Business of Law

Smartphones: Which is best for you?

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Photos courtesy of
Research in Motion/Blackberry
and Apple

For the lawyer’s smartphone, there is no storm brewing over our top choices: The Apple iPhone 3G and the Black­Berry Bold are two of the best smartphones available.

Price is the minor part of the equation—user plan expenses, cost of additional services and IT resources can be significant.

But it’s a testament to the quality of both devices that the choice comes down to personal preference.

Here’s a breakdown of their features, provided by former tech­nology contributor David Beckman, a lawyer in Burlington, Iowa, and his son Christopher, an IT worker at the University of Iowa Foundation.

CategoryBlackberry BoldiPhone
A critical application for smartphone-toting lawyers. Both devices sync wirelessly to your firm’s calendar system.
Detailed scheduling system resembles a full agenda planner. System is simpler, offering fewer calendar views and fields.
Global Positioning System
Both have GPS integration with Google Maps.
An outstanding GPS turn-by-turn system is available for an additional charge. If a calendar entry includes a physical address, it will provide real-time traffic directions. Does not offer spoken turn-by-turn directions. Assisted GPS with Google Maps is impressive but won’t replace your car’s GPS unit.
Web browsing
Both transition seamlessly from wireless Internet hot spots to the phones’ data networks.
Small screen size and a clunky mobile browser hold back Web browsing. Large display and multi-touch system make browsing a near-desktop experience. To interact with a website, touch, pinch or drag your fingertip over the screen.
Both take good-quality pictures.
With its integrated flash, this camera could easily replace your point-and-shoot. Tops in low light, even though it has no flash. The added Griffin Clarifi 3G case with a macro slide lens allows a lawyer to photograph a document at the courthouse and e-mail it for conversion to a Microsoft Word document.
Battery life is a challenge for most smartphones. These two need daily charging.
Replaceable battery. Battery is integrated into the device, so the phone must be returned to have the battery replaced.
Media player
Both have standard headphone jacks and high-resolution screens.
Has a basic media player. Along with an impressive media-playing function­ality, the large screen makes it suitable for reviewing video depositions before trial.
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