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ALSO SEE: Best Smartphone for the Enterprise: Evaluating the Contenders

AND: Best Smartphone Security Practices: Five Tips

The year 2009 was a dismal one for carriers and handset vendors alike. Sales were down, replacement cycles were way up and the trend of voice services (be they fixed or mobile) becoming a commodity continued unabated.

Yet, in the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, the mobile market had one piece of encouraging news: smartphone adoption spiked.

According to Gartner, smartphone sales were way up in 2009, representing 14% of the overall mobile market, an increase of 24% over 2008. Gartner believes that adoption will continue to trend upwards, culminating in smartphone sales surpassing PC sales by 2013.

While problems such as security and expensive data plans may well bedevil the space, the fact remains that for IT the time to start planning for smartphones is now. With that in mind, we surveyed the smartphone landscape with one question in mind: which smartphone is the best one for IT? Here’s what we found:

The BlackBerry started out as a business device, and despite moves to appeal to a broader consumer audience, it remains a business device.

“BlackBerry has the best email platform, best remote monitoring and security, best keyboard, hardiest hardware, best displays, and fantastic battery life due to mobile optimization,” said Maury Margol, president and co-founder of the Wireless Technology Forum.

Margol pointed out that BlackBerry syncs all PIM data over the air with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, has a removable battery and allows users to run applications in the background – none of which the iPhone does. “BlackBerry may have fewer apps, but the apps they have are business focused,” he added.

Greatest strength: Rock-solid email integration.

Biggest weakness: Browser and OS lag behind those on iPhone and Android.

Hot model: Bold 9700, edging out the Storm2 9550. (Yes, the Storm2 counters iPhones and Androids with a touchscreen, but a BlackBerry just doesn’t feel like a BlackBerry without that built-in keyboard.)

Must-have IT app: Priced at $49.99, Wireless Database Viewer Plus from Cellica Corporation lets you view and update any desktop-side database from your handset. Additionally, this app keeps you current, synching automatically whenever a database is changed.

App IT would like to keep away from users: UnlockIT ($19.99) from Volcari Software helps users get around security policies that require passwords after the phone is idle for a minute or two.

Cool non-IT app: Have you just had one of those days where servers crashed, critical data wasn’t backed up or the latest security exploit ran wild through your organization? If so, fire up the Bartender Pro from Epic Applications. At $2.99, why would you not have a database of stiff drinks at your fingertips? A cool feature is the ability to get recipes tailored to whatever liquor and mixers you have on hand.

Carriers: The big four (AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile), plus a slew of smaller carriers, such as Cellular South, Cincinnati Bell and Metro PCS.

The iPhone is and always has been a consumer-focused device, but that hasn’t stopped IT pros from flocking to it.

“I used a BlackBerry for years and was very happy with it,” said Rob Groome, IT manager at University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies. “I switched to the iPhone for one simple reason: device consolidation. I was tired of lugging around both a smartphone and iPod.”

For his personal usage, Groome is happy he made the switch. When it comes to managing ICT’s workforce, however, Groome is more circumspect. “It’s important to remember that the iPhone is a personal device that people are using for business. BlackBerry is the reverse.”

According to Groome and other IT pros I spoke with, the iPhone’s biggest flaw, from an IT perspective, is that there is no central management portal. Apple doesn’t have anything that matches the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which means that centralized security policies are a no-go.

The iPhone has two other glaring weaknesses when it comes to business use: you can’t run apps in the background (if you remember correctly, Apple was late to this game on desktops as well) and you can’t swap out the battery for prolonged use.

That doesn’t mean that the iPhone isn’t winning converts in the IT world. Paul Urfi, director of MIS/IT for Cadec, a telematics firm, calls his iPhone his “Mobile NOC.”

“I live on my iPhone. Everything I can do sitting at my desk, I can do on my iPhone. I VPN in and I can securely do terminal sessions, remote desktop and pretty much any admin job I have on my to-do list,” he said.

Next Page: the Android challenges the Blackberry and iPhone

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Apple Iphone 4 Vs. The Rest Of The Smartphone Pack

How does Apple’s iPhone 4 stacks up against the competition? Take a look at these charts and see for yourself and read on.

The iPhone 4 may look similar to the prototype Gizmodo got its hands on last month. But the devil is in the details, as they say. The iPhone 4 now unveiled we can put it head-to-head with the hottest phones right now, including a couple of unreleased devices from Dell and Research In Motion.

