by Sarah K. White

9 enterprise-ready consumer smartphones

Oct 23, 2015
AppleConsumer ElectronicsIT Leadership

If you need a smartphone for both personal and professional use these nine mobile devices serve double-duty.

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone that you can also use for work, there is more to consider than form factor, specs and design. For example, in addition to workplace productivity, you need to consider security. Bringing your own device to work creates a number of security risks, and companies have increased their focus on BYOD now that more than 40 percent of employees use their own devices at work. If you have a device that already offers some safeguards, it can make IT’s job easier.

So what phones excel in the workplace? Here are nine consumer smartphones that are also enterprise-savvy.

Apple iPhone 6S

Nearly every generation of the Apple iPhone has made the list of top consumer smartphones, and that hasn’t changed with the iPhone 6S. But the 6S isn’t just a consumer smartphone, it’s also a good choice for the enterprise. Apple’s acceptance in the enterprise is a relatively recent occurrence, especially compared to Blackberry’s former hold in the mobile enterprise. Much of Apple’s rise in the enterprise relates to its perception as a high-end and user-friendly device. As more people adopted iOS, and subsequently started bringing their iPhones to work, Apple started to include more compatibility with common corporate software, like Microsoft Outlook.

The iPhone makes a great enterprise smartphone for many of the same reasons it makes a great consumer smartphone. Not only is it an attractive and well-built device, it’s hard to get into too much trouble with malware from sketchy apps thanks to Apple’s tight hold on its App Store. Apple also built in a number of security features beyond the passcode and biometric fingerprint scanner. It features Apple Pay, encryption, data protection, network security, app security and the capability to remotely wipe a device clean. You can find more details at the iOS security guide.

Besides the tight security measures built into the iPhone 6S and iOS 9, the phones features Apple’s A9 chip and a 4.7-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 326 ppi. If you have a PC at work or at home, you can also download cross-platform apps to keep you in sync, no matter what computer you’re working on. Alternatively, if you have a Mac for work or personal use, there are many compatibility features between iOS and OSX, which let you access many of the features of your smartphone on your computer.

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iPhone 6S Plus

iPhone 6S Plus has the same features as the 6S, but in a larger package. You’ll get the same security measures, biometric fingerprint scanner, Siri voice assistant and access to the Apple App Store with the iPhone 6S Plus. Where it shakes things up is with its 5.5-inch 1080p IPS LCD display, which boasts a display resolution of 401ppi. A phablet can be a great option if you like to travel light for work — rather than carry around a tablet, notebook and smartphone. With the iPhone 6S Plus you can stick to one easy-to-use device.

With the larger display and high resolution, it’s easy to keep up on email, read articles and edit documents without reaching for your notebook or tablet. It also features Apple’s new 3D touch technology – also found on the iPhone 6S – which is a feature you won’t find on a non-iOS device. With 3D touch, you can preview emails, calendar appointments and more just by holding down on an app icon. That way, you don’t have to navigate into an app directly to find what you’re looking for. The 6S Plus is a great option if you’ve had your eye on phablets, but want to stay in the Apple ecosystem, especially if you have your eye on an Apple Watch.

Related Story: 11 reasons you should upgrade to Apple’s iPhone 6s

Samsung Galaxy S6

Android might be gaining in enterprise adoption, but it’s still rare to see a work-issued Android device. Samsung traditionally hasn’t marketed its devices as enterprise-ready, but that’s changed with the Galaxy S6, which has a ton of baked-in corporate-ready features. And with the birth of Samsung Enterprise, the company is establishing its mobile brand in business. In fact, one of the main features that Samsung touts for the enterprise is the capability to publish custom apps without going through the App Store, which can help companies get enterprise apps up and running faster.

