2008 is the start of a new mobile revolution. It’s all about data, or more precisely information. We have the BlackBerry to thank for that, and the new high speed networks. Discard previous ideas as to a phone’s use. New purchase decisions will be split between data and voice, and as it will be still in your company in 18 months buy for the future not the past.
Select the manufacturer and type of handset, keeping in mind the way they are used. Are they likely to be broken or heavily handled? Will they be exposed to water, sand or dirt?
Good manufacturers will provide any necessary firmware fixes and decent warranties. Bad ones forget what they made last week and try and sell you something new, some will even go bust. So consider whether in a year’s time the mobile you buy now will still be supported.
Manufacturers go to a lot of effort developing and testing handsets, that are then undermined by buggy and feature deficient network variants.
Try to avoid network locked handsets as changing to cheaper SIMs overseas will be impossible, and it will also make network negotiations easier.
With the exceptions of the Apple iPhone and RIM BlackBerry, there is no excuse to buy a handset that does not support HSPA. HSPA reduces the frustration of network latency that affects GSM/GPRS network.
WiFi is a boon to bypass high network data tariffs especially for Skype, Web2 apps and attachment downloads.
If you need to connect a laptop to the internet use either a HSDPA laptop USB dongle or card as Bluetooth can not keep pace with high data speeds.
Widespread brand damage and considerable fines have been incurred through data theft. Yet no one thinks twice if they see a phone connected to a PC, yet handsets can store more information than a DVD.
To stop or track data theft, perimeter security, encryption, anti virus, VPN and SecureID should be installed.
Also consider what happens when, a handset is lost or indeed stolen? Often before a theft is reported the SIM will be extracted, so a remote kill command will not get through.
A centralised over the air backup system will be useful to keep a permanent record of users’ handset information for compliance, upgrade and inappropriate data deletion
All smart phones can now receive Microsoft Exchange email either through a BlackBerry server or a Microsoft Direct Push client. This is further enhanced by QWERTY keyboards making typing and dialling much faster, especially if married to a large touch screen.
GPS is becoming a standard in many handsets, especially from Nokia, BlackBerry and HTC. Look for A-GPS as this will generally work faster, but be aware that GPS drains batteries, and some third party applications are prevented from using the inbuilt GPS.
Remember corporate VoIP and Skype are now available to many handsets allowing cheap calls almost anywhere. Touch and keyboard interactions will differ markedly, as will screen size.
So when deploying large numbers of handsets concentrate development on a very few types. But be brave and make a decision quickly as handsets are rapidly superseded.
Keep in mind free of charge in the UK can mean a bill of thousands when overseas. Each email or web page could also have a high minimum data cost.
So ensure all terminology is clearly defined and agreed before signing an 18 or 24 month contract.
In the same way you control PC’s and servers, Mobile Device Management (MDM) will allow you to remotely control the settings, policies, applications, security and maintenance of your handsets.
MDM will also provide a cradle to grave asset management approach to in field handset deployment.
As well as extra batteries, a case and a T-Loop for hearing aid users, don’t forget a proper car kit as employers can be liable for their employees’ misdeeds!
“So what now?”
Choose carefully, and employee work life balance is eased resulting in a competitive and profitable advantage with your customers.
The following pages show some of the handsets that lead the industry at the start of 2008.
Apple iPhone 3G
In spite of the hoopla from Apple surrounding their one and only Apple iPhone, a profound change in the mobile industry will occur in 2009.
Nokia and Ericsson (pre Sony days) sold their 3G networks on the type of handsets and applications we should all be using by now.
Many of these concepts were touch screen with are finger controlled, yet none of their subsequent generation of mobiles matched that early vision.
The Apple iPhone was the first of these profoundly innovative devices to be made into a saleable product.
The iPhone 3G incorporates some of the features the original iPhone lacked, including the missing 3G/HSDPA data. Yet Bluetooth is still crippled and the lack of interchangeable battery and low rent camera a mystifying oversight.
These severe failings, however, pale against the slick user interface and the high style of the device itself.
True usability comes with instant response, and there is little if any lag between touching the screen to an application opening. It’s a race horse against a pony when compared with other feature phones, let alone smartphones.
However, serious questions remain as to how secure the Apple iPhone is for the corporate market.
Apple iPhone Plus V2.0 Firmware Vs 3G iPhone (Expected July 11th, 2008)
In mobile terms the original Apple iPhone is now an old device lacking many features and did not integrate well with corporate systems.