The phones we are looking at are the HTC Incredible, HTC Evo 4G, Samsung Galaxy S and Motorola Milestone XT720 from the Android side, the HTC HD2 and Dell Lightning from the Windows Mobile camp, the Nokia N8 representing the Symbian platform and the recently leaked BlackBerry Bold 9800, a crossover touchscreen phone with a famous physical BlackBerry keyboard.

iPhone 4 vs The Android Army

Steve Jobs stressed in his keynote on Monday that Android is only fourth in the smartphone race, pointing out Research In Motion is leading the pack, followed by the iPhone, Windows Mobile and only then Google Android. Yet Android phones are selling in large numbers and are quickly catching up, mainly due to sheer volume of models from various manufacturers running the OS.

Speed-wise, all the above-mentioned Android phones run on speedy 1GHz processors, except the Milestone XT720, which runs on a 550MHz chip. Apple on the other hand, took its speedy A4 chip found on the iPad and put it in the iPhone 4 (no surprise here). With this, the iPhone 4 comes in line with the top-notch Android phone, but given the OS and app differences, a proper speed comparison would be quite subjective.

The iPhone 4 also has the smallest display in comparison to the Android phones in this chart, but the Retina Display technology in the iPhone 4 rivals even the huge 4.3-inch screen on the Evo 4G, packing in more pixels per inch. The camera on the iPhone 4 is now on the par with the Samsung Galaxy S, and still below the Incredible, Evo 4G or Milestone in terms of megapixels. All five phones can record 720p HD video though – yet only the iPhone will have the Apple-designed iMovies app, and nothing out today is remotely comparable to this in terms of mobile video editing.

The Samsung Galaxy S is the only one left out of the camera flash party, but the phone is second only to the iPhone when it comes to thinness. Weight-wise, the iPhone 4 is heavier than the HTC Incredible and the Galaxy S, but lighter than the Evo 4G and the Milestone XT720.

As for battery life, the iPhone 4 claims the longest battery life, with up to seven hours of talk time, closely followed by the Galaxy S, with 6.5 hours. Of course, these are manufacturer specifications, and real-life results can be very different. Stay tuned for PCWorld testing.

The Android Market may not be as big as Apple’s App Store (with over 225,000 apps), but it is getting new apps every day — now clocking over 38,000 apps. But for Flash games fans, Android is the most viable solution, as the iOS will clearly not support Adobe’s technology any time soon. To top it off, multitasking and tethering also come with the iOS 4 in the iPhone 4, catching up with the Android phones.

iPhone 4 vs WinMo, Symbian and BlackBerry

The HTC HD2 and the Lightning also have an FM tuner, a feature not found on the iPhone 4. Microsoft still lacks in the app store department, and the Lightning, running Windows Mobile 7 will go a step back in terms of multitasking and Flash support.

Nokia however, will also challenge the iPhone 4 with its flagship N8 device. The N8 has a 12-megapixel camera (the biggest in the whole lot), an FM tuner and transmitter (think wireless music in your car via radio), and runs Flash (albeit Lite).

Smackdown: Windows Phone 7 Phones Vs. Iphone 4 Vs. Droid X

Microsoft on Monday introduced a portfolio of smartphones based on the new Windows Phone 7 operating system to take on the iPhone 4 and the Android army. Of the ten new Windows Phone 7 devices, six will be headed to the U.S. market: AT&T will have the HTC 7 Surround, the LG Quantum, and the Samsung Focus; Sprint will have the HTC 7 Pro; and T-Mobile will get the HTC HD7 and the Dell Venue Pro (aka Lightning).

The six new Windows Phone 7 devices due out next month all run on a 1GHz processor, as do most smartphones on the market today. The LG Quantum and the Samsung Focus have 256MB of RAM, the Dell Venue Pro has 512MB, and each of the three HTC devices offers 576MB.

The HTC 7 Pro, the HTC HD7, and the LG Quantum carry 16GB of on-board storage for your music and videos. The HTC 7 Surround, the Samsung Focus, and the lower-end version of the HTC HD7 come with 8GB of storage.

If you’re looking for a large-screen Windows Phone 7 device, you have a wide range of choices. Screen sizes start at the 3.5 inches diagonally (the same size as the iPhone) for the LG Quantum, and move up to a whopping 4.3 inches diagonally (the same size as the Droid X) for the HTC HD7. Display resolution is 480 by 800 pixels on all of the Windows Phone 7 devices, putting them on a par with the Droid X and the T-Mobile G2. The iPhone 4, with its 3.5-inch display still boasts the highest pixel density and the largest resolution in this comparison.

