Barely five years ago, nobody really knew what a smartphone was. Now it’s almost impossible to picture going through life without our apps, our games, our GPS, our compass, our planner, or our calendar. Smartphones have been so firmly cemented in our lives that it’s no longer a question of whether or not they’ll still be around in 2013: it’s a question of how many models will be available, and what will they all offer?
2013 should offer lots of variety for smartphones, not to mention attractive pricing. Looking to upgrade? Or, heck, thinking of finally netting your very first unit? Here are the 10 hottest smartphones for 2013.
iPhone 5 – Apple’s latest iteration of the iPhone (for now) is sure to have a solid presence through 2013. It’s lightweight, it’s powerful, and games and apps run beautifully within its attractive aluminum casing. The larger screen also presents a pleasing alternative for anyone who doesn’t want to carry a tablet.
iPhone 5 S – Unsurprisingly, rumors about the iPhone 5 S already abound. Whispers mention wireless charging and improved durability (that aluminum casing on the iPhone 5 is attractive, but dang, it scratches up like nobody’s business).
HTC Windows Phone 8X – Maybe 2013 will be the year you grab a Windows phone. The HTC Windows Phone 8X features a variety of styles in addition to an ultra wide-angle front-mounted camera lens, high definition sound, and tons of customization abilities.
Nokia Lumia 920 – Another smartphone that runs on Windows 8, the Nokia Lumia 920 is durable and handsome. It has external storage options, a 7 megapixel camera that performs well even in dim lighting, and the touch screen is still responsive even if you’re wearing gloves—a big selling point for people living in chilly climates.
Samsung Galaxy Note II – The Samsung combines the multitasking power of a tablet with the portability of a smartphone. Its pressure-sensitive “S Pen” stylus helps you get tasks done with finesse and precision that’s not as easy to pull off with your clunky fingers.
Samsung Galaxy S III – If you’re not interested in iOS, the Samsung Galaxy S III is an extremely popular Android-based alternative thanks to its multitude of features, processing power, and attractive design. It’s currently one of the most popular smartphones on the market, and its momentum should continue through 2013 despite buzz-killing lawsuits.
Google Nexus 4 – Google’s Nexus 4 smartphone is optimized for Google apps and games. Needless to say, if you depend on Google Maps, it’s a valuable little machine. You can purchase the phone unlocked and without a contract directly from Google.
Sony Xperia T – Sony’s Xperia T has been nicknamed/marketed as the “Bond Phone” thanks to Skyfall. It has a 13 megapixel rear camera and offers removable storage options, but it can’t incapacitate a man. We’re going to assume that Bond’s personal phone can.
LG Optimus 4X HD – Although it doesn’t look as sleek as the Samsung Galaxy S III, the LG Optimus 4X HD is nearly as powerful thanks to its quad-core processor. Many providers offer the phone at a bargain rate with a contract.
Motorola RAZR I – The Android-powered Motorola RAZR I isn’t as powerful as some of the phones on this list, but it’s still a solid and dependable piece of hardware that offers vital smartphone features—and throws in plenty of frivolous ones, too. Another good option if you’re looking to get a decent phone without spending a fortune.
When you run your own business, organization is key. Your clients won’t be impressed if you lose their commissions under a tangle of files, and your employees especially won’t be impressed if you forget to pay them. Luckily, the best tools and programs for keeping your business organized are cheap. Even better, many of them are free.
From accounting software to social media to task management to plain ol’ foolscap and ball-point pens, here are five of the best tools for organizing your small business.
Outright.com – Need help corralling your finances? Outright is there to help you. You can use Outright to import bank and credit card statements, and generate reports outlining profit and loss. Even better, Outright can provide a running estimate of how much you may owe the taxman at the end of the fiscal year.
GroSocial – Communication via social media is an increasingly effective way to put your business in the public eye. GroSocial can help you spruce up your company’s Twitter and Facebook pages with campaigns, including contests, giveaways, and more.
Google Calendar – Google Calendar provides the ultimate in time management—and it’s free to use as long as you have a Google account. You can use Google Calendar to mark appointments, share event dates, and much more. All your plans and data are stored to the cloud, so you can access it anywhere, anytime, even if your own hard drive decides to have an unfortunate meltdown.
HootSuite – HootSuite lets you manage your social media applications from one dashboard. Keep tabs on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, FourSquare, Google+, and much more with one program. You can also use HootSuite to track your site’s social stats and analytics.
Pens and paper – Sounds a bit silly and primitive, right? Not in the least. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you can’t slap down your ideas or the important points of a phone call on a computer or a smartphone. Always make sure you have a pen and paper nearby. You don’t know when inspiration is going to strike, nor do you know when an especially important bit of information is going to come sailing your way.
For more suggestions on tools and programs that will keep you and your business organized, visit:
10 Helpful Social Management Tools at Business Insider
270+ Tools for Running a Business Online at Mashable
In this tricky economy, it feels like the average worker is constantly teetering on the precipice—a mere shove from falling into a pit seething with wolves. There honestly hasn’t been a better time to consider giving up your corporate obligations and striking out on your own. Of course, talk is cheap and the real world is merciless, but there really are a lot of good reasons why you should start your own business.
Working for yourself and/or starting up your own business can be tricky, but when you hold up the advantages to the current state of your life, you may discover that the benefits actually outweigh the risk. Besides, controlling your destiny is immensely rewarding. Here are five good reasons to start up a business.
A relatively flexible schedule – When you work for yourself, you’re in command of deciding how your time gets spent—especially if you work from home. This makes running your own business ideal if you have a family. Mind, that’s not to say that you work fewer hours when you run your own business; rather, it means that you can shift your day around to suit your social needs, though that might be a little trickier if you run something like a small store. Regardless, you will no longer be beholden to the typical 9-to-5, a nice change of pace if you dislike predictability.
There’s no motivation like being your own boss – People that work in the corporate world often complain about being a “cog in the machine.” They’re not often granted a sense of accomplishment, and they don’t always recognize their work in the final product (provided a final product even comes into fruition). But when you work for yourself, you’re directly in charge of what you do, and what you make. It’s extremely fulfilling to finish up a product or an assignment, then lean back and recognize it as your very own work.
Save money on commuting – Running your own business usually means falling outside the 9-to-5 day, which, in turn, means no more lurching along the highway twice a day during long commutes. You’ll save money on gas and car maintenance—and you’ll feel a lot less stressed out, too.
You’re responsible for your own security – Full-time jobs and job security are shrinking like so much arctic ice. You can’t depend on your employer for a pension, insurance, or bonuses anymore (certainly not for years at a time, as was the case fifty years ago), so you may as well take your fate into your own hands and run into the fray with all of your passion.
Do what you love – You’re presumably not going to start a business just to do something you despise, so there’s your number one motivator: If your run your own show, you can do what you love day in and day out. That’s not to say you’ll never have your off days, but running your own show will go a long way to making you a happier camper.
Need more convincing? Here are more reasons to start up your own business:
10 Reasons to Start a Business This Year at the Wall Street Journal
Top 10 Reasons to Run Your Own Business at Inc.com
10 Reasons to Start Your Own Business at The Business Insider