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Field Guide to Choosing & Using a Smartphone

(Updated July 2014)

Do you need a smartphone to get organized? What features do you need? How do real estate professionals use smartphones? Find out the answers to these questions and much more in the following articles and websites.

The definition of smartphone varies widely, but is generally defined as a cellular or mobile phone that is enhanced with computer technology functions such as internet and email access, personal digital assistant tools, handwriting recognition, and more. (Oxford English Dictionary, smartphone n.)  (K. Stockert, Information & Web Content Specialist)


Q - ProQuest articles available for NAR members only. Password can be found on the ProQuest/Find Articles page.


Credit: Flickr user Highways Agency


REALTORS®' Use of Smartphones

86% of REALTORS® reported daily use of smartphones with wireless email and Internet capabilities, (Source: Exhibit 1-13, National Association of REALTORS®’ 2013 NAR Member Profile).

“[In 2013] more than half of REALTORS® now use Apple iPhones. iPhone use among REALTORS® continues to increase and is now at 52% from 45% in 2012. Android use has decreased slightly to 36%, while Blackberry continues to drop and is at 3% from 5%. Virtually all REALTORS® (93%) now use smartphones of some kind in their businesses.”

Source: Center for REALTOR® Technology, 2013-14 REALTOR® Technology Survey Report.


Why Use a Smartphone?

Perhaps you choose life without a smartphone out of principle, maybe the thought of learning a new gadget seems more trouble than its worth, or  possibly it is time for you to trade in an older cell or smartphone for a newer model; whatever your current reason for investigating smartphones, the articles below offer a foundational knowledge of what they are, why people use them, and how they can benefit you in both your professional and personal lives.

The Iterative Smart Home is Here, (Bits & Bytes, Jan. 16, 2014).

Smartphone Ownership 2013, (Pew Research, Jun3 5, 2013).

A Guide to Deciphering the Language of Smartphones, (New York Times, May 30, 2012).

Ounce of Prevention, (American Agent & Broker, Aug. 2011). Q

Feeling Threatened? How to Use Your Smartphone as a Weapon, (REALTOR® Magazine, July 2011). 

Mobile phones poised to become mobile wallets: NFC technology would allow users to pay for purchases using smartphones, (B to B, May 2, 2011). Q


Choosing & Buying a Smartphone

Perhaps you are ready to acquire your first smartphone or replace an existing one. There are so many options: where do you start? The articles and multi-media below will help guide you through the shopping and review to process.

Souped-up Smartphones, (REALTOR® Magazine, May 2014).

4 Ways to Keep Your Smartphone’s Battery Healthy, Happy and Juiced Up, (Yahoo! Tech, Jan. 7, 2014).

Goin’ Mobile, (ABA Journal, Feb. 2014). Q

Buyer's Guide: 2013 Smartphones, (REALTOR® Magazine, May 2013)

Best smartphones, (CNET Reviews, Dec. 5, 2012).


Smartphones and Real Estate

Now you know what smartphones are and how they can supplement your personal and professional lives. But how can they complement the work of REALTORS®?

Real Estate Tech: Building a Mobile Presence, (Realty Biz News, July 3, 2014).

Quirky to Create a Smart-Home Products Company, (New York Times, June 22, 2014).

10 Best Smartphones for Real Estate Agents, (Realty Biz News, June 19, 2014).

Your Guide to Mobile Social Media: Phone and Tablet Strategies for Twitter, Facebook, and More, (TNW, June 14, 2014).

Title Insurance App from Realogy Subsidiary TRG Helps Agents Work with Buyers and Sellers, (Inman, June 10, 2014).

Tech Tools that Help Real Estate Agents Get More Sales, (Examiner, May 30, 2014).

Controlling the ‘Smart Home’ with Tables and Smartphones, (New York Times, Mar. 27, 2013).

12 Tech Tools to Make Your More Mobile, (REALTOR® Magazine, Jan. 2014).

Warnings About Smartphone Damage in Cold, (REALTOR® Magazine, Jan. 24, 2014).

