CXO Apple

iPhone 8 or iPhone X: Which one should CIOs prefer for their users?

Apple just announced two new series of the iPhone. Here are the top considerations that IT leaders must account for when thinking of supporting the devices.

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Whenever a new smartphone is released, one question seems to float around IT departments around the world: "Will we support it?" The iPhone 8 and iPhone X, both announced on September 12, are no exception.

However, while both phones feature some similar capabilities and specifications, they are designed with different users in mind. The ROI for deployment must be clear-cut, and the device must clearly improve productivity in some way.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, starting at $699 and $799 respectively, are the continuation of the standard iPhone line with some minor tweaks and improvements. The iPhone X, starting at $999, is the top-of-the-line iPhone with a full-screen Super Retina OLED display, a new Face ID unlock feature, and additional storage options.

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Of course, one of the first considerations should be security and manageability. Being that both of these devices will be running iOS 11, there shouldn't be much of a difference in whether or not an EMM or MDM solution will support them. But, the timing may be different depending on the provider.

Kevin Burden, vice president of mobility research at 451 Research, said the big question is: "To what degree has Apple shared the code with any of these EMM providers? Are they ready to support iOS 11 right out of the gate? Some are going to be, and some are not going to be," Burden said.

With iOS 11, the iPhone is getting many more productivity features that business users will find alluring, but it is critical that organizations perform their own security and management tests, and wait for their MDM and EMM vendors to do the same before deploying.

In regards to security, the new Face ID feature is only available on the iPhone X. For privacy-focused organizations, the Face ID unlock feature "will be another authentication method that can be used or added to others also for multi factor authentication," Gartner research director Roberta Cozza said. Apple has also said that the Face ID feature is more secure than its fingerprint-focused Touch ID.

The Face ID feature stems from Apple's increasing focus on augmented reality (AR). The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, as well as the iPhone X, have AR functionality. But the iPhone X has more advanced AR capabilities with its improved front-facing camera. So, if a company is really looking to invest in AR for product demonstrations, marketing, and more, its CIO may consider supporting the iPhone X.

Cozza said that Apple's focus on AR with the new iPhones and the ARKit will "be a driver for more AR apps going not only in consumer market but also benefiting specific verticals."

CIOs must also consider their employees. J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research, noted that CIOs must match their choice of device to the needs and wants of their employees. According to Gownder, "the device must complement the daily usage patterns, business use cases, and context of those workers."

Some workers may benefit from the larger screen of the iPhone X, for example, while others may need a smaller form factor to fit in a field uniform, Gownder said. Gownder recommended that CIOs test devices with specific sub-groups of employees to determine the best match for support.

Finally, price and availability will play a major role, especially within larger organizations. The iPhone 8 starts at $50 more than some previous models, and the iPhone X starts at the expensive price point of $999. However, these prices may be justifiable for employees who would gain much from the new functionality.

The iPhone 8 may be more easy to acquire than the iPhone X. Apple is rumored to have a smaller number of available iPhone X model and could be limited by its production materials.

"When you go to OLED screens--this is the problem that's going to come about--those screens are expensive, and they're difficult to manufacture," Burden said.

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