Unveiled yesterday, the new Enterprise Edition of Samsung's Galaxy Note8 smartphone was designed to balance business security and productivity needs with employee expectations for a consumer-friendly experience, the company said.

Businesses will be able to configure, deploy, and update the devices without even unboxing them, allowing them to consistently manage a fleet of phones company-wide, Samsung said. At the same time, employees will have the latest smartphone bells and whistles such as an advanced camera and a large, curved-edge Infinity display, according to Samsung.

Available now through Samsung channel partners, the Note8 Enterprise Edition is priced at $994 and arrives unlocked so businesses can go with the wireless carrier of their choice. And, like Henry Ford's Model T, it comes in any color enterprises want "so long as it is black."

'More than a Phone: a Set of Tools & Assurances'

Businesses that choose to provide employees with company-issued devices rather than going with a bring-your-own-device strategy have to make a "substantial investment," as that decision is usually part of a larger, organization-wide digital transformation effort, according to Eric McCarty, vice president for mobile product marketing at Samsung Business.

"You need a partner you can rely on, who knows where the potholes lie and the best ways to avoid them," McCarty wrote yesterday in a company blog post. "The Galaxy Note8 Enterprise Edition is a recognition of this need. More than a phone, it's a set of tools and assurances for the IT organization that help them stay on track, from deployment through the entire lifecycle of the mobile device."

The business-focused version of the Galaxy Note8 reflects Samsung's "acknowledgment that enterprises and their users have a different set of needs than the typical consumer," Patrick Moorhead, founder, president, and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, wrote today in Forbes.

"While the Note8 Enterprise Edition is likely physically indiscernible from the consumer version, it offers better security and manageability for enterprises looking for a real business-class device," Moorhead said. "By bringing PC-class manageability and support to the Note8, Samsung is establishing the Note8 Enterprise Edition as the standard for smartphones in the enterprise."

Includes 'PC-Class' Support

Among the key business-focused features of Samsung's new phone is its support for quick and streamlined enterprise device management. Administrators have access to two Samsung tools for configuration and updating: Knox Configure, which lets businesses remotely set up "branded, custom mobile experiences," and Enterprise Firmware Over the Air, which offers centralized control over operating system management and updates for organization-wide IT consistency.

Such features ensure that all employees have the latest versions of operating system firmware on their phones, and that updates can be scheduled outside of regular business hours to avoid disruptions.

The Galaxy Note8 Enterprise Edition also provides business users with "PC-class" support that includes monthly security updates for up to three years, and ensures they can buy additional devices of the same model for up to two years. In addition, Samsung's Knox mobile security offering supports data separation that can isolate and encrypt sensitive information.

Another supported feature, Samsung DeX, allows employees to connect their phones to desktop displays via docking stations so they can use the devices like a PC.

Shipping with Android 7.1.1 (Nougat), the Galaxy Note8 Enterprise Edition has a 6.3-inch Quad HT/Super AMOLED display, 10-nanometer Exynos processor, LTE connectivity, wired and wireless fast charging, and 64 GB of storage that can be expanded up to 256 GB.