REALTOR® Membership Guide & Card App

REALTOR®.com Mobile Apps

New Apps to Post Videos with Ease, (New York Times, May 4, 2011)

Check out the Center for REALTOR® Technology’s Bits & Bytes Blog for smartphone and other tech trends and tips:


Smartphones: Security

Smartphones Embracing ‘Kill Switches’ as Theft Defense, (New York Times, June 19, 2014).

Data Security Heats Up: Are Your Ready? (REALTOR® Magazine, Jan. 2013).

Your Smartphone's Web Browser May Be at Risk, (REALTOR® Magazine, Oct. 17, 2011).

Smartphone Malware on the Rise, What You Should Know - Infographic, (AGBeat, Aug. 18, 2011).

4 Ways to Keep Your Phone Safe from Hackers, (REALTOR® Magazine, July 29, 2011).


Additional Resources

Social Media websites like Technorati.com can also provide access to user reviews and opinion about smartphones. Technorati is a search engine that searches within blogs. Keep in mind that blogs are opinion pieces that anyone in the world can compose, technology expert and dilettante alike. Technorati's technology page is accessible here.

Consumer Reports offer product reviews, ratings, specifications, and comparisons. Access Consumer Reports online via the NAR Library by following these steps:

  1. Search ProQuest (use the password "realtor").
  2. From ProQuest, click Publications at the top of the page.
  3. In the text box type consumer reports and click Search.
  4. Once results have loaded, click the Consumer Reports hyperlink.
  5. To view all Consumer Reports articles, click Search, or to search for a specific product or kind of product, type the product name in the text box, such as Smart phones and then click Search.

CNET.com is similar to Consumer Reports in that the CNET editors review numerous cellphones, smartphones, computers, and a diversity of other technologies. The editors often create short video reviews of products along with a textual review, star rating, and product specifications. These reviews are supplemented by reviews and ratings from members of the public. CNET is a property of CBS Interactive. The web page for CNET's cellphone reviews can be found here.

PCWorld Magazine and PCWorld.com also offer a diversity of product reviews, specifications, ratings, forums, articles, and more. To access PCWorld's phone reviews, click here.


Research on Your Own

To search for the most recent articles on this topic, visit ProQuest and enter subject terms such as:

Commercial real estate: Enter into ProQuest text box as su(commercial) AND su(real estate)

Information Savvy!

Many websites, such as Wikipedia, can be great resources to quickly get oriented on a subject before conducting more in depth research. However, anyone in the world can create and maintain a website or write a seemingly legitimate article and may, intentionally or unintentionally, publish false or "misinformation." When reviewing information on the Internet, you should always consider the ABC's:

  • Accuracy. Is the information accurate? Can you confirm the same information using other resources published by a different author or organization?
  • Author. Who composed the information? Can you easily identify the author and contact the author or website publisher?
  • Bias. What bias might the author or author organization have?
  • Credibility. What is the author’s or author organization’s credentials for publishing the information? What expertise, experience, or education does the author have in this area that makes him or her qualified to write on the subject matter?
  • Critical Eye. When was the web page last updated? Is it possible the information might have changed since this web page was last published?
  • use your discretion and critical eye to determine whether information you find on the web (or even in books and news sources!) is trustworthy. Putting websites to the ABC test will get you started in developing a strong critical eye.

eBooks & Other Resources

eBooks.realtor.org

The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

Mobile Phones and Mobile Communications (Kindle and Adobe eReader)

Blackberry For Dummies (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

How to Do Everything iPod®, iPhone® & iTunes® (Adobe eReader)

How to Do Everything with Your iPhone® (Adobe eReader)

Professional iPhone and iPod touch Programming Building Applications for Mobile Safari (Kindle, Adobe eReader)

Field Guides & More

These Field Guides and other resources in the Virtual Library may also be of interest:

Field Guide to Digital Cameras & Photography

InfoCentral Blog


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The inclusion of links on this field guide does not imply endorsement by the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR makes no representations about whether the content of any external sites which may be linked in this field guide complies with state or federal laws or regulations or with applicable NAR policies. These links are provided for your convenience only and you rely on them at your own risk.