CRNtech Looks At 6 Smartphones

The BlackBerry Curve 8310 is a solid piece of machinery, and had top scores in all categories. Fans of the BlackBerry brand will find their loyalty rewarded, and there are sure to be new converts.

The iPaq 500 provides for fairly strong e-mail capability with Exchange support, Pop Mail and IMAP functionality. Integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Quad Band connectivity make network access fairly smooth. It's not as attractive or slick as the other devices, but it gets the job done.

Because it's a full-blown PC, capable of running Windows XP or Windows Vista, the Q1 Ultra can be configured for a VPN and Windows-level security; it can also support Skype.

The Garmin nuvi 200 isn't a smartphone or a PDA -- it's a handheld GPS navigation device. It's being included in this roundup because solution providers may want the option of offering that capability to a customer without that customer having to upgrade to a new phone, PDA or other device. That said, the nuvi 200 gets the job done with no unnecessary frills.

The Nokia N800 is described as an "Internet Tablet" or "tableteer." But, really, just think of it as a smartphone with great Web access and a nice screen. It's got a full, slide-out QWERTY keyboard but also operates with a stylus, a pull-out stand on the back to sit the device at a 45-degree angle, and its browser supports Instant Messaging (unlike the iPhone, for example).

The N95 is billed as a "handheld computer", and it does deliver in that regard. The N95 doesn't have the slick engineering of an iPhone, nor the intuitive business functionality of the BlackBerry Curve; it's a notch below others in channel-friendliness because it provides slightly less of an opportunity for value-add than the other devices.

The iPhone is possibly the most hyped device on the market today, but does it work for the channel? Survey says, No. The iPhone is a closed device, doesn't play well with Microsoft productivity apps, and cellular service is limited to ATandT's network, which makes it off-limits to a major chunk of the country, including the entire state of Vermont. Plus, Apple only sells the product directly or through ATandT, so it's not available to the channel.