Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) help you stay in touch with available e-mail messaging, Web browsing, even reading and editing of Word and Excel files on the go. Combined with mobile phone service, smartphones offer two-in-one functionality and the flexibility of being mobile while conducting University business. While many other phones have similar functions, smartphones can offer users a bigger screen and a full keyboard, making data functions easier to use.
Some of the features that can be found in smartphones, in addition to standard mobile phone services, include:
- Appointment calendar (Outlook synchronization for faculty and staff through ActiveSync)
- Address Book
- MP3 player
- Web browser
- E-mail access, in addition to text messaging
- Mini-keyboards or onscreen keyboards
- Voice dialing
- Character recognition (allowing for handwritten input)
- Synchronization of information with desktop or laptop computers
- Voice recording
- Digital camera
- Video recording
- Microsoft Office (MS) compatible applications (Native with Pocket PC operating systems; Palm operating systems may require third-party software)
Learn more about various smartphone options.
Choosing a Smartphone to use at the University
Similar to the selection of a standard mobile phone, choosing a smartphone calls for an evaluation of your business and/or personal needs. Smartphone features, such as size and weight, battery choice and wireless connectivity, are similar to those found in their standard PDA counterpart.
Before you purchase a smartphone, please note that voice and data services are considered distinct functions of a smartphone and are often billed separately. For example, a service provider often charges for data transmissions, such as connecting to the Internet or downloading e-mail, separate from any phone call charges. Some service providers will allow a certain volume of downloads or minutes-used for data transmissions before charges start to incur. Please review the details of service charges with your service provider for both data and phone transmission before purchasing your smartphone.
Wireless Internet Access — Smartphones let you surf the Internet by connecting through the mobile phone service provider wherever a cellular signal is available. Cellular data service can be provided on a pay-per-use or unlimited plan type – please make sure to choose the appropriate plan to avoid being over charged. An emerging set of technologies allows for additional wireless access using Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet through wireless access points or "hot spots" at a much faster rate. Your smartphone must support WPA2 or VPN in order to log on to the Northwestern wireless network. See the Mobile Device Overview for more information.
Carrier Choice — The make and model of each smartphone is often tied to a specific mobile phone carrier. If you change carriers, you may not be able to use the same device.
Replacement — Loss or damage to your smartphone would be equivalent to losing or damaging both your mobile phone and your PDA. Backing up your data (e.g., contact information) on your computer is essential.
Software — Consider any specialized software needs. Windows Mobile devices will integrate with the most popular Microsoft Office products out of the box. Palm devices may require third-party software to do so. iPhones and Blackberry devices have "App" stores from which you can download applications on the fly.
For additional features, visit the Mobile Phone Features and Manufacturers page.
Last Updated: 2 September 2011