iPhone X vs. Galaxy Note 8: The battle of the $1,000 smartphones

Will enterprise users buy a $1,000 smartphone from Apple or Samsung, and which one should they prefer? It depends on what enterprise features they value the most.

iPhone X vs. Galaxy Note 8: The battle of the $1,000 smartphones
Thinkstock

Both Samsung (Galaxy Note 8) and Apple (iPhone X) have now launched their premiere smartphones, having set a new price point at about $1,000 each. Consumers may be hesitant to spend so much on a device when fully capable smartphones are available for $200 to $300 less, but enterprise users are usually less price sensitive. So, how appealing are these devices to enterprise users?

[ Read also: iOS 11 vs. Android 8.0: Which is better? Well... ]

Below I compare some of the key features/specs for their appeal to enterprise-class users. Clearly it’s not always an objective decision, as many users will choose based on their preference for the iOS or Android operating systems or simply brand loyalty. But here's my take on the features found in each.

Phone size

The iPhone X and Galaxy Note 8 are similar in case size (162.5 x 74.8 x 8.6 for the Note 8 vs. 143.6 x 70.9 x 7.7 for the iPhone X) and screen (6.3 for Note 8 vs 5.8 for the iPhone X). When you hold the devices in your hand, they don’t really feel all that much different. So, it’s likely neither device really has an advantage other than both are large and have big screens, which is important to a certain class of users.

Battery life

This is a critical feature, and its likely (although not yet certain) that the Galaxy Note 8 has the advantage. Apple hasn’t yet disclosed the size of the battery in the iPhone X other than saying it lasts a long time. But the Note 8 weighs about 20 grams more, and given the phones' almost identical size, it’s likely this extra weight is due to a larger battery. Battery size is not a guarantee for how long it will last, but it’s a good indicator. In this case, with the information available, I’d give the advantage to the Note 8.

Display type

The display is a key user selection criteria. The iPhone X is Apple’s first device with an OLED screen. OLED offers much brighter and crisper displays, and Samsung has been using what it terms Super AMOLED for several generations. Since both have OLED displays, they should run close on visual appeal.

But with a slightly larger display on the Galaxy Note 8 (1440x2960 pixels vs. 1125x2436) and the fact Samsung has been using Super AMOLED displays for some time, until we can have a head-to-head comparison, I give the advantage to the Note 8 on screen appeal.

Processors

Processors are at the heart of any device when performance counts, and with such premium devices expected to perform a large variety of tasks, it’s important to evaluate them.

The iPhone X has Apple’s new A11 Bionic chip, while the Galaxy Note 8 (at least in the U.S.) incorporates Qualcomm’s highest performance Snapdragon 835. The A11 is a six-core device, while the Snapdragon 835 is an eight-core device. Cores alone don’t always determine superior performance, as optimized software and proper fine tuning can have major impacts. And Apple has been very good at tuning for highest performance. But the Snapdragon 835 has proven itself in a number of high-end designs.

In this case, until we have more performance data, I’d give Apple a slight edge based on its historic ability to optimize its overall device functionality.

Memory capacity

Memory is one of those things users don’t often think about until they need it. Both the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone X come with 64GB in their minimum configuration. The iPhone also comes in a 256GB configuration at $150 more. But Samsung has provided a memory card slot in its devices, while Apple has not. That means the Note 8 can be upgraded.

I give the advantage to Samsung on this one because memory upgradability, while not always on the minds of initial purchasers, is one of those things that comes back to haunt you if you can’t manage when you really do download all those 4K videos.

Connectors: USB C or Lightning

USB C vs. Lightning connectors is a hot debate. While this may be a minor point, it is nonetheless important, particularly in an enterprise setting. USB C is used by virtually all high-end phone makers other than Apple (at least on newer generation devices), as well as many tablets and notebooks. Its relatively easy to find chargers and peripherals (and most are interchangeable across vendors).

Of course, both devices feature wireless charging, but that's not always available.

Importantly for enterprise users, many peripherals are becoming available for USB C. For this reason, the Galaxy Note 8 has a significant advantage for enterprise users, and I give the Note 8 the edge here.

Operating system: iOS or Android

Operating systems is one of those “religious” discussions. iOS has a very large and loyal following in the enterprise. But Android has been making significant inroads over the past couple of years, and Apple no longer commands the dominant lead it once had.

Still I have to give the iPhone X a slight edge here because it will appeal to an existing installed base that is quite loyal, particularly if they have already purchased a number of apps.

Security

Security is a key parameter that affects enterprise users in many more ways than the average consumer. Organizations need to ensure that users can log in securely and that the company can easily determine and deploy policies to access corporate resources.

[ Read also: Mingis on Tech: For the new iPhones, 'X' marks the spot ]

Apple claims its facial recognition software is more secure than fingerprint sensors, and it has decided that this is the primary way to log into the device. Samsung included facial recognition in the Galaxy Note 8, but it has been careful to say it doesn’t consider it foolproof and includes alternatives, such as a fingerprint sensor, iris scanner and good-old fashioned PIN capability. This is important for enterprises that may not yet be convinced of the security of Apple’s facial recognition.

Further, Samsung has included its KNOX security platform in the Note 8 (as it does in most of its devices now), which adds a significant layer of security, such as a fully encrypted segregated storage folder and hardware-level protection for prevention of rootkitting. For organizations that want the highest level of security and most device management capability, the Note 8 has more than most. While the iPhone X is not bad, I give the Note 8 a clear security advantage for enterprise use.

Desktop access

The Galaxy Note 8 (and S8 as well) can convert from a smartphone form factor to essentially a desktop device using its DeX capability. While not something consumers generally look for, it is appealing to a growing number of business people who want to carry just one device. Running VMware or Citrix on the device makes it compatible with most corporate apps, even when they are not ported to the device. I estimate 10 to 20 percent of users who select a Note 8 (or S8) indicate that DeX was a selection tipping point. In this case, DeX is a major competitive advantage that Apple and iPhone X currently don’t have.

AR/VR capability

For companies exploring AR/VR, the iPhone X can utilize Apple’s ARKit and offers a preliminary advantage. The Galaxy Note 8 does have capability to get there, but currently Samsung has not placed as much emphasis on AR — although it has actively pursued VR primarily for consumer entertainment. It's early, but for now, Apple has an advantage over Samsung and Android in general, even though I expect that will be short lived given Google’s ARCore efforts.

Pen input

Is the use of the Galaxy Note 8 S-Pen an advantage or just a nice feature? Many enterprise mobile apps are electronic forms replacements. In those cases, the pen makes it easier to design and run an app for field workers than touch screen alone. While perhaps not an overwhelming advantage, for those companies deploying mobile apps that have forms and/or check boxes, the Note 8’s S-Pen is a compelling feature to make the device more attractive to users.

Device durability

And finally, enterprises require devices that can survive the rough handling most employees subject them to. We see examples of all phone types that break, but other than a slightly better waterproof rating for the Note 8, I expect both devices to be relatively reliable, with no major advantage to either.

So, there you have it. My take on the two devices from an enterprise user’s perspective. Overall, I’d have to give the Galaxy Note 8 an advantage in several of the areas I indicated above, although not necessarily a knock-out blow.

Ultimately it may come down to user preference. Either way, both smartphones are premium devices that should help enterprise users stay much more productive when mobile and enjoy some personal features and functions, as well.

How to handle Windows 10 updates
Shop Tech Products at Amazon