There are a few common features across smartphone operating systems that business users typically look for in a device. These include long battery life, solid hardware design, reliability, fast performance, ample storage capacity, good communications performance, and availability of key applications.
Each major smartphone platform offers several good candidates for the business user, but in this list we'll take a closer look at what I think is the top phone from each OS. They are arranged in order of current smartphone market share, not necessarily in order of my own personal preference.
Android 4.4: Samsung Galaxy Note 4
The Samsung Galaxy Note 4 is starting to ship to consumers in the US and continues to set the bar for Android smartphone specifications. The Note 4 satisifes the common features I listed above and Samsung marketing power will likely help Samsung sell millions of the device.
Pros: Fantastic high resolution display, removable battery, microSD card slot, specs to keep you going for years, high quality design, excellent camera results, advanced S Pen functionality
Cons: Non-functional fingerprint scanner, too much carrier bloatware, overwhelming notification area
Price: $650 to $825, carrier dependent
What user is this good for? There are very few phones left with removable batteries and if you are going to be in away from an outlet for days then the Note 4 may be for you. If you enjoy handwriting with a stylus, nothing beats the Note 4 S Pen experience. Samsung also employs Knox for security on the Android platform and is a natural choice for enterprise security.
iOS 8: Apple iPhone 6 Plus
The Apple iPhone 6 Plus launched last month and continues to impress me daily with battery life that just keeps on going, easily surpassing a full long day every single day that I have owned it. Apple went from one of the smallest phones to one of the largest and there is no better iPhone available today.
Pros: High quality fit and finish, extensive app ecosystem, functional TouchID finger scanner, massive accessory market, very long battery life, landscape-optimized experiences
Cons: No storage expansion option, may bend with excessive force
Price: $749 to $949
What user is this good for? If you are a fan of the iOS ecosystem, then there is only one iPhone to consider to carry you through more than a day. If you want to replace your iPad Mini with a phone, then this should satisfy your needs. The camera is excellent and everything 'just works.'
Windows Phone 8.1: Nokia Lumia 1520
There haven't been many new high end Windows Phone devices released in the US, so last year's Nokia Lumia 1520 retains the crown as the best device available. While the Lumia 930 is available outside the US, the Lumia Icon may be on the way out.
Pros: Large, high quality display that is perfectly usable outside, well designed with use of high-end plastic material, microSD expansion card, very long battery life, responsive UI, one of the best smartphone cameras
Cons: Very large phone, limitation on available apps
Price: $585 for AT&T model
What user is this good for? Windows Phone 8.1 offers a unique user interface and excellent integration into the Microsofot ecosystem. If you don't have special application needs, Windows Phone is perfectly fine as a modern smartphone OS.
BlackBerry recently released the Passport and it comes with the best hardware QWERTY keyboard ever released. BlackBerry took a bold step with the Passport and it's refreshing to see a BlackBerry smartphone with top notch specs and a unique form factor focused on the enterprise user.
Pros: Best ever QWERTY hardware keyboard, very long battery life, UI focused on efficient communications, functional BlackBerry Blend PC companion service
Cons: Wide device may not be comfortable for all
What user is this good for? The BlackBerry Passport offers a fresh take on the smartphone with a tank of a device that seems to last forever. There is no question that hardware keyboard fans should pick up the BlackBerry and those with a BES will not find anything better than this.