Galaxy S6 and Edge feature plums for workers and IT shops

Hints of Office 365 suite coming to both phones behind the Samsung's Knox security firewall

galaxy s6 edge

A row of Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones on display at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Credit: Albert Gea/Reuters

BARCELONA -- With the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung is making a concerted effort to attract workers as potential buyers and to win the hearts of IT managers who have to wrangle with enterprise smartphone security and management.

Samsung has partnered with a slew of industry heavyweights to bolster workplace security and productivity in the new products. They include Google, BlackBerry, Oracle, Citrix and Microsoft. A range of other device management vendors are also in Samsung's stable, including Good, Mobile Iron and AirWatch, Samsung officials told a crowd of more than 300 developers at Mobile World Congress on Wednesday.

All of the various partners' tools will work in concert with Samsung's latest Knox 2.4 software for security and management on the two Android 5.0 "KitKat," smartphones, said Injong Rhee, head of Samsung's Knox business unit.

While the security and management features are designed to cater to IT needs, Samsung officials said the premium design of the two new smartphones – both are encased with a glass front and back and an aluminum edge and no plastic -- should attract interest from workers who are allowed to bring their personal smartphones to use for work.

"We find that design matters" to workers, said Andrew Ko, vice president of the enterprise business team at Samsung. "IT wants security to protect corporate assets, but should also ask if this is a device [workers] want to carry."

In addition to the new design, Ko said Samsung will sell the phones in a range of colors and with a variety of attractive covers.

Even with a focus on design, Rhee assured developers that the phones will pass IT scrutiny. Research firm Gartner recently awarded Knox the top ranking among comprehensive security and management tools, giving it a top score in 11 of 16 security categories, including encryption and OS updates, Rhee noted.

Next week, he said, Microsoft will announce that each new Galaxy smartphone protected by a Knox firewall in an enterprise will come with 100 GB of One Drive cloud storage for free for a year, nearly double the 115 GB OneDrive storage for two years that will ship with new phones for consumers.

Microsoft's Office 365 suite is also coming to the phones when used behind a Knox firewall, Ko said. He didn't offer further details.

Both the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones, which have 5.1-in. displays, will go on sale April 10 in 20 countries, including the U.S.

Microsoft's OneDrive, OneNote and Skype apps will ship natively on the new phones, as will Gmail, Google Drive and Google Hangouts, Rhee said. With Google voice commands, busy workers will be able to simplify smartphone searches and other tasks.

Rhee said the smartphones, with fast 64-bit processing from dual-quad processors in Samsung's Octacore design, will increase productivity in a variety of ways.

The phones don't come with removeable batteries, but Rhee said they will last for 20 hours with regular use and can be recharged to half of total battery power in just 10 minutes, which could be useful for a quick charge during an airport layover. The battery in the Galaxy S6 is rated at 2,550 mAh, slightly less than the 2,600 mAh in the Edge.

Wireless Qi charging is embedded in the devices for the first time, although the quick-charge feature only works when the phone is plugged into an outlet.

When a partnership between Android for Work and Samsung was announced last fall, some developers wondered if that move would spell the end of Knox, but Rhee assured them both will continue. "Knox is a perfect implementation of the Android features wanted by a CIO," he said. "Android Work won't replace Knox."

BlackBerry also will integrate Knox into its enterprise services called WorkLife and SecuSuite, which will be sold through Samsung's business services branch. BlackBerry's capabilities will provide hardware-based end-to-end encryption and the ability to separate work and personal uses of the phone. An IT manager can enable these capabilities to make sure work-related calls and data are billed to the employer and kept separate from the bill received by a worker for personal use.

With BlackBerry Enterprise Server 12 and Knox, a user will be able to toggle between two phone numbers on the phone for work and personal calls.

Jeff Holleran, vice president of corporate strategy at BlackBerry, said that a full premium version of the software that combines Knox with BlackBerry enterprise services will be available this summer.

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