Decisions, decisions. How to choose the best mobile device for me

By Guido Marchetti, Office 365 Specialist for O2 Telefonica, MJ Flood Technology on choosing the right mobile device.

In an ever changing and dynamic market, we find ourselves under continuous bombardment from a plethora of mobile devices. Choosing the right mobile device is a maze. Which operating system, which manufacturer and which model to choose? These devices are now a core part of our life with many of us accessing web-based services daily via our mobile devices rather than traditional desktop hardware such as a PC or laptop.

Big name manufacturers aggressively vie for our loyalty and play on what they see as their strengths to build and retain that brand loyalty and undoubtedly, they all have their individual appeal. But how do you identify what device is the best device for you?

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing the right mobile device.

The consumerisation of IT is a driving force behind the adoption of smart phones, and the device that you buy will need to be compatible for you and your lifestyle, i.e. aligned with the personal, ‘social’ services you consume and the business services and applications that you need to access. Looking at these services carefully is critical in making the right choice of device.

All smart phones have the ability to plug us into multiple online services and keep us in touch with the people we wish to maintain contact with, either via social media like Facebook or LinkedIn, or via email. The difference is operability and with some devices you may have to compromise with loss of functionality. But only you know what you need in order to communicate effectively. So look at the weaknesses of the device as well as the strengths.

For example Facebook integrates to all smart phones via a dedicated app. However, Windows phone eliminates the need for a dedicated app via the people hub and seamlessly connects you to a number of online accounts, pulling information and updates from them to one central location. I feel that is a massive positive. Some find it annoying.

Looking at business attachments on email is always an issue. While PDFs tend to be fine, it’s invariably a different story when it comes to viewing Word or Excel documents. On most devices you can view them but sometimes the view may be distorted or skewed in some way. But what if we want to edit them?

In most cases, this means that we either buy a third party app (which may not allow you to do everything you want) or you take out the laptop. Now I’m not talking about a significant edit for example like writing a two page response on a tender. I’m talking about subtle changes.

Again for me the leader in this space is Microsoft and Windows phone as they have pocket versions of Office that allow us to view and edit documents on the go and even access SharePoint securely over 3G. This eliminates the requirements for intrusive technologies like Dropbox. While it is a useful free service, IT departments do not like it as they have no control over it. And let us not forget that most free services tend to be hacked so security of your data should always be a consideration.

Usability is key. Ask yourself how simple is it to use and can it sync across multiple devices?

Apple lead the way in this regard. It’s so easy; you don’t even get a manual. Most smartphones these days come without one, but Apple is so easy my one year old knows how to navigate on an iPhone and iPad.

Android just isn’t as seamless or as intuitive. While it’s straight forward enough, it is different on every device you pick up, and that includes shortcuts. I just find this plain irritating.

Some device manufacturers have added nice functionality but others are just adding complication and clutter to a device. Windows Phone is getting its act together as is Microsoft with the introducing of Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. They are clearly chasing the Apple model but with their own twists. It is easy to use I can say that as I have been using for 9 months and it is a bold move by Microsoft to target the consumer with these devices, a space they are not used too, but that could have its benefits.

Ultimately you must make your own decision on what device suits your lifestyle, from a personal and professional perspective – the lines between both are becoming more and more entwined.

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