The Download – Why You Need a Smart Phone-Now

If there is one technology device that an HBS student needs more than a laptop, it is a smart phone.

Trying to keep track of complicated class schedules, team meetings, career events and social mixers can be overwhelming unless you have some high-tech help. A smart phone should be a mandatory accessory for the HBS student.

So what exactly makes a phone “smart”?
Though there is no exact definition, a typical smart phone is a standard mobile phone with the added functionality of a Personal Digital Assistant (PDA). Smart phones build upon the basic address book and calendar found in conventional phones and include the ability to synchronize contacts, calendar events, notes, and email from your personal computer. Every smart phone includes a mobile web browser, email client and the capability to add new applications, which can be found on sites like Handango (www.handango.com).

For students who want the absolute latest in technology, keep an eye out for new smart phones with built-in GPS. Phones like the HP iPAQ6945 have an integrated GPS receiver and mapping software so not only are you on time for your appointments, but on track.

Why do I need one?
Here are the top three reasons for owning a smart phone at HBS:

1. Download your complete class schedule to your phone. Not only will you know what classes you have, but also what cases you need to prepare for and the case questions. HBS makes it extremely easy-in less than five minutes you can take your complete personal Course Platform calendar and transfer it to your phone.

2. Contact information backup. You have met hundreds of new people and collected countless new numbers. If you are like most people you do not have a backup of the address book on your cell phone. With a smart phone you can backup your address book at the touch of a button. If you do lose your phone, rest assured that restoring your contacts is a snap.

3. Ability to synchronize Class Card information to your phone. Need to call a member of your learning team? Need to quickly contact a section member? HBS makes it easy to transfer Class Card information into Outlook, and once the Class Card data is in Outlook, transferring it to your smart phone is effortless.

Purchasing Decisions?
Every major cellular operator offers smart phones. A few keys things to keep in mind when deciding on which phone to purchase include:

1. Form factor: Many users avoid smart phones because they are typically larger and bulkier than traditional cell phones. This is changing fast. Most smart phones are larger because they incorporate a miniature thumb keyboard which makes it easier to input data into the phone. However more operators are offering smart phones that look like traditional phones and offer all the benefits listed above. Even phones with thumb keyboards are becoming smaller and stylish-like the new Q from Motorola.

2. Operating System: The operating system of the phone dictates which new programs you can self-install on your phone. This decision is similar to deciding between a PC that runs Windows or Apple OSX. Fortunately, most users do not have to worry because all the smart phone operating systems, from Windows Mobile to Palm and Blackberry, offer similar features.

3. Service Plan: A common myth is that a smart phone requires a more expensive service plan from your cell phone operator. This is not the case, as you get great benefits like synchronizing your calendar and backing up your contacts without making any adjustments to your service plan. Of course, by adding a data plan you are able to send emails or browse the web directly from your phone.

As always, if you want to learn more about smart phones or even see one in action on campus-feel free to drop me a note at [email protected]