Today we’re featuring a battle of office suites and we get to see which suite is better and for whom. I was planning to do a three way comparison between QuickOffice, Smart Office and Microsoft Office Mobile, but the Nokia Belle variant of MS Office is just below par and cannot be compared with the other two, so including it in the review would have been a waste of time. Plus MS Office has only SkyDrive integration which means no Google Docs or Dropbox and that for me is a buzz kill. This review will be centered mostly on Word document editing and a little Excel part too. Why? Because any way you look at it, PowerPoint presentations are painful to work with on such small screens(yes even a 4 incher is small for PowerPoint).
QuickOffice vs Smart Office
Let’s start with the initial impressions.
Smart Office is quick. I mean really quick. It opens document files faster than your email client opens a mail. It’s that quick. The user interface is very fast and very intuitive with advanced options hidden away. Everything about Smart Office is about touch and gestures. It was born for touchscreens. Viewing a document is a breeze. Zooming in and out it very fast and sharp. The text reflow option available for the document viewer is a must for every editor out there. Besides being a very quick editor viewer, Smart Office is also well connected. It integrates Google Docs and Dropbox directly into the Smart Office file browser.
Quickoffice does not impress with blazing speeds or very intuitive interface, but there is something about it that screams professionalism. The user interface is a bit sluggish at times, but that is because it is at the same time a viewer and an editor. I’ll get back to that later. Quick office is also very well connected, supporting Google Docs, Dropbox, Box and SugaSync. As far as documents in the cloud goes Quick office wins the day. Quickoffice also has text reflow on the editor which comes in handy on a small mobile display. Of course that doesn’t mean you can’t see the entire print preview, that option being available in the context menu.
Smart Office supports Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files while Quickoffice supports only Word, Excel and PowerPoint. However Quickoffice can be complemented by Adobe LE Reader developed by the same company. I was able to open most office files with both suites with a few exceptions. Quickoffice was not able to open some Excel files created by Microsoft Mobile Office while Smart Office did and Smart Office was not able to open any Excel files from Google Docs while Quickoffice did.
Viewer and Editor
I for one prefer to open PDF files with Smart Office because it displays them faster. On the documents side I prefer Quickoffice because of the ease of writing documents. Both apps offer text reflow for documents. You no longer have to zoom in and out to properly see the contents of your document, instead it gets reformatted to fit your screen. This is a technique mostly used in modern web browsers to help people experience web sites on the go. The same principle applies here but with documents.
When it comes to viewing office files people have their own preferences. Some like to see the full print layout while others prefer the readable view that text reflow allows. Both apps allow both views but have different defaults. For example Smart Office opens all documents by default in the print layout view allowing reflow after the document is opened, while Quickoffice works the other way around, first opening the reflow layout and later seeing a print preview. It’s really about what you prefer.
When you need to edit your documents with Smart Office you have to place you cursor where you want to insert text and then press the Edit button in order to insert new text. A full screen edit box is then opened and you can insert your text there, but you do not see the rest of the document, just the new text you are inserting. That can be a bit frustrating for people who use hardware QWERTY phones such as the E7 or the E6. With Smart Office you have to format your text after you insert it. The text reflow function of Smart Office works very well, even when zooming in and out, but I would have liked to see an option to use the reflow by default. Instead you have to activate the function every time you open a different document and that’s just silly.
Quickoffice takes a completely different alternative by placing a keyboard button in the middle of the Belle toolbar. Place your cursor anywhere inside the document, press the keyboard button and just start typing. This way you see your document as you change it. This is why I like editing files with Quickoffice way better than with Smart Office.
If you need a office software suite that can view files perfectly and need little to no editing of your files then Smart Office will surely meet your needs. The price can also be a factor here since Smart Office costs a quarter of what Quickoffice will set you back. However, if you need serious document editing on the go, then Quickoffice is the clear winner here. On a side note, users of N-series and E-series phones will already have Quickoffice installed, all the need is an update to the latest version.
I like Quickoffice better because it is optimized for mobile use. Starting with the big buttons welcoming screen, continuing with the large list items file explorer list and on to the default mobile(reflow) view of the documents, Quickoffice is designed to be used on the go. With Quickoffice’s user interface you can check your documents even when you are behind the wheel(not driving of course) since the UI elements are large enough to use with one hand. On the other hand Smart Office’s browser displays smaller text and thinner fonts and the default view is print view, which makes it unusable in your car. If that’s one of the decision factors in a purchase think about that one too.
Some people asked me how I can edit documents on my N8 touch screen without smashing my phone to the ground in frustration. Well you can’t with the default Belle keyboard, but once you use the Nokia Beta Labs version of the Swype keyboard things change. I used to think that I needed a physical keyboard to properly write reviews, but I was turned by the progress that Swype made in the last period. Remember that you need to download the Swype version from Beta Labs, the one existing in the Nokia Store is a pain to use. Who said the N8 can’t be a great business phone?