Smartphones Buying Guide

A smartphone is a hybrid device that has all the features of a mobile phone and most of the features of a PDA such as calendar, e-mail, Web browsing and office applications. Here's what to look for when buying one.

Network Smartphones use the GSM network for voice communication and the GPRS and 3G networks for data transmission. The GSM (Global System for Mobile communication) is a wireless digital mobile phone network and GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) is a wireless service that can connect to the internet. Smartphones are either tri-band (900/1800/1900MHz) or quad-band (850/900/1800/1900), which ensures they can function at a variety of frequencies and allows them to operate in more than one country. Most smartphones also offer EDGE (Enhanced Data GSM Environment) connectivity, which provides faster data transfer than GPRS, particularly for Web and multimedia over the GSM network. However, the latest 3G and HSDPA-capable smartphones offer enhanced multimedia capabilities. With many also offering built-in native Wi-Fi, smartphones can surf the Net at speeds much faster than using GPRS, but the speed will vary depending on the network and handset.

E-mail connectivity One of the defining characteristics of a smartphone is e-mail connectivity. Smartphones are able to deliver e-mail wirelessly to the handset using an e-mail client and can operate with a variety of e-mail applications including personal, business and IMAP Web-mail. The smartphone handset uses its own e-mail client and will connect to the e-mail server to send and receive messages over the GPRS network. For example, some Palm models use VersaMail and will connect with Microsoft Exchange as well as POP3/IMAP accounts. Mobile Suite and IntelliSync can connect with Lotus Notes, Exchange and POP3/IMAP. Extended Systems can also connect with Lotus Notes, Exchange and IMAP.

Visto, Seven, Smarter, IBM Extended Systems, SyncML, SMTP, Good Technologies, IBM Websphere, Oracle Collaboration Suite are other e-mail clients used in smartphones. Devices running Windows Mobile run ActiveSync with POP3/IMAP for Pocket Outlook. Smartphones running Symbian tend to have a greater number of e-mail options with a focus on corporate e-mail clients. Smartphones with BlackBerry use this system for e-mail as an adjunct to the other e-mail applications, unless the device is BlackBerry-only. Blackberry smartphones can also retrieve mail using POP3/IMAP.

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Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

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