windows Mobile has built-in support for Microsoft Office and may be a good choice if you need to access those programs on the go. Consider how you work now and how your needs may evolve in the near future.
After thinking about how you will use the phone, now consider the features that will provide access to the work you do. For example, a sliding keyboard—rather than a touchscreen—might make sense if you plan to update your blog or work on documents frequently. Some smartphones offer external keyboards—wired or wireless—so you can type on a full-size keyboard. Try out any device to be sure you’re comfortable with the interface. You’ll also want to be sure the phone has good voice quality; reading reviews on sites like ConsumerSearch (free) or Consumer Reports (paid) can provide insight.
When it comes to calculating the cost of smartphone service, you should factor in the device itself, the data package, voice, text messaging and any international use charges. Ask about contract length and commitments related to your contract. When you are shopping, share your entire set of needs with the salesperson for the best results. Some providers offer special plans for small businesses or discounts if you buy phones and service plans for several employees.
Developers have created thousands of apps to help business owners do everything from customer relationship management (CRM) and inventory management to invoicing and credit card processing. Others let you synchronize data—word processing, e-mail, calendars, contact lists—between your smartphone and your desktop. Because some phones have more apps than others, check to see if the ones you need are available for the device you’re considering.
If you frequently travel overseas, you may want to consider a GSM-based (Global System for Mobile Communications) smartphone as opposed to a CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) device, since GSM is a more universally accepted wireless standard. Not all GSM phones work overseas, so be sure any device you consider will work in the places you travel.
All major carriers offer technical support, but there may be variations in when help is available. If you expect to use your smartphone during off-hours—perhaps to contact a supplier in Europe or Asia during its workday—be sure the carrier provides round-the-clock support. A powerful support option is have a remote service team available that can do diagnostics from afar if you have technical issues. Ask about this option before you make a decision since uptime is key for busy small business owners.
Today’s smartphones from AT&T are helping small business owners run their businesses more effectively whether they’re at home or on the road.