The following article was posted a couple years ago, but we recently posted an updated article that reviews the main differences between all of the best smartphones available.
Computers that fit into your pocket are no longer futuristic. Drop into any airport or hotel and you’ll find a flock of executives pecking away at their RIM BlackBerries, Apple iPhones, Windows Mobile and Android smartphones. What the heck are these popular little mobile devices, and how do they differ from each other? We’ve got a glossary of terms to help you learn the difference between cell phones, PDAs and smartphones. Then check out the following to help you make a determination as to which smartphone is right for you?
Cell phones, PDAs, and Smartphones
Before digging into popular products, let’s divvy the handheld world into three categories: cellular telephones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and smartphones.
Once, cell phones were limited to voice calls and text messaging. Today, they are more advanced – many can play tunes, take pictures, or surf the Web through a micro-browser. You can even connect to High Speed Internet via cell phone networks.
But their primary job is still to make phone calls.
A personal digital assistant, however, is really a tiny computer, slightly larger than a deck of cards, designed to install and run programs such as Pocket Outlook, Word and Excel. PDAs have limited processors and memory and most use a touch-screen for data entry. As a result, PDAs run simplified “pocket” versions of common PC programs.
Smartphones actually combine PDA and phone functionality. Like PDAs, smartphones can be used to check email or review documents. Like cellphones, smartphones can place calls and be held comfortably to your ear. They often lack a few PDA features, but smartphones try to wrap the best of both worlds into a single handset. And they also usually add a better mobile Internet experience than the other choices.
You can also personalize your mobile phone case to make it even more special.
Hot Mobile Devices
Android happens to be the world’s most popular platform – and for good reason. Most people love it for the ability to use all the Google apps, and over 600,000 apps and games available on Google Play. Since Google helps make it so useful, people are able to easily access all of your favorite mobile entertainment, including your favorite music, movies, books, apps and games, and you don’t need wires or syncing.
In contrast, the Blackberry operating system started out running on text pagers and cellphones made by Research In Motion (RIM). Over the years, Blackberries have matured into full-fledged smartphones (below). Blackberries were very popular among executives who needed a good phone with convenient enterprise email access, but little more in the way of general-purpose computing.
Apple entered the market with a big splash a few years ago when it introduced the iPhone. The iPhone is an extremely capable smartphone with a novel touch-screen that other manufacturers are scrambling to imitate. Apple designed the iPhone for individual consumers, but many executives insist on using this hot toy for business also. The newer iPhones have Siri, the intelligent assistant that you can talk to, and the iSight camera, which is considered the best camera on a phone ever.
So, how do these handheld categories relate to their Windows Mobile cousins? Early Windows Mobile operating system ran on PDAs, often called Pocket PCs. Microsoft later split Windows Mobile into two versions: one for smartphones with keypads and another for PDAs with touch-screens. Today, handhelds that run Windows Mobile Standard are smartphones, while those that run Windows Mobile Professional are PDAs. A few example Windows Mobile products are shown below:
Which Smartphone is Right for You?
If you’re purchasing a smartphone for personal use, think about how you intend to use the device. Most people are currently grappling with the battle between Android and iPhone. If you want to spend a lot of time browsing the web from your smartphone, you really can’t beat the iPhone. They also have some great free mobile phone games. If you think you’ll spend most of your time checking email or talking on the phone, go with a BlackBerry or a Windows Mobile smartphone. The Android, meanwhile, is the most popular in the world for a reason. If you want to have access to the most apps and games, this might be your best choice.
If you’re purchasing a mobile device to support business activities, these considerations are still relevant – but they’ll probably take a backseat to requirements imposed by your employer’s IT department. Most companies now support all smartphones. You must choose the right flavor, or you’ll have a hard time checking your enterprise mailbox or accessing other mobile business programs. Check with your IT department to make sure there are no issues with which smartphone you choose.
Also, we have posted a more updated article that discusses smartphones and mobile phones reviews that you should find interesting.