Blackberry smartphones have dominated the business scene for the last decade, but are they still the best choice for a business smartphone? The popularity of Apple's iPhone seems to grow with every release, with users so fanatical they are often the subject of ridicule (see this one too) from rival companies and users of alternative phones.
In terms of hardware, all phones are going to satisfy business requirements. It's the operating system, the apps, and the overall experience that is going to make a difference.
In this post, we'll take a closer look at the benefits of the iPhone for business use.
Easy to stay in touch on the go
Apple have built up a fanatical following of their products, in particular the iPhone. It is the only smartphone release that is eagerly anticipated for months, and sees people queuing in the streets for hours in order to get one on release day.
It is widely used in the business world, as well as amongst the everyday consumer. PC-free activation and set-up are a considerable plus point. You can take an iPhone out of the box whilst on the move and have it up and running, syncing your emails and documents, without ever connecting it to a PC.
With on-screen email and calendar notifications, syncing seamlessly with Microsoft Exchange, you're always in touch with the office. There are some useful features built in, with the mobile business user in mind - for example, VIP inboxes. This allows the receiver of hundreds of emails to define who, or what, goes into a VIP inbox, that is checked on the go. After all, using your phone to reply to emails should be quick and easy.
There is also a very useful "do not disturb" mode. Previously, you would have to choose between turning your phone off, or allowing it to distract you, even if on silent, when you needed discretion. Now there is an alternative which can give you the best of both worlds. The do not disturb mode on the iPhone will silence any incoming calls or messages until you disable it - unless the user is on a predefined list of "allowed" contacts. If your caller is persistent, you can choose for repeat calls to be allowed. You can even schedule "do not disturb" mode to automatically enable during certain hours.
Perhaps crucially for business users, the iPhone works with remote desktop apps such as Microsoft Remote Desktop, which allows you to connect to a remote PC and your work resources from anywhere you have internet connectivity. Whilst perhaps not the ideal way to work, it does allow you access to that important file in an emergency.
A Store Full of Productivity Apps
The app store contains a plethora of paid and free business applications, some of which are truly excellent. If your organisation is predominantly Mac using, then the iPhone seems an obvious choice for a business phone. You can sync your Pages, Numbers and Keynote documents, so they're always available on the go, and any changes you make are up to date on your desktop device when you reach home or the office.
However, even if you use PCs, iPhones are still very capable. You can use Evernote for your note taking, and Microsoft Office apps are now also available for free. There's literally thousands of other productivity and business focused apps.
"Seriousness" and Security
There is often still a tendency to view the iPhone as "not serious enough" for business use. This is perhaps just a result of Apple's marketing, which often errs on the cool and "hip" side...
However, security must be mentioned at this point. Apple vets all apps that are made available for download on their app store, and the result is that there is a much lower chance of malware infecting your smartphone. Apps on the Google Play store do not come with the same level of security - something that should definitely be taken into account in the business world, especially as many hackers are now transferring their attention from PCs to portable devices.
Whilst on the subject of security, Apple also gain points for their "find my iPhone" application, which even allows you to manage other iPhones in your organisation - locating it if lost, and even locking or wiping it remotely. And whilst all phones now have pass-code locking, fingerprint recognition technology on the iPhone 5S adds an extra level of security. Apple has a range of security features built in to their iPhones, which are documented on the official site here
iPhones are easily deployable, even into large scale businesses, with minimal effort required from your IT department or IT company to set them up. In fact, most business users won't need IT to get involved at all. iPhones can be centrally managed with ease thanks to mobile device management solutions.
The main thing holding back smartphones - and it still hasn't really gone away. All that powerful technology needs power to run, and batteries just aren't advancing as quickly as other technology. It's difficult to make things smaller, thinner, and more powerful - whilst increasing battery life. Batteries still need to be bigger to last longer! The iPhone 5s still has a 10% greater capacity than its predecessor, but with a faster CPU and improved graphics requiring more power - battery life may actually be worse.