In general, the leading-edge smartphones cost more money and are larger than call-only cell phones with no advanced features. Also, a smartphone tends to use more energy to transmit data, meaning the battery will not last as long. Additionally, smartphones cost more to operate per month — many networks charge about $20 to $35 extra per month for an unlimited data plan.
Despite this, for millions of workers and young executives the appeal of a BlackBerry Storm, Apple iPhone 3G, or Palm Treo may be too great to resist! How do you decide if you actually need one of these halcyon futuristic wonder devices? Review the list below and appraise your situation before making the plunge:

1. Do you need consistent access to your e-mail or financial web sites?

If your work only requires you to check e-mail once or twice per day (such as a part-time professor position), you may not need always-on email connectivity. If, however, you work in the financial services industry (where real-time stock quotes are helpful) or work in a sales position where speedy reply to potential buyers can make the difference between a sale or a failure, of course you should consider owning a mobile e-mail enabled device.

2. Do you need push e-mail?

The BlackBerry line of mobile devices is well-known for its proprietary “push” e-mail service: the instant an e-mail arrives, it is forwarded to your phone. Other phones may only check on an interval basis of, say, 15 minutes or 30 minutes. For the busy executive or high ranking government official, this delay is unacceptable. But for the casual user, other models (such as the iPhone) offer a wide variety of appealing entertainment uses — built in iTunes, YouTube app, etc.

3. Does your budget allow for a smartphone?

Even under a new two-year contract, many smartphones cost upward of $200 to purchase, in addition to the increase in monthly cell phone charges. If you use frequently, get an unlimited data plan, or you may face expensive overage fees at the end of a month where you use the device a lot.

Good luck making the right choice. For those who feel that a smartphone is the right choice, you will also experience solid personal benefits — often texting friends is easier and quicker, especially if the device has a full QWERTY keyboard. This can provide a boost to your social life and make texting easier. The iPhone and BlackBerry Storm also both feature “visual voicemail”, a new and highly efficient twist on existing voicemail technology.