Best smartphone for business: Android vs iPhone vs Windows Phone vs BlackBerry - what phones should I buy for my business?
What is the best smartphone for business? We examine cost, value, security and more, to uncover the best phone for business users - from the perspective of the IT pro. It's Android vs iPhone vs Windows Phone vs BlackBerry to uncover the best business phone.
We examine the best business smartphone offerings for those wanting to kit out their whole team or organisation and IT pros just wanting a new phone with epic business capabilities.
Read next: Best tablet for business 2016
1. Best smartphone for business: What to consider
There are a few things that business users should consider when choosing a smartphone. Functionality, design and security will definitely influence your decision but there are also a lot of other important factors that need to be addressed before a purchase is made.
It’s important for a smartphone’s processing power to be relatively high as most business tasks will require more data processing than a standard consumer would require. Business users should look for smartphones using the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 range or equally for Apple users, the iPhone 7 or even 6 Plus will offer one of Apple's latest processors which will have enough power to run a wide range of business tasks.
Business users should also consider battery life as a lot of Android and Windows phones offer removable batteries which can be swapped out for bigger ones, unlike iPhones. Phone storage is also a must when considering a phone for business use, but this is mostly reflected in its price. Those wanting more storage will have to pay for it if they’re opting for an iPhone but for those choosing an Android device, additional storage can be inserted for a lot less money.
The right operating system is probably one of the first things you should consider when choosing a smartphone. The four main OS' we look at are Windows, Apple OS, Android and Blackberry. The software in use on your work PC may influence your decision and the security benefits of certain OS’ over others may also impact your choice. Either way, being confident in the OS of your business phone will ultimately result in a more productive, mobile you. Or at least that’s the plan.
2. Best smartphone for business: Android
On the face of it Android seems the best choice. In terms of value and choice Android does beat its competitors - the OEM/platform model means that prices drop faster on Androids, and you could fit out your entire office with £90 Androids, or offer each staff member their choice of Samsung, HTC, LG, Huawei and more. Plus, if your office primarily runs on Google applications, Android will work perfectly with your cloud provider.
One challenge for Android is security due to its very open nature. With an office full of Google phones it is all-but impossible to control what information is accessible outside the building. And with a plethora of Android OSes in the wild, you have no way of making sure the entire fleet is on the same platform, never mind up to date. But if you are equipping your office with smartphones, unless you use Google Docs, there may be better options.
There are some great Android options out there, the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge offer great displays, compatibility with all USB powered peripherals and can be upgraded to a bigger storage model by just adding an additional SD card. Android devices are customisable, and compatible with an array of Google tools such as Google Docs, Analytics and Google Drive.
Compared to the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S7 does offer longer battery life and the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge provides a bigger screen to rival iPhone 7 plus users, this also means that there is more room for a bigger battery, perfect for nomad business users.
3. Best smartphone for business: iPhone
The iPhone remains the benchmark in terms of high-quality hardware, and app store support. iPhones do what iPhones do - they offer a quality smartphone experience.
Generally Apple is expensive, but you get what you pay for. With the iPhone that simply isn't true. Myriad rival products offer better or similar hardware for much less. If you opt for an iPhone and it seems to be Apple's way or no way, which means that you have to bend your other products to the iPhone, not the other way around (not for nothing is the iPhone know as Apple's access drug). Most importantly, and IBM relationship notwithstanding - you can't manage a fleet of iPhones. If that phone is lost, so is the data on it.
With the release of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus earlier this year, some loyal iPhone users will automatically opt to upgrade to the latest model. However, Apple business users will prefer the bigger screen that the latest iPhone has to offer. Alternatively, business users could opt for a slightly older version of the iPhone, maybe the iPhone 6 which could save money while ensuring the core functionality is still very good.
4. Best smartphone for business: Windows Phone
There are a surprisingly large amount of good things about Windows Phones. At its best Windows Phone combines some of the strengths of iPhone, Android and - yes - BlackBerry. Value is an Android-like high point. And because only Microsoft and HTC make Windows Phones, they are all guaranteed high quality. Most importantly, like BlackBerry, Windows Phone is designed to be used in a business context. You can centrally manage a fleet of Windows Phones, so you can ensure updates happen and lost devices don't lead to lost data.
You don't get much choice in the Windows world. Until (or unless) third-party OEMs back Windows Phone, there will be only a few handsets from which to choose. And it is unlikely your colleagues will love you for handing them a Windows device. Plus, from a BYOD perspective it is unlikely you need to worry about Windows Phone unless you purchase them yourself, so you may be creating work for yourself. But from a business perspective, that really is it.
For businesses using Microsoft software, Windows 10 for mobile provides great compatibility, up-to-date security features, and the ability for system administrators to manage a fleet remotely. When opting for a Windows Phone, there are a couple that stand out. The Windows Lumia 950 provides great functionality and an interface that naturally lends itself to business. What’s more, users can purchase a Windows Continuum which easily connects their Windows phone to a monitor, meaning a PC is not needed to work on a larger screen.
5. Best smartphone for business: BlackBerry
It's BlackBerry. This company invented secure, mobile communication. You can install BesX for free and run a fleet of BlackBerries from the safety of your server room. And if you opt for the BlackBerry Priv or one of the DTEK series, you could have the best of all worlds - BlackBerry security and privacy with Android fun.
Although they offer good value, BlackBerries aren't cheap. The Priv, for instance, can cost more than the equivalent iPhone - and that is expensive. App support isn't great, either, so your BlackBerry is unlikely to seamlessly integrate with your choice of cloud provider. Finally, BlackBerry is unlikely to have a long future as a standalone company. Do you really want to commit to a platform that could be subsumed into Windows or even a proprietary vendor?
What’s more, the BlackBerry Classic and BlackBerry Passport are still good offerings. As we all know BlackBerry phones are tailored for business use, offering, enterprise level security, hardware keyboards, MDM, emails and the ability to easily edit detailed spreadsheets.
See also: iPad Pro vs Surface Pro for business
6. Best smartphone for business: the verdict
If it is my company and you are spending my money I want you to buy Windows Phones. Your colleagues will likely not thank you, but Windows is a fine phone platform, the price is right and it works from a security point of view for businesses of every size. From an IT perspective Windows and BlackBerry are the best. But your colleagues will want Android, or most likely iPhone. There is an argument for Android in terms of price, variety and ability to play nicely with Google. With Apple let's see what happens with its stated aims of working with IBM to be more enterprise friendly. But for now if it was my business I would avoid.
See also: Best tablet for business 2016
BlackBerry deployments could be maintained, or phased out more slowly
BlackBerry said that its devices could now be managed using third-party mobile device management applications
Launches partnerships with Samsung, Salesforce, officially releases BES12