Smartphones are fast becoming the must-have accessory for any start-up or growing business, with email, the internet, documents, calendars, a universe of apps and, erm, a phone at your fingertips. Read on for our guide to finding the right one for you.
The vast array of smartphones on the market means that unless you make a hobby out of studying developments in the technology, you're likely to find the choice a bit baffling.
Having established that you need a new handset, or handsets, the first thing you must do is take advice. Start online and read reviews of the best new smartphones at the sort of price points you're comfortable with, then research business tariffs and work out which is likely to be the best for your particular type of business.
Armed with a basic knowledge of what you're after, take a stroll into town and visit a few mobile phone retailers. You can get books worth of advice from keen sales staff without committing to buy. The trick is to talk to three different sources in order to get a feel for what advice is most accurate and impartial.
Of course the business comes first, and the phone that best suites how you make your money should be the one you eventually pick up. But with contracts ranging anywhere from 12 months to three years, you need to know you'll have a comfortable relationship with your little ringing rectangle.
Are touch screens your thing; or do you hate that they get all smudged and tend to access functions on your phone while still in your pocket? Is a qwerty keyboard important for that realistic 'I'm still in the office' experience?
Secondly, what will you use it for? Having access to a million apps is all well and good, but if you only download Sudoku and Angry Birds then it doesn't represent value for money. If, say, you expect to be on email all day, then there will be a handset for you.
Whether you buy Blackberry, or another brand of smartphone there are certain ingredients that will collectively create the best phone for you. A few of the basics:
Every type of handset has a different set of technical specifications and although phones are getting more powerful seemingly by the day, it's a good idea to contrast and compare a shortlist to fathom which will download docs the fastest.
The processer built into a smartphone affects how quickly you can run apps (along with other factors such the size of files you're accessing and how efficiently your smartphone compresses data) how fast you can surf and how snappily you can respond to emails - pick up a slow one and it could lead to a frustrating mobile experience and lower on-the-move productivity.
Remember when you used 12 large batteries to power a ghetto-blaster? In order to be truly mobile your phone can ill-afford the same capacity for AAs. Slick designs mean there's not much room for the power source, and that means batteries require regular charging.
But just how regularly is the key consideration. Having a powerful phone is wonderful, but not if it's off most of the time because it runs out of juice in an hour. Battery life is a key consideration, so make sure your phone can last the distance.
One tip is to carry around a fully-charged battery on top of the one in your phone, that way if your phone dies, you can always swap in the fresh one and carry on with your business day.
Today smartphones are like little cinemas in your pocket. It's debatable whether you need to travel around with the local Odeon to hand - maybe if you work in film it would help - but being able to surf the internet and actually see what's there is an obviously prerequisite for any phone.
Everyone is different, and not everyone wants the same phone, so pick and choose the handset that is right for you. BlackBerry offers a wide range of devices from qwerty keypads to touch screens, and BlackBerry data compression means files are lighter which makes your phones quicker and lighter on battery life.
You need to think about how secure your information will be on your smartphone device and how you can manage your network's security. It's especially true if you entrust smartphones to your staff.
BlackBerry Protect and BlackBerry Management Centre are the world's most secure mobile solution. They help you to locate, lock, wipe and backup multiple devices if you should have misfortune to lose one or more of them, as well as protect against dreaded viruses.
Without a mobile network to run your calls on, a mobile is little more than a fancy oblong. You need to pay to keep those calls, emails and texts coming; but what you pay depends on your likely level of use.
Again, your friendly local retailer will be on-hand to advise you regarding your own particular circumstances, but in general it's advisable to set a generous, yet affordable, monthly dose of chat.
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For more information about how BlackBerry can help your business go to www.blackberry.co.uk/sme