Sunday, April 22, 2012

Choosing a SmartPhone Wisely!

Almost 50% of mobile phone users in the US already have smartphones (more than 100 million users), so this article may be a little too late.  But then again, most smartphone users also change their phones every 2 years, or if it was up to Apple or the Android makers, it will be every year, so maybe I can still impart my thoughts on how to choose a smartphone wisely.  Mind you, I have not tried out all the smart phones in the market ... that would be almost impossible given the number of Android models to choose from, so I will just share my thoughts on how to choose among the various platforms namely the Apple iPhone, Google Android, RIM Blackberry and Microsoft Windows.

iPhone - Currently at 30% market share in the US.  Still the gold standard for overall functionality and features.  The size is just right, not too small, not too big.  The latest model (iPhone4s) is beautiful, fast and easy to use.  Available on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.  The ecosystem especially the apps store is the best in the world.  And iCloud makes your life easier in terms of transferring photos to your computer (all done automatically in the background), backups (I've had to recently restore an iPhone that was locked and frozen and thankfully there was an iCloud backup) and synchronizing between various Apple devices (e.g. iPad, iPod) and computers (Macs and even PCs --- if you're running Windows 7).  If this all sounds perfect, why not buy an iPhone then? ... read about the next platform, Android.

Android - The market leader, at 50% of smart phones in the US.  Lots of varieties from various manufacturers.  Today there are almost 20 models to choose from on both T-Mobile and Verizon.  And even among manufacturers, Samsung also has almost 20 models available.  And if you think Apple releases new models just when you've gotten used to their latest one, there are tons of new Android models coming out every month, so it's difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest ... which is why if you want a specific best feature like the best camera on your phone, the largest screen, the most thin and light model, or the fastest processor, then the Android platform is for you.  The innovation happening on the Android platform is happening from all fronts, from various manufacturers so it's not far-fetched to consider that at some point they will come out with a phone that you will fall in love with.  The ecosystem is not as unified as the Apple ecosystem, but it's improving everyday and will most likely be just as good as Apple's in the near future.  And the price is right ... with so many models available, there's always an Android phone that fits any budget.

Blackberry - Currently at 16% (half of their market share last year) in the US.  Still the best overall for email.  The ecosystem is the least desirable among all the other ecosystems.  But if you're just looking for a smart phone that can do email really well, and can do a few apps here and there, then the Blackberry is for you.  People who have stayed with their Blackberry tell me they just want a phone that works well for email and means business.  They are not looking for a toy that their kids can play with when they come home ... which is probably a good thing.  In fact, I've met some folks who work for organizations that restrict their business phones to strictly business use and they have their Blackberry for work, and they have an iPhone or an Android phone for personal use.  And just as a bonus, the new Blackberry models now have decent cameras in them ... so if you really needed to take an occasional snapshot (or a video), your business phone / Blackberry will not disappoint.  And the price is right ... fits any budget with some models being deeply discounted by the phone companies.

Windows Phone (7 series) - Currently last at about 4% ... this is partly due to their late arrival in the scene with a decent operating system to begin with.  The manufacturers have just started shipping their models with Window 7 series and the carriers have only recently started promoting them.  But, this is the one platform that will surprise you if you ever get to try it out, because it is actually a good platform.  Having used all the platforms mentioned above on an almost daily basis, using the Windows 7 platform for the first time was a joy to use, maybe because it was a fresh design.  For the most part the phones are very similar in build to the Android phones but the operating system brings with it a fresh design that is unlike the iPhone, the Android or even the Blackberry.  Everyone I've spoken to who have taken the road less traveled by and chose to get a Windows 7 series phone has loved it.  This is almost like how Mac users felt 10-15 years ago when so few were buying them and yet they were really great machines that people just didn't want to buy because everyone else was on PCs ... maybe Microsoft can borrow from Apple's ad ... Think Different ... buy a Windows phone.  So if you want to be different, get the Windows phone.  The ecosystem is a work in progress and should only get better as Windows 8 rolls out later this year.  The price is right ... fits any budget as some models are deeply discounted by the phone companies.  Look for the new phones from Nokia that are winning rave reviews (their Lumia 900 model won CES 2012 best choice award for smartphones).

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