The 7 Best Business Cell Phones of 2021
Smartphones that get the job done
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A cell phone is a vital part of any professional environment, and choosing the right one can be of immense benefit to everyone, from an office worker to a construction site manager. Cell phones don’t just make calls, they enable a wide ray of mobile communication such as Email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and so much more. Regardless of your line of work, in this day and age cell phones are almost certainly a tool you will use on a daily basis, if not constantly.
To help you pick which cell phone is right for you, we extensively researched the staggeringly broad range of smartphones available today to help you pick the right one. Here are the best cell phones for business currently on the market:
Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
For productivity, there’s no phone that offers more than the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. Its built-in S-Pen stylus is what sets it apart, and it’s a tool that can be used for everything from taking quick notes in meetings to sketching and precise navigation of apps and web browsers.
The Note 20 Ultra also features all the specs and high end design you expect from a flagship smartphone. It packs in 12GB of RAM, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+ processor, and up to 512GB of storage for user experience that’s ready for even the most demanding applications. Its 6.9” Infinity-O AMOLED display offers a remarkable 3800 x 1440 resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate for both incredible detail and snappy navigation. Additionally, storage is expandable up to a terabyte via microSD.
For its main cameras, the Note 20 Ultra includes some fantastic optics, with a 12 MP 5x telephoto camera, a 108 MP wide angle camera, and a 12 MP ultra wide camera. Additionally, there’s an enhanced digital zoom feature that gives you up to 50x zoom, though at reduced quality. Throw in an ultrasonic in-display fingerprint sensor for quick and easy unlocking and it’s plain to see why the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra is the top pick for a professional smartphone.
Best Budget: Google Pixel 4a
The problem with flagship cell phones is that they cost an arm and a leg. For people who can’t afford sky high prices, but who don’t want a phone that cuts too many corners, the Pixel 4a is an attractive option. It features a bright and beautiful 5.8-inch Full HD+ OLED screen that renders deep blacks and rich colors. The 12 MP camera may not match up to the versatility of multi-camera smartphones, but Pixel cameras are known for their remarkable quality.
Inside you get a competent Qualcomm Snapdragon 730G processor and Adreno 618 graphics chip, along with 6 GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. Though not top of the line, for the price these are highly competitive specifications, and you also get the advantage of using Android on Google’s own hardware, meaning that you can expect this phone to receive Android updates sooner and for longer than with other Android manufacturers. The Google Pixel 4a does everything and more that most people need from a modern cell phone at an attractive price point.
Related: The Best Office Phones
Best Samsung: Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
While it lacks the built in S-Pen stylus (though it is compatible with the S-Pen if you have one), the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra is a more up to date device that’s an enticing alternative to Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. A key difference between these two phones is the screens, because the S21 Ultra does away with the curved edges for a more traditional, yet even more excellent 6.8-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with WQHD resolution.
Another big difference is cameras, in that the S21 Ultra features a 10MP 3x telephoto camera and a 10MP 10x telephoto camera in addition to the 108MP wide camera and 12MP ultra wide angle camera. A further upgrade is the 40MP front facing camera, which means you’ll be able to take amazing high resolution selfie shots.
Inside, you’ll find the latest Snapdragon 888 processor, up to 512GB of storage, and up to 16GB of RAM. Unfortunately, however, the S21 ultra doesn’t include a microSD card slot, so you can’t upgrade the storage capacity past the 512GB of on-board storage, but in most ways this is the best cell phone Samsung has.
Best Apple: iPhone 12 Pro Max
If you’re a fan of IOS, then the Iphone 12 Pro Max should definitely be on your radar. This is apple’s largest, most powerful, and most feature rich Iphone available, and it easily goes toe-to-toe with any Android phone. It features an awesome 6.5 inch OLED display with Dolby Vision support, and a versatile array of cameras, including a wide angle camera, ultra-wide camera, and a 2x telephoto zoom camera.Of particular interest is its main camera, due to its larger than normal image sensor which provides a higher level of quality than a typical smartphone camera.
Under the hood, the 12 Pro Max is powered by 6GB of RAM, an Apple A14 Bionic processor, and up to 512GB of storage. It’s also IP68 dust and water resistant to keep it safe from the elements, and overall the Apple Iphone 12 Pro Max is one of the best cell phones you can buy.
Best Google: Google Pixel 5
Google’s flagship phone is both relatively affordable and eminently capable. Its 6-inch full HD+ OLED display is bright and vivid with deep blacks, and it’s powered by 8GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor. You only have the option for 128 GB of on-board storage, but Google includes unlimited cloud storage for photos at high quality. Speaking of photos, though on paper the Pixel 5 doesn’t have as impressive an array of cameras as other flagship phones, it does include a 12.2 MP standard wide angle camera, and a 16 MP ultra-wide camera. What makes these cameras great, though, is Google’s photography software that enables, for example, a particularly great night mode for low light photography. The Google Pixel 5 is both the best phone from Google, and one of the best value cell phones you can buy.
