Part II: Smart Phones
Whether you’re an agent, broker, or an association executive, you will want a smartphone. Smart phones are common in today’s market. It seems anywhere you go, people are using smart phones. For our purposes, let’s define smart phone as any phone that runs a full operating system that is expandable by installing applications or apps.
There are numerous smart phone manufacturers and each one is vying for your business. This industry, more than almost any other, is expanding and evolving at an incredible pace. Each manufacturer attempts to differentiate itself by offering different operating systems and hardware. Many of these features can sway you to purchase one smart phone or another. However, I would offer the following advice when considering a new smart phone:
- Start by determining which wireless provider best serves your location or needs. With very few exceptions, when you purchase a smart phone, you are committing to a two year agreement with the wireless carrier. Your first decision when researching any cellular phone should be the carrier. Far too many people base their decision on a particular phone. Remember that you will use this phone and service for two years so it is vital that the phone works for all of your needs.
- After you’ve selected a carrier, you will likely have at least two options in terms of smart phone operating systems. There are four major players in the market: Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Android. While they all have their pros and cons, it’s important to remember that each one can easily perform the most important tasks, such as calls, texts, emails, Twitter, and Facebook. However, each platform will look, feel, and operate very differently. All of the major wireless carriers will allow you to use a demo phone in the store. You should spend at least ten minutes testing any phone platform you consider.
- The next step is to choose your hardware or hardware options. Every operating system offers multiple hardware options. As usual with any piece of technology, the newer the hardware, the m0re it is likely to cost. Sometimes it is a better decision to purchase an older smart phone and sometimes that’s a bad decision. All of the operating systems discussed offer some sort of software updates. However, the timing will vary in terms of hardware support. Your manufacturer or the creator of the operating system may decide that your hardware will no longer receive updates in the future. This could possibly happen before the end of your contract. This is yet another reason to be happy with what you purchase when you purchase it, not what it will or could be in the future.
- What is the price difference between your choices at this point? This is the point when you will need to talk with a representative from the wireless carrier. Each carrier has different pricing plans and some even have different plans for different smart phones. Calculate or ask the representative to calculate the total cost for the phone and the monthly payment for two years. Don’t be alarmed at how high the number is. The payments will be broken up, but the total cost at the end of the contract is the best way to compare phone prices at any carrier
Everyone has different needs when it comes to technology, so do your best to consider as many options as you can. And above all else, try before you buy. If you never play with the smart phone before you buy it, you’re never going to know if it’s right for you. It is vitally important that you know which device and operating system is right for your needs when you’ll be in a two year contract. Above all else, remember that although your new smart phone is capable of doing many things, it needs to function as a phone first. If you’re unable to use the most important features of the phone, you will be unhappy with your purchase. Balance what you need and which carrier provides them best. Finally, be sure not to fall into the trap of buying the newest, sleekest device just because it’s popular now.