Doing more with less is the norm for small businesses. Everyone is responsible for booking their own appointments, holding their own calls and dashing off their own memos. Luckily, today's smartphones are commoditizing these basic functions, packing more timesaving, problem-solving features into each new generation of handsets. Upgrade to one of our picks and power up your productivity.
Photo courtesy of Nokia
Nokia Lumia 900 ($100)
With soft, curved edges and a bright cyan color option, the 900 looks like a toy, and its Windows-powered 4.3-inch display does play very well with all sorts of Microsoft products, from Excel to Xbox. The 16 GB of storage (with no expansion slots) can be boosted to 41 GB by accessing Microsoft's Skydrive cloud service for free. That service is fairly seamless when running on super-fast LTE wireless networks.
Photo courtesy of Apple
The Personal Secretary
Apple iPhone 4S ($200 to $400)
Networks: AT&T,Verizon, Sprint
Thanks to Siri, the iPhone's voice-controlled assistant, you can still shout at someone to create appointments and to-do lists. Coupling the voice commands with other native iOS apps, including the new Reminders program, turns the handset into a location- and time-aware aide that will keep you on schedule. Too bad the phone is limited to slower 3G networks.
Photo courtesy of Motorola
The Utility Player
Motorola Droid 4 ($200)
Phones with slide-out Qwerty keyboards get knocked for being bulky and fragile, but this Droid bucks both those slights with a 12.7-mm-thick body and an edge-lit keyboard that rolls out cleanly. The result: more real estate on the 4-inch multitouchscreen display to see what you're typing. The 16 GB memory expands to 48 GB with an SD card placed under the back cover and provides plenty of room for everything you'll download off Verizon's fast LTE network.
Photo courtesy of Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Note ($300)
The Galaxy Note aims to replace both your smartphone and your Moleskine. Use its mini-tablet 5.3-inch touchscreen with either your finger or the S Pen (a stylus with ultraprecise handling). The Android interface draws users in, whether they're sucking 4G data into the 16 GB storage (up to 32 GB with an SD card) or fiddling with one of the cameras (2 megapixels in the front, 8 megapixels in the back). Its biggest drawback is its size--it doesn't fit well in pockets.
Data plans: How much is enough for these new smartphones?
More than you think. A January report by Arieso, a British mobile solutions company, found that iPhone 4S users downloaded three times more data than iPhone 3G users. Samsung Galaxy S users, meanwhile, sucked up 199 percent more bits. Cover yourself by signing up for data plans that offer triple the amount of streaming per month that you currently use.