How to pick your next smartphone


By Pierre Khawand of People-OntheGo

science-pict.jpgSo how about your smartphone selection? And how would you go about it so that you end up with the optimum device for “you”. Is this process of selecting a smartphone an art or a science? You may remember this question from a few weeks, and now is the time to tackle it.

As you will see soon, the selection process is partly a science, because it does involve some objective assessment of technical features and some logical comparisons, but as you will also see, this process and the deciding factors tend to be much more of an art than a science. Keep on reading.

att3e47a.jpgI will now make an attempt at defining the 1, 2, 3’s of selecting a smartphone. My hope is that if you follow these recommendations, you are likely to have an easier time during the selection process and a happy conclusion. Having used the Treo 700p, Treo 700w, Motorola Q, BlackBerry Pearl, T-Mobile MDA, BlackBerry 8700, Nokia E62,  Cingular 3125, and T-Mobile Dash, for 9 days each in the 81-day-experiment, I will also rank these smartphones in five different areas including:

Business features

Media features



International Support

Back to the 1, 2, 3’s of selecting a smartphone:

1. Be clear about what your needs are
What is important here is to differentiate between what is a real need and what is a nice-to-have. Create a list of your needs and a separate list of your nice-to-have’s and rank them. Then as you consider different smartphones, you can easily eliminate those that don’t fit your needs (we call these needs “showstoppers”), and then compare how the rest of the smartphones rank against your nice-to-have’s.

As you get ready to list your needs and your nice-to-have’s, try to avoid the common mistake that many of our workshop participants make, which is listing “almost everything” as a need. To help make this distinction between needs and nice-to-have’s, I like to define a “need” as being an important business or personal function that, if not satisfied, would adversely affect your business or personal life, or cause you to miss out on an important benefit and therefore incur a high “opportunity” cost (using the term opportunity cost loosely).
2. Don’t be blinded by “features”, consider the “behind-the-scene” factors
These behind the scene factors are the more important and less obvious factors which include, but not necessarily in this order, the following:
a) The service provider and their plans and coverage in your area
b) International support if you happen to be an international traveler
c) Compatibility with your desktop or laptop including the applications you use such as e-mail, calendaring, and the like
d) The applications and add-on applications that are available or not available on the smartphone
e) What others are saying about the smartphone on the blogs and the forums
f) And last but not least the cost of ownership.

Please note that it is not the cost of the smartphone that I am emphasizing here, but the cost of ownership over a two year period for instance. This would include the accessories, the add-on applications you might need, the voice and data plans, and any additional charges you might incur.

3. Get your hands on the smartphone and do your comprehensive “test drive”
The few minutes test drive that you do while the sales rep is waiting for you doesn’t count. Get your hands on the device and try to do the things that you do in real life—if necessary, ask the sales rep to leave you alone for a while. Or even better, find a friend or a colleague who has the device and who can be your host for the test drive.

This “usability” test is the deciding factor. A device might look great on “paper” but if it doesn’t feel good in your hands, you are not likely to buy it, and you probably shouldn’t. We call this “chemistry”. If there is no chemistry, there is no device.

Chemistry is about how the device feels in your hand, how it looks, and how you like or dislike the user interface, the keys, the keyboard, the trackwheel or thumwheel or 5-way navigation key, and even how “you” feel carrying the device and being “seen” with it. Chemistry doesn’t need to be justified or explained, it just is. And don’t forget about the more practical aspects of usability such as battery life and form factor.

Finally, Pierre’s Rankings

Based on my experience with these smartphones, I ranked them. The rankings range between 1 and 5, where 5 is the best and you can find these rankings on my blog. We have a little chart here to give you a better idea.


Where to go from here?

If you pay close attention to the 1,2,3’s of selecting your smartphone, you are likely to end up with the device that fits your needs and that you enjoy using. And when you do, I would love to hear from you. You can send me a note to and if you submit your case study, I will post it on the 81-day-experiment blog so that others can benefit from it. In addition, I will keep you updated about my upcoming book on selecting a smartphone. Happy Smartphoning!


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