Smartphone, tablet and laptop buying guide for businesses
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Android smartphones have the lead in market share, so it's inevitable that workers will bring them onto your corporate network. Some companies even deploy corporate-owned Android phones to users.
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No matter which of these situations your IT department falls into, it's a good idea to stay informed about the features that Android smartphones are shipping with. Corporate buyers will be interested in the productivity-boosting processors that some devices come with, and admins will benefit from knowing which devices have consumer-focused features that may need to be disabled.
Take a look at the most recent Android smartphone reviews from our sister site, Brighthand.
The Droid Mini is the poster child for Motorola's Touchless Control, and it highlights Google Now, Google's intelligent personal assistant that responds to voice commands. Users train the phone to respond only to their voice, but testers found that people besides the phone's owner could unlock it. Other software features include Droid Zap, which sends files to other Droid users, and Moto Care, which workers can use to remotely lock and wipe their device.
The Droid Mini, Ultra and Maxx all launched at the same time, and they have a lot in common. The main differences between the three are battery life and screen size, with the Droid Ultra clocking in at 28 hours of battery and a five-inch screen. It has the same features as the Droid Mini -- Touchless Control through Google Now, Droid Zap and more -- but its voice controls seem to operate more securely.
Casio's Commando is supposed to withstand abuse such as being submerged in water, but the device suffered internal damage and stopped working correctly during waist-high drop tests. The interface is outdated -- it runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich -- but it has features such as weather specs and a compass that workers who need a rugged phone will like. It's 4G LTE-capable and fairly powerful, but the battery doesn't last for more than two days on a single charge.
The slimmest smartphone yet, Huawei's Ascend P6 looks a lot like the iPhone 5, but it's lighter and has a larger screen. An interesting design feature is that the headphone port has a lid with a small needle that unlocks the device's microSIM and microSD slots. The device runs a version of Android Jelly Bean that resembles iOS as well.
Phablets have become popular devices for enterprise workers because they're small enough to fit in pockets, but have a large enough screen to get real work done. The LG Optimus G Pro is the best of the bunch, with a beautiful display and super-fast processor. Its multitasking feature lets users connect the device to a TV to show videos while doing something completely different on the device itself. It runs Android Jelly Bean.
The Galaxy S4 has a five-inch screen that can be difficult to work on because of its size and a build that's very similar to the S III. It runs Android Jelly Bean and has Samsung's TouchWiz interface, which lets users perform some tasks, such as scrolling, with their eyes. Unfortunately, a lot of the features that come with the Galaxy S4 either don't work as well as they should or are not particularly useful for enterprise users.
The HTC One may be too big for one hand. The back of the phone is rounded so it's comfortable to hold, but the screen is too large to reach all the icons easily. The display is impressive, the processor is fast, and the device runs Android Jelly Bean. One of the home screens borrows heavily from the Flipboard aesthetic, allowing users to easily see news and social media notifications.
The Xperia Z has a five-inch screen that's manageable in hand, but the quality of the display leaves something to be desired. It's currently the fastest smartphone on the market, but some features and apps don't load as quickly as others. The Xperia Z was the first Sony device to run Android Jelly Bean, and the OS has been modified slightly to make the camera and music applications easier for users to access.