Sunday, March 15, 2009

Best smart phone for PR? The iPhone/Blackberry/G1 debate rages on

Technology changes quickly these days. Just think, a few years ago, we all thought a flip-phone was revolutionary. Today, our mobile devices are much more advanced. Heck they're practically handheld computers (the future is right around the corner). But there are so many choices out there--Blackerrys, iPhones, Google phones, and a slew of others. How do you compare and contrast? And more importantly, if you work in PR or communications, how do you find the smart phone that will best meet your personal and professional needs?

Introducing David Erickson, Lauren Fernandez and Jennifer Mitchell. Three PR pros who use their smart phones in their day-to-day professional lives. Each will examine the pros and cons of the phone they use, discuss helpful applications and talk about how they use the phone on a daily basis.

Device: iPhone

Price: 8 GB $199; 16 GB $299; AT&T Exclusive Carrier

Reviewer: Lauren Fernandez (@cubanalaf), Marketing Coordinator, American Mensa, Ltd.

Review: Three features I dig:

Social media applications (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Wordpress). Hands down, the application store on the iPhone goes above and beyond any other. I am able to customize applications to my needs and information is updated in real time. I can handle multiple Twitter accounts, respond to blog comments and check our Facebook fan pages with ease. The Application Store also makes it easy to install programs from either my laptop or the phone. With social media constantly being integrated in our daily lives, it is important to have applications to best fit the needs of a PR professional.

E-mail. E-mail is probably the one thing that I believe the iPhone can improve on, and where my BlackBerry was actually better. PR professionals are constantly on the go and need to be able to receive and respond to emails in a sufficient manner. Unless you are able to constantly hit the refresh button, my iPhone email will only update itself every 15 minutes. When I had my BlackBerry, I received emails on the spot. I was also able to manage all of my email accounts from one place, where the iPhone makes you go from account to account. I have a friend who works for a technology magazine, and his advice to me was “If you are buying a phone solely for email purposes, go with BlackBerry. You need an iPhone for everything else.”

Sidenote: If you use Exchange, make sure to have IMAP enabled so that it will be compatible with the iPhone.

Web browsing. I like checking for clips and reading the New York Times from my iPhone. The Web browsing on my iPhone is much better than my Blackberry, and the speed at which my phone goes from browser to Web page is much quicker than the Blackberry. Also, the ability to touch the screen and zoom into a Web site makes reading much easier. The Blackberry Storm can do this as well, but I found it wasn’t as natural as the iPhone. Safari is also able to display complex Web sites easier.

One thing I love that was not mentioned above: The sleek design of the iPhone makes it easier for me to carry it around than my bulky BlackBerry.


Device: Blackberry Curve

Price: $299 (depending on discounts and rebates)

Reviewer: Jennifer Mitchell (@jenmitch), Owner, JMPR Communication

Review: My Blackberry Curve is the best investment I’ve ever made for my business. I pay $120 a month which includes 2,000 shared minutes with my (non-chatty) boyfriend and unlimited data.

I purchased my Curve two months ago. I chose it over the Storm on the advice of a sage salesperson who suggested I needed a bit of patience for the Storm. Great advice. I wanted to use my phone now, now, now! My learning curve (pardon the pun) was zero.

Within thirty minutes my e-mail account, TwitterBerry and Facebook were live on my phone. (These are my do-or-die applications.) FYI- a Blackberry can handle up to five e-mail accounts.

My Blackberry does everything I need it to do for public relations purposes. I am always-on with my clients now, which gives me great piece of mind. Last weekend I replied to a reporter inquiry at 9:30 on a Friday evening. I can access Twitter 24/7 or get some social fun on with my Facebook friends. I am also able to view and edit documents. (This was a big selling point for me.)

My Blackberry’s Roxio media manager has become one of my favorite applications. I can hook in a USB port, boot it up and transfer photos/videos (any media) from my phone to my computer. This means that I can take pictures anywhere I am and utilize them on my blogs later. I find that I pay attention to my surroundings more often now and think: how could I use this later?

If you don’t have a navigation system on your phone, you’re missing out. I often have to navigate to new places in town for client meetings or networking events. My trusty Verizon Navigator came “traffic enhanced” on my Blackberry. I now know if I am going to run into a delay before I leave the house or while I am en route.

The Blackberry is not without its flaws. I find it amazingly annoying that there are character limitations on text messages. I’m sure my friends find it equally annoying when I sent “text blasts” when I have more than 160 characters worth of subject matter to share. And I’m not really sure why the default setting orders every e-mail I send (on my computer or phone) to go to myself on my computer AND phone. As the pack-rat I am, I can’t bring myself to change that setting. But it seems excessive, no?

All and all, my Blackberry reminds me of a miniature computer. It’s clearly not nearly as powerful but I’m always connected. For me, that means I’m always available for my clients and that’s the kind of service I aim to provide.


Device: G1 (i.e., the "Google phone")

Price: $179

Reviewer: David Erickson (@derickson), Director of e-Strategy, Tunheim Partners

Review: I was torn. I am typically a first-adopter, despite the lessons I should have learned along the way. Still, the inner tech conflict I was experiencing was should I get the pretty, pretty iPhone now or should I wait for the more utilitarian G1?

While the iPhone was cooool, there were a few things I couldn't get beyond: The virtual keyboard and the absence of copy and paste. I tested out the virtual keyboard on a friend's iPhone and took an immediate disliking to it; I couldn't type accurately. I've had full QWERTY keyboards for my last two phones, so maybe it's just personal preference. I might've gotten used to the keyboard but ultimately I could not do without copy and paste functionality. I do a lot of work on my phone and I would not be nearly as productive without the ability to copy URLs and email them. That was the deal killer for the iPhone.

The G1 costs $179 through T-Mobile with your regular calling plan plus a data plan of $25 or $35/month. Google services are built right into the phone: Search, Gmail, Docs, Contacts, Calendar, Reader and, very cool, Google Voice Search. HTC designed the phone, so it works beautifully.

First and foremost, the thing works as a phone. Reception is clear and consistent. The speaker phone is loud enough to hear people in my noisy Wrangler. And the slide-out QWERTY thumb-board works wonderfully. The only thing missing from the touch screen is the iPhone's pinch-gesture interface. Internet access is fast and rarely drops.

Another very strong consideration was that the G1 uses the open source Android operating system and, as such, allows anyone to develop applications for it. In the long run, I reasoned, there would be many more options and features than Apple's proprietary system would offer. Ultimately, if there was an application I absolutely needed, I could always pay someone to develop one. Looks like my reasoning was sound: A new In-Stat survey projects that Android phone sales will overtake Apple's in the coming years.

Essential PR pro apps:
Delicious Bookmarks - Easily save links to your Delicious account
Voice Recorder - Save and/or email recorded voice notes
StreamFurious - Listen to live radio through MP3 streams
Touchdown - Microsoft Exchange app


There you have it. Three smart phones. Three perspectives. Which one do you find more useful for PR purposes? Share your thoughts so we can all learn from your experience.

4 comments:

marisol said...

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Thompson said...

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Brooke said...

EXCELLENT review - loved having the opinions of three people that know what they are talking about. Great info and I now feel better equipped to choose wisely!

egy moyo said...

awesome review,,
still waiting for android,, lol