With the V2 iPhone software many of the software issues are resolved. This will include Microsoft Direct Push for Exchange, and a number of management and security enablers but no encrypted file system and, strangely, no true multi tasking.
Whilst third party applications can be run natively they can only be installed via iTunes. Despite these issues a vast new user base to Apple has been opened for the older non 3G versions.
The long awaited replacement to the 9500, the E90 radically increases performance in almost every respect.
It replaces the 9500’s Nokia Series 80 interface with a modified Series 60 enabling a vast range of third party applications to run over all Nokia’s business handsets. This provides a consistent approach to support.
This is not a handset for casual use. Its complexity demands patience and
a manual for the first few days.
The most obvious feature, apart from its weight, is the large internal display. This provides comfortable reading of longer spreadsheets, memos and web sites.
The keyboard also makes updating documents easy, although some users have noted that over time the keys leave a mark on the screen. However rumour has it that a change to the keyboard design will overcome this problem for the next E90 release.
Applications can also be used on the external screen, including push email (Direct Push & BlackBerry Connect)
On the negative side there is no native client to receive faxes, it’s large and heavy, and Vodafone allegedly has a proprietary firmware variant that precludes updating using generic Nokia updates.
Overall a very capable handset.
Nokia E71 – Cheaper Symbian QWERTY Handset (Expected July 2008)
The Nokia E71, an enhanced E61i, is aimed squarely at the same market as RIM’s BlackBerry handsets, namely the corporate world.
It possesses a full QWERTY keyboard and push email through compatibility with Microsoft Direct Push. It is also able to open and edit attachments. A BlackBerry Connect client may be available in the future.
The Symbian user interface is S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 1, on Symbian v9.2.
This is exceptionally well connected via HSPA, WiFi, Infra Red, Bluetooth, and GPS. Also the camera resolution is increased to 3.2 megapixels, plus a secondary camera for video calls.
Nokia 6110 Navigator
The Nokia 6110 Navigator (not to be confused with Nokia’s 6110 from 1998!) is a GPS and HSPA mobile designed for business users and sole traders.
It’s really for those who need a straight forward but versatile mobile with a feature set designed for lone workers.
If you are looking for a well specified handset that doesn’t try to be all things to all people - the 6110 Navigator could be for you.
Its party piece is its one click navigation facility with supplied maps. This works fine, but some of the features, such as voice navigation, are an extra cost option.
It also has a more functional appearance than most recent Nokia handsets, but that is one of its benefits, no fiddly buttons that compromise usability.
Yet it still offers excellent 2G connectivity when abroad, and the ability to use push email services via third party applications.
All the usual messaging functions are present, including a native POP and IMAP email client for personal use.
Battery life could be better, but an in car/van cradle and charger will always keep the battery toped up on the way to your next meeting.
Nokia 6210 Navigator (Expected 3rd Quarter 2008)
While keeping to the same basic format, the 6210 Navigator offers some significant improvements, not least of which is a slimmer profile and an improved keyboard.
Unlike most GPS handsets the Nokia 6210 Navigator provides a pedestrian mode with an acceleration sensor for orientation.
The camera has been enhanced to 3.2 Megapixel & auto focus. Image stabilisation further improves picture quality.
Memory has been enlarged to 120MB, and MicroSD cards up to 8GB in size are supported.
The Symbian user interface has been upgraded to S60 3rd Edition Feature Pack 2, on Symbian v9.3
HTC TyTN II
The HTC TyTN II is still the best of a long line of HTC based PocketPC devices with keyboards going back to the 2004 Qtek 9090. It even bests the recently announced HTC Touch Pro.
The Pro has great looks and features, but lacks the TyTN II’s tri-band HSPA and swivel keyboard.
As with it’s forebares, the TyTN II possess a market leading specification (see right) including a touch user interface to simplify user interacation.
The wow factor is provided by the pivoting screen that reveals a full QWERTY keyboard. This ensures comfortable table top typing.
Being a touch screen Mobile 6 device a vast range of business applications can be purchased or developed, and Microsoft Direct Push is included.
The downsides to the TyTN II are very few. However the network branded versions will prevent HTC’s generic firmware updates from being used. This may be an issue as the product gets to end of life and the networks refuse to update their variants.
Obviously the handset is a little heavier than other, simpler devices, but is slightly lighter and smaller than the Nokia E90. There is also no front keyboard, so users will rely on the touchscreen to dial out. A quality case is strongly recommended as the screen is vulnerable to keys, and knocks if dropped (butter side down!)
This is pretty much the perfect business handset of H1 2008.
