Best business smartphones 2021: the top handsets for work and productivity

If you're buying a personal smartphone there might be several things you look for, but a business user will probably might need a completely different set of features. It will need to last a long time between charges, give you versatility in the apps you use, in all security, and have a big enough screen to see lots of work. Oh and don't forget the all important after sales and support.

Not all smartphones tick all these boxes, which is why this list isn't just a copy of our guide to the best smartphones. No, the best business smartphones need a little bit more, and they need to keep providing it for a long time too, not just when you take it out the box for the first time.

It can't always be easy to tell how useful a handset and its features will be for you though, which is why we've drawn up this list of the best business and work phones you can buy right now.

  • If you landed here looking for best business phones (the good old fashioned landline models that sit on a desk in an office), then try our best VOIP phone guide.

All of these should be more than capable of running the latest business apps for Android as well as iOS apps for iPad/iPhone as applicable, everything from PDF apps to privacy services, as well as connecting with your business phone service. We've also got a list of the best business tablets if that's more useful to you.

With phone makers offering ideal for employees of all levels, we’ve updated this guide to give you the very latest buying advice to help you choose the best smartphones for business use. We'll keep updating it too when new phones come out, as long as they're great for business, so perhaps see the Samsung Galaxy S21 or iPhone 12 on this list too.

Although some of these selections may overlap with our best phones for casual use, we've identified how these picks will help your business too, as not everyone needs the flashiest smartphone trick.

(Image credit: Future)

Best business smartphone at a glance

  1. Nokia XR20
  2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra
  3. iPhone 12
  4. Samsung Galaxy S20
  5. Motorola Defy
  6. Google Pixel 5
  7. iPhone SE (2020)
  8. OnePlus 8
  9. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

In Use

(Image credit: Future)

1. Nokia XR20

Nokia's first true rugged handset

Release date: July 2021 | Weight: 248g | Dimensions: 171.6 x 81.5 x 10.6mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6.67-inch | Resolution: 2400x1080 | CPU: Qulacomm Snapdragon 4800 / Adreno 619 | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB | Battery: 4,630mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 13MP | Front camera: 8MP

IP65 certified
Dedicated emergency button
Low storage
Can't customize Google Assistant button

HMD Global, which now runs the Nokia brand, has launched Nokia's first rugged smartphone. The Nokia XR20 is a Qualcomm-powered, 5G enabled, shockproof and water resistant smartphone that sets itself apart from other rugged smartphones thanks to the addition of four years of security updates and three years of OS updates.

While the Nokia XR20 is a bit lacking in the storage department with just a 64GB and 128GB model available, the device does include a microSD slot. You can also run dual SIM cards on this device but you can't have two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time. HMD Global has included a 3.5mm audio port as well as a dedicated Google Assistant button and a programmable button on the top of the device.

If you're worried about dropping your phone or even breaking your screen, the Nokia XR20 may be the perfect business smartphone for you as it's built to withstand drops and HMD Global is offering a free one-year screen replacement just in case.

Read the full review: Nokia XR20 5G rugged smartphone

(Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

2. Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

A big productivity powerhouse

Release date: August 2020 | Weight: 208g | Dimensions: 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.9-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3088 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 Plus / Exynos 990 | RAM: 12GB | Storage: 128GB/256GB/512GB | Battery: 4,500mAh | Rear camera: 108MP + 12MP + 12MP | Front camera: 10MP

Incredible camera zoom
New useful S Pen features
'Ultra' expensive
Slow to charge

Samsung's Note line has always been designed for business users, with top specs and the S Pen stylus bringing plenty of features and tricks, and the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra represents its top device from 2020.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra has a top chipset, a 108MP main camera, a super high-res screen and more, enough so that it can be useful for you no matter what your job or profession.

The downside is that this phone is super expensive, enough to put some people off, but if your budget stretches to the Note 20 Ultra, we'd recommend it as your first port of call.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra

iPhone 12

(Image credit: TechRadar)

3. iPhone 12

Apple best smartphone to date

Release date: October 2020 | Weight: 164g | Dimensions: 146.7 x 71.5 x 7.4mm | OS: iOS 14 | Screen size: 6.1-inch | Resolution: 1170 x 2532 | CPU: Apple A14 Bionic | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | Battery: 2,815mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 12MP | Front camera: 12MP

Colorful OLED display
5G-compatible
Battery life only okay
Price hike over iPhone 11

The newest main-series device from Apple is a great business phone, with some improvements on the iPhone 11 that are great for productivity, like 5G compatibility and a better-looking OLED display.

The iPhone 12 has great rear cameras and some snazzy color schemes, and its
magnetic MagSafe system could be great for handily charging your phone on the go.

The iPhone 12 has a smaller sibling, the iPhone 12 mini, as well as two more powerful ones, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, but for the general business users the titular model is the best.

Read the full review: Apple iPhone 12 review

Samsung Galaxy S20

(Image credit: Future)

4. Samsung Galaxy S20

A great phone with 5G

Release date: March 2020 | Weight: 163g | Dimensions: 151.7 x 69.1 x 7.9mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.2-inch | Resolution: 1440×3200 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990 | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4,000mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 64MP + 12MP | Front camera: 10MP

Lots of power
5G-ready
Erratic fingerprint sensor
Price is high

If you're looking for a 5G phone that's great but also won't break the bank then the Samsung Galaxy S20 could be for you. The most affordable of Samsung's 2020 flagship range, it has a top-end processor, fantastic display, great cameras and 5G connectivity all for a price below that of other 5G phones. 