If you want a hardware keyboard, you have three choices: the Samsung Focus and the HTC 7 Pro have lateral slide-out keyboards, while the Dell Venue Pro has a vertical QWERTY slide-out keyboard. If you don’t need a keyboard, you can always go for the HTC 7 Surround, the Samsung Focus, or the HTC HD7.

All six Windows Phone 7 devices come with a 5-megapixel camera, with a flash. All of the cameras can record video, too, and on the HTC devices you get HD (720p) video capture, as on the iPhone and Android phones. The only U.S.-bound Windows Phone 7 device with a front-facing camera for handling video calls is the Samsung Focus.

Other features shared by all six Windows Phone 7 smartphones are Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth; none of them has an HDMI slot, however, as the Droid X does. On the other hand, perks such as a slide-out surround-sound speaker on the HTC 7 Surround, and Dolby Digital sound on all three HTC phones, should compensate for this omission.

Microsoft’s new Windows Phone 7 OS has some difficulties to overcome. The OS lacks such functionality as copy/paste and multitasking–features that rivals like Apple took their time to implement but now do have on the market. Like iOS, the Windows Phone 7 devices lack Adobe Flash support; and in contrast to most Android smartphones on Verizon, they can’t act as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Applications will be another challenge for Microsoft, as developers have yet to rush to create apps for the platform (despite cash incentives). In comparison, Apple has over 270,000 apps, and Android over 100,000, so Microsoft has some catching up to do in this department.

The as-yet untested Windows Phone 7 devices could have a bright future. My colleague Ginny Mies spent some hands-on time with the new OS, and despite her doubts, she was impressed with it. The OS on an HTC HD7 was fast, Mies reported, and she liked what she saw in the first encounter.

Follow Daniel Ionescu and Today @ PCWorld on Twitter.

Acer Vs. Dell, The Windows/Android Netbook

Acer today introduced new laptops as well as its new Liquid smartphone. It’s all part of a push for new Google Android products but also a part of Acer’s Windows 7 strategy as well. The company has achieved its position as the number three hardware provider through growth and mergers and now is gunning for the number two spot currently held by Dell.

As part of Acer’s international press conference in London, CEO Gianfraco Lanci said it was the firm’s goal to be the number one supplier of laptops by 2012 and number two PC provider overall behind HP (NYSE: HPQ).

“Between this quarter and the next, we can finally pass Dell,” Lanci said during the conference. “I would expect not only to pass Dell very soon, but also to breach the gap with HP.”

Acer has closed to gap to within one percentage point behind Dell (NASDAQ: DELL). But the numbers don’t reflect the complexity of the situations. Acer made a strong push into netbooks, Dell has not. Acer is 100 percent a consumer play, while Dell is largely a corporate play. During the economic downturn of the past year, corporate spending has been much tighter than consumer spending, which is why Dell has been hurting while Acer has been growing.

Lanci is counting on a big PC refresh in 2010, spurred on by an improving economy, aging hardware in need of replacement, and a new version of Windows that doesn’t make people want to throw their laptop across the room.

Dell has held on to the number two spot “with one arm tied behind their back, because the commercial market is so much of their business. The commercial rebound will help Dell. Acer doesn’t have the commercial chops Dell has,” said Shim.

Acer’s Windows 7, multi-touch notebook

It features a 15.6 inch diagonal widescreen display, a 2.2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, up to 4GB of memory, discrete graphics by ATI, wireless networking, home theater audio and 320GB of storage. The Acer Aspire 5738PG multi-touch screen notebook launches with Windows 7 Home Premium and will be available starting October 22 at select retailers starting at $799.

In addition, Acer announced a new Aspire Timeline series notebook. The Timelines are called “all-day computing notebooks” because of their very long battery life. This model, with a 11.6-inch screen and Intel consumer ultra-low voltage (CULV) processor, is promised to offer eight hours of battery life.

The Timeline AS1810TZ will come out October 22, preloaded with Windows 7 for a starting price of $549.99. A bigger version, with a 15.6 inch screen, starts at $649.99.

Aspire One, dual-boot Windows XP/Android available now

Finally, Acer on Wednesday will introduce a new Aspire One netbook that dual boots both Android and Windows XP. It supports Windows 7 internationally but not in the U.S. market. The company explained to chúng tôi that configurations change in different regions.

The Aspire One AOD250 comes with an Intel Atom N280 processor, 1GB of memory, wireless networking and a 160GB hard drive. It also has the Multi-Gesture Touchpad like the Windows 7 notebooks. Unlike the Windows 7 machines, it’s available now.

