CIO Jury: 58% of tech leaders don't think the iPhone XS is a good smartphone for business

Tech leaders said high cost and lack of stylus support for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max deters enterprise adoption.

Apple's iPhone XS: Its most important feature for business pros

On Friday, Apple's new iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max finally hit the market. The new phones feature edge-to-edge displays, improved battery life, and, for the Max, a larger, 6.5-inch screen. However, the phones also hold less RAM than competitors like the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, and do not include stylus support, potentially making them less impressive tools for enterprise users.

The phones also come with a high price tag: The iPhone XS costs $999 for the 64GB model, $1,149 for the 256GB model, and $1,349 for the 512GB model. Meanwhile, the iPhone XS Max costs $1,099 for the 64GB model, $1,249 for the 256GB model, and $1,449 for the 512GB model.

We surveyed the TechRepublic CIO Jury on their thoughts on the new iPhone XS. When asked, "Do you think the Apple iPhone XS is a good smartphone for business?" five tech leaders said yes, while seven said no.

SEE: Mobile device computing policy (Tech Pro Research)

"I don't think the iPhone (any iPhone) is a good choice for most business," said David Wilson, director of IT services, VectorCSP.

Barriers for business

Several jury members cited the cost of the iPhone XS as a major barrier for business adoption.

"It's too expensive for regular business use," said Simon Johns, IT director at Sheppard Robson Architects LLP. "It's an executive's toy."

This was particularly the case for public sector tech leaders. "While we think Apple makes some great products, it is very tough to justify the price in the government space, especially when one can get a very capable smartphone for hundreds of dollars less," said Cory Wilburn, CIO of the Texas General Land Office.

Jeff Kopp, technology coordinator at Christ the King Catholic School, agreed. "There are many Android phones that are just as powerful and cost less," he said.

However, many employees who have been on the iOS platform for a long time are often reluctant to move off of it, even with the rising costs and diminishing benefits of the new devices, said Dan Gallivan, director of information technology at Payette.

"For business devices, we are able to deploy those on Android, taking advantage of stylus and improved battery life," Gallivan said. "[The iPhone XS] is no longer a great choice for business, and has become more of a personal device."

The lack of a stylus was another pain point for some. "The iPhone XS Max is closer to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, but still does not support the stylus," said Kris Seeburn, an independent IT consultant, evangelist, and researcher. "When it comes to taking notes, the finger is a bit painful. I would have preferred the XS and XS Max to fully support the stylus."

SEE: BYOD Business Strategies: Adoption Plans, Deployment Options, IT Concerns, and Cost Savings (Tech Pro Research)

From a personal device standpoint, some of the new features are useful, Seeburn said. "But I still believe a stylus update would have been a great thing for business people," he added.

Employee preference

On the other end of the spectrum, some tech leaders believe the iPhone XS is a good tool for business simply because employees prefer it.

"Most of our business phones are personal devices supported by a BYOD reimbursement plan," said Michael Spears, CIO and chief data officer, National Council on Compensation Insurance. "The iPhone platform has been the overwhelming choice for our users. Keeping in the same ecosystem at home and at work makes life easier. Samsung and other Android devices just haven't been as successful."

The iPhone XS may have less RAM than other devices, but that's not a major concern for some tech leaders.

"I can't think of a business use in which 3GB of RAM isn't adequate," said Chris Koeneman, senior vice president of strategic solutions at MOBI. "Sure, there might be some highly specialized business application in which 3GB of RAM is inadequate, but that has to be a very specialized application."

In the end, it comes down to user needs and preferences, said Jerry Justice, CIO of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP. "This can vary from smartphone-centric to video/streaming-centric to doc markup/review-centric (and they bleed over)," Justice said. "There are user camps that simply want a larger viewing screen."

This month's CIO Jury included:

  • Shelia Anderson, SVP and CIO of corporate functions, Liberty Mutual
  • Jerry Justice, CIO, Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP
  • David Wilson, director of IT services, VectorCSP
  • Michael Spears, CIO and chief data officer, National Council on Compensation Insurance
  • Simon Johns, IT director, Sheppard Robson Architects LLP
  • Cory Wilburn, CIO, Texas General Land Office
  • Dan Gallivan, director of information technology, Payette
  • Jeff Kopp, technology coordinator, Christ the King Catholic School
  • Chris Koeneman, SVP of strategic solutions, MOBI
  • Arkadiusz Olchawa, IT director and CIO, Itaka
  • Kris Seeburn, independent IT consultant, evangelist, and researcher
  • Chris Mertens, director of IT, Hamilton County Government and Judicial Center

Want to be part of TechRepublic's CIO Jury and have your say on the top issues for IT decision makers? If you are a CIO, CTO, IT director, or equivalent at a large or small company, working in the private sector or in government, and you want to join TechRepublic's CIO Jury pool, click the Contact link below or email alison dot rayome at cbsinteractive dot com, and send your name, title, company, location, and email address.

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Image: Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET