With the right capabilities in hand, your customer’s employees can do better work from anywhere.
The Guide To Choosing The Right Phones
News and analysis about smartphones typically focus on the flash and sizzle of the latest consumer features, but for business decision-makers, there is often an entirely different set of criteria when selecting a device for the workforce. Companies are embracing smartphones and the benefits of mobility, and many see they can no longer depend on employee-owned devices and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies. They know phones are poised to replace laptops as their team’s primary computing devices, and they see the potential value of running their business on mobile applications on a uniform platform they control completely.
In a mature mobile environment, businesses look at smartphones with the same critical eye they bring to other technology assets. They are looking for phones that deliver the most value at the right price point, but they also recognise that overemphasising the initial device price tag can backfire. They want to make smart decisions that preserve capital while enabling business growth and optimising employee productivity.
This guide will help your customers understand device capabilities in a business context. It delves into the business value of capabilities such as battery life, processing power, storage and connectivity, and correlates them to real-world business needs, such as the use of cloud-based apps. It poses questions that will help you choose the phones that best meet their unique needs.
Matching phones and roles
With the rapid evolution of smartphone capabilities, there are now significant variations in performance across the device spectrum. For example, the most powerful phones offer up to 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage, compared to 1.5GB and 16GB, respectively, in a less expensive device. Similar differences can be found in screen size, battery life and processing power, as well as in premium features such as stylus pen and desktop docking.
Of course, a phone’s feature set generally correlates to its price, and businesses can get the best ROI by aligning each phone they buy with the job functions of the employees using the device. Choosing the right phones, however, is not as simple as it might seem to be.
Every buying decision should be generously skewed toward greater device capabilities because the cost/return factors are severely mismatched. Any savings the company achieves from buying a less capable device can be measured in hundreds of pounds, while any persistent productivity declines can quickly cost the business thousands upon thousands of pounds, particularly if they are repeated across multiple employees. A device that jeopardises productivity in any way will cause needless frustration and diminish the potential of your customer’s managers and employees.
Evaluate the demands of each role
An effective decision process should begin with an evaluation of each role’s needs as they pertain to the smartphone. A purchase plan that accounts for the unique needs of each role will result in smart purchases that help each manager and employee optimise their performance, wherever they are working.
Most roles have unique responsibilities to be carried out on smartphones. A heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) technician might use a phone to review equipment manuals and collect customer signatures on work orders. A delivery driver might use the phone to complete forms, geo-stamp locations and collect signatures. A consultant might use the phone to take notes, review presentations and respond to emails.
Some important differentiations jump out right away: Some roles carry a high risk of device damage, some operate in the field for a large part of their day, while other roles may use their phone primarily for calls, messages and emails.
There are also commonalities. Most roles need to run multiple apps simultaneously and/or handle large files, and most employees could see their productivity diminish if their phone was slow or unavailable.
Leverage devices to improve business processes
Many smartphones have speed and storage comparable to laptops, and innovators are finding ways to take advantage of that power. Businesses that want to mobilise core business processes are looking at mobility for important new opportunities. A great example is brick-and-mortar retail, where stores are putting mobile devices in the hands of every store associate to support sales processes that enhance the shopping experience. Similarly, retail bank branches are redesigning customer experiences around mobile so that customers are served quickly with minimal paper form-filling.
As companies plan new phone purchases, they can learn about leading-edge capabilities and leverage them to reimagine business processes. A retail store might be able to eliminate traditional checkout while empowering regional managers to dock their phones in hot desks in every store and move right into a desktop work environment without carrying a laptop computer.
DeX extends your customer’s phone to the desktop
The latest smartphones offer more storage, memory and processing power than many laptops. Samsung’s DeX technology takes full advantage of this by letting users connect their Galaxy device to a monitor, keyboard and mouse for a desktop computing experience. This positions businesses to move beyond “mobile-first” strategy to “mobile-only,” which liberates them from traditional computing constraints and future-proofs the business.
By committing to smartphones as the primary compute devices, your customers can untether employees from desks, cash registers and reception areas and enable more customer-centric workflows. At the same time, they can consolidate their device fleets by eliminating laptops and desktops.
DeX offers significant benefits to the entire company: Managers and employees can go wherever they are needed and travel light, procurement can spend less on hardware, and IT can focus exclusively on mobile computing.
For your customers, ease of use is an important DeX feature. They simply attach their phone to a monitor with a single HDMI adapter and activate DeX mode to turn the smartphone into a desktop workstation that works with a keyboard and a mouse. They can open multiple apps, use keyboard shortcuts and drag and drop files, all on the big screen. If the phone has an S Pen, like the Samsung Galaxy Note20, the phone screen can serve as a pen-enabled touchpad for enhanced precision and functionality. With DeX’s Dual Mode setting, users can watch a video on the monitor while taking notes on the phone screen.
DeX works with most modern Web-based apps and can use virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to bridge the gap to Windows native applications that have not been replaced with mobile equivalents. Business can rely fully on VDI, or only for access to specific applications.
