For small business owners, having a smartphone is a must. You never know when you’re going to need to contact a client or solve a crisis on the go. Having access to e-mails and other important business-related documents at a moment’s notice at all times is therefore critical. While it's more likely when you work for a large corporation that someone else will be available to put out fires, the same can not be said for a small business of one. Being somewhat available when you're the only one holding down the fort can be crucial.
The challenge is that with so many different types of smartphones to choose from and new ones popping up all the time, how can anyone figure out which one is the smartest?
Luckily, it’s actually difficult to make a wrong decision here. While some phones might be a better fit for you than others, there is no real system in place to determine which phone is the ultimate cream of the crop. The fact is that there are many different variables to consider, and the main focus should be your personal preference coupled with an assessment of your individual needs when it comes to running your business opportunity.
The three main players in the smartphone game right now are iPhone, Droid and BlackBerry. In this series of three articles, we’ll examine the pros and cons of each, as well as what makes them so “smart.”
First up is the iPhone.
Easily the most well-known and glitzy of the bunch, Apple’s iPhone was first released on January 9, 2007. Stocked with all the standard smartphone features, the iPhone also includes visual voicemail, Wi-Fi connectivity and a camera. The newest version can also record and edit videos. Each phone comes standard with maps, a calculator, notes, a contact list, a clock that has an alarm and even a weather application. The iPhone also has YouTube and direct access to iTunes and an “App Store” for purchasing a multitude of applications (or apps for short). Currently, the iPhone only offers a touchscreen keyboard as opposed to a physical one, which has caused strife amongst some of its users.
For small business owners, the iPhone is attractive because it allows you to access e-mail, keep business notes and keep all of your contacts in one location. You can also download apps that are specific to your business’ needs. One example is the “Analytics App” (just $6.99), where you can view and build reports based on Google Analytics data. Another is “LinkedIn,” which is a free, mobile version of the online business contacts and networking site.
The most current iteration of the iPhone is the iPhone 4, which is about 4.5 inches high, 2.31 inches wide, .37 inches deep and weighs just 4.8 ounces. For Mac users, the phone requires a Mac with a USB 2.0 port, Mac OSX from 10/5/08 or later, iTunes 9.2, an iTunes store account and Internet access. Windows users will need a PC with a USB 2.0 port and Windows 7, Windows Vista, or Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 3 or later. The phone has a digital player, digital camera, video recorder and e-mail. Users also have three-way calling, call hold, call timer, call waiting and caller ID.
According to TopTenReviews.com, the iPhone is the No. 1 smartphone currently available. “Apple’s iPhone 4 is easily one of the best smartphones available on the market and is several steps ahead of its competition,” the website states. “It is easy to get caught up in the vast selection of high-end features offered on this phone, but the basic features also provide the highest quality. The Apple iPhone 4 really shows what smartphones should be able to do, and it will be quite some time before anyone can truly match it.” The only con that the website mentions is that the battery life is rather short, but more on that later.
Though the iPhone used to be regarded as a “toy,” business owners are starting to respect what the iPhone has to offer. Recently, businessinsider.com placed the iPhone in third place in its article examining The 6 Best Business-Friendly Smartphones That Aren't BlackBerrys.
According to Squidoo.com, the iPhone’s best feature from a business point of view is that it has a large internal memory in addition to its simplicity and web browsing capabilities. Also, the ability to zoom in and out of web pages is a valuable tool.
As mentioned previously, the battery appears to be a problem for a number of iPhone users, both because it cannot be removed and has a short lifespan. “Unfortunately, you cannot remove the battery [on the iPhone] and over time it slowly loses its charge,” according to straight.com. “From a business perspective, battery life is critical, and the iPhone falls way short.” Additionally, the site also notes that the iPhone isn’t as durable as some other products, and muses that it is built more for consumers than business professionals.
Recently, Apple announced that it offers over 140,000 apps. Of course, a large number of those are just for fun and won’t help your business opportunity in any way, but many are designed specifically for small business owners. A lot of these apps are free, but some do require a payment, which is rarely higher than $6. According to v3.co.uk, the No. 1 business app available for the iPhone is Quickoffice Connect Mobile Suite ($5.99), which allows users the ability to access, view and edit documents on the go. iPhone users can work on Microsoft products within the Apple OS, allowing small business users to avoid issues of compatibility and stay productive. Other top apps include Bloomberg (free) and iXpenseIt ($2.99), which allows users to manage expenses.
Across the board, expert reviewers seem impressed with what the new iPhone has to offer. While the older version was reported to have a number of glitches, it seems that Apple has smoothed many of them out for the fourth generation. However, if you’re not sure whether or not the iPhone is right for your small business opportunity, stay tuned for the next part of the series where our focus will be on the Droid.