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How to choose the best Android phones for business


Android dominates smartphone usage throughout the world — in every region except North America and Oceania. Thus, businesses in many regions are likely to support and issue Android devices to employees as their mainstay mobile devices. Even in areas where Apple’s iPhone dominates or is comparable in market share, businesses are likely to support or issue Android devices at least as a secondary option.

Google has a certification called Android Enterprise Recommended that focuses on enterprise concerns around performance, device management, bulk device enrollment, and security update commitments. Google publishes a tool to help IT see which devices meet that certification in various regions, as well as explore supported Android versions and end dates for security updates.

But as Computerworld columnist JR Raphael has shown, the Google enterprise compliance checker is not kept up to date, so it cannot be relied on by itself. It’s also not clear that Google is enforcing compliance after products get certified. Bottom line: Android Enterprise Recommended is a starting point for narrowing your options, not a definitive filter.

Apple tightly controls the iPhone and its iOS operating system, which gives IT strong assurance about software updates, security patches, device capabilities, and manageability. By contrast, the Android world is highly diverse, with dozens of manufacturers using Google’s Android platform but offering varying levels of quality and support, and in many cases few or inconsistent OS and security updates. The use of Android thus requires more effort by IT in selecting and supporting mobile devices.

For that reason, iPhones are more likely to be the official business platforms (what are called corporate-liable devices) for devices that enterprises buy for their employees, even in regions where Android dominates. But it is typical for companies to let employees use their personal devices for work (what are called employee-liable devices or bring-your-own devices [BYOD]), providing access at least to work email and calendars, and often to web-based services.

So how does IT choose which Android devices to buy and/or support for its users? This article gets you started.