Posted Apr 28, 2009 in Tech | 0 Comments

SmartPhones: Student’s Best Friend, Prof’s Nightmare

With North American wireless providers launching a new “SmartPhone” about as often as Blockbuster releases a new movie, students from all over are being exposed to dozens of low-cost options for full-featured messaging and personal organization, and better yet, a budget-friendly alternative to the mother of all devices: the BlackBerry.

While those that can afford – or can’t but spend anyway – a BlackBerry, the choice is a no-brainer. An all-in-one PDA, phone, web browser and messaging powerhouse that can often be picked up for as little as $50, Research In Motion (RIM, the creator of the popular Blackberry device lineup) has a dominating hold on the SmartPhone market in North America. The catch: even the least expensive offer from Canadian mobile provider Rogers, $15 a month, is an “on-top-of” plan that must be bundled with a voice plan. The $15 gets you unlimited email and instant messaging, but not text, picture, or video messaging – the most popular forms of instant communication on campus. For students that can’t afford a BlackBerry-specific data or messaging plan on top of their voice plan, there are heaps of options.

Samsung Jack

Low-cost SmartPhones offer the main benefits of any other, more expensive device: organizer for contacts and calendar, multimedia capabilities, messaging, and web browsing. None of these low-cost non-BlackBerry SmartPhones offer real “Push” email like a BlackBerry does, but most of them can access email with “Pull” functionality using POP or IMAP accounts. Aside from real-time email popping up on your device as soon as it arrives (without having to actively check for new mail – who has the thumb stamina to click “Send/Receive” that many times in a day, anyway?!) the only other downside to these devices is that they are not on the proprietary BlackBerry Messenger network. Instant Messaging on these devices requires a data plan and an account on a popular IM network, such as MSN, Yahoo!, or AIM. If budget is your main concern, these devices will still do the trick – very small amounts of data are required to benefit form web browsing, email, and IM on these phones.

Nokia e71

I would check out the following devices if you’re looking for a low-cost SmartPhone with a full QWERTY keyboard (see your local shop for details and to make sure the device is available on your network): Samsung Propel; Samsung Gravity; Samsung Cleo; Samsung Jack; Samsung Ace; Samsung U740; LG Neon; LG Reveal; LG Voyager; LG Rumor; Nokia E75 (coming soon); Nokia E71; HTC Touch Dual.

LG Rumor

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