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Is it time for a "smart" phone?

With all the hoopla about Apple's new iPhone last Fall, many of you may be wondering if it's time to invest in a fancier phone to help you keep track of contacts, surf the web, and yes, even make phone calls! If you decide that it's time for a phone that's more than a phone, you will have a number of choices available – here are some quick thoughts about the different types of "smart" phones:

  • Apple iPhone – This amazing piece of technology is so new and advanced, it merits its own category. The iPhone is very strong in playback of music and movies, surfing the web, and displaying images and games. The screen is bright and vivid, but shows fingerprints easily. The device is a bit heavy, and very hard to type on. This phone is good for people who are not as interested in e-mail and phone calls as they are in multimedia capabilities. Oh – it also REQUIRES that you sign a two year agreement with AT&T for cell phone service. Ouch. Not generally recommended for realtors…

  • Blackberry – The Blackberry phones are a staple of government, education and corporate executives everywhere. The phones are light and well-designed – particularly for phone calls and e-mails – and they have some units that are great for world travelers. Blackberry phones are best for people who have a corporate I.T. department that has set up a special Blackberry server to "push" new mail out to their phones. These are not generally recommended for realtors unless you ONLY want basic phone and e-mail capabilities.

  • Windows Smartphone (such as the Motorola Q and other similar devices) – Windows phones do an excellent job as telephones, contact managers, and media machines. They are very solid all around and there are many choices. Like Windows PCs, they do crash and lock up now and then, but there are lots of different programs that you can download to your phone. It is also possible to set up synchronization with Outlook and other contact management programs.

  • Palm Treo – Treos are based on the popular Palm OS system. They don’t have the polish of some of the newer phones, but are also a bit more reliable. Though not as sleek as many Windows phones, the chunky Palm phones have lots of third-party programs available – including many that are real estate specific. You can synchronize a Palm Treo with Outlook, Palm Desktop and even Top Producer.

So which phone is right for you? Blackberry doesn’t integrate with non-Blackerry software very effectively, and the iPhone is a beautiful but expensive gadget that does not work well for most realtors. Most realtors will probably be better off with a Windows or Palm phone since those are more reliable and well integrated with popular contact management programs. If you need help setting up a new phone and integrating it with your contact management program, your local geeks are here to help!

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

     -- Arthur C. Clarke