Best smartphone for business 2017: 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.
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 2017
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 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 you'll be on the same platform as your colleagues.
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.
29th March 2017 marked the release of the Samsung Galaxy S8, which you can pick up for a pricey £689, which is more slightly more than the latest iPhone with similar specs. Apple is rumoured to be releasing a new iPhone this year so the difference between the latest iPhone and Samsung offering should grow, depending on what Apple release.
The Galaxy S8 specs are pretty impressive, although not particularly different from that of the S7. It offers a great screen, 4GB of RAM and comes with 64GB of storage as standard, not to mention Bixby, Samsung's answer to Siri or Google Assistant.
You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S8 now, with its official release coming on the 28 April 2017. See here for the hands-on review.
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.
March 2017 saw Apple release a red iPhone 7, created in partnership with RED a HIV/AIDS programmes providing counselling, testing, and medicine. Priced between £699 and £919, this iPhone is only available in 128GB or 256GB models.
4. Best smartphone for business: Windows Phone
At its best Windows Phone combines some of the strengths of iPhone, Android and - yes - BlackBerry. A 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.
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 HP Elite x3 offers high-end specs with nice design features and an all-around good user experience, not to mention an excellent battery life, which for a business user is a massive plus.
Obviously, Microsoft's Window's phones are great Windows options, with the Windows Lumia 950 still providing 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.
It is worth noting that while there are some solid options out there for Window's phones, the platform is quite far behind others in terms of uptake and often specs. However, with the initial release of Windows 10 for mobile, this could all change, particularly for business users.
5. Best smartphone for business: BlackBerry
It's BlackBerry. This company invented secure, mobile communication. 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.
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.
However, if it was me, I'd opt for one of the Blackberry models that run Android, rather than its own OS. Simply because it's better. Or at least the best of both worlds. The DTEK60, for example, offers great security features and has a very good productivity app called BlackBerry Hub, which old school Blackberry fans will like.
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 Android phones, depending on the model, the price could be right and offer great specs. Alternatively, you could go for a Blackberry phone that runs Android to boost security while also taking advantage of the advanced Android platform.
From an IT perspective, Windows and BlackBerry are the best. But your colleagues probably won't thank you if you hand them a Windows Phone. And if you're buying a business phone for yourself, you'll probably want an iPhone, which is a good option, if you're willing to spend the money. 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.
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