Best business smartphones: 10 top handsets for work
16th Dec 2013 | 12:20
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 (formerly known as Research In Motion or RIM).
BlackBerry is still a big player in the enterprise market but the rest of the pack is hot on its heels, with the likes of Apple, Samsung, Nokia and HTC all eager to get a piece of the business pie.
In no particular order, here are the top 10 smartphones for business use and business users:
We're kicking off our top 10 with the latest handset from the firm once synonymous with business handsets – the BlackBerry Z30.
BlackBerry has always been a firm favourite in the business arena, but recently people have begun switching en masse to Apple and Android offerings.
Offering up a larger, 5-inch fully touch display the Z30 is a more convenient size (compared to the Z10) for many, allowing you to get more information on screen at once. The big advantage with the BlackBerry Z30 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 Z30 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.
- Read: BlackBerry Z30 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 suite 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 now need to make the switch to the 5S, you're better off waiting for the iPhone 6 at least.
- Read: iPhone 5S review
If you're looking for all round smartphone perfection look no further than the HTC One. It's only the third ever smartphone to pick up a coveted 5 star TechRadar rating, and it fuses superb design with excellent functionality.
It's not a business minded as the BlackBerry Z30, but the One's full metal body puts it up there with the iPhone 5S in terms of premium style and boardroom presence.
The full HD, 4.7-inch display is the most defined in this list 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 and the Android Jelly Bean operating system allows for a wealth of customisation - although HTC has heavily skinned it with its Sense overlay.
You may find that overlay gets in the way of core business functions, so it's worth checking out the HTC One before hand, but if the interface is manageable you'll be more than happy getting this out in meetings.
- Read: HTC One review
Nokia Lumia 925
The Windows Phone 8 toting Nokia Lumia 925 turns up with Microsoft's backing, which will sound attractive to businesses that rely on the firm's Windows software for its computers.
Building on its predecessor, the Lumia 920, the Lumia 925 sports a premium metal chassis and slimmer design making it more manageable in hand and in your shirt pocket.
Unsurprisingly, Windows Phone 8 plays nicely with its computer-based brothers – although companies running Macs may want to opt for the iPhone instead.
The unfussy Live Tile display on the home screen keeps things simple, allowing you to access your emails, messages or call log quickly, and the intuitive interface makes it an easy system to learn.
The Lumia 925 has one of the largest screens in the current Windows Phone 8 line up at 4.5 inches, which comes in handy when viewing documents and long email chains.
Microsoft's fully functioning Office Suite for mobiles - something which is currently only available on Windows Phone – is installed on the handset, making last minute amendments on the way to a meeting easy.
It may not have the same wealth of apps as Android or iOS, but if you can cope with that you'll enjoy the Nokia Lumia 925's powerful offering.
- Read: Nokia Lumia 925 review
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Working on your smartphone can be problematic due to the restrictive screen size, 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 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 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
The traditional QWERTY keyboard still has its fans and the BlackBerry Q10 offers the best one 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 premium style, 3.1-inch 720p display and the new BlackBerry 10 operating system the Q10 is built for business.
As with the BlackBerry Z30 we've already mentioned in this round up, the Q10 comes with the BES 10 support and a top notch messaging hub ensuring all your communications are secure and easily managed.
When it comes to watching videos, playing games or using apps the Q10 isn't quite so useful, as its square screen makes these exploits rather tricky.
If you're in need of a business handset for predominantly messaging and emails you can't go wrong with the Q10, but if you require your phone to offer a broader range of abilities look elsewhere.
- Read: BlackBerry Q10 review
Samsung Galaxy S4
The Samsung Galaxy S4 has more features than you can shake a stick at and it's no wonder that this is the best selling Android smartphone of 2013.
Its slick Android Jelly Bean interface, responsive, bright 5-inch full HD display and powerful quad-core processor means the Galaxy S4 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 S4 to suit your firm's exact needs.
The Galaxy S4 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 S4 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 £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 and Z30 are 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