(TECH REPUBLIC) by Jason Hiner - 5 Smartphones are becoming a standard tool for many of today’s knowledge workers and IT professionals.

However, the number of smartphone choices on the market is exploding. We’d like to help IT leaders pinpoint the top smartphones for workers who are looking for serious productivity. This episode of CIO Sanity Savers counts down 2009’s five best smartphones for businesses.

Here are the top five:

1. BlackBerry - It is primarily a corporate smartphone but also has some broader appeal for small businesses and prosumers.

Carriers: Verizon Wireless and Sprint Processor:
Processor: 528 MHz
Memory: 256 MB RAM
Display: 2.4-in. 480 x 360 pixel high-resolution HVGA+ TFT LCD
Battery life: 5 hours talk time and 336 hours standby
Weight: 4.6 ounces (130g)
Dimensions: 4.4(h) x 2.4(w) x 0.6(d) inches
Storage: 256 MB internal flash, microSD expansion slot
Camera: 3.2 MP with LED flash, autofocus, and video
Keyboard: 35-key backlit QWERTY with trackball
Networks:Quad-band: 850/900/1800/1900MHz, GSM/GPRS/EDGE; Single-band: 2100 MHz, UMTS/HSPA networks; Dual-band: 800/1900 MHz, CDMA/EV-DO Revision A networks; SIM card included for global roaming
Tethered modem capability: Yes
Price: $499 retail; $199 with two-year contract

Who is it for?
For businesses: BlackBerry features industrial-strength email and messaging software along with one of best qwerty keyboards on the market. For people who type a lot of messages on the go, this is one of best smartphones money can buy. For that reason, it will also appeal to some small business users and prosumers as well.

When combined with the backend BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) infrastructure, this device is highly secure and highly manageable for IT departments. The Tour also throws in an impressive high-resolution 2.4-inch LCD screen and 3 megapixel camera to make it a strong multimedia device as well.

2. Apple iPhone 3GS - The Apple iPhone is perhaps the best-known smartphone on the planet, drooled over by Apple lovers and consumer electronics enthusiasts, but how well does the latest model - the iPhone 3GS - stack up for business users?

Here is TechRepublic’s unadulterated evaluation of the iPhone 3GS from a business and IT perspective.
Carriers: AT&T Wireless (U.S.), full list of international carriers
Processor: 600MHz (Samsung S5PC100)
RAM: 256MB
Storage: 16GB or 32GB Flash memory
Display: 3.5-inch 480×320 pixel HVGA LCD touchscreen
Battery life: Standby time - Up to 300 hours; Talk time: Up to 5 hours on 3G; Internet use: Up to 5 hours on 3G and up to 9 hours on Wi-Fi;
Weight: 4.8 ounces (135 grams)
Dimensions: 4.5(h) x 2.4(w) x 0.48(d)
Camera: 3 megapixels with autofocus and video recording
Keyboard: 33-key onscreen-only, both portrait and landscape
Networks: Wi-Fi; UMTS/HSDPA (850, 1900, 2100 MHz); GSM/EDGE (850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz)
Tethered modem capability: Yes (though not yet activated on AT&T)
Price: $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB

Who is it for?
This device is great for users who’ve had trouble using other smartphones, because the iPhone has the easiest UI (users interface) to navigate - in fact, many toddlers can even figure out how to make it work. The iPhone is also a great fit for users who do a lot of reading on their smartphones, including email, documents, and ebooks, because it has a large high-resolution LCD screen and it’s easy to zoom in or make the text larger, if needed, in most programs. It’s not as good for users who do a ton of typing, texting, or data entry because it is limited to an onscreen keyboard.

3. Palm Pre - Manufacturer: Smartphone with digital camera / digital player
Service Provider Sprint Nextel
Width 2.4 in Depth 0.7 in Height 3.9 in Weight 4.8 oz
Cellular Technology CDMA2000 1X
Band CDMA 800/1900
Phone Design Slider
Antenna Internal Polyphonic
Ringer Yes
Call Timer Yes
Speakerphone Yes
Wireless Interface IEEE 802.11b , IEEE 802.11g 
Bluetooth 2.1 EDR
Additional Features QWERTY keyboard layout
Operating System Palm webOS User
Memory 8 GB
Messaging Services Yahoo! Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger Service (AIM)
Mobile Email Yes
Supported Email Protocols POP3 , IMAP4
Internet Browser Yes
EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) Yes
Messaging / Data Features Mobile blog , XHTML Browser
Multimedia Features: Playback Digital Video Formats H.264 , MPEG-4 , H.263 video and AMR audio
Digital Camera Camera highlights: With a resolution of 3 megapixels, this camera phone will give you higher quality pictures than other phones. Sensor Resolution 3 megapixels Camera Light Source LED light
GPS System GPS Navigation GPS receiver
Organizer: Alarm Clock Yes
Calendar Yes
Reminder Yes
Calculator Basic Display: Type LCD display
Technology TFT Display Resolution 320 x 480 pixels
Diagonal Size 3.1 in Color Support Color Color Depth 24-bit (16.7 million colors)
Display Illumination Color White
Digital Player (Recorder) Supported Digital Audio Standards AAC , AMR , MP3 , WAV
PRICE: Palm Pre (Sprint): $149.99 - $749.99 

CNET REVIEW: The Good: The Palm Pre's multitasking capabilities and notifications system are unparalleled. The smartphone features a vibrant display with multitouch functionality as well as a solid Web browser and good multimedia integration. The Pre offered good call quality and wireless options include 3G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and GPS. The Bad: The Pre's keyboard is cramped. Battery life drains quickly, and the smartphone can be sluggish at times. Lacks expansion slot, video-recording capabilities, onscreen keyboard, and Flash support. The Pre App Catalog is still in beta with a limited number of titles. The Bottom Line: Despite some missing features and performance issues that make it less than ideal for on-the-go professionals, the Palm Pre offers gadget lovers and consumers well-integrated features and unparalleled multitasking capabilities. The hardware could be better, but more importantly, Palm has developed a solid OS that not only rivals the competition but also sets a new standard in the way smartphones handle tasks and manage information.