Article courtesy of chúng tôi

Display Shootout: Iphone 5 Vs Galaxy S4

CEO Tim Cook during an earnings call re-iterated Apple very much remains focused on providing the highest quality mobile screens and argued his company would never compromise the experience by creating a Gorilla-sized iPhone with a subpar display. Specifically, Cook painted color reproduction, power consumption, quality and other factors determining the quality of a mobile screens as progressively suffering on larger displays.

“We would not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade-offs exist,” he said Tuesday. But is that really the case? Display wizards over at DisplayMate took Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S4 through a battery of tests putting the screens through their paces. The results are surprising…

According to DisplayMate president Dr. Raymond M. Soneira, there is no clear winner in sight as both devices incorporate mobile screens best in their respective class.

“Both displays are quite good and comparable overall – so it’s currently a tie,” he writes, adding it’s important to keep in mind that the iPhone 5 is now more than halfway through its product cycle while Samsung just released its S4 smartphone.

Key observations:

The iPhone 5 is significantly brighter than the Galaxy S4, particularly for screens with mostly peak white backgrounds. Its color calibration is a bit better, although the Galaxy S4 has a more accurate white.

The Galaxy S4 has a much bigger screen, higher resolution, higher PPI, much darker blacks, and better screen uniformity than the iPhone 5.

Check out the tech comparison table.

The iPhone 5 rocks a four-inch 1,136-by-640 pixel resolution LCD screen. The display module is being assembled using the sophisticated in-cell process. At 326ppi Retina-quality pixel density, the iPhone 5’s screen also features IPS technology which allows for wide viewing angles.

Samsung’s latest flagship has a five-inch 1,920-by-1,080 display at 442 pixels per inch, based on Super AMOLED PenTile RGBG technology. Unlike the more accurate LCD, PenTile RGBG layout used in the S4’s Super AMOLED screen has green pixels interleaved with alternating red and blue pixels.

Such a subpixel layout is dependent upon subpixel rendering, which maps an input pixel to either a red-centered logical pixel, or a green-centered logical pixel. Put simply, the pixels on most current OLED displays have only two sub-pixels in each pixel instead of the standard three red, green and blue sub-pixels.

Now, you’d normally expect a lower quality from subpixel rendering, right? But with the S4’s pixels so densely packed at 442ppi, any visual difference in quality gets lost to an average human eye.

Specifically, Dr. Soneira concludes that visually, the Galaxy S4 PenTile display delivers “excellent visual sharpness across the board.”

For digitally generated fine text and graphics with precise pixel layouts the eye can visually detect the reduced number of red and blue sub-pixels unless the number of red and blue sub-pixels per inch is very high.

And it is for the Galaxy S4 – there are 312 red and blue sub-pixels per inch, which is only a few percent lower than Apple’s benchmark 326 pixels per inch iPhone Retina Display.

Wrapping up, DisplayMate says the biggest improvements for mobile displays will come from “dynamically changing the display color gamuts and intensity scales to automatically compensate and correct for reflected glare and image wash out from ambient light.”

For the record, I own both an iPhone 5 and a Galaxy S3.

Unfortunately, not having a chance yet to check out the S4’s display quality in person, I really can’t attest to DisplayMate’s findings.

From your vantage point, whose mobile screen tech is better, Apple’s or Samsung’s?

Gmail Vs. Which Is Best?

Gmail and chúng tôi are two of the most popular web mail services, and each brings its own benefits to the table. Most people use both email providers either as a primary or secondary account.

Since there is obviously a lot to like about both Gmail and Outlook, it would be useful to compare them based on their individual features and performance.

To answer which is best: chúng tôi or Gmail, we have looked into the following criteria.

1. Ease of Use

Although Gmail has occasional page-loading issues on non-Chrome web browsers, once you’re logged in, it’s smooth sailing from thereon. There are various inbox categories and tabs which help you organize your emails properly.

Using Gmail “smart compose” you can save a lot of time thanks to a machine-learning feature which offers suggestions while you type.

You can encrypt your emails right from this window, but apart from this, there are no new exciting features.

Compared to Gmail, the Outlook interface is seriously behind the times. You have to manually resize the windows, and it takes longer to mark multiple emails for deletion.

I have thousands of unread emails in the Outlook webmail. With Gmail, it is far easier to get rid of unwanted emails cluttering the inbox.

2. Integrations

Both Gmail and Outlook have mobile apps that readily sync with Android, iOS and Chrome OS. While Outlook has its own desktop email client, it fails to integrate a personal Hotmail account with Thunderbird.

