Wednesday
September 3, 2014

Smartphones Specs That Matter for Real Estate in 2011

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Smartphones Specs That Matter for Real Estate in 2011

Your choice ultimately comes down to which smartphones are available from cellular providers in your market area. A few devices are offered in slightly different versions by varying cellular providers; others are offered exclusively by one carrier.

If you’re happy with your service, start your search with the selection offered by that carrier. If you’ve already decided on a particular phone, however, you may have no choice but switch carriers.

At first glance, many of the latest smartphones look alike, with the same basic brick design and touchscreen interface. Take time to sample several of them. Compare the user interface, overall design, and fit of the phone in your hand and at your ear. Remember, this is a communications device, first; test it for voice calling and composing and retrieving e-mail and text messages.

Don’t pay top dollar for a new 4G phone until you know that service is or will soon be available in your area. If it’s a year away, you’ll be better off with a less expensive 3G phone. Unless you’re buying an unlocked phone, the phone cost depends on your service contract.

For real estate, an unlimited voice and data plan is usually your best buy. Those on a budget may be happily surprised to find some new smartphones or refurbished models bundled with a two-year service contract for very little or no money down.

Before signing that contract, ask about phone upgrades, termination fees, and any limits on bandwidth speeds or downloads. You may want the option of replacing yours with a newer, better smartphone just a year from now.

As one of the most hotly contested product categories in technology, smartphones continue to evolve, and features improve all the time. Whether you buy now or in several months, you’ll get productive benefits from the product you purchase.

If you don’t yet own a smartphone and wonder why you need one, take inventory of the different devices you carry away from your office as you meet clients and evaluate listings.

Today’s smartphones are multifunction mobile handsets and should be evaluated as a potential replacement for several core needs, including:

Communications: Clients, your peers, and prospects expect instant accessibility and a prompt response whether they contact you by voice, e-mail, or text. Fortunately, smartphones handle all these modes.

Mobile computing: A smartphone may not serve as your primary PC, but you’ll want functions such as contact management, mobile Internet access, and the ability to share and sign documents electronically. As far as computing power goes, look at the processor speed, amount of RAM, and memory. Some of the latest models boast speedy 1 GHz processors. Ultimately, how much you can do with your smartphone depends on its operating system and apps.

Camera/camcorder: Many smartphones now boast digital camera sensors of 5 MP or better. That’s good enough for standard-sized prints, images shared electronically, or a basic Web tour. On the video side, the trend is toward HD recording. Where smartphones lag is in lens optics like zoom and wide-angle capability. So, you should consider it to be an acceptable, basic camera or a good second camera that’s always with you. To really showcase listings, at least for now, you should opt for a true camera.

GPS/navigation: Increased availability of turn-by-turn navigation apps combined with the GPS capabilities now standard in most smartphones can eliminate the need for a dedicated GPS unit. A few models combine GPS with the camera for geotagging of images, making it much easier to identify the precise location of each photo.

Given these functions, there are a few hardware features to consider as you seek your best solution. These include:

The screen: A smartphone can be your handheld computer or Web portal, but the visual experience is nothing like that of a full-sized computer. Despite advances in screen resolution and brightness, the largest screens stretch only toward five inches, measured diagonally. The screen size will impact the overall size and weight of the unit, as well as the battery life.

User interface: Most smartphones now feature touchscreens. Tap or swipe your fingers to retrieve a message, launch a program, or enlarge a document. This may all seem a great convenience until it’s time to compose a message.

Data entry: Smartphones offer two approaches. Some have a virtual keyboard that allows you to type by tapping images representing keys on the touchscreen. Others offer some form of mini-QWERTY keypad, either below the screen or hidden beneath it.

Battery life: Manufacturer claims about battery life should be considered “guesstimates,” made under ideal conditions. Actual field life depends on which combination of features you’re using, the apps you’re running, and demands they put on the screen and processor. For a realistic assessment of battery life, talk to owners of any smartphone you’re seriously considering.