Smartphone Hardware Recommendations

Revised on April 7, 2014

Information Systems & Computing (ISC) publishes Smartphone Device Recommendations as needed. These recommendations reflect institutional and industry trends but do not necessarily take into account the requirements of specific Schools, departments, or Centers. This article series will provide smartphone recommendations for those looking to upgrade their cellular device to a latest generation smartphone. 

Before making purchasing decisions, administrators, faculty, and staff should always consult with their Local Support Providers (LSPs) to ensure that local requirements are fulfilled. LSPs consider local costs and operational requirements, and are responsible for ensuring that functionality with University-wide systems is maintained as necessary.

Life Cycle

ISC suggests that LSPs adopt an expectation of an 18-24 month life-cycle when making mobile device purchasing decisions for the following reasons:

  • These devices are subject to more day-to-day stresses than a conventional laptop or desktop
  • Rapid development by vendors means that these devices are being improved (and will be made obsolete) at a faster rate than conventional computers
  • The fast release cycles for all carriers mean manufacturers have reduced incentives to provide vital updates for devices more than a year old

Minimum Configurations

ISC suggests that whenever possible, devices should be purchased with the following minimum features:

  • Dual-core or higher processors
  • 16GB of on-board storage
  • "4G" connectivity for cellular devices 

If your school or center is considering a significant quantity of desknote purchases, ISC strongly recommends a consultation to weigh the pros and cons in today's rapidly changing environment (contact Ted Moskalenko in ISC, handheld@isc.upenn.edu).

Google's latest version of Android (4.4), code name Kit Kat, was silently announced on October 31, 2014 on the Android Developer Blog. Kit Kat, along with Android (4.1.x-4.3.x), code name Jelly Bean, comes pre-loaded on many manufacturer flagship devices. ISC recommends purchasing devices that come with the latest version of Android, as it offers significant speed and UX improvements. 

More information on the Android OS can be found here.

Some Android phones to consider:

iOS is Apple's wildly successful mobile platform. iOS has a significant presence on campus in the form of iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices. The platform performs basic tasks very well and has a very robust app store that meets many specific needs. 

iOS 7 announcement

Apple's latest version of iOS, iOS 7, was announced at Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference on June 10, 2013. More information on Apple iOS can be found here.

Apple iPhones to consider:

BlackBerry announced a new OS (BB 10) as well as their new hardware, the full touchscreen Z10 and the thumb keyboard enabled Q10 in January 2013. More details can be found in the Technology Brief: Blackberry 10. As of September 2013, ISC no longer provides the BES (BlackBerry Exchange Server) service, which is required for email synchronization on older BlackBerry devices (such as the Bold, Curve, Torch, etc). We recommend that owners of such devices upgrade to etiher the newer BlackBerry devices, which support Exchange Activesync, or an alternative such as an iPhone or Android-based device.

More information on the BlackBerry OS can be found here.

Some BlackBerry phones to consider:

Windows Phone 8 is a significantly more feature-rich, enterprise-friendly release than Windows Phone 7 devices. As of May 2013, Windows Phone has taken great strides towards establishing itself as the third place contender in the mobile market.

More information on the Windows Phone OS can be found here.

Some Windows Phones to consider:

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Date Posted: June 5, 2013 Tags: Mobile, Android, Apple, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Recommendations, Essentials

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