Special Report: Doing Business With No Walls

Best Tools For the Job

Best For Entertainment: "Apple iPhone 3G or 3GS ($99.99, $199.99). The ability to take video and music with you (for use on planes, for example) plus buy new entertainment on the road is a huge plus. The iPhone also has an excellent browser and user interface. But e-mail support is relatively weak, and so the iPhone is not the best for MS Exchange integration. If the entrepreneur wants more memory and higher performance, or if a video camera is important, then the choice is the 3GS. If the entrepreneur does not want AT&T service, an alternative is the Palm Pre (currently only at Sprint but coming to Verizon Wireless next year). The Pre has a great user interface, plays music and video from iTunes, has a great browser and is a nice design.

Best 'Business Integration' (MS Exchange Etc): RIM BlackBerry Tour (about $175). "The Tour is the latest from RIM and is a great device. It includes a great camera as well. The price is a little high, and there are other BlackBerry devices available for less than $100. RIM is obviously good at Exchange integration and e-mail. But if you can stretch the budget, get the Tour. The Nokia E71x (about $270) is also worth a look. Windows Mobile devices will integrate very well with Exchange. While Windows Mobile is looking a little old these days (especially compared to the iPhone and the Palm Pre), there are plenty of choices. But, I would recommend waiting--Windows Mobile 6.5 promises a range of new features and should be a major upgrade in the fall."

Best Camera: "Several phones have good five megapixel cameras these days. Nokia N-Series phones have Carl Zeiss optics and take great photos--the N85 or N97 ($366, $599) are both good (and available unlocked from Amazon.com). Others worth considering: the Sony Ericsson C902 (about $300), Samsung F480 (about $290) and the HTC Touch (about $250)."

Best Push-to-Talk: "For push-to-talk, you really have to look at Nextel (for the iDEN network). Motorola's i465 (with keyboard, about $100) and i335 (about $50) are both popular. But also consider Boost, which uses the same iDEN network but offers unlimited usage plans. The Motorola i290 starts at just $49.99."

Best for Gloves: "Forget a touchscreen and forget a QWERTY keyboard--touchscreens like warm dry fingers, and the keys on the QWERTY devices are small. Also best to avoid sliders or flip phones. A good candy bar design with a 10-digit keypad is best. The choice depends on the operator you are using. But good examples are the Pantech c630 (about $170) or the Samsung a637 (about $220)."

Best Battery Life: "The screen on a phone consumes half the available power. So,while the new touchscreen smartphones look great and have fabulous screens, they tend to be power hogs and hence have shorter battery lives. Higher-powered application processors (such as in the new Apple iPhone 3GS) also consume more power. For general business use and a great battery life, I would recommend a BlackBerry Curve (about $150) or Bold (about $200). Avoid the Blackberry Storm (about $100), since this has a touchscreen and takes more power."

Best for Metro Areas: "For unlimited service in metro areas, I would recommend a Cricket from Leap Wireless, or a phone and service from MetroPCS. Each company has multiple unlimited use plans (great for business people who are on the phone all day, such as Realtors), as well as roaming agreements that let users roam in major markets. But rural coverage is poor--stick with a nationwide operator if you need rural coverage. The best-selling handset at Cricket and MetroPCS is the Samsung Messenger (about $175)."

Best to Access New Apps: "Many operators and handset OEMs have been promoting their new application stores. But only one has seen major activity: the Apple App Store. To access this, you need an iPhone. While many of the apps are games or just for fun, there are serious productivity tools as well. If you like to explore and try new software, an Apple iPhone (about $150) is a good choice."

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This article was originally published in the November 2009 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Special Report: Doing Business With No Walls.

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