The much-maligned Blackberry has emerged as the best phone for off-grid users.
Although Blackberry customers were left without a service for days earlier this year, the phone is way ahead of current competitors when it comes to battery life, the key factor for those generating their own power.
The longer battery life comes about because the phone draws less power than Android or iPhone models. Although that does not solve the problem of getting a signal in remote locations.Motorola’s Droid, along with the Dell Streak, came out on top of a battery-life contest for Android-running handsets, devised by Laptop Magazine. But it only had about 7 hours power compared to over a day for Blackberry.
and Chinese maker Huawei claims its soon to be released Honor Smartphone has up to 3 days of use on a single charge, making it the longest battery life among smartphones that fall under the 4″ display category. Of course, the claim has yet to be proven, and the way a phone is used is key to determining the battery life, so we hope to get hold of a unit to find out for myself.
The Motorola Droid X has enough juice to run for 7 hours and 42 minutes. Dell’s Streak—which some analysts say is either a large smartphone or small tablet PC—ran for 7 hours, 35 minutes, while Motorola‘s Droid came in third, at 7 hours, 7 minutes. Bringing up the rear was the HTC Incredible, which exhausted itself after 4 hours and 33 minutes.
RIM’s BlackBerry and Apple’s iPhone feature proprietary hardware and software (meaning it’s all controlled by RIM and Apple); Google‘s Android operating system (OS) runs on many different phones (made by LG, HTC, Samsung, Motorola, etc.) So Android offers a lot more options, but it also brings into play a myriad of vendors essentially selling the same product, creating distinctions without differences.
RIM’s BlackBerry has been a corporate standard for many years, mainly due to its security features (such as the ability to remotely wipe its memory if lost, something you can’t do as easily with an iPhone) and its user-friendly thumb keyboard. But RIM has let its BlackBerry OS fall behind and is still trying to play catch-up.
Another downside is the relative lack of cool Blackberry apps. On the plus side, most BlackBerries still feature that thumb keyboard that appeals to users who enjoy writing lengthy e-mails on the road. Also, BlackBerry boasts the longest battery life of all the smart phones and that’s the most important thing.
Apple’s iPhone is a cultural phenomenon; it kick-started the smart phone revolution. Its appeal is universal – – except in the corporate world where it hasn’t had much penetration save for high-tech companies or with fashion-conscious users. Apple’s iOS for the iPhone is a closed, proprietary system which, for some, is a bonus, because, theoretically, it can’t be hacked by bad guys. And now with the iPhone available on two carriers (AT&T and Verizon), and with Sprint coming on board with the iPhone 5, users have more choices among carriers. The Apple App Store boasts tens upon thousands of apps (not all of them variations on Angry Birds) for most every business use imaginable.
Google‘s Android platform is the nerdy counterpart to Apple’s iOS. Spanning several hardware platforms ( HTC, LG, Motorola, Samsung, etc.), Android is an open source free-for-all that also features a healthy App Market with thousands of apps and an expanding user base. Androids are business-friendly but lack the reliability and security of the BlackBerry and the status and simplicity of the iPhone.
But Google‘s recent announcement of its intention to acquire Motorola Mobility leads one to think that Android will likely expand its security options, develop on a more homogenous platform, and we’ve already seen improvements in Android security in the past few months.
So, for old school, hard keyboard, security-conscious users, the BlackBerry is best (Buy the BlackBerry Bold 9780 Unlocked Cell Phone with Full QWERTY Keyboard here). But understand that by choosing it, you may be marginalizing yourself. Besides offering more apps, both the iPhone and the Android are more fun to use. And if you think that the smart phone eventually will replace the PC as the key platform for business computing (as HP apparently did when it announced it was getting out of the computer business), you’ll need a phone that you like, not one you’ll merely use.
The Laptop Magazine test consisted of the devices running an Android application, that the magazine writes “opens the phone’s Web browser to one of 60 popular Websites, remains there for 60 seconds, closes the browser, then reopens the browser to the next Website on the list. It does so until the phone’s battery dies, while recording the time elapsed.”
