Best business smartphones: 10 top handsets for work
25th Apr 2014 | 13:15
A round-up of the best smartphones on the market for business users
Best smartphones for business: part 1
Once upon a time there was only one firm on the lips of any business' IT team when it came to company phones – BlackBerry.
A lot has changed since then and BlackBerry's fortunes have taken a turn for the worse, leaving the door wide open for rivals to court the enterprise business.
Now the rest of the pack is hot on its heels, if not already overtaking it, with the likes of Apple, Samsung, Nokia and HTC all vying for a piece of the business pie.
This is great for any potential business buyer, as you now have a wide choice of handsets to choose from, allowing you to select the best phones for your company's requirements.
In no particular order, here are the top 10 smartphones for business use and business users:
HTC One M8
It's been heralded as the "best mobile phone in the world", and rightly so, as the HTC One M8 fuses superb design with excellent functionality.
If you're looking to make a statement the next time you enter a meeting the One M8's full metal body puts it up there with the iPhone 5S in terms of premium style and boardroom presence.
The full HD, 5-inch display is beautiful to look at and the punchy quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM ensures you'll never be short of power.
There are plentiful amounts of bells and whistles on the HTC One M8 and the Android KitKat operating system allows for a wealth of customisation - although HTC has heavily skinned it with its Sense 6 overlay.
You may find that overlay gets in the way of core business functions, so it's worth checking out the HTC One M8 before hand, but if the interface is manageable you'll be more than happy getting this out in meetings.
The One M8 is also HTCpro certified, which adds additional encryption and mobile device management tools to the handset especially for enterprise customers.
- Read: HTC One M8 review
Sony Xperia Z2
If you're looking for something a little more understated, yet still premium and powerful the Sony Xperia Z2 is just the ticket.
A sleek, industrial design coupled with powerful specs including a quad-core processor, 3GB of RAM, 5.2-inch full HD display and an impressive 20.7MP camera means the Xperia Z2 is a high performer all round.
Built in noise cancelling technology means calls will be clearer, and your music tracks crisper when you find yourself in noisy environments.
The Xperia suite of business apps including Email, Calendar and Contacts are also present on the Z2, allowing you to keep working even when you're away from your desk.
Sony has also built in a host of security features for businesses into the Xperia Z2 including device, network and storage security.
- Read: Sony Xperia Z2 review
More and more businesses are turning to Apple's smartphone offerings, and while it produces great looking, powerful devices, they certainly come at a price.
The iPhone 5S is the latest in Apple's line up, and while it only builds fractionally on the iPhone 5 it continues to turn heads in every circle.
Apple offers a wide range of enterprise resources on the iPhone 5S with support for SSL VPN and data protection APIs, enabling third party app makers to produce fully secure solutions.
There's even a fingerprint scanner hidden beneath the home key on the iPhone 5S, adding another layer of security to the handset.
On the topic of apps, the iPhone family is best placed when it comes to business focussed software, with thousands of applications available on the App Store aimed at making work easier - not to mention Apple's own fleet of business software which is now available for free.
You also get Siri, your own personal digital assistant who listens to your voice and brings you whatever you need, from meeting reminders to the latest footy scores.
The iPhone 5S runs Apple's latest software, iOS 7, which features a fresh new look allowing it to keep pace with the rapidly evolving Android platform.
If your company has already upgraded to the iPhone 5 there really is no need to make the switch to the 5S, you're better off waiting for the iPhone 6 at least.
- Read: iPhone 5S review
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
If your budget can't stretch to a fleet of the latest iPhone and the last thing you want is a load of 5-inch+ smartphones stretching jacket pockets and employee's palms then the pint-sized Z1 Compact is the phone for you.
The Xperia Z1 Compact packs in the same power as its bigger brother, the Xperia Z1, but it comes in a smaller package with a 4.3-inch display.
It may not be a full HD display, but the 720p resolution is fine at this size and it means the Z1 Compact is infinitely more pocketable than its high-end Android rivals.
As well as impressive quad-core power and 2GB of RAM the Z1 Compact also features Android KitKat, a 20.7MP rear camera, plus a dust and waterproof chassis.
Not bad for a smartphone which is just a touch larger than the iPhone 5S.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Working on your smartphone is usually problematic due to the restrictive screen, but manufacturers are looking to ease the issues with supersized handsets.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 arrives with a huge 5.7-inch, full HD display and its very own S-Pen stylus, merging the line between smartphone and tablet.
If your business is creatively minded then you may find the accuracy of the S-Pen and the ability to draw a real advantage.
You can also annotate documents, emails and anything else on screen using the stylus, allowing you to provide instant feedback to colleagues.
Multitasking has always been tricky on smartphones, partly due to the screen size and the fact that it's not really possible to have two apps on screen at once.