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S20 review

Motorola Defy 2021

(Image credit: Future)

5. Motorola Defy

Not your everyday rugged smartphone

Release date: June 2021 | Weight: 234g | Dimensions: 169.8 x 78.2 x 10.9mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.5-inch | Resolution: 1600 x 720 | CPU: Snapdragon 662 | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 2MP + 2MP | Front camera: 8MP

Great design and form factor
Support for Android Enterprise
Average value for money
No cover for USB port

With help from the Bullitt Group, Motorola has revived its iconic Defy product line with a new rugged smartphone. While the original Defy was one of the first rugged smartphones, this new device does its best to blend in with the crowd thanks to its sleek design.

In addition to being water, dust and drop proof, the new Motorola Defy features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 processor, a 5,000mAh battery and runs Android 10. Although it's not as powerful as other mid-range smartphones from Motorola, the all-new Defy offers excellent protection from everyday wear and tear in a thin and light form factor.

Read the full review: Motorola Defy

Google Pixel 5

(Image credit: TechRadar)

6. Google Pixel 5

Google's newest flagship is its most accessible

Release date: September 2020 | Weight: 151g | Dimensions: 144.7 x 70.4 x 8mm | OS: Android 11 | Screen size: 6-inch | Resolution: 1080×2340 | CPU: Snapdragon 765G | RAM: 8GB | Storage: 128GB | Battery: 4,080mAh | Rear camera: 12MP + 16MP | Front camera: 8MP

Metal case is refreshing change
Clean Android interface
Middling night photography
Specs downgrade from Pixel 4

The Google Pixel 5 was a shift from the company from top-end premium phones to mid-rangers, and the phone will be great for people who want a clean and easy-to-use Android experience without the high price.

Featuring a top-class camera and metal body, the Pixel 5 is great to use and to look at, though its processing power doesn't match most the other phones on this list.

The phone is also 5G-compatible, so it'll give you access to the next generation of data connectivity. Nowadays, that's almost mandatory on a great business smartphone.

Read the full review: Google Pixel 5 review

New iPhone SE

(Image credit: Apple)

7. iPhone SE (2020)

An iPhone that won't break the bank

Release date: April 2020 | Weight: 148g | Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm | OS: iOS 13 | Screen size: 4.7-inch | Resolution: 7500 x 1334 | CPU: A13 Bionic | RAM: 3GB | Storage: 64GB/128GB/256GB | Battery: 1,821mAh | Rear camera: 12MP | Front camera: 7MP

Pretty affordable
Decent processing power
Small screen
Weak cameras

If you or your employees need an iPhone for iOS apps or functionality, but don't need a top-end smartphone like the iPhone 11, a decent alternative is the iPhone SE (2020), which is similar to the iPhone 8 in many ways but comes with a modern chipset and software to keep it relevant nowadays. It's not exactly a powerhouse in all departments, but if a mid-range phone is all that's required, this could be it.

Read what you need to know:  Apple iPhone SE (2020)

OnePlus 8

OnePlus 8 (Image credit: Future)

8. OnePlus 8

A solid and reliable Android smartphone

Release date: April 2020 | Weight: 180g | Dimensions: 160.2 x 72.9 x 8mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.55-inch | Resolution: 1080x2400 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 | RAM: 8/12GB | Storage: 128/256GB | Battery: 4,300mAh | Rear camera: 48MP + 16MP + 2MP | Front camera: 16MP

Big battery
Affordable 5G connectivity
No wireless charging
Camera specs aren't incredible

If you're looking for a reliable Android smartphone to use for your business, you can't go wrong with a OnePlus phone, and the OnePlus 8 blends a mid-range price with some great features you might find useful.

There's a smooth UI as well as a 90Hz refresh rate on the screen for your viewing pleasure, and the 4,300mAh battery and great processing power are also useful for a range of tasks. It's also a 5G phone, for an even lower price than Samsung's Galaxy S20 units, so if you really need that quick and reliable internet connection it'd really be useful.

Read the full review: OnePlus 8 review

Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

(Image credit: Future)

9. Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

One of the best Samsung phones to date

Release date: March 2020 | Weight: 222g | Dimensions: 166.9 x 76 x 8.8mm | OS: Android 10 | Screen size: 6.9-inch | Resolution: 1440 x 3200 | CPU: Snapdragon 865 / Exynos 990 | RAM: 12/16GB | Storage: 128/256/512GB | Battery: 5,000mAh | Rear camera: 108MP + 48MP + 12MP + TOF | Front camera: 40MP

Great camera performance
Samsung's best display
Incredibly high price
Very big

If the best business phone for you has a huge screen, large battery capacity, several top-end cameras including a 108MP main, fast processing power and 5G functionality - if there are any jobs that need all those in one - then the Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra is for you. The most top-end of Samsung's 2020 flagship series, it's packed to the brim with top-end specs.

Sure, it's not an affordable phone by any definition of the word, which is why we've placed it last in this list. But it certainly is a top phone for people who need it all, and if you need this for yourself or your employees, this is the phone to get.

Read the full review: Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra

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