To create a level playing field, several adjustments were made to each handset. First, two free applications, My Settings and Advanced Task Killer, were downloaded to each device. Then, in My Settings, the Laptop gang turned off auto brightness and set the brightness of each screen to 40 percent. They also turned off WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS location, cell location and auto sync, deactivated the screen timeout and turned off Flash support and plug-ins in the Web browser. Lastly, they placed each phone in a place where it was receiving at least four bars of service.
Each phone was then tested twice, and its score was the result of the tests’ average.
“We know this doesn’t take into account things such as texting, making phone calls and using multimedia apps, but we feel it gives a fair indication of how long one phone will last compared to another under similar settings,” Laptop reported.
That said, it’s still difficult to say all phones were equal. Screen size has long been equated with battery life, making the Dell Streak an unexpected second-place finisher, as it features a 5-inch display—the largest in the industry, and the reason why many it consider it more of a tablet. Dell included.
Which phones offer the best battery life, then?
“It really comes down to what you view most often on your phone,” Laptop concluded.
The battery life average was 5 hours, 5 minutes. Coming in just under that, for fourth place, was the Samsung Epic 4G, at 5 hours, 34 minutes, followed by the HTC Evo 4G at 5 hours, 27 minutes. The Samsung Vibrant finished in sixth, at 4 hours, 44 minutes, and in seventh place — putting in 10 more seconds than the HTC Incredible — was the Samsung Captivate, with a battery life of 4 hours and 43 minutes.
To see how ten of the hottest Android phones stack up, check out the buyer’s guide table at www.windowsitpro.com,
Below are some of the highlights for shoppers to consider.
Standard features that you can expect on any Android phone include:
* Camera and video
* Email (native Gmail support, and Outlook syncing through Exchange ActiveSync)
* Contacts management
* Touch screen/touch screen keyboard
* Android market access
Points of Differentiation
Despite all of these phones using the same OS, there are some significant points of differentiation to consider.
Exchange and Outlook support
All Android phones have ActiveSync, which allows for push synchronization between your Outlook account and your phone. However, many of these devices don’t have native contact and calendar syncing, so if you’re going to choose one of the devices that doesn’t and you use Outlook, you’ll need to download an app to sync them. The leading app for 2-way syncing is CompanionLink, which costs $39.99. Google also offers a free solution called Google Calendar Sync; however, you have to tie your Outlook account to a Gmail account in order for it to work, which will be an issue for some corporate accounts.
Different Android versions
Each of the phones in this list either comes with version 1.5 (or 1.6) or 2.0 (or 2.1). Android 2.0 is a significant upgrade from the past version, but the only two Android smartphones that offer 2.0 are the Motorola Droid and the Google Nexus One. One of the most significant new features in 2.0 is contact syncing. See all the new features of Android 2.0 at developer.android.com/sdk/android-2.0-highlights.html.
Some individuals strongly prefer one carrier to another, and some organizations have corporate deals with a given carrier. As such, it’s important to realize that many Android phones (and smartphones in general) only bundle with a specific carrier. If your carrier of choice is T-Mobile, then many devices are available. If you prefer one of the other three carriers, your options are more limited. The Google Nexus One offers the greatest selection, and is available on T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon.
Physical vs. virtual keyboard
If finger dexterity is your Achilles’ thumb, you may prefer a physical keyboard, which would lead you to one of the sliders such as the Motorola Droid or CLIQ.
Best by Category
What device you use is a personal decision and will vary by individual, so I’m hesitant to make specific recommendations. Once you do decide which Android device you want (if any), I strongly recommend taking some time to see what users are saying across the web — while much of it might be inane, you should get some very good nuggets concerning the pros and cons from people that use the phone on a daily basis.
With that in mind, here is a quick list of the phone winners in each category (some categories, such as camera, didn’t factor because there are so many draws):
* Best processor: Google Nexus One
* Best memory/storage: Motorola Droid
* Best display size/resolution: Motorola Droid
* Best price: HTC Droid Eris, Motorola Backflip, and Samsung Moment
* Best battery life: HTC Hero
* Best variety in carrier coverage: Google Nexus One
* Lightest weight: T-Mobile MyTouch 3G
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