A trip to a fall farm show is an education in what farmers are using to communicate. Just five years ago the sight of a farmer pulling a smartphone from his pocket was rare. Today they’re as commonly used as tractors and other essential equipment. And every fall, there’s a slew of new smartphones that hit the market, creating opportunity for improvement and confusion.
Yet the rising need to keep up with email, market trends and selling opportunities also means you need access to information more readily than in the past. And most of the key information sources these days have also retuned their services to better serve the rising mobile audience.
In fact, the Farm Industry News website and twice-weekly e-newsletter are now designed to work not only on your desktop computer, but also from your phone.
Yet what are the key smartphone factors to consider when buying? The choices come down to: 1. Operating system; 2. Phone size.
First, the operating systems for the most popular cellphones come in two classes: iOS and Android. If you choose iOS, your phone choices are Apple — that’s it. Only Apple products run iOS, so an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus may be in your future.
Apple just launched the 6s and 6s Plus in time for the fall shopping season, and early order indications show that the phone is as popular as ever. In addition, the company has come up with its own payment plan, where you can buy the phone from Apple and determine your carrier — which may work great for farmers with wide-ranging cell coverage choices.
If you prefer Android, you get a lot more choices. Samsung is pushing two hot new phones, the Galaxy S6 and the Edge. The S6 is a larger-screen smartphone that has a crystal-clear screen and a high-resolution camera. The Edge offers a stylus for more interaction with the unit.
If you want choice in phones you’ll find more than Samsung with product. Motorola, HTC, LG and others offer a range of phone choices. You have to know what you want.
Second, phones are getting bigger. The iPhone 6s Plus features a larger screen, as does the Samsung S6. If you want more screen space, consider moving up to a bigger phone. That’s a very personal choice.
Key factors to consider once you’ve chose the phone itself:
* System memory — the short answer is the higher the better; pictures and other files you may need for your farm can take up a lot of space.
* Camera definition — in most cases 10 megapixels will serve you, though if you want higher-resolution photography from your phone — perhaps for scouting? — think more megapixels.
* Battery life — a running challenge for these phones. Given that a high-end smart phone is probably good for about eight to 10 hours, your best bet is to have a charger in the tractor or combine.
Your cellular carrier, which can be quite regional, will have a range of options. Not all carriers have access to the iPhone line, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have a solid choice of high-performing Android phones from which to choose.
Decision Time is independently produced by Penton Agriculture and brought to you through the support of Case IH. For more information, visit beready.caseih.com.