Smartphones appear to be a fairly new technology, but according to "PC World," they have been around in one form or another since 1993. It was not until 2007 when Apple released the iPhone that the demand for smartphones really began to heat up. With so many smartphones on the market, the hype can seem overwhelming. Smartphones have certain strengths and weaknesses that consumers should consider when deciding which one -- if any -- is right for them.
Strength - Instant Connectivity
Smartphones give users the ability to connect with the Internet using the carrier's network, a Wi-Fi hot spot or their own wireless home network. This access is instant and increasingly fast as carriers are continually working on accelerating the speed of their networks. With one-touch or one-click Internet capabilities, users can perform just about any function from banking to e-mail to making dinner reservations online. Many smartphones also provide convenient access to social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter that allow users to access and manage those accounts seamlessly.
Strength - Entertainment Options
From music to movies to photos, smartphones offer rich multimedia features. Smartphones typically include a camera and video recorder as well as a music player. Depending on the model, smartphones allow music to be brought in via a computer, synced with an existing software or downloaded directly. The devices also allow users to download and watch television shows and movies. For more entertainment options, smartphones include games, and users can also search for and download additional games. Smartphones are generally associated with application stores that offer a number of games for free and at a minimal charge.
Weakness - Expense
One drawback of many smartphones is price. Smartphones can cost hundreds of dollars to purchase. In addition to the sticker price, users are encouraged to pay to protect the phone with insurance in case it gets lost or damaged. Day-to-day protection can be bought with a phone cover, and touchscreen users will also want to get guards to avoid scratching or ruining the screen. To access the Internet and e-mail, smart phones require data plans that bump up the monthly cost of owning the phone.
Strength and Weakness - Mobile Business
Smartphones allow users to be "on" at all times. They can receive and send e-mail as well as download, edit and return documents and spreadsheets. Business can be taken care of whether a block away from the office or halfway across the world, day or night. However, the constant stream of data and interruptions can be a disadvantage of smartphones. While smartphones can enhance productivity, it can be hard for users to disconnect and achieve a work-life balance.