PDAs and Smartphones: Clinical Tools for Physicians

Andrew E. Craig, MSN, FNP-C


October 09, 2009

In This Article

Choose Your Carrier

Buying a smartphone means you'll have to arrange for service with a cellular carrier. While you can theoretically buy some handheld devices outright (ie, without affiliation to any one carrier), this is usually cost-prohibitive. Carriers offer substantial discounts on the cost of the device when you sign up for service with them at the time of purchase; you typically have to sign a service contract for 2 years.

Unfortunately, not all phones are available from all carriers. For example, if you want the iPhone, you'll have to go with AT&T. If you want a BlackBerry Storm, you'll have to choose Verizon. For the Palm Pre, you'll have to sign up with Sprint. This is because the device makers sign exclusive contracts with one particular carrier.

It's also important to be aware that different handhelds use different types of cellular technology to place and receive calls. Your device's cellular technology must match the type of technology used by your carrier. For example, a smartphone that uses GSM (General Service Mobile) technology will not work on another cellular carrier's network if that network uses CDMA (Carrier Detect Multiple Access) technology, even if the smartphone is "unlocked."

I also recommend that you research a carrier's reliability and customer satisfaction in your area before signing on the dotted line. Make sure the carrier that you're thinking of signing up with gives good coverage where you live, work, and travel.


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