The Galaxy lineup also includes Samsung Knox, a security feature aimed specifically at letting enterprise and personal data coexist on one device. It’s a part of Samsung’s SAFE offerings, which stands for “Samsung Approved for Enterprise.” It’s been accepted by government agencies, as well as businesses, and even has the NSA seal of approval. Knox partitions your Android device, so you can toggle Samsung Knox on and off to access your enterprise data. Your personal and corporate data stay separate, which means both can be protected individually. For example, IT can wipe your phone remotely and erase only what’s behind Knox, and alternatively, IT can’t see anything outside of Knox. Not only will your corporate data stay protected, so will your personal data.

Besides the enterprise features, the Samsung Galaxy S6 also offers some unique options you won’t find on an iPhone. Wireless charging, for one, lets you park your mobile on a charging pad instead of tethering it to the wall. And as more wireless charging furniture finds its way into airports and coffee shops, you won’t have to worry about your phone battery dying on the go.

The Android operating system also offers more flexibility and customization options than iOS devices, even with Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay. TouchWiz’s reputation suggests you’ll either love it or hate it, but Samsung has made an effort to reduce some imposing features from the Android skin. Android widgets also let you park your to-do list, calendar, emails, messages, weather, and nearly any app you can think of on your home screen, and you can even customize multiple home screens to flip through. It also offers a slightly larger display with a higher resolution than the iPhone 6S, at 5.1 inches and a resolution of 577ppi, so if you aren’t ready for a phablet but want a something a little bigger than the 6S, the Galaxy S6 offers it.

Finally, with Samsung SideSync, you can also keep your smartphone synced with your PC, allowing you to receive notifications, answer calls, share files, respond to texts and access a number of features on your phone directly from your computer. You can even screen-share with your PC, so that you can fully access your smartphone display right on your computer. That means, you won’t have to break your concentration to respond to a notification on your mobile device.

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Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus

If you’re looking for a high-end device that offers a unique take on smartphones, check out the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, which has a curved glass screen and an oversized display.

The Galaxy S6 Edge Plus has all the security features found in the Galaxy S6, but what makes it unique is its curved design. With the edge functionality, you can surreptitiously view notifications without having to unlock your device and blatantly look at the device. This can come in handy if you’re in a meeting with a client, and you don’t want to appear rude if you need to check a notification. You can just swipe along the side of the phone and notifications will subtly pop up, without distracting anyone or lighting up the entire display.

It is big, with a 5.5-inch display and a resolution of 401ppi, but that’s just more real estate to keep up on the latest news, check emails and edit documents on the go. And with 4GB of RAM, you won’t have to worry about multitasking or lag while multitasking. The large display also makes the multi-feature more convenient since it lets you minimize windows so they aren’t left floating on the home screen while you access other apps or windows.

Alternatively, if you like the idea of the curved display, but not the size, you can opt for the Galaxy S6 Edge, which is the same size as the S6, but also has the curved edges.

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Lumia 950

Microsoft announced this month a slew of Windows 10 devices that have impressed an often finicky tech world. And while the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book are making waves in the notebook world, the Lumia 950 Windows 10 phone hopes to offer something new in a sea of Android and iOS devices. The 5.2-inch device features an OLED display with a resolution of 565 ppi and packs a Snapdragon 808 64-bit Hexa-core processor, 3GB of RAM, expandable storage up to 2TB with a microSD card and Qi wireless charging.

With Windows Hello, you’ll also get unique security features across all of your Windows 10 devices, as long as the device has a fingerprint scanner or a front-facing camera that supports the technology. With Hello, your device will not only recognize your fingerprint, but also your face and iris. You can ditch the password and still retain the enterprise-grade security you need at work.

What sets the Lumia 950 apart is Microsoft’s Continuum, which lets you hook the smartphone up to an external device, keyboard and a mouse with the Microsoft Display Dock. It’s a small square hub that features a USB Type-C, HDMI and DisplayPort as well as three full USB ports. Since Windows 10 is more or less the same across devices, you can enjoy a near full-desktop experience on your phone. This is an appealing option if you’re on the road a lot and want to travel light.

The desktop experience is a little different from the native Windows 10 desktop, and your Start menu will still be there, but it will include all of your mobile tiles. Every Windows 10 PC app that you use on your desktop will look the same on your mobile device, so Microsoft Office, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote will be the same in Continuum.