Related: The Best Charging Stations
Best for Professional Photographers: Sony Xperia Pro
You may well be shocked at the price tag of this cell phone, but the pro photographers at which it’s aimed will see the value in this portable powerhouse. The Sony Xperia Pro is specifically designed to help professional photographers and videographers with a variety of tasks. For one, it’s engineered to connect to a separate, high end camera so that you can live stream high resolution content via its 5G connection, and includes a network visualizer to help you set up at the best location for broadcasting.
Additionally, you can use the Xperia pro via a Micro-HDMI connection as a live monitor for a camera, a purpose for which its 6.5-inch 4k HDR OLED screen is perfectly suited, thanks to the display’s excellent color calibrated accuracy.
Of course, the cameras inside the Xperia Pro are very capable on their own. They’re all 12MP, and offer 16mm, 24mm, and 70mm focal range equivalents and can shoot 4k HDR footage at up to 120fps, or full resolution raw still image burst shooting at up to 20fps. All this is backed up by a high degree of durability, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 processor, 12GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage, as well as a host of other professional photography and videography features.
Best for Worksites: Doogee S96 Pro
If your job takes you into dirty or hazardous conditions, you need a phone as rugged and capable as you are, and the Googee S96 Pro is that phone. The S96 Pro fairly oozes its durability, thanks to an obviously tough and hard wearing exterior with a corner tire design made of high strength rubber to prevent damage from drops. IP68 water resistance keeps it safe from rain and dust, so that whether on a construction site or deep in the wilderness, it will survive a considerable amount of punishment.
Inside, you’ll find a Helio G90T processor and 8GB of RAM, as well as 128GB of storage, which is expandable via microSD. The screen is only 1520x720p, but that low resolution is by design, as the lower pixel count conserves battery life. For cameras, there’s a 16MP selfie camera, and a quad camera array on the rear. This array consists of a 48MP wide angle camera, an 8MP super wide angle camera, a 2MP macro camera, as well as a 20MP night vision camera. The really shocking thing about the Doogee S96 Pro is its truly remarkable low price, making this the ideal option for a worksite ready cell phone.
The very best phone for business focused productivity is clearly the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra (view at Samsung). The S-Pen stylus is just too useful, and adds another layer of versatility to an already stunningly competent device. However, if you’re an IOS user, the iPhone 12 Pro Max (view at Best Buy) is also a great option, and if you’re on a budget it’s hard to go wrong with the Google Pixel 4a (view at Best Buy).
Do I need 5G?
Whether you should make 5G connectivity a priority in your purchasing decision depends largely upon where you live and work. 5G service is still very limited, so if you don’t spend much time in a high density city, you probably won’t be using this capability. However, if you don’t plan on upgrading soon, having 5G at least adds some future proofing to your phone.
IOS or Android?
What used to be a question with a lot of pros and cons on either side is now very much an apples to oranges situation. Both IOS and Android are both great options for someone picking up their first smartphone, but most people aren’t looking for their first smartphone, they’re looking for an upgrade. In this case you’re probably better off sticking with the operating system that you’re used to.
Do I need a headphone jack?
After decades of ubiquitous inclusion in nearly every device, headphone jacks are now disappearing from the latest phones. Though this is inconvenient to many, it’s not as big a problem as you might first think. Even if you prefer wired connections, you can simply use a USB-C to AUX adapter to connect wired headphones or other audio devices to your phone.
What To Look For in a Business Cell Phone
Gone are the days when phones were equipped with a single mediocre camera on either side. Now almost every phone is equipped with at least two front facing cameras. High end models give you a wide range of cameras with different capabilities, while more affordable options typically offer a single extra wide angle or telephoto camera.
RAM, or Random Access Memory dictates mainly the amount of multitasking your cell phone is capable of. You want at least 4GB, and 8GB or even 12GB is not uncommon. Games, heavy duty productivity apps, and creative apps require more RAM than social media.
Look for at least 128GB of internal storage, because with higher resolution cameras and larger, more complex applications, phones need more storage capacity than ever. It’s not a bad idea to opt for an even higher capacity of 256GB or even 512GB. If you need more capacity still, some phones feature MicroSD card slots so that you can expand the storage space on your phone to more than a terabyte.
Meet the Expert
Andy Zahn has been testing, reviewing, and researching the latest technology for Lifewire.com for the past two years. Andy works remotely, and knows the important role a cell phone plays in conducting business in the dynamic working environment of the modern day.