For those of you considering a new Smart Phone this article should help shed a little light on what works best with our e-mail server. We use the Microsoft Exchange e-mail server at the P-E-M School District.
To begin, a smart phone is simply a mobile phone that offers these basic features:
- Internet Access
Most smart phones have other features but we will focus on these.
Currently if you purchase a smart phone you must have a data plan with your wireless provider which will increase your bill slightly if you currently only have a voiceplan. I certainly am not recommending everyone has to get a smart phone or change their wireless plans. This is intended to help you if you want to utilize these features with your school e-mail account.
To begin, we’ll take a look at what service providers are available in the Plainview-Elgin-Millville area?
Which has the best coverage in and around the school?
As of right now Verizon Wireless has the strongest signal in and around our buildings. We as a district currently have all school wireless plans with Verizon Wireless (note: this may change from year to year). Sprint seems to have the next best signal strength, then T-Mobile, and then AT&T has voice but not really data coverage.
What provider should I choose?
Verizon or Sprint are the two strongest voice and data mobile signals you will get. Verizon Wireless seems to have a slightly stronger signal in Elgin than Sprint does.
Now for the phones. First, what are the brand options?
Which phone is the best?
We’re not going to look so much at the phone as we are the operating system that runs the phone. I will go over each brands operating system and how it has worked with our e-mail server. You should note that some brands may use multiple operating system platforms from phone to phone. There are several other brands of cell phones but those I have not tested with our system.
- Blackberry – The Blackberry phone out of the box will sync e-mail well until you begin deleting e-mails. The syncing between your phone and your Outlook inbox doesn’t sync very easily using the standard connection and you will have issues. Standard connection out of the box also doesn’t allow you to wirelessly synchronize your contacts or calendar. Instead you must connect your phone to your computer or setup other software to do so wirelessly. The district uses Blackberry phones because we installed a Blackberry server which manages the wireless syncing of e-mail, calendar, and contacts. The Blackberry phones have one of the best if not the best battery life in the industry. Currently we cannot add more licenses to our server so a Blackberry might not be the best option for you, but we are working to get free licensing so staff can connect their Blackberry.
- HTC – The HTC smart phones produce phones that utilize either the Android OS or the Windows Mobile OS. See the review of those OS’s below. Check before you buy to see which OS it has.
- Motorola – Motorola phones utilize either the Windows Mobile operating system or the Android operating system. See the descriptions for those OS’s. Check before you buy to see which OS it has.
- Palm – Palm uses its own Palm OS and has not been tested by me with our e-mail server. Let me know if you have synced your work e-mail with a Palm.
- Samsung – Samsung smart phones use either the Windows Mobile operating system or the Android operating system. See the descriptions for those OS’s. Check before you buy to see which OS it has.
- iPhone – The Apple iPhone is only available on the AT&T network. Their iPhone syncs wirelessly very well with our e-mail but service is not available in our buildings.
- Android OS – There has been a lot of hype about the new Android phones lately. These are phones that use the new Android operating system. After seeing and using a few and talking to others that have them I have found that the Android phones sync your e-mail, calendar, and contacts wirelessly very easily and very well. The primary downfall might be the battery life if you don’t know how to turn off features, but overall this is definitely a recommended OS to get if you want your e-mail, calendar, and contacts on your new smart phone.
- Windows Mobile OS – The Windows Mobile OS was designed by Microsoft and syncs your e-mail, contacts, and calendar flawlessly with our e-mail system. The biggest detractor is the battery life. Windows Mobile devices typically drain the battery fairly quickly and you may need to charge it prior to the end of the day.
What phone is recommended?
I won’t recommend a phone but I will recommend an operating system to get. The Android OS is a great operating system that gives you many of the features an iPhone gives you but gives you many more hardware options. The phone itself is a decision you need to make based on your needs and budget, but the Android OS is the easiest to configure and sync with the P-E-M e-mail server.
Hopefully this helps you make an educated decision on what phone to purchase and what provider to use. Let me know if you have questions or comments or if you use a different phone than what was discussed and let me know how it has worked.