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It’s
hard to get away from work when the smartphone you carry is full of ways
to connect to the office. You might even have a phone you use just for work, purchased by your employer. We asked the readers of
PCMag all about their work smartphones, the mobile operating systems powering
them, and the mobile carriers that keep them online. Your answers are the brands businesses should consider for getting the most work done. And the top choices—phone, OS, and carrier—come primarily from one vendor.

Smartphones for Work 2020

Winner: GOOGLE

For
the fourth time in a row in our Business Choice survey, Google’s line of Android-based phones—currently
the Pixel—easily beat the competition from Apple
and even Samsung (which also uses the the Android OS).

In 2019, the Pixel phones from Google scored a full 8.9 (out of 10) for
overall satisfaction, a number no one else could touch (even if it was down
from an overall high of 9.1 the year before).

This year, Google got some real competition. Its
score dropped to 8.7 and Samsung’s went up—to 8.7! A nice tie, but that’s only
one of the scores we look at when we determine a winner. The other important
one: Likelihood to be recommended. Another tie! Both Google and Samsung were at
8.8 (another drop for Google from last year). We could have left it at a tie
there, but this is Business Choice and for this survey we ask a very important and unique
question of phone uses: how is it for work-related tasks? That’s the tie
breaker. Google got an 8.9, ahead of Samsung’s 8.7.

Google also
earned a few incredible scores on individual measures like a 9.3 for setup and
for taking photos, 9.0 for ease of use and email, and 8.9 as a Wi-Fi hotspot.

Let’s be clear however, that no one is going to be upset
with getting a Samsung Galaxy phone for work. Samsung only took the top score
in one other area, with a reliability score of 9.0 versus the 8.9 Google (and
Apple) earned. But it’s
in second place to Google on most other measures.

If you’re an iPhone user, you may not be shocked to see it
in third place, because while it excels at certain things like messaging (9.1,
the only metric where it’s
in first place), Apple is more neck-and-neck with arch rival Samsung than it is
with Google. The lowest score in the chart also goes to Apple for cost/value
(6.9). It’s interesting to see Motorola taking the top mark for cost/value with an 8.9—no
one likes paying so much for high-end smartphones. LG at the bottom of the
overall satisfaction ratings was at the bottom of all the other measures, as
well.

Mobile Operating Systems (OSes) for Work 2020

Winner: ANDROID 
If you
buy almost any phone that isn’t from Apple, you’re going to get the Android
operating system. Chances are if someone bought you a phone for work, it’s got
Android. These are good things if you want to squeeze the most productivity out
of it, as Android is hands-down the top pick with our readers for a mobile OS
in business.

Last year, this category fell to the two major OSes we have left for
phones—Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android—and it’s the same story in 2020. Nothing else had enough users to qualify for our survey
results.

The overall score didn’t change for Android; it has still got an 8.7
out of 10, and that’s enough to win, despite iOS jumping up from 8.2 to 8.4.
Google is also on top for work-related tasks and the likelihood to be recommended.
(Read our review
of Android 10
)

Android is, in fact, the winner in every single metric we asked about, with one exception. App quality goes to iOS, where it earned an 8.6 compared to
Android’s 8.5. Android remains ahead when it comes to app selection, even for
free apps.

Overall, the differences between the two are pretty slight,
but if you want the edge in the mobile workplace, the way to get it is to stick
with an Android phone. (And if you stick with a Google phone running
unadulterated Android, apparently you’re going to be doing that much better.)

Mobile Carriers for Work 2020

Winner: GOOGLE
FI


Google’s
own Mobile Virtual Network Operator has the
most coverage since it uses towers from three other carriers, fantastic speeds, and
rock-solid reliability. Fi is the carrier every business should consider first.

In 2019, the only mobile providers that managed to make
the cut for our survey were the big four, and of those, T-Mobile was the winner
with an 8.3. This year, more and more people are using MVNOs (Mobile
Virtual Network Operator)—the providers that use the network of towers set up by
those big four operators—for work use. So while T-Mobile had a little tenth of a
point gain this year, it wasn’t even close to enough to keep it in the winner
circle.

The top two listed MVNO carriers for business this year are
our perennial winner over in Readers’ Choice, Consumer Cellular with a 9.0 out
of 10, and ahead of even that, the real winner, Google Fi at 9.1
overall. Google Fi is also on top for likelihood to be recommend (9.1),
reliability (8.8), and speed (8.9).

Google uses Sprint, T-Mobile, and US Cellular’s networks,
and with the right phone (mainly a Google Pixel) it will switch you to the best
signal as needed, on the fly. That doesn’t help its score for choice of phones, which is a low 7.7,
the worst score Google Fi suffers in this survey. But it earned straight 8.8s across the topics of fees, coverage area (both home and
away), and minimizing dropped calls. Fi tied Consumer Cellular on most of those, though Consumer Cellular was a
bit ahead in the home area coverage and with fees, both with with an 8.9.

The only other standout high score is really that T-Mobile
and Verizon Wireless both have a better choice of phone models (8.7 and 8.6, respectively) than other carriers. Both also had respectable 8.6s for
minimizing dropped calls. There aren’t any other places where Google Fi and
Consumer Cellular aren’t the best of the bunch.

You can, however, note that AT&T and Sprint both are so
low that they should probably be avoided. Both even managed to get such low
recommendation scores that their Net Promoter Scores, which measure just how much good word
of mouth a brand gets, ended up being negative numbers—a sure sign  our
readers are talking smack about them even beyond the confines of this survey.
Sprint is probably really eager for that T-Mobile merger now, but don’t
expect it soon
.

Read all of our 2020 survey results scores for business below.

The PCMag Business Choice survey for Mobile Operating
systems, Smartphones, and Carriers was in the field from February 17, 2020, to March
9, 2020. For more information on how our surveys are conducted, read the survey methodology.

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Further Reading

Mobile Phone Reviews

Mobile Phone Best Picks

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