For this discussion, I am assuming that you have complete freedom to choose your phone and the carrier company. With the consumerization of IT, a lot of people are using their own devices for work as well as for personal use.
A few questions to consider before making your decision:
1. What carrier are you going to go with? For most people this is a relatively easy decision. Most of us go with the carrier that our family is on since phone calls within the carrier network are free and unlimited. You could choose between Verizon, AT &T, sprint, T-mobile and others.
2. What email services are you using? If you are going to use the phone for business, then you need to consider the email service you are using. If you are using Microsoft Office suite at work with Outlook and Exchange, you need to ensure that you can sync your smart phone with MS Exchange. The appearance of different inbox folders on your phone is another factor to consider as well. Speaking with your IT person could help you with your decision.
3. What applications do you need to use and need? Apple app store has by far the largest number of applications available on the market. However the android app marketplace is growing rapidly as well.
4. What data plan do you need? No matter which carrier you go with, you will have to subscribe to a monthly data plan. Each carrier has their own plan pricing and you need to understand your data usage so you can choose the right plan that meets your needs. Here is a link that helps compare the various plans. http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-20029375-85.html
The article compares plans from various carriers, however since the article was published, Verizon Wireless no longer offers unlimited data plan for $30 per month. Instead plans start at $30 per month for 2GB download with additional charges for extra GB used. Sprint is the only major US carrier that is currently offering unlimited data plan with no throttling of download speed. But considering the trend among carriers, this may not last long.
5. Which smart phone device should you get? Even thought there are number of smart phone manufacturers like Apple, HTC, Samsung etc; we are limited in the choice, as certain devices work only on certain carriers. For example, currently the Apple iphone4 is only available through Verizon and AT& T. The new devices can cost up to $300 with a 2 year contract (with early termination fees), and up to $600 without a contract.
6. Should you get a touchscreen only device or one with a touchscreen and keyboard? The phones with a touchscreen as well as a physical slide out keyboard, tend to be a somewhat bulkier than the touchscreen only phone. So choose what suits your needs.
Modern technology is changing the way we live and work. Smart phone technologies have the power to increase our productivity and enrich the quality of our lives. Technology is an enabler and the decision to get a smart phone ultimately depends on its intended use. However, no matter what smart phone and carrier you choose, the chances are that you will have to sign up for a 2 year contract, so choose wisely!
Author: Sameer Sule is a Business Technology Consultant at Kinara Insights. He helps his clients understand and use technology to successfully grow their business. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org