Alternative Mobile 6 Professional Handsets, Xperia 1 Expected 2nd Half 2008
The Xperia 1 is a fascinating departure for Sony Ericsson. Forsaking Symbian, this is their first Windows mobile product and improves on the TyTN II for connectivity (now quad band HSUPA) and specification (800 by 480 Pixel screen).
Samsung i780 and Palm 750 available now
Just released, the i780 is lighter, has a QWERTY keyboard on the front of the handset, A-GPS, and offers a higher resolution screen than the TyTN of 320 * 240 pixels. However it has only single band HSDPA and tri band EDGE/GSM.
Alternatively the soon to be replaced Palm Treo 750 matches the TyTN II for mobile connectivity but lacks WiFi, and uses miniSD memory cards instead of the more popular microSD.
Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Standard platform has had an erratic life.
Orange made the SPV C range of devices extremely popular amongst the first business users and IT departments. Windows Mobile Standard appears to have lack a degree of magic to take on the dominance of Symbian.
The HTC 730 (also known as the O2 XDA Atmos) is the latest attempt to take on Nokia’s low end E series devices, especially in the small business and professional sectors.
One of the advantages of this form factor is that it tends to be simpler to use and there is a normal numeric keypad. Most, though not all, Mobile Professional devices tend not to have dedicated dialling pads.
Unlike the S710 it replaces, the S730 is a HSDPA handset complete with a video call camera plus a number of software tweaks to the home screen.
Providing a slide out QWERTY keyboard makes it extremely easy to create new emails and SMS for such a small handset.
Unfortunately there is no integrated GPS receiver, nor quad band 3G, only covering the 2100 MHz band. Battery life is also a little disappointing.
So if you are after a simple good quality handset that can receive Microsoft’s Direct Push service, then the HTC S730 can be recommended.
Alternative Mobile 6 Standard Handsets - Motorola Moto Q 9h
The Moto Q 9h is a lighter alternative to the S730 offering similar connectivity (though without WiFi) and even GPS in the ‘global’ version.
The obvious difference is the keyboard which takes the standard design of being permanently under the screen rather than hidden away.
Samsung i620, i640 and Palm Treo 500
These stylish Samsung handsets have a keyboard that slides under the screen. Both support HSDPA on the 2100MHz band and the i640 offers Quad band GSM for world coverage at lower data speeds. The Treo 500 is Palm’s take on the mass market potential for Windows Mobile 6.
For nearly a decade RIM has defined mobile business data with its BlackBerry® Push email service.
No other manufacturer has influenced the business market in the same way. Although Nokia makes fine handsets, the unification by RIM of form and function is manifest.
The BlackBerry Bold fundamentally re-energises RIM’s product line with worldwide HSPA connectivity, WiFi and GPS. Higher resolution screen and larger keys add to this superb looking package.
However that’s not the point. Users want their email delivered whenever and wherever. This the BlackBerry Bold does securely and reliably.
There are few flaws with the package. Recent outages within the BlackBerry network caused ructions. But they were quickly fixed, and just shows how successful RIM has been.
The BlackBerry 8820 is a good alternative If you can forsake the HSPA connectivity and camera, or you do not want to pay the heftier price. It retains all the essential capabilities plus WiFi, GPS and a microSDHC slot.
As a stylish business handset, the BlackBerry Bold is at the top of the Premier League.
Blackberry Pearl 8110 and 8120
These two BlackBerry handsets are aimed at the consumer and small business market.
Although similar, each has a particular strength. The Pearl 8110 is a quad band GSM/EDGE candy bar with inbuilt GPS, but no WiFi. The Pearl 8120 reverses this by leaving out the GPS but including WiFi.
Both handsets are slim and attractive with chrome highlights. The trackball is especially easy to use for navigating menus.
Using their own SureType keyboard software can be confusing to new users, so will take a little practice to master. It is important to try before you buy as if this keyboard is too difficult to master consider the BlackBerry Curve instead.
Fujitsu-Siemens have manufactured laptops for large businesses (Lifebook) and consumers (Amilo) for many years and seem to know what their customers need.
The Lifebook series capture many of the latest technologies entering the market, such as fast Intel Core 2 Duo processors, high performance memory chips and disk drives, encapsulated within strong but light cases.
Technology moves on and businesses expect more for less weight.
The latest Fujitsu-Siemens Lifebook P8010 shows how every piece of mobile technology required by a ‘road warrior’ can be included into a 1.2Kg package.
