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(ARA) – Practically everyone you know has one these days, but you haven’t made the leap from your trusty cell phone to the latest craze in mobile technology – the smartphone. You’re not alone, but you might be soon. According to the Nielsen Company, smartphones will overtake regular cell phones in the U.S. by the end of 2011.

If you’re still not convinced, here are a few reasons why you may need a smartphone:

* Put some mobile in your social life. Texting was so last decade. If you feel out of the loop with your friends, it may be that they are busy keeping up with each other on their smartphones. Are you missing out because you have to be at your computer to get Facebook updates? With features like instant messaging, you can chat with just one or a group of friends at the same time. Programs like BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) allow you to “ping” your buddies to start a chat and invite others to join the conversation in real time. You can create different groups -like “Girls Night Out” or “Pick up Sports” to easily coordinate group events. You can even send personal voice notes, images and videos. And with BBM, you can tell if a friend has read your message, or if they’re ignoring you, so you know they got it.

* Satisfy those “need to know now” moments. Smartphones give you the advantage of information at your fingertips. Say you’re out shopping for a new TV or a pair of shoes – you can open your smartphone’s browser or check a shopping app to see whether you are getting the very best deal or if another store nearby has the same item for less. With a smartphone, it’s never been easier to keep informed and up-to-date.

* Keep your life on track. Whether you’re a busy mom, a college student or a rising professional, juggling all your tasks from day to day can be tough. A smartphone with calendar, task manager, document readers and editors, along with thousands of apps, will not only help you keep it together, but keep you entertained during those rare moments of downtime. You can manage your schedule, create a to-do list, listen to your favorite tunes or find out the best place to grab a bite, all while on the go. Many of today’s smartphones also have built-in GPS which not only helps you find your way, but with instant messaging, you can show your friends where to find you.

* Lighten your load and simplify. Tired of carrying a phone, music player, portable GPS and a digital camera? A smartphone packs all of these into one convenient device so you can rid yourself of gadget clutter. Take a picture and instantly post it to Facebook or Twitter. Or share what you’re listening to right now with your BBM group. You can even check out new music with apps like Slacker Radio.

Some additional tips for choosing a smartphone that’s right for you:

* Keypad or touch screen? If you’ve played with both at a store and you’re not sure which you’d prefer, choose one that has both. The BlackBerry Torch seamlessly integrates the benefits of touch screen with the physical keys of a pad.

* Look for long battery life. With all the apps, browsing and multimedia you’ll be consuming, be sure you get a smartphone that’s known for long battery life.

* Don’t forget to accessorize. With all you’ll be doing on your smartphone, a Bluetooth headset will keep your hands free while you talk, chat and browse. It’s also the law in most states that you need to be hands-free if you’re driving.

There’s no doubt 2011 will be the year of the smartphone. Do your homework and get smart as you enter a new mobile world.

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Author: Andy Quayle

Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.

Should his schedule permit, Andy is available to help you with your SEO and Web Analytics needs.