Gmail, on the other hand, supports Thunderbird properly. In fact, it might be more pleasant to use Gmail on Thunderbird, as the emails are always accessible from a proper desktop client.

Result: Gmail wins this round but by a slight margin only.

3. Desktop Experience

One of the best features of chúng tôi is its desktop client on Windows 10. It is far easier to use than the corresponding webmail or mobile app versions. Many people have been using the Outlook client in their workplace for years.

What’s more, using an Office 365 account, you can connect your Outlook emails to the entire Microsoft suite.

Whether it is editing Word files directly, connecting to your Skype contacts via email, moving the emails to OneDrive, or managing your Office 365 subscription, you get a single window service.

Gmail, on the other hand, does not offer a comparable desktop experience.

Result: chúng tôi has a superior desktop experience.

4. Basic Features

One of the most useful features that is mandatory in a good email service is the calendar. Outlook calendar is far more sophisticated and easy to use with its desktop client. You can set meetings directly and have reminders based on a chosen automatic schedule.

Result: chúng tôi has better coverage of basic email features.

Tip: You can schedule emails in Outlook natively on across platforms.

5. Accessibility

On a desktop browser, Gmail can be a bit inaccessible at times which can be annoying. Even at the moment of writing, I encountered a “temporary error” while trying to access my regular Gmail account from Mozilla Firefox.

For many Gmail users, this is becoming a regular problem. While they can always access Gmail from their phone apps, it can sometimes be non-responsive inside a desktop browser, especially if you are not using Chrome.

Gmail also denies VPN use and always classifies it as a suspicious activity. Once this happens, you can only log in after you receive a text to your phone, even though you may have removed your phone number from your Google account.

Outlook hardly ever denies you access to your own email account. VPN or no VPN, your Outlook email account is accessible on any desktop device at all times.

Result: Outlook is always more accessible than Gmail and will never leave you locked out of your own account.

6. Design and Appearance

The design of an email window affects your desire to compose emails. Gmail text editor looks a bit unprofessional because it jumps out of nowhere on the screen, which can be distracting. Also, it only covers three-quarters of the window in full-screen mode. If you had to type multiple emails, this arrangement can consume more effort.

Result: Outlook has a more useful design.

7. Security and Privacy

Both Gmail and Microsoft offer powerful security features. From a privacy standpoint, Microsoft’s policies on data sharing are slightly more transparent and conducive.

What I like about Microsoft is that you can access all the latest statistics about information they have shared with law enforcement. Very little data (5 to 6 percent) is related to the actual contents of emails.

Gmail offers no such statistical overview.

Result: If you value your privacy, you will probably be safer with Outlook than Gmail.

8. Managing Contacts

Opening, editing and deleting Gmail contacts is trickier. It should have been directly accessible from the gearbox in Settings. Instead, you have to first go to the nine-dot icon.

Outlook, on the other hand, has a dedicated “Contacts” icon that opens into a new window. You can easily delete contacts, add phone numbers, import business cards and a lot more.

Result: It is easier to manage contacts on Outlook.

9. Premium Features

Gmail helps you access other Google features from its window including Google Maps, YouTube, Play Store, Google Drive, Translate, Photos and GSuite. While none of them are directly related to email, they provide more functionalities.

You can access multiple delegated Gmail accounts from the same login, add labels and new themes and sync everything on a mobile device. Outlook’s focus is only emails.

10. Account Space

While free Gmail accounts are restricted to 15 GB, you can increase the space three to four times by adding new Google accounts. In comparison, an Outlook account comes with 1 TB space thank to the OneDrive support.

Result: Outlook offers more account space.

11. Office 365 vs. GSuite

This is a highly subjective category. Some people are more comfortable in the Microsoft Office ecosystem, whereas others will prefer GSuite apps.

Results: We will consider this round a tie.

Final Verdict

While there may be personal reasons to prefer Gmail over Outlook or vice versa, this point-by-point comparison will help you review your choices with a fresh perspective.

Gmail is certainly easier to use, supports more integrations and comes with premium features that cover the entire Google system. However, if you prefer a traditional email setup that supports a better desktop experience while helping you easily manage contacts with stable features, Outlook offers a more robust deal.

Accordingly, based on all the above criteria, chúng tôi is a better email provider than Gmail.

Sayak Boral

Sayak Boral is a technology writer with over eleven years of experience working in different industries including semiconductors, IoT, enterprise IT, telecommunications OSS/BSS, and network security. He has been writing for MakeTechEasier on a wide range of technical topics including Windows, Android, Internet, Hardware Guides, Browsers, Software Tools, and Product Reviews.

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