Finally, with the new DeX for PC functionality, workers can also switch seamlessly between their PCs and their smartphones. Give your customer’s employees the ultimate flexibility in how and where they work.
Choosing the right device capabilities
With new iterations every year, smartphones have gained speed, power and added capabilities. Some specifications such as screen size and storage capacity are easy to understand, while others are more esoteric, such as the mAh metric for battery capacity. Once your customer has decided what sort of capabilities it needs in phones and why it is easier to put the technical specifications in context and make educated choices.
Here is an in-depth look at specific smartphone specifications and capabilities. Each section includes questions to help businesses assess the value of that capability to their employees.
1. Battery life
Long-lasting batteries are essential to ensuring employees can maintain productivity under all circumstances. That’s especially true for employees who spend a lot of time out of the office, working on the road or at client sites. In most cases, the additional cost of longer-lasting smartphones pales in comparison to the cost of just a little lost productivity every day. Today’s phones typically carry battery capacities of 2,500 to 5,000mAh. However, battery size shouldn’t be viewed in isolation.
- Larger screens consume more power
- Advanced application processors are more energy-efficient
- Top-tier devices feature smart battery life optimisation features
Removable batteries are less common today as the market has shifted toward unibody designs and emphasised water resistance. However, removable batteries are incredibly helpful in business settings where the use of smartphones is shared, for example, as a scanning device in a warehouse or for nurse communications.
If the performance of your customers business can be seriously compromised by a manager or employee going offline at a critical moment, don’t skimp on battery life. Their phone batteries should also support wireless fast charging, and the phones should offer easy-to-use power-saving features, so your customer’s employees can trim their usage proactively when they know they’ll need more juice later.
Random Access Memory (RAM) is a critical variable for power users and one that is easy to overlook. RAM has a direct effect on the phone’s performance and user experience, especially when running multiple applications and accessing large documents or multimedia files. Today’s high-end smartphones offer RAM of 8GB, 12GB or even 16GB, which is comparable to many laptops. With enough RAM, multiple apps can run in the background without compromising performance. If your customers don’t have enough, performance will drag, and productivity can suffer. Keep in mind too that mobile device management clients or other endpoint security apps that need to run at all times can weigh on memory resources, as can mobile versions of key productivity apps.
If you have customers whose needs are not RAM-intensive, you can reduce purchase costs by offering them phones with 4GB or less. For customers who rely heavily on phone performance and/or use powerful applications, look for at least 6GB.
Phones must be secure, configurable and manageable.
There is a lot more to running a mobile-first business than just issuing corporate-owned phones. Companies need their phones to be company-customised tools that empower managers and employees to be fast and efficient. The phones also need to be reliably secure and easy to manage, so that IT can easily keep every device profile consistent and up to date.
Samsung phones are uniquely suited for business because they are built on Samsung Knox, which combines powerful device-level security with a suite of management solutions for business. Here is a quick look at how the different elements of Knox meet the needs of growing businesses.
Built-in security: Knox security is designed into Samsung hardware, using a process architecture known as TrustZone, which isolates sensitive computations from all other operations. Data processes are tightly defined to protect against malicious applications, and the device scans itself continuously for inconsistencies.
Custom configuration: With the Knox Configure solution, phones can be configured at deployment to a precise specification designed for the business. Your customers can have their devices configured once or maintain dynamic configuration that allows them to maintain multiple device profiles and update every device as profiles are updated.
Enrollment: Knox Mobile Enrollment enables batch enrollment of phones in an enterprise mobility management (EMM) solution, which prevents the hassle of enrolling phones individually and ensures proper management of the devices from the moment of deployment.
Device management: Knox Manage is Samsung’s cloud-based EMM solution, which empowers your customers IT to implement policies such as application whitelisting and blacklisting and enables the remote management of individual devices.
3. Screen size
When it comes to screen size, bigger is often — but not always — better. Smartphones today come in a range of sizes, from less than 5″. to 6.5″. or more. While an inch may not seem like a big deal, it can make a huge difference for certain users. Smaller devices, on the other hand, have their place for employees who typically use them primarily as communication tools. Smartphones larger than 6″ allow users to more effectively multitask, use a stylus or pen for on-screen note-taking and use productivity apps.
Before your customer buys, think carefully about how their phones will be used, and provide what their employees really need. Some users will benefit more from a large screen that enhances document reading or image viewing. Others may be happy with a smaller device that is easier to handle and pull from their pocket. While big screens often drive up the price, there is an increasing number of mid-range devices that have expansive displays with diminutive price tags.
Beyond 7″ you’re customers are in tablet territory. 4G connected tablets are the best fit for teams that would benefit from more screen real estate. Employees who interact with customers in person — such as salespeople, service workers or customer service personnel — often benefit from devices with large enough screens to share with customers, but not so large that they become unwieldy. Higher-end tablets also have vivid, sharp displays perfect for both video and still images — ideal for executives and salespeople who routinely interact with executives from other companies or high-end customers. A large, bright screen helps them make the right impression.
