HTC’s new Velocity 4G is a wonderful smartphone. A slick implementation of the Android operating system, powerful processor and access to the speedy Telstra 4G network (which is about five times faster than 3G) all add up to an impressive package that will be a very powerful contender for your next handset.
|The HTC Velocity 4G|
But it’s also off the pace in some important respects.
The reason why is that the Velocity 4G is 'merely' a very, very good implementation of smartphones as they have been for a couple of years now. It has a lovely big and bright touch screen, a grid of icons to activate plentiful apps and a very decent camera.
That’s great for consumers and for simple business tasks like email.
But it’s not enough to make the smartphone a computing device you’ll want to use instead of, or alongside, a computer.
Elevating the smartphone to that level is well and truly on the agenda of business computing companies. The likes of Citrix and LogMeIn have long offered to connect your smartphone to your PC and now aspire to use phones more flexibly. VMware and others have now started to devise schemes whereby the smartphone contains a walled-off version of your office PC that mixes in a little cloud magic to bring your apps and documents with you wherever you go. Others have suggested phones that are capable of connecting to a monitor and keyboard so that walled-off PC can replace an actual PC. Another role for these souped-up smartphones is replacing the laptop, at least for those who carry a laptop home or to remote offices.
These new schemes make the smartphone a real alternative to conventional computers.
That’s a welcome alternative because we all carry smartphones but laptop computers still don’t offer a great all-day mobility experience. Poor battery life, very inconsistent performance going in and out of sleep mode (in Windows at least) and lack of widespread integrated mobile broadband make laptops an awkward proposition for mobile workers. Smartphones have better batteries, switch on in a heartbeat and almost never disconnect from fast networks.
If smartphones can be better tuned to the needs of business users for applications beyond email and web browsing there are benefits and savings waiting to be realised, not least by reducing the number of devices a business needs to buy and administer.
Hence my feeling that the Velocity 4G, for all the fine qualities it possesses, is a little off the pace. There are new visions out there for what smartphones can do for business. The Velocity 4G has the internal and network speed to realise those visions, but at present is directed squarely at consumers.
If you’re off contract and want a state of the art phone that is faster than anything you’ve ever experienced, there's little reason not to consider the Velocity 4G. If you want a better way to work that truly takes advantage of the speed of a fourth generation network, wait until HTC or another manufacturer starts to think how to apply the latest thinking about mobility and the post-PC world to the smartphone.