Android handsets from Motorola, Samsung, HTC and the carriers that love them are coming to an enterprise near you. Be sure to ask these questions.
Android-based smartphone handsets continue the march into
consumers' hands and into the workplace. When a new handset starts clamoring to
be a part of your corporate network, here are some the critical testing
criteria to use when evaluating whether the device can be a good corporate
citizen. While many of these criteria are dependent on the underlying Android
operating system, there are device- and carrier-specific differences that
distinguish handsets in terms of their suitability for enterprise use.
Does the handset run an Android version that enables policy management APIs to
enable remote wipe and screen lock? Does the device enable numeric PIN or alphanumeric
password options? Can Exchange administrators enforce password policy across
devices? Look for the ability to sandbox user and corporate data on the device.
Does the handset have tamper-resistant technology that can be used to prevent
altered phones from working on the corporate network? Can corporate date be
encrypted on the device?
Does the carrier network function in the areas where employees travel? What
WiFi radio specifications (a, b, g, n) are supported and at what frequency?
Does the handset work with the accessories you need, such as headsets? Is there
tethering capability to enable the handset to connect a laptop or other devices
to the Internet? Are there bandwidth caps on tethered devices and what
additional charges are associated with tethered usage? What is the limit on the
number of connected devices?
3. Form factor
What are the dimensions (open and closed if applicable) and weight of the
handset? What charging options are available (car, wall, inductive) and what is
the weight of these required chargers? What other connection ports are
available on the device? Are any of the ports proprietary or in some other way
nonstandard? Do any of the ports pose a particular data security risk, and can
that risk be mitigated using policy or software to satisfy corporate or
external regulations regarding data security? What is the rated battery life
and what is the battery charge capacity?
How much processor memory is supplied with the device? What storage options,
such as a MicroSD card slot, are available on the handset? What is the maximum
supported storage option on the card? How are applications and handset
operations, including battery life and execution speed, affected when using
optional storage cards?
What is the handset voice call quality when using the handset directly and when
using a wired or wireless headset paired with the phone? Is the call quality
experience significantly different for the caller hears and the called party?
What keyboard options are available for typed communication, for example Swype,
physical keys or a virtual keyboard? Can the camera be used for video
6. Corporate integration
Is there anything remarkable about the Microsoft Exchange mailbox support for
e-mail, contacts and calendar integration? Can Exchange policies be implemented
on the handset to enforce password complexity requirements? What versions of
Exchange infrastructure are supported?
7. User interaction
Do features such as speech-to-text, voice control and keyboarding work well
enough to aid in performing common work tasks on the handset? Is the display
sufficient in size, brightness and resolution to enable mobile workers to access
and use business information? Do the keyboard options enable users to
effectively interact with applications? How well do custom enterprise apps work
on the device?
8. User interface
Are interface options such as Motoblur, Sprint ID and HTC
Sense sufficient to support business uses of the device? If social media
applications are important business tools for users, do the interface overlays
enhance daily productivity with these applications? Are there tools or policies
that enable central management of interface overlay options?
9. App store
In addition to the Android Market, what other options exist for getting apps onto
the handset? If alternatives exist, what measures can be used to ensure that users
get the apps appropriate to their job functions? Are there accounting controls
to limit app costs?
rendering and other test tools such as Acid3, how would you characterize the handset's app execution speed, display capability and power management controls?
Cameron Sturdevant is the executive editor of Enterprise Networking Planet. Prior to ENP, Cameron was technical analyst at PCWeek Labs, starting in 1997. Cameron finished up as the eWEEK Labs Technical Director in 2012. Before his extensive labs tenure Cameron paid his IT dues working in technical support and sales engineering at a software publishing firm . Cameron also spent two years with a database development firm, integrating applications with mainframe legacy programs. Cameron's areas of expertise include virtual and physical IT infrastructure, cloud computing, enterprise networking and mobility. In addition to reviews, Cameron has covered monolithic enterprise management systems throughout their lifecycles, providing the eWEEK reader with all-important history and context. Cameron takes special care in cultivating his IT manager contacts, to ensure that his analysis is grounded in real-world concern. Follow Cameron on Twitter at csturdevant, or reach him by email at email@example.com.