Choose the right mobile phone
What do you want most out of a phone?
Work-life balance? It's something we've heard of here at CNET towers, but not something we've ever managed to achieve, thanks to our fever for bringing you the latest updates from the coalface of the tech world. If, like us, you're a super-talented, multi-tasking workaholic (ahem), you'll want a phone that doesn't just keep you on top of what's trending on Twitbook, but also one that can help you manage your email inbox, work on spectacular spreadsheets, wondrous word documents and perfect presentations.
The good news is that today's smart phones are ideally suited for working on the move. Here are the most important factors to consider when picking a smart phone to use for business purposes.
Real or virtual keyboard? One of the first things you'll need to decide on is whether you want a phone with a physical keyboard or not. Qwerty keyboard equipped phones were once all the range among business-types, and are part of the reason why BlackBerry phones were so successful early on. Larger, more responsive displays on today's handsets, however, arguably make it easier to use onscreen, virtual keyboards. The choice is a personal one, but we actually think most people will be better off ditching the physical keyboard, especially as it massively broadens the range of handsets available to you.
Screen size: Bigger is better If you need to work on documents on the move, a large and high resolution screen is crucial. Bigger and sharper displays make it much easier to work on complicated documents as you don't have to constantly zoom in and out or scroll around on a page to view smaller details. In fact, some people may find that larger devices with 5-inch screens or bigger -- sometimes known as phablets -- may be the ideal choice here. The main drawback is that they can be a tad awkward to use as a normal phone due to their gargantuan dimensions -- you feel like you're holding a side plate up to your face.
Battery life It can be a major pain to get through half a day's work and then have your battery conk out, but using your phone for work can put a major strain on its battery, so make sure you pick a phone with good battery life. Sadly many of today's high-end mobiles don't have much stamina, and you may find you need to top them up during the day. If this isn't an option for you, do consider buying a phone with a removable battery -- this rules out the iPhone -- so you can buy an extra battery and swap between them as power runs low.
Email on the move If you choose a phone that runs any of the big operating system such as iOS, Android, Windows Phone or BlackBerry 10, you'll have few problems setting up your business email account to work on your phone, even if it uses a more complicated system such as Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync. All the OSes have support for a broad range of different email protocols, so setting up your phone to work with push email should involve little more than entering your email username and password.
Work/leisure profiles and security Some phones, such as the new BlackBerry Z10, allow you to create separate profiles on your phone for work and play. BlackBerry calls this feature Balance and it allows users to set up their phone so that personal and work data are kept completely separate. It even allows work data to be encrypted for added security. If security is important, you'll also probably want features such as the ability to track or wipe a phone remotely. This feature is built-in to Microsoft's Windows Phone handsets, Apple's iPhone and BlackBerry 10 devices. Google doesn't include it yet as part of the OS, but you can add it via third-party apps such as the Lookout app.
Mobile office apps You'll need more than just good email support and strong security -- you're going to need apps that let you open and edit business documents such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Microsoft's Windows Phone OS has an advantage over the other platforms here as it actually includes a mobile version of Microsoft Office that lets you create and edit these types of documents. A mobile version of OneNote is also included.
BlackBerry has also gone down the route of including an office suite for free with its BlackBerry 10 OS. It's chosen Documents to Go, which offers strong support for the usual Microsoft document formats. There are no business apps included as standard in iOS or Android, but some manufacturers do add free trials or complementary version of Office suites to their Android phones. This can change from phone to phone and from region to region. There are plenty of Office apps available for Android and iOS, though, ranging from free ones to more feature-rich offerings costing around £15 for a full suite of apps.
- Large screen
- Long battery life
- Reliable security
- Good corporate email support
- Included productivity apps