BlackBerry Storm bad choice for businesses

Choose carefully before rolling out smart phones to your mobile workforce; that’s the conclusion of a recent report from independent European test laboratory, Broadband Testing.

The report details the results of independent tests on six of Europe’s most popular high end smartphones, including two from RIM and one each from Apple, Samsung, Nokia and Sony Ericsson. The report reveals significant differences in the phones’ ability to make and sustain voice calls under a range of everyday operating conditions including typical walking and vehicle speeds.

According to Steve Broadhead, founder and director at Broadband-Testing: “These results will have serious implications for any enterprise planning to upgrade to smartphones for its mobile workforce. Dropped calls are irritating enough for the individual user, but when aggregated across an organisation could seriously impact on business user productivity. Until now, failed or dropped calls have typically been blamed on the network, but our test show that matching the handset to the likely operating conditions could make a big difference to your mobile users.”

For the tests a wide range of typical user scenarios – including stationary use as well as moving at pedestrian and at vehicular speeds – were accurately replicated using a Spirent Communications’ 8100 Mobile Device Test System. Testing was carried out under network conditions found at the edge of a cell, as well as during handovers between cells or between 2G and 3G networks.

As well as revealing wide differences in voice call reliability performance, the results showed that no one handset could offer optimal performance in all conditions, and some really struggled to cope under quite common operating conditions.

“With the Spirent testbed we were able to identify which handsets only perform well in relatively static environments, and which have better call reliability performance when used on the move, either by a pedestrian or in a moving car or public transport, for example,” explained Broadhead. “If your mobile workers are likely to be moving frequently between 3G and 2G cells, for example, I’d think twice before recommending the Blackberry Storm. It’s not just the handset, the firmware also matters; the Apple iPhone 3G was tested with both its original 2.0 firmware and the 2.2 upgrade, and the latter turned a smartphone that was almost unusable (as a phone) into one of the best performers in the test!”

Commented Dean Bubley, director with mobile specialist analysts, Disruptive Analysis: “Based on these results I’d say that that not all devices are created equal when it comes to telephony. Developing a methodology to benchmark and discriminate between phones has a broad set of justifications.”

Broadband-Testing believes the requirement for testing not just call reliability but also data and video performance is paramount, and they have established a new division, Mobile Test Labs, to focus on mobile handset performance and related issues and a subscription service is being offered to consumers and businesses alike to identify which handsets are best and in what environments.

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