4. HTC Touch Pro2 - 8.0 CNET Review September 22, 2009: The Good: The HTC Touch Pro2 for Verizon offers world roaming capabilities as well as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and EV-DO Rev. A support. The smartphone features an extra-large touch screen and one of the best QWERTY keyboards we've seen to date. Verizon will also provide an Windows Mobile 6.5 upgrade later this year. The Bad: The smartphone is bulky. Callers complained of tinny call quality, and the camera took poor pictures. The Bottom Line: For Verizon's business customers who need more than just a messaging smartphone, the HTC Touch Pro2 delivers with more robust productivity tools and good performance.

HTC Touch Pro2 (T7373)
Processor Qualcomm® MSM7200A™, 528 MHz
Operating System Windows Mobile® 6.1 Professional
Memory ROM: 512 MB RAM: 288 MB
Dimensions(LxWxT) 116 X 59.2 X 16.65 mm (4.57 X 2.33 X 0.66 inches)
Weight 178.5 grams (6.3 ounces) with battery
Display 3.6-inch TFT-LCD touch-sensitive screen with 480 X 800 WVGA resolution Adjustable tilt screen
Network HSPA/WCDMA: Europe/Asia: 900/2100 MHz Up to 2 Mbps up-link and 7.2 Mbps down-link speeds Quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE: Europe/Asia: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz (Band frequency, HSPA availability, and data speed are operator dependent.) Device Control TouchFLO™ 3D Zoom bar
Keyboard Slide-out 5-row QWERTY keyboard
GPS Internal GPS antenna
Connectivity Bluetooth® 2.1 with Enhanced Data Rate and A2DP for wireless stereo headsets Wi-Fi®: IEEE 802.11 b/g HTC ExtUSB™ (11-pin mini-USB 2.0, audio jack, and TV Out* in one)
Camera Main camera: 3.2 megapixel color camera with auto focus Second camera: VGA CMOS color camera
Audio supported formats AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR-NB, AMR-WB, QCP, MP3, WMA, WAV, MIDI, M4A
Video supported formats WMV, ASF, MP4, 3GP, 3G2, M4V, AVI
Battery Rechargeable Lithium-ion battery Capacity: 1500 mAh
Talk time: Up to 390 minutes for WCDMA Up to 510 minutes for GSM
Standby time: Up to 750 hours for WCDMA Up to 500 hours for GSM
Video call time: Up to 160 minutes (The above are subject to network and phone usage.)
Expansion Slot microSD™ memory card (SD 2.0 compatible) |
PRICE RANGE: $199.99

User Review: Pros: Sexiness of Iphone and Windows Mobile combined. Excellent screen clarity. Weather app is amazing. TouchFLO 3D is amazing. World Card Mobile. 5 row Keyboard. RAM and ROM. Every Feature you need in a device. Cons: -Battery Life could be better. Sprint should have kept the original HTC black battery cover.

5. Nokia E71 - The unlocked Nokia E71 is a sleek, stylish smartphone with business-class features. But, the E71’s steep price tag and seriously limited support for Microsoft Exchange are two strikes against it.

Specifications Cellular: WCDMA (UMTS) and GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Symbian S60 OS
Wi-Fi (802.11g)
2.36-inch 320×240 QVGA display
3.2 megapixel camera
110MB internal memory
microSD memory card slot (up to 8GB)
MicroUSB connector
2.5 mm AV connector
Bluetooth 2.0 with A2DP stereo audio
Integrated GPS POP3, SMTP, and IMAP4 e-mail support
Dimensions (W x D x H): 2.2 in x 0.4 in x 4.5 in
Weight: 4.4 oz
Lithium polymer battery
Talk time: Up to 4.5 hours
Standby time: Up to 20 days
Cost: $300 - $450 (US)

Who is it for?
The Nokia E71 is designed for business professionals looking for a stylish, unlocked phone that’s a messaging-centric device. Unfortunately, the E71 is impractical for most Exchange users as the device does not support Exchange account folders other than the Inbox.

Some of you may ask why the Motorola Droid (photo at left ) didn’t make the list. After all, it’s a new smartphone that has received excellent reviews and is made to be very business-friendly.

The reason is simple: It’s still too new at this point. We’d like to see it get adopted by some business users and hear their thoughts on how well the Droid integrates into business. However, an upcoming episode of CIO Sanity Savers will examine the Droid as a business device and report on TechRepublic’s perspective of it.

Jason Hiner is the Editor in Chief of TechRepublic. Previously, he worked as an IT Manager in the health care industry. You can find him on Twitter, LinkedIn and at To see the gadgets and personal tech he uses, view his gdgt profile.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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