Incorporating the latest HSDPA (7.2Mbps down) and HSUPA (2.0Mbps up) and WiFi 802.11n technology, this small powerful laptop can instantly connect whenever, wherever needed.
Having all the ports built in also means that only the power adapter is needed, not a bag full of cables or dongles that get tangled or lost.
The Apple Air should also be considered if the designer look is a priority. Though it lacks a replaceable battery or inbuilt HSDPA interface and has few ports, these are compensated in part by its svelte appearance.
OQO 2e Ultra Mobile PC
At only 454g the OQO provides all the usability, connectivity and processing power of a Windows laptop in a package that can fit into a jacket pocket.
HSDPA (2100MHz), WiFi (a,b,g), Bluetooth, USB and HDMI are all integrated within the main unit. Storage is provided by hard drives up to 120GB or by a 64GB SSD.
A matching docking station adds an integrated DVD RW, 3*USB 2.0, 100 Mbps ethernet, and external display support up to 1920x1200 resolutions.
Previous issues, especially with temperature control, appear to have been resolved. According to OQO a new screen design also provides better readability in sunlight.
Organisations, corporate and increasingly government must consider the robustness of the handset’s they deploy to employees working alone or in physically demanding jobs.
The propensity of handset manufacturers to create ever more glamorous phones causes serious problems for business buyers.
Mobiles used by a vet, builder, plumber, engineer, mechanic, outreach worker or nurse, will inevitably suffer a rough life. Such users need a tough handset.
The Airo A25 is an example of a handset tested to the severest civilian levels, including being dropped and vibrated, to be IP67 rated.
This means that it is totally protected against ingress by dirt, sand and muck (vets note, it can be washed under a hose) and can be immersed in a meter of water with no ill affect.
This level of protection does not appear to compromise its specification (see right). It includes GPS and Windows Mobile 6 Professional with Direct Push email.
Although the standby time appears low, the GPS system and group locate operates continuously to ensure employee security at all times.
There are other rugged devices but the Airo is especially suited to the blue collar world.
Whilst not providing the protection of the Airo, the HTC P6500 (~£530) has a range of enterprise features suitable for secure data capture.
The handset supports Tri Band HSDPA, WiFi (b,g), GPS, a large 3.5” QVGA screen, two SDIO slots for specialist accessories, a fingerprint security sensor and a 3 Megapixel camera with auto focus.
The camera can read bar codes with third party software; although if being used regularly for scanning it may be sensible to use a proprietary scanner with an SDIO interface.
Apart from the microSD slot, internal ROM memory can be increased by an extra 1GB to allow for a greater range of bespoke applications.
Nokia E51/6120 Classic
The Nokia E51 and 6120 Classic, are Symbian 9.2 Series 60 smartphones for business or consumers.
Both have quad band GSM and dual band HSDPA. The 6120 lacks the E51’s WiFi, larger battery and internal memory, but it is lighter at 89g.
The 6120 Classic offers fantastic value at 3, £110 inc £10 top up, if you are looking for a pre-pay smartphone.
Sony Ericsson P1i
Though I prefer the form factor of the P990i, and there was an anticipated update to the P1i later this year, the handset still has a much to offer.
The P1i has a full QWERTY keyboard in addition to the touchscreen. It also has push email inbuilt, document readers, WiFi, 3G (no HSDPA yet), an autofocus 3.2Mpx camera and flash. The P1i should be good value at £290.
HP IPAQ 614c
HP have been quiet of late but have released new business handsets.
The 614c is well connected with quad band GSM, tri band HSDPA (up to 7.2 Mbps) and WiFi b&g.
Icing on top of this is the internal GPS receiver and Microsoft Mobile 6 Professional.
The £345 610c has a 3Mpx camera, although it can be purchased without a camera as the HP IPAQ 614.
Nokia 6500Slide Classic
Both handsets are quad band GSM dual band 3G feature phones rather than smart phones They have the potential to receive Microsoft Exchange email using third party software like DataViz’s RoadSync.
Price is around £180-£210 SIM free.
Nokia 8800 Arte
You buy the Nokia 8800 Arte or Arte Sapphire for sheer good looks, not for a massive feature set.
Many small business users will replace their old 8800 Sirrocos with the Arte. Quality counts and this handset has few peers. £800
Sonim XP1 / JCB
The Sonim XP1 is better known as the yellow JCB Toughphone in the UK.
With Push to Talk and certification to IP54 and Mil 810F standards it is ideal for the tough environments of building sites. Around £260.
You can also download a PDF version of this report here.