Lumia 950 XL

Lumia 950 XL has the same Windows 10 features as the 950, but with a 5.7-inch Quad HD display, 551 ppi resolution, and octa-core processor. Microsoft even advertises the device as a “phone that works like your PC,” letting you sync across devices. It has the same high-resolution display as the Lumia 950, but the processor is a little faster, which will come in handy if you plan to use this device with Microsoft Continuum. The biggest decision you’ll have to make between the two options boils down to size, since both offer a premium design and build.

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The LG G4 is another appealing Android option for the enterprise. Featuring a 5.5-inch display, a resolution of 538 ppi, replaceable battery, expandable memory and a replaceable back, it offers a level of flexibility not found in many currently available devices. LG also announced in August that the LG G4 passed the NSA’s National Information Assurance Partnership test and earned its security certificate. That means the LG G4 meets government security requirements, so it should be on par with most enterprise security measures.

It achieves this security thanks to LG Gate, which offers platform security, network security, application security and mobile device management. It also supports Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync, so you can keep your corporate email on your device and feel assured that it’s secure.

Beyond its high-end security measures, the LG G5 also offers some options that will appeal to consumers looking for a sleek business-ready phone. You can swap out the back plate for alternate colors and different textures — even leather. It features a curved design, which is designed to fit nicely in your hand as well as reduce glare outdoors.

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Nexus 6

The darling of Android purists everywhere, Google’s Nexus 6 device, designed by Motorola, is a 6-inch smartphone that boasts some impressive features. The phone’s size places it in the phablet category. Motorola made great use of the screen real estate, however, with a thin bezel and a resolution of 493ppi.

The Nexus 6 comes equipped with encryption by default and multiple-user support with Samsung Knox. Since it includes Knox, you can get enterprise-level security but in a non-Samsung Android device. So if you want to avoid TouchWiz, but love the security Knox offers, the Nexus 6 is a great compromise.

What makes the Nexus devices unique is that they offer a pure Android experience. That means, unlike devices from companies like Samsung, neither Google nor Motorola creates a skin on top of Android to alter it. You can get an Android experience the way Google designed it. It also means that you’ll receive the latest Android updates first, so you’ll never have to sit around waiting to get the latest software. It’s popular with developers, and anyone who needs to work closely with Android. So if you find yourself dealing with Android apps frequently, or testing products on an Android ecosystem, it’s a great consumer phone that can work for you in the enterprise.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 5

If you use your smartphone more than your laptop for taking notes, scheduling meetings, reading articles and reviewing documents, the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 might be for you. It’s a high-end device that meets both consumer and enterprise needs. It comes equipped with the Galaxy S Pen, which is compatible with a number of apps. It has a 5.7-inch display with a resolution or 518 ppi, so you’ll have no problem flying through your inbox or editing a spreadsheet whether you’re waiting for a meeting to start or flying cross country. It’s also built for multitasking, with an Exynos 7420 64-bit octa-core professor and 4GB of RAM.

You’ll get all the same security features you’ll find on other Galaxy devices, including Samsung Knox, wireless charging, Samsung Pay, multi-window capabilities, split-screen apps and more. It’s also optimized for the S Pen, so if you love using a stylus, it will not disappoint. The S Pen is also handy if you find yourself regularly signing documents or contracts, since you can do it directly on the screen using the stylus pen. You won’t have to wait to get back to the office.

There’s also the optional keyboard case if you’re nostalgic for the dedicated keyboard on your old Blackberry devices. The only difference is that you can remove this keyboard or move it to the back of the device when it’s not in use. And if you’re on the road and need to rely on a sturdy charge, the Note 5 should last you all day with a 3,000mAh battery cell. It also supports quick charging, just like the S6 devices, so you can get the most out of just a 20- or 30-minute charge. You’ll also have access to SideSync, which is available across all of the latest Galaxy devices.

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