Samsung has overcome this problem on the Galaxy Note 3 by allowing you to run two apps side by side on the screen, so you could be looking at the latest financials while tapping out a quick email to the shareholders.
Of course, the size of the handset may hamper some as it isn't the most pocket friendly of devices, nor is it the lightest.
Also, some of the applications, especially those designed for use with the S-Pen, are overly complicated in places so intensive training may be required for some staff.
Best smartphones for business: part 2
Nokia Lumia 1520
Fancy a bigger screen and super slick Windows integration? Then the 6-inch Nokia Lumia 1520 has you covered.
The Lumia 1520 has the biggest, highest resolution display of any Windows Phone device and its 2.2GHz quad-core processor also means it's one of the most powerful to rock Microsoft's mobile platform.
Once again you get Microsoft's Office software which sync wirelessly to the cloud, allowing you to easily move work between computer and phone and the increased screen size makes editing easy on the Lumia 1520.
There's little needed in the way of training, as the Windows Phone 8 (soon to be Windows Phone 8.1) interface is incredibly intuitive and doesn't offer up the multitude of confusing options that Android does.
Size and weight were always going to be an issue with the Lumia 1520, but considering it can replace the need for a tablet, and even at times a laptop, for a lot of tasks it's definitely a handset you should be considering.
- Read: Nokia Lumia 1520 review
Samsung Galaxy S5
The Samsung Galaxy S5 has more features than you can shake a stick at, from a fingerprint scanner on the front to a heart rate monitor on the rear.
Its slick Android KitKat interface, responsive and bright 5.1-inch full HD display and powerful quad-core processor means the Galaxy S5 has the vital statistics to make it a great business tool.
Add to that its highly adaptable email and note-taking applications, a host of connectivity options and on-device encryption to make sure all your top secret files are safe and secure, and you'll want to seriously consider this device.
Android is far more adaptable and customisable than Apple's iOS system, meaning that if you have some technical boffins in your ranks you will be able to tweak the Galaxy S5 to suit your firm's exact needs.
The Galaxy S5 also comes with Samsung Knox, a mobile solution built specifically for the business sector to ensure handsets are fully secure, from application and platform security to device management.
- Read: Samsung Galaxy S5 review
If you're still a fan of the traditional QWERTY keyboard on your smartphone the BlackBerry Q10 offers the best on the market.
Fully touchscreen smartphones are great for numerous reasons, but when it comes to the simple task of typing you won't find anything better than a physical array of keys.
With a 3.1-inch 720p touchscreen and the BlackBerry 10 operating system the Q10 is built for business, and it's unlike any BlackBerry handset you've owned before it.
The big advantage with the BlackBerry Q10 is its excellent support for business users.
IT departments can take control of the handset using BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10), with security provided by BlackBerry itself ensuring all your emails and messages are fully encrypted.
The Q10 has a feature known as BlackBerry Balance which allows you to flip quickly between work and personal profiles on the handsets, allowing you to keep the two separate with work controlling the business side while you have full control over your own area.
When it comes to watching videos, playing games or using apps the Q10 isn't quite so useful, as it's square screen makes these exploits rather tricky.
- Read: BlackBerry Q10 review
Google Nexus 5
If you want the best features to price ratio from your smartphones then you'll need to take a look at the Android KitKat running Google Nexus 5.
Manufactured by LG the Nexus 5 sports an impressive 2.3GHz quad-core processor, 4.95-inch full HD display and the latest version of the powerful Android OS all wrapped up in a package which will set you back just £300.
The Nexus 5 is beautifully designed, has more connectivity than a BT Telephone Exchange and even excels in the simple matter of making telephone calls.
It is slightly hampered by only being available in 16GB and 32GB sizes with no microSD slot and the camera isn't the strongest here, but that's a minor issue for a business device.
Perhaps Android isn't the best mobile business solution, and the Nexus 5 lacks the additional enterprise features Samsung has added to its devices. But at such a low price it is definitely worth considering.
- Read: Google Nexus 5 review
The Q10 is still quite expensive, so if you're desperate for a fleet of business focussed handsets which won't break the bank take a look at the mid-range BlackBerry Q5.
It doesn't look as stylish, nor feel as premium as the Q10 and the isolated buttons on the keyboard are very much a marmite feature, but the Q5 is still a highly capable smartphone.
With the same 3.1-inch 720p display, 2GB of RAM, BlackBerry 10 OS and 4G connectivity as its more expensive brother the BlackBerry Q5 will still make mincemeat of your emails, text messages and BBMs.
Another big advantage of all BB10 handsets are their web browsing ability - pages load in a matter of seconds and it's one of the most fluid surfing experiences you'll have on a smartphone.
As far as affordable smartphones go with a focus on messaging, internet and business the BlackBerry Q5 is one of the best in its class.
- Read: BlackBerry Q5 review