Why do specs matter when buying a phone for business?

There are people who upgrade their phones every year because they can. There are others who choose to hold out until their screens are shattered and power buttons frayed, safe in the knowledge that they can update to any new phone at any time. Those are the people we call consumers.

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Many businesses that issue phones and their employees don't have such luxuries. Sure, we're getting more comfortable with the notion of BYOD — bring your own device — but most business phone users are limited in the phones they can use and, perhaps more importantly, when they can upgrade. Which is why making the right decision at the beginning is so important.

The specs race

Regardless of whether you're bringing your own phone or working with an IT manager on a company-issued smartphone, in more cases than not specs are tantamount to happiness with a business smartphone. Bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, but having a device with ample processing power and gobs of memory will keep it from chugging along later in life, especially as you inevitably fill it with content.

Of course, just getting the phone with the right specs isn't enough. Hardware ages quickly, especially when the software it runs is poorly coded and neglected. Buyers of Android devices must be especially careful about this, since companies have a tendency to preference consumers by cutting off updates within 24 months and oftentimes sooner, in order to drum up demand for their next big thing.

The companies that have the best track records for software updates are not necessarily the ones with the best hardware itself, so a compromise must be reached. Your phone may not immediately get the next big Android update, but could be on a track to receive monthly or semi-annual security patches, which are arguably more important for businesses.

The carrier question

Most businesses have existing relationships with carriers, from whom they purchase hundreds or often thousands of devices over the course of a year. That leaves the user — the person who ends up with the phone — in a situation where they often have to deal with pre-installed carrier apps (AKA bloatware) and myriad other corporate-mandated apps as part of their MDM policy.

In a situation like this, you want a phone that isn't going to slow down from too many background tasks, and that isn't going to feel like, despite your customizations, it isn't truly yours. Some carriers, like Verizon, tend to pre-load upwards of 20 apps on a phone, but how many often depends on the phone itself. For example, the Google Pixel on Verizon has three pieces of bloatware, but all can be uninstalled. The LG V20, likely to meet a lower outright cost, has many more.

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The right compromise

Business customers are looking for the same thing as their consumer counterparts: consistently good performance that doesn't bog down over time. In our opinion, any phone from Motorola, like the Moto Z or Moto Z Play, will perform better over time due to a combination of a light Android skin, fewer pre-installed apps, and high-end specs. Google's Pixel is another example.

Samsung has also been taking lessons from Google in this regard, and outfits its phones with a lighter skin than ever before. The Galaxy S7 receives near-monthly security updates, too, which is more than can be said for Motorola devices despite the lighter skin.

Finally, BlackBerry's devices — even though they're not available at many U.S. carriers — are some of the most secure and up-to-date Android products on the market. The DTEK60 in particular is a good example of high-end specs meeting a lightweight skin and a commitment to consistent software updates.

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A good case

Phones these days are often metal-and-glass and little else. They break easily as a result. If you're buying a Galaxy S7, a Google Pixel or a Moto Z, you'll need a great case or screen protector to keep those bits and bobs inside working just fine.

Your turn

Specs are incredibly important when buying a business phone because you need it to last a long time. What are your considerations when buying a device for work?

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