If you're looking for the mobile phone that will be best for your business, you're not alone. Many entrepreneurs turn great concepts into enterprises, only to realize that their personal handsets are not well-equipped for the job.
Fortunately, BlackBerry isn't the only business smartphone manufacturer around anymore. Now, Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and other makers are all vying for a piece of the lucrative pie, which means the current market offers a wide selection of great enterprise handsets.
On the other hand, having many options can make it difficult to pick out the smartphone that's best for your operation. For that, you'll need to know what a good business phone should have.
Here are the factors to consider when buying a smartphone for productivity.
The physical strengths of a smartphone are essential to business users. When evaluating your options, you may want to consider the size, design, and keyboard, as well as the speaker and camera quality.
Smartphones come in different shapes and forms, which means you'll likely find a few convincing choices, regardless of your size preferences. That said, if you want more from your phone than just the basics, the smartphone-tablet hybrid – better known as a phablet – category is worth a close look.
Large smartphones come with big screens, which can be very beneficial to business users. With a phablet, you will have a pleasantly sizeable display to view and edit documents and browse the web comfortably.
On the flip side, a phablet is unlikely to fit in the average pocket. The best option is to, therefore, look for something that offers the best of both worlds. Phones with displays ranging between 4.7 to 5.2 inches are a good compromise between screen size and portability.
To many users, a smartphone's design has become nearly as important a consideration as size and performance. Therefore, if you're a sucker for the bright and shiny and you want your clients to view you as such, aim for the best-looking device you can find.
However, keep in mind that there are much more important factors to consider. If you're running on a tight budget and can't afford the dazzling Samsung Galaxy S8 or the handsome iPhone 7, don't shy away from considering a less eye-catching but perfectly capable business-friendly device like the OnePlus 3, or the Microsoft Lumia 950.
Physical keyboards are gradually becoming a rarity, but they're still a long way from being rendered obsolete. Many business users prefer physical to touchscreen keyboards because they're ideal for creating and editing documents, as well as sending long emails while on the go.
If you reckon you'll be doing a lot of typing on your new smartphone, a touch-and-type business handset will serve you much better than a full-touch device. The Priv, the Classic, and the recently released KEYone are just a few of the many remarkable touch-and-type gadgets in BlackBerry's line of enterprise smartphones.
4. Speaker and Camera
A good speakerphone is critical for a professional because it ensures a clear exchange of words with partners, suppliers, employees and clients over the phone. It's easy to assume the best of a smartphone's speakers just by looking at its price tag, but to be safe, express your concerns to the store attendant and request to test it out.
The camera may not be a priority for many business users, but if your operation involves a lot of public interaction and social media activity, you may need a smartphone with which you can quickly snap a picture whenever the need arises. Moreover, modern smartphones now come with additional functions that make better use of the camera, such as document scanning and visual search capabilities.
Once you've sufficiently explored the outside of your prospective choices and filtered out the ones that don't hit the nail on the head, it's time to narrow down the options even further, by examining their specs sheets.
Your checklist should include screen resolution, processing power, operating system, storage, and the battery.
1. Screen resolution
Deciding which screen size is best for you is one thing, but for a proper viewing experience, you should also put the quality of the display into consideration.
Business documents and presentations often feature multiple colored charts, a ton of different fonts, and other graphically-intensive elements, all of which are best viewed on a high-resolution screen.
Thankfully, even mid-range devices now come with Full-HD displays, at least, which is the base resolution for business smartphones. If you can afford it, however, stretch a little higher for the current QHD-equipped high-end smartphones, such as the Galaxy S8 and the LG G6.
2. Processing power
Business smartphone users rarely get time to sink back into a couch and have a go at a cool action-packed game, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be fine with a slow phone. The device you pick should be able to handle day-to-day business tasks with ease.
While you can get away with overlooking CPU specifications, pay close attention to the amount of RAM the smartphone offers. Sufficient RAM is essential as it determines how fast apps open and how smoothly multiple processes run simultaneously.
Professionals are rarely working on one thing at a time, so, if you want your smartphone to keep up, you best get one with at least 2GB of RAM, and ideally 3GB or more if you plan on using an Android phone.
3. Operating System
Android, iOS, Windows Phone are all good options when choosing a business smartphone, which means picking a mobile OS will mainly depend on your personal needs and preferences.
For instance, if you plan to use your new phone to connect to company-provided resources, Windows Phone is arguably your best bet.
Because Windows is the most widely used computer operating system in the business world, Windows Phone is the most supported among the three options. It, therefore, offers IT departments an easier time to integrate business-oriented service packs and features such as Microsoft Outlook and Office, compared to the more consumer-oriented Android and iOS platforms.
On the flip side, Windows Phone still lags far behind the two other systems regarding content. If your preferences incline towards productivity applications and web services, Android and iOS are better alternatives. With both platforms come densely populated app stores, whose apps meet a business user's every need; from taking notes and processing documents to managing employee schedules and balancing financial accounts.
iOS is significantly more secure than Android, however, as it's easier to download unapproved apps from the Play Store than the App Store. The trade-off is, of course, the limited smartphone choices, since iOS runs only on iPhones.
Enterprise smartphones usually come with enough storage for business documents and files, but it won't hurt to check if the one you've chosen meets your space requirements. 32GB of internal storage will work fine for most business users, but, if you can, aim higher.
Many new phones lack microSD card slots for expandable memory, but they're a handy feature on the business phones that do have them. Mid-range and entry-level phones often supplement their limited onboard storage with a free microSD slot which can be useful for transferring large data files for work.
Getting a smartphone with the best design, performance, and software won't mean much if it will hardly last more than a few hours. With good battery life, you can stay productive all day long, without the worry of your smartphone emptying up at the wrong time.
For reliable longevity, look for phones whose battery capacity rating is 3,000mAh or higher. The Android-based BlackBerry KEYone, for example, packs an awe-inspiring 3505mAh Li-ion battery and can last three days on a single charge.
If you've made it this far, you're probably as close as ever to making your final business smartphone pick. For utter certainty, however, you can lend a thought to a few extra areas.
For instance, not even the priciest smartphones are invincible. Before you take out your wallet, therefore, inquire about the post-sale services that come with buying the handset. One year warranties are pretty standard, but some manufacturers will offer as much as three years of support.
Lastly, as sophisticated as your new smartphone will be, keep in mind that, at the most basic level, it's still a mobile phone. Don't get so carried away with choosing the handset that you forget about looking into network providers. Instead, do your research to find out which providers offers the best in both cost and coverage.
Additionally, if you make frequent business trips abroad, ensure your provider accommodates international connectivity so that your phone isn't rendered useless when you leave the country.
Businesspeople have a lot to gain from enterprise-grade smartphones. If you don't own one now, it's as good a time as any to set some money aside and start shopping.
Your type of business may require that you emphasize more on some features than others. Nevertheless, the best smartphones are those that offer a decent balance across all functions a professional user will ever need.