Looking for a New Smartphone – But Which One?

Looking for a New Smartphone - But Which One?This is both a study and a plea for help from the community. Which smartphones should we buy? Currently we have aging BlackBerry Storms. We chose BlackBerries because they integrated nicely with Microsoft Outlook, which we use for business. Having the calendar and contacts easily synced to our phones is very convenient. But time marches on, and RIM does not seem to have kept up with the march. Although recent posts on LockerGnome feature Android (Android Tips, Unlocked Android, Flash for Android, Security for Android), I believe that most people associated with LockerGnome use iPhones. All of our friends who have iPhones love them, and most of our friends who have Android phones love them. I know two people with Windows phones, and they are pleased. That sounds like the iPhone is a winner, but Android is everywhere and Windows is a minor player. How can a person make a reasonable decision? Features, available apps, cost, locked operation, and the infamous walled garden are all parameters to be considered. Androids seem to be vulnerable to infection by rogue apps.

An important consideration that is difficult to overlook is the value of going with a market leader to assure getting a known, reliable product. When buying a new automobile, you are wise to consider brands that are easily repaired by mechanics who have likely worked on the same model. I believe the same goes for smartphones. If something goes wrong, I want to get it fixed or replaced immediately without a long drive to a distant store or waiting for snail mail to carry the phone back and forth. If that convenience costs a bit more, so be it. These phones are work tools, not ego-boosting toys.

By some measures, this means that we should buy iPhones since Apple has the market lead, at least in the US, with both Verizon and AT&T reporting that Apple consistently has more than 50% of the market. (T-Mobile does not offer it, of course). But the iPhone is the only user of Apple’s iOS. How do you compare its popularity with Android, which is offered in several varieties by many manufacturers? For instance, over all, the Android OS far outsells the iPhone OS, but in the US the largest provider of Android, Samsung, is second in sales to Apple. So if, for my business, I want to get the assurance of buying the market leader, do I consider manufacturer or the OS? Should I consider only the US market in which Apple dominates or the whole world in which it trails?

Looking at worldwide providers, Samsung and Nokia both outpace Apple, which comes in a distant third. The largest category for worldwide sales is “other.” Our poor BlackBerries barely make it on the list. RIM is the lowest reported manufacturer with only 1.9% of the market, and based on various news reports, that is unlikely to increase.

Apple is more expensive than Android, both to purchase and probably in the amount of money spent on apps.

None of this addresses what I think is the main reason a person might buy an iPhone. Apple has done a superb job of designing a physical object that is a joy to hold and then loading it with an OS that is functional and cool. That is a hard combination to beat. More than half of the US smartphone purchasers currently agree.

After several hours of surfing and making comparisons, I am confused. Help me. We need phones with good cameras and the ability to sync with Outlook in addition to the normal functions. Price is a secondary consideration within limits. Security is an issue. Reliability is a must. Size is not an issue except that I do enjoy reading e-books and have installed Mobipocket Reader on my Storm, so larger is better. And phablets are out there to consider, I suppose.

Maybe we should just wait for the Windows 8 smartphone by Nokia. After all, we all will be switching to Windows 8 on our PCs, so why have a different system on our phones? (A similar argument could be made for Android in reverse.) I’ll bet it syncs to Outlook. Yeah, let’s just wait.

Article Written by

  • http://twitter.com/lhamil64 Lee

    If you want something that integrates with Outlook, definitely use something made by Microsoft. Android and iOS will work with Exchange and such but if you want a really nice UX, go with Windows Phone 7 or 8 as you said at the end.

    • sdeforest

      Yeah, after a lot of unnecessary hand-wringing, the answer was obvious–almost. I still want to get some hands on time with an 8 before making the jump.

  • https://plus.google.com/112301869379652563135/posts Ryan Matthew Pierson

    I’d have to agree with Lee on this one. Windows Phone 7 (and Windows Phone 8 coming) are excellent choices. There’s nothing wrong with not using Android or iOS.

    • sdeforest

      We spend a lot of time trying to optimize things which probably are not optimizable. I just made up a word. You are right. There is probably nothing “wrong” with any of the majors. I will still wait until the the Nokia Windows 8 is released in September.

  • http://twitter.com/MugenBatteries Mugen Power

    I think now after Jelly Bean is out, the choice will be much easier to make. Android FTW!

    • sdeforest

      At least in the past, not all Androids were the same. One had to be careful. I agree that might be the way to go, but as I said elsewhere, I want to see the Nokia that comes out in September

  • RKPraetor

    I like the i4Siri as does my oldest son; my wife likes her Motorola Photon and wants the new one coming out with a keyboard – she was wanting the bigger Samsung but it is not offered – I like everything I have read about the Windows Nokia phone

    • sdeforest

      I agree with you on the Nokia which is why I am waiting. There are 31 flavors of ice cream, so we should not be surprised by a plethora of smartphones. When cars came out, and when airplanes took off, there were many manufacturers and models. The market quickly eliminated most. That will eventually happen with phones.