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Samsung is on a mission to make its Galaxy-branded smartphones the go-to device for mobile workers. Company executives recently shared the consumer electronics giant's strategy with Datamation.
Part of its plan to become the go-to provider of handsets for business users is to appeal to IT administrators with integrated mobile device management (MDM) features and rank-and-file employees with stylish hardware. Eric McCarty, vice president of mobile product marketing at Samsung, said the company is working hard to rope in the first group by pouring investments and the latest mobile security innovations into KNOX, Samsung's MDM technology.
First, the KNOX team struck a delicate balance delivering an unobtrusive consumer-like experience backed by business-friendly management and configuration capabilities, he said.
A Welcoming Fort KNOX
"The enterprise user is also a consumer and vice versa," McCarty said. In addition to catering to non-techies, the company beefed up its MDM technology to account for today's increasingly sophisticated threats.
"When we looked at security, Samsung designed KNOX from the ground up," he said, distancing the technology from holdovers from PC-era. The software digs deep, down to the hardware level, to provide "monitoring of the OS and kernel for any threats or security issues, all behind the scenes," he said.
KNOX Workspace locks business data into a secure container, preventing leaks caused by use of personal apps. For environments with tight security requirements, two-factor authentication adds another safeguard, requiring users to pass a fingerprint scan or supply a passcode. In particular, biometric fingerprint security has been "improved and made much easier to use," McCarty reported.
Samsung's mobile device and application management tech also plays well with third-party enterprise mobility management vendors, assured McCarty.
The company worked with BlackBerry to provide seamless compatibility with BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) 12, he said. Good Technology's container technology also works without a hitch, along with offerings from leading MDM providers. "It's all about flexibility and working with an open partner ecosystem," McCarty said.
Samsung mobile units
Not Phoning It In
The second pillar in Samsung's strategy to win over the enterprise rests on the company's ability to deliver business-friendly 4G LTE smartphones that also appeal to style-conscious consumers. Suzanne De Silva, principle product manager at Samsung, said her company has achieved its goal this year, not once, but twice.
"It's the first time we've done two flagships," said De Silva, referencing the company's new Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge. Under the codename "Project Zero," Samsung went back to the drawing board to come up with a "purposeful design" that not only met an elevated standard of quality, but also scored high on desirability.
Featuring "premium materials," the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge rivals the benchmark set by Apple's iPhone 6. Glass and metal dominate, giving the devices a well-weighted and solid feel.
There is no discernible bend and flex with both models, an encouraging sign for devices that may spend much if their lives in a back pocket or bouncing around in a crowded gadget bag. Fourth-generation Gorilla Glass from Corning keeps the touchscreen and back panel free from scratches, as a few butterfingered drops of evaluation units by this writer have proven.
With its tapered sides, the Galaxy S6 Edge is the more eye-catching of the two. Samsung first tested the waters with curved screens last year with the Galaxy Note Edge phablet featuring a display that cascades over the right edge.
Living and Working on the Edge
While both the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge feature vibrant 5.1-inch AMOLED touchscreens with a resolution of 2560 pixels by 1440 pixels, the Edge's curves give it a little extra visual flair along with some novel new uses.
The sloped screens do more than give the Edge a distinctive look, asserted De Silva. "It keeps you in touch with the contacts that matter most to you," she said. Using the People Edge feature, owners can assign five VIPs a color among the eight available. When the phone receives a call from one of those contacts, its edge lights up with the corresponding color, allowing users to discretely screen their calls during meetings, for example, by placing the Edge face down and watching for the tell-tale glow.
Other notable features include a 5 megapixel front camera and 16 megapixel rear shooter featuring "the brightest lens yet and tracking autofocus" for crisp pictures. The rear camera also supports 4K (3840 x 2160) video recording at 30 frames per second.
The speaker, positioned on the bottom of the device, has been given a major upgrade. Now that it is "one and a half times louder than the S5," according to De Silva, it is perfectly serviceable for hands-free and conference calls, as an impromptu phone interview in a loud hotel room recently proved. Strong hotspot performance also helped cut through the Wi-Fi signals of a crowded conference hall.
Available in in three iridescent colors, Black Sapphire, White Pearl and Gold Platinum, the S6 and S6 Edge pack 3 gigabytes (GB) of RAM, 32 GB of storage and an eight-core mobile processor with speeds of up to 2.1 GHz. The OS of choice is Android 5.0 "Lollipop." In tests, both phones ably handled split-screen multi-tasking.
Built-in wireless charging and fast charging capabilities both help minimize hunting for the next power outlet. A word of caution: The matching wireless charging pad from Samsung (sold separately), while handy, should be placed on a level surface. In an older building with uneven floors, the glass-backed S6 and S6 Edge would slide off despite the charger's rubberized ring.
Frequent travelers and power users should also note that the new sealed enclosures no longer accept Micro SD cards, meaning they're stuck with the phones' built-in storage capacity. Also gone is the user replaceable battery, although a low-power mode helps stretch battery life by several hours in the event of airport delays or standstill traffic.
Taken altogether, McCarty believes that Samsung has successfully created a software and hardware ecosystem that caters to both IT administrators and employees.
IT managers won't have to compromise on delivering a consumer-centric experience while maintaining control of their corporate data, he said. With KNOX and the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge, administrators can offer mobility solutions that the "end user wants to use and my enterprise management features are there as well," he said.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.