Along with screen size, increased screen resolution supports improved user experience. Screens are measured in terms of how many pixels they can show and the density of those pixels. Resolution is often expressed with terms such as HD and Quad HD, and these terms have specific numeric values. Entry-level devices typically have HD resolution, which measures 1280×720 pixels. Quad HD+ packs many more pixels on the screen, such as the 3200×1440 pixels on the Samsung Galaxy S20 line. An increase in pixels automatically equates to higher pixel density. The Galaxy S20 offers 563 pixels per inch (ppi), compared to 269 ppi on some entry-level HD screens.
Biometrics capabilities vary between phones. Fingerprint authentication has become common, while authentication by iris, facial recognition and voice are used in some newer phones. Businesses are embracing biometrics for accessing mobile applications because they are more secure and easier to use than passwords. Sound password management often involves third-party applications and regular updating, whereas biometric authentication is less cumbersome and more convenient.
Fingerprint remains the most popular method of biometric authentication, but not all fingerprint sensors are created equal. Smartphones like the Galaxy S20 series and Galaxy Note20 series include Ultrasonic Fingerprint ID technology, an in-display sensor that utilises small pulses to create a 3D image of the user’s fingertip. This technology is considerably more secure than optical fingerprint scanners, which can be spoofed by 2D reproductions.
Facial recognition is generally less secure and can cause inconvenience for customers whose employees wear masks during work, such as medical professionals.
Biometric capabilities are evolving quickly, and it is important for any business to understand the specific requirements of implementation, particularly in regulated industries where security concerns are top of mind.
5. Digital pen
Today’s digital pens are much more functional, easier to use and more comfortable to hold than the styluses of a decade ago. They allow users to jot down memos, annotate documents and accept signatures. These capabilities are particularly important for customers whose employees interact with customers, vendors and partners. It enables quick item selection on the screen, saving valuable time in front of customers.
Some devices, such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note series, are optimised to work seamlessly with a pen. The Galaxy Note’s S Pen lets users take notes on their device’s screen even when the screen is off. It also features unique tools that can be used to mark up documents, lasso images and even highlight and translate text. If innovation is a driving force and ideas are flying, this feature will easily pay for itself.
Storage is an important variable for businesses to consider because it is critical for customers whose employees need it and useless for those who don’t. Employees who use phones strictly to communicate and use lightweight apps can get by with the 32GB of storage that is standard on many entry-level devices. That base-level storage could prove highly detrimental, however, for anyone who exchanges large files or gathers information via photos or video.
Today’s gold standard for storage is 128GB, but more storage is available on newer phones, including the Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra which features up to 512GB of built-in storage. Some smartphones also allow users to augment the on-board storage with the addition of a micro SD card, which is easy to carry, share and swap out.
Any users who use multiple applications or large applications will benefit from a more powerful core processor in their phone. Faster phones have 7 or 10nm processors with eight cores (octa-core), versus the quad-core or dual-core processors found in mid-tier and entry-level phones.
Newer processors are often more power-efficient than their predecessors, so they can also extend battery life, particularly when paired with 8GB or more of RAM. If you want your users moving quickly under heavy loads, look for high-end specs on the processor. Conversely, where users have light processing loads and simple apps, you have an opportunity to save by deploying less expensive phones.
Customers that are reliant on high-speed data, such as downloading large files or streaming video, require phones with fast modems. High-speed connectivity also supports the performance of the cloud-based apps that are widely used in most growing businesses. Newer phones feature ultra-fast Cat. 20 LTE capable of much faster downloads. Combined with the 4×4 MIMO antenna, the processor delivers faster connectivity than most laptops over Wi-Fi networks.
It’s also important to think about whether your customers would benefit from having 5G-capable devices, as the next-gen mobile network expands in 2020 and beyond.
When evaluating 5G devices for your customer, make sure you look at which 5G spectrum is supported. Sub-6GHz and mmWave networks have very different benefits when it comes to coverage and speed.
If some of your customer’s employees work outdoors, in warehouses or on moving vehicles, device durability is a key consideration. While all devices have some level of durability — and can achieve more with the right case — those that may be exposed to moisture, intense heat, heights or vibrations may require greater durability.
The gold standard for achieving this level of durability is the Defense Department’s MIL-STD-810G, which tests devices in a wide variety of harsh environments. Tests include the ability to function in low pressure, high and low temperatures, icy conditions, salt fog, humidity, water, dust and shock. Devices that meet these stringent conditions include Samsung’s Galaxy XCover Pro.
Not only for fitness tracking anymore Smartwatches are also emerging as important alternatives for many businesses. With a device that accesses cellular data directly or tethers to your phone via Bluetooth, mobile workers can receive calls, alerts and texts from any location by leveraging cellular networks when they are beyond the reach of Wi-Fi, and they can respond via voice or SMS. Wearables are equipped with sensors for GPS, motion detection and heart rate that businesses can use as needed for situational awareness and health monitoring.