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.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Ross Catanzariti

Ross Catanzariti

Good Gear Guide
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?