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While we currently only use windows mobile smartphone, my boss seems less and less reluctant to try and choose a new kind of OS for our users corporate phones.

For some reasons, we can't use a Blackberry Enterprise Server, so i guess our only choice is between Iphone OS and Android (or Blackberry without BES ? I don't really know if this works fine)

We need activesync capable smartphones of course, and activesync security policies must be available (pin when using your phone for example). Centralized Phone management would be nice too :D

Any ideas on what should be the best smartphone to choose for our users ?

Edit :

My users expectations are full email, contact and calendar integration. Users can't plug anything to their computers, so everything must be done oveer the air. From our side, security matters, security policies like password protected access to the phone are almost mandatory.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

With Exchange/ActiveSync and no Blackberry Enterprise Server, here is how I see it break down.

Windows Mobile

Pros: Full support for ActiveSync, Office apps and Office Communicator Mobile (OCS). Full security benefits of ActiveSync. Most likely to have third-party software available for your VPN or similar such things. Large selection of carriers.

Cons: Obviously, Windows Mobile is getting old and crusty compared to the competition. 7 will be out latter this year but software will probably need to be rewritten for managed code. Mobile 7 may end up being great, but its hard to say at this point. Some smaller carriers don't have a good Windows Mobile selection.

iPhone

Pros: Great ActiveSync support and good support for the security features of ActiveSync. Multiple mailbox support coming in OS 4. You certainly can't complain about the iPhone OS and UI. OCS support is available with iDialog, but it is not free.

Cons: Currently locked to AT&T, and honestly, their data coverage sucks if you have a traveling workforce -This may not be an issue by the end of the year. You will probably have to support iTunes on your desktops. Its possible the iPhone may lag behind in new Exchange features since they are not Microsoft.

Android

Pros: Good selection of carriers although some smaller carriers won't have Android phones. UI is quick and the OS is "open".

Cons: Exchange support is currently only supported with NitroDesk TouchDown. The software works but it does not integrate real well with the OS. Additionally, I'm not sure if you are going to find Communicator software, and third-party VPNs probably don't have applications available yet.

BlackBerry

Pros: It's a popular phone that your business users may already be familiar with. It has a good set of "business" apps available as that is the target market of the OS. Good selection of phones and carriers.

Cons: ActiveSync will only work by installing an application called AstraSync. AstraSync works but it is not as good as using BES. There is also an outside chance that RIM won't allow these guys to operate forever because it cuts in to their BES sales.

My recomendation - We use all four phones in our environment where we need ActiveSync support (no BES). I would recommend the iPhone except for the fact that AT&T is basically your only carrier choice. With that in mind right now, I think Windows Mobile 6.5 is the way to go. It's going to give you the best support for Exchange and the most flexibility with carriers and coverage. If possible though, I would get one of the few models that will be upgradeable to 7 when it comes out.

If Apple releases a CDMA version later this year (which is likely) than I would take a much closer look at that especially with the new features in the v4 OS.

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Totally with you, great summary. AT&T/GSM networks are best avoided. I have high hopes for Android. As soon as native OTA ActiveSync support works, I'm buying one. –  Warner Apr 9 '10 at 13:26
    
Great summary, and AT&T is not an issue for me, since we're not located in the US :D –  Florent Courtay Apr 9 '10 at 13:33
    
@Florent Ah, well that takes the carrier argument completely out of the picture. :) –  Doug Luxem Apr 9 '10 at 13:38
    
As for Windows mobile 6.5, we purchased some htc hd2, but to be honest, even if the hardware is great, the UI is really.... horrible, especially since I own an Iphone :D –  Florent Courtay Apr 9 '10 at 13:50

It depends on your environment and user expectations. Do they want full e-Mail integration? Full contact and calendar integration? Specifications change everything. Manual desktop syncing can be done with any phone.

I've successfully used iPhones in a professional environment. Believe it or not, ActiveSync over the air (OTA) and Exchange is awesome. "Remote bricking" with OWA even works well. I suspect PocketPC solutions are comparable but may have advantages for full AD integration.

Blackberries are the older standard, which many people still use prolifically in professional environments. Blackberry Enterprise Server is not necessarily a requirement but is advised. Most solutions without it are compromises and not suitable for a larger company. For a small company, suitable compromises could be had. I've not found any that I'd blanketly recommend.

I would like to move to Android but I've not tested it yet. One of the main issues I see there is lack of OTA sync with Exchange and general Exchange syncing issues.

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Same here, waiting for a proper push-sync on Android against Exchange. Windows Mobile 7 looks like a kindergarden, so the only viable choice right now is WM 6.5 –  pauska Apr 9 '10 at 12:56

We are using Apple Iphones with Contacts/Calendar/Mail intégration (Exchange 2007) and it works very well, in the past we used Symbian and Mail for Exchange and the intégration went smooth also. I can't comment on Android as the tests are just about to begin.

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