Is email dead? Not quite and I believe it will stick around for a while. Although it is true that a good share of email communication has been replaced by text messaging and IM’s. However, people are getting hundreds of work-related emails every day. While most of them are being read and answered on a PC or a laptop, the other part is left for smartphones while traveling and out of working hours.
Since emailing and messaging with smartphones is not going anywhere, let’s quickly look at how to choose the best smartphone for the job.
Main criteria: best smartphone for email
To efficiently handle emails and possibly some other business apps you do not need the most powerful processor, GPU, expensive GPS chip and some other features from the “nice-to-have-yet-noone-ever-uses-them” department. What you need though is good basics, working in a perfect harmony and backed up with latest software – for newest app support and security. The features you should consider for a good smartphone for email and messaging needs are:
- Large enough and high quality screen (5” preferred)
- Keyboard type and ease of use
- Type of Operating system (iOS, Android, Windows, BB OS)
- Latest OS available and platform compatibility with your Apps
Technical specifications of the display
This is obvious and holds true for most smartphone use-cases, not just emails and messages. Screen must be bright, vivid and large enough to be able to comfortably see, select and edit text. Screen size also has an impact on the overall size of the phone. While earlier it used to be normal to hold a smartphone in one hand, nowadays with large screens and phablets gaining popularity this is becoming a mission impossible. However, the whole idea of emails on the mobile phone is efficiency and the most efficient way of typing is using both hands (thanks, cap). Having said that, let’s not limit ourselves with small screens, especially when large displays cost so little these days.
5” screen is a good size; I’d even consider 5.5” – phablet size. Plus, it must be paired with good resolution and contrast ratio (CR). Aim at 1080x1920pixel or higher resolution for a screen size like that, as any lower will make your experience feel inferior. As far as it goes for contrast ratio – most smartphones will perform very well inside or on an outcast day. The biggest challenge and the factor which distinguishes good from subpar displays is when they are exposed to a direct sunlight. Sunlight CR which is quoted by most smartphone manufacturer’s is the metric to look at. Go for a ratio of 1.9 – 2.0 or more. No matter how little days with sun you get in your area, the sun will come from behind the clouds and you will say “thank you” to your younger self for this decision.
Screen technology is not that important for writing emails. The main differences between IPS LCS and Amoled displays are different viewing angles, ability to recreate natural whites-blacks and depth of color gamut. However, this is not of particular importance when working with email, messaging or business applications. In 9 out of 10 cases I would go for an IPS LDC display. But this is probably just one of those when you only like either Audi or BMW cars.
Keyboard type and ease of use: physical or touchscreen?
Conventional keyboards are old-school and loved by smartphone hipsters. But many users find them more convenient as well. You can feel each button and there is less chance of typos and the need of hitting that backspace multiple times per email or message. If you are more proficient with a physical QWERTY keyboard – stick with it. Smartphones equipped with them still exist and are not limited to only Blackberries.
Also, it is important to mention that not all software built-in keyboards are the same. Although Android keyboards have become very sophisticated over time, many users still prefer iOS. It just seems to read finger taps more precisely. In general, there is no big difference. A matter of preference really, as you will get used to most touch keyboards in no time.
There is also an option to have both – physical and touch keyboard. Samsung has come up with a slider case/keyboard for their flagships which attaches to the phone. I am sure there are Chinese accessories for iPhone and other phones too.
Best smartphone operating system for sending emails
No matter what operating you choose, I strongly recommend finding out first whether an upgrade to the next software update is going to be supported on the phone. A smartphone suddenly becomes not so smart when everyday apps cannot be used properly (or at all) due to an outdated software. Email apps are not that vulnerable to this as they are usually built in within the OS. For all others, you are safe to go for the latest smartphone models – released this or last year.
Now which one of the four options is the best? It is solely for you to decide. Each has some advantages against others as well as weak points. For example, iOS offer a very simple and easy email integration with Exchange, AOL or web email apps, but is expensive. BlackBerry OS by design is a smartphone for email and business in general. It is also well protected, but might not have some of your beloved productivity apps available on all platforms. Android has the largest App store and has a very customizable interface, but at the same time can face some security issues due to its openness. Windows? I am not a big fan of Windows phones, even though the company likes to position themselves as a business smartphone. Although, they provide a very easy flock management of the devices, certainly being a tempting option as a corporate solution.
A random order list of my favorite smartphones which are perfect for email and texting:
A great choice for BlackBerry lovers as well as for those who like physical keyboards. Even if you are not going to use the slide-down keyboard every time – you will always have an option at your fingertips.
But this is no ordinary BlackBerry. It probably will not make those hardcore BB fans happy, but this smartphone actually runs Android. To my view, this makes a great combo and opens up unseen possibilities. Hatters gonna have, innovators gonna innovate.
Priv boasts a great 5.4” AMOLED screen with a resolution to be proud of. In addition, it is protected by a Gorilla Glass 4.
Apart from being the perfect phone for emails and business use, this Berry has the muscle power to compete with top flagships of the same age. Not as a full time job though as the powerful Snapdragon chip and AMOLED screen require quite a lot of energy. However, it goes along and beyond the whole ideology behind BlackBerry phones is precisely being able to do those dull, uninteresting tasks and doing them well.
iPhone 6s PLUS
Why not 7 Plus? Because you do not need the latest, fastest, most expensive smartphone for emails and productivity apps. Surely, iPhone 7 is no worse candidate for the job, but efficient allocation of resources is muy importante.
The choice of a Plus modification over a classic 4.7” screen is obvious. Especially with iPhones having this slightly weirdo rectangular share of the screen. 5.5” display on the other hand feels great in palms.
There is also a built-in document editor, easy connection to email accounts and a vast variety of apps available from App Store and those are only the few benefits to mention of owning an Apple phone for business needs. Simplicity is key here.
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge + an optional Keyboard case
Other than having access to the largest selection of apps in the Google Play store, Galaxy S6 Edge is great not only for emailing and texting, but can also be used as a daily phone.
On top of satisfying all the email smartphone criteria mentioned earlier, it provides great battery life, wireless charging, OneDrive cloud storage and feels very comfortable in hand.
The Samsung keyboard is not going to be as good as the one found in Apple devices, but hey, you can take email writing one step further and buy an attachable keyboard case, nothing can beat that.
Nokia Lumia 950
Lumia 950 stands out from the list as a more affordable option. Nonetheless, it still possesses Snapdragon 808 chip, which proudly represents high-end snapdragons. Plus it has a great camera.
Remember when I said, that you do not need to break the bank when buying a smartphone for emails and business related applications? the 950 is a great example of this. It is truth, Windows platform does not have support for many apps you can find on GooglePlay or App Store, but all the most popular ones are well covered. It’s by no means a gaming phone, so sorry PokemonGo fans, this option is not for you.