Best business smartphone: 10 top handsets for work
8th Feb 2013 | 12:00
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's IT team when it came to company phones – BlackBerry.
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 and Microsoft 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 new handset from the firm once synonymous with business handsets – the BlackBerry Z10.
BlackBerry has always been a firm favourite in the business arena, but recently people have been switching over the Apple and Android offerings.
The Z10 aims to win back the business market with the firm's new operating system, BlackBerry 10, sitting at the heart of the handset.
It's a fully touchscreen offering so if you can't live without the QWERTY keyboard set up you'll have to wait for the BlackBerry Q10 to land in stores, or check out one of the older handsets below.
The big advantage with the BlackBerry Z10 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 Z10 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 Z10 review
More and more businesses are turning to Apple's smartphone offers, and while it produces great looking, powerful devices they certainly come at a price.
The iPhone 5 is the latest in Apple's phone line up, bringing a slimmer design and larger display to a handset which continues to turn heads in every circle.
Apple now offers a wide range of enterprise resources on the iPhone 5 with support for SSL VPN and data protection APIs, enabling third party apps makers to produce fully secure solutions.
On the topic of apps, the iPhone family is probably best placed when it comes to business focussed software, with thousands of applications available on the App Store aimed at making work easier.
Then there's Siri, the helpful personal assistant who listens to your voice and brings you whatever you need, even if it is to check the footy scores.
The iPhone 5 runs Apple's latest software which goes by the name iOS 6, and while it may be starting to show its age when compared to the rapidly evolving Android, it's certainly a platform with solid foundations you can rely on.
- Read: iPhone 5 review
Samsung Galaxy S3
Its super slick Android Jelly Bean interface, responsive and bright 4.8-inch HD display and powerful quad-core processor means the Galaxy S3 has the vital statistics to make it a great business tool.
Add to that its highly adaptable email and note-taking applications, a whole 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 top selling 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 customise the Galaxy S3 to suit your firm's needs.
As with the iPhones, the Galaxy S3 is a premium handset carrying a premium price tag and you'll need to ensure your bank balance can cope with the expenditure if you do plump for this device.
- Read: Samsung Galaxy S3 review
Nokia Lumia 920
Unsurprisingly, Windows Phone 8 plays nicely with its computer based brother – 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 920 has the largest screen of the current Windows Phone 8 crop 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's a bulky handset with some considerable weight, but if you can cope with that you'll enjoy the Nokia Lumia 920's powerful offering.
- Read: Nokia Lumia 920 review
BlackBerry Bold 9790
If you can't wait for the BlackBerry Q10 to arrive but desperately need a smartphone with a QWERTY keyboard, then look no further than the BlackBerry Bold 9790.
It may not have the blockbuster specifications of some of the other handsets featured in this list, but it's strength is in its business acumen – an area which the Bold 9790 and BlackBerry devices in general thrive.
The display is just 2.45-inches in size, but it is fully touchscreen and the complete QWERTY keyboard trumps any on-screen offering when it comes to speed and accuracy of input.
The feather in BlackBerry's cap is its extremely secure enterprise server, which sees all your emails routed through the firm's Fort Knox style system, ensuring all your sensitive information is kept well out of sight.
With 8GB of internal storage and the option to expand on this with a microSD card, there's plenty of space to save all your important emails and documents on the device, giving you access anytime, anywhere.
Its slender frame, chrome highlights and rubberised rear provide a premium look and ergonomic design which can fit snugly into a shirt pocket.
There are some limitations, however: the screen is very small so those with poorer eye sight may struggle to see what's going on, while the application offering is extremely limited.
Best smartphones for business part 2
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
The Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a slightly different offering to the other handsets on display here, with less of a focus on security, email capabilities and simple document manipulation.
With a huge 5.5-inch display and its very own S-Pen stylus the Galaxy Note 2 merges 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 both the Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2, 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.
You might be sold on Apple's iOS platform but what if the iPhone 5 is just that little too expensive?
Fortunately you can easily get hold of its predecessor the iPhone 4S, and while it has a slightly smaller display and a little more round the waist, it's practically the same phone, running the same iOS 6 software.
It's only available in the 16GB variant with no expandable storage option, which may hamper those who require more space, but you do save some serious money.
You get all the features you have on the iPhone 5 including Siri, a wealth of applications and business security including remote control, which allows a phone to be wiped remotely if it is stolen or left in a bar.
The 3.5-inch Retina display is crystal clear, allowing you to easily read text and examine charts, graphs and images without issue, while the Apple design makes for a handset which is pleasing on the eye and feels every bit as premium as the price.
- Read: iPhone 4S review
Fancy a Windows Phone 8 device but the Lumia 920 is just too big? Then take a look at the slender chassis for the HTC 8X.
Touted by Microsoft as the signature Windows Phone 8 device, the 8X runs exactly the same software as the larger Nokia, all be it on a slightly smaller 4.3-inch display and a considerably more pocket friendly size.
You still get the Microsoft Office suite on the 8X and it has enough power under the hood to run WP 8 smoothly.
The Internet Explorer 10 mobile browser is pretty snappy, allowing you to browse web pages easily and the HD display ensures everything looks crisp and clear.
It's also slightly cheaper than the Lumia 920 if you're looking to save money, and the unibody polycarbonate design makes for a beautiful looking handset.
- Read: HTC 8X review
BlackBerry Curve 9320
If you like the idea of a tried and tested secure system but don't have the money for a top of the range handset, the BlackBerry Curve 9320 could be the business smartphone for you.
The Curve 9320 compromises in the storage and power departments to become more affordable, while its all plastic case won't exactly wow in board meetings.
That said, it's a perfectly capable little handset benefiting from the secure BlackBerry services and a range of connectivity options. This means you should have no trouble hooking it up to your laptop, or swapping information between NFC enabled devices.
The isolated keys on the keyboard are preferred by some, making typing even easier and quicker, and while it may not look a million dollars, it may help you make that amount.
It also sports a dedicated BBM key, giving you quick access to the free BlackBerry Messenger app – perfect if your company relies on this as an instant messenger.
There are front and rear cameras on the Curve 9320 for capturing those important moments and making key video calls, although the small screen isn't the best when it comes to reading documents or web pages.
Google Nexus 4
If you want the best features to price ratio from your smartphones then you'll need to take a look at the Android Jelly Bean running Google Nexus 4.
Manufactured by LG the Nexus 4 sports an impressive quad-core processor, 4.7-inch HD display and the latest version of the powerful Android operating system wrapped up in a package which will set you back less than £300.
The Nexus 4 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 8GB and 16GB, and there's no 4G support, unlike the Note 2, Galaxy S3, Lumia 920, iPhone 5 and BlackBerry Z10.
Perhaps Android isn't the best mobile business solution, and the Nexus 4 lacks the additional enterprise features Samsung has added to its devices. But at such a low price it is definitely worth considering.