Apple MDM vs. Android MDM: What’s the difference?

Last updated May 26, 2022

Mobile device management (MDM) helps organizations oversee and maintain their team’s smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. As the great Apple vs. Android debate rages on, your mobile device management tool needs to accommodate the types of devices your employees use. If you are trying to decide whether to equip your team with Apple or Android devices, investigating MDM solutions ahead of time can help you select the platform that’s easiest for your team to manage. 

Apple MDM and Android MDM have similarities and differences, but either type of device may be ideal depending on your organizational needs and goals. Learn more about the MDM implications rather than letting your office’s ardent Apple supporters or avid Android fans sway your decision. 

How does MDM work on iOS?

Apple MDM software works with Apple Business Manager to give IT administrators convenient configuration and deployment tools for any iOS device. Here are some of its main features: 

User enrollment and setup

By connecting Apple Business Manager to Microsoft Azure Active Directory, you can enroll company-owned devices automatically without physically preparing them. Setup Assistant also allows your IT team to push custom configurations.

Account management

IT can create and manage employee accounts through Managed Apple IDs. In addition, a Managed Apple ID can be used alongside a personal Apple ID on employee-owned devices. 

Content distribution

When you find a resource your staff needs, you can purchase it and distribute it in bulk. Push out the latest apps, books, on other content quickly and easily. You can also distribute app and media licenses. 

Apple Configurator and Apple Configurator 2 provide scaled-back versions of these features. While the iOS device is plugged into a computer, an administrator can control configurations, install apps, distribute licenses, and more. That said, most sysadmins prefer to use Apple Configurator or Apple Configurator 2 in conjunction with a high-quality MDM solution. 

That’s because MDM solutions typically offer more advanced features and greater ease of use. Small businesses and those with just a few mobile devices might get by with Apple Configurator, but most enterprises that use Apple devices rely on a quality MDM tool. 

How does MDM work on Android?

Historically, businesses have often considered Android devices more difficult to manage due to their diversity. With so many versions of the Android operating system, fragmentation can limit interoperability and make administration a real beast. Luckily, Android MDM solutions have made great strides in recent years. 

Android Enterprise Recommended MDM tools use Android Enterprise APIs to support the following features: 

User enrollment and setup

Android MDM allows several deployment options, including zero-touch enrollment, bumping a near-field communication (NFC) tag, entering a unique EMM token, scanning a QR code, and enrolling with a work email address through Google Workspace. 

Account management

Android MDM solutions allow employees to maintain an Android Enterprise work profile and a personal profile on the same device, switching between the two with just a swipe. The two profiles do not share data, making it easy for employees to use their personal devices in conjunction with a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. 

Content distribution

Android MDM allows you to distribute apps to devices through managed Google Play. You can push approved apps to user devices or make them available through the managed Google Play store. 

Are there any similarities between Apple MDM and Android MDM?

From an administration perspective, Apple MDM and Android MDM are pretty similar. The right MDM solution for either platform simplifies many common tasks. Here are a few functionalities they have in common.  

Enrollment

Regardless of whether you’re using Apple MDM or Android MDM, your solution should help you enroll compatible devices from approved resellers. Administrators can automate bulk enrollments for company-owned devices. Each personal device can also be enrolled via self enrollment, invitation, or bulk enrollment via CSV file.

Access control

An IT administrator can use an MDM solution to assign roles and configure permissions so that each user has access to the resources they need. 

Profile management

A high-quality MDM solution for Apple or Android devices allows you to configure profiles so that you can easily set up specific preferences, policies, restrictions, and settings. 

Asset management

Across platforms, MDM solutions frequently offer asset management features, such as reporting. Tracking asset information can help simplify audits, confirm compliance, and show how employees use company devices.  

Applications

Many of the same business applications are popular for both Apple and Android devices. You’ll probably need to push out deployments of some of these apps, like Asana, Slack, Zoom, and apps in the Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace families. 

Containerization

MDM solutions frequently use BYOD containerization so that users can compartmentalize personal data and corporate data on the same device.  

What are the primary differences between Apple MDM and Android MDM?

Maybe it’s time to replace the phrase “like apples and oranges” with “like Apples and Androids.” Because while the two share some similarities, there are countless distinct differences. Here are a few of the ways Apple and Android MDM vary.

OS updates

Since many Android producers customize the operating system, their updates must also be customized. This means less frequent patches and upgrades. In fact, some devices may never get an update if their manufacturers decide it isn’t worth the hassle. In contrast, Apple issues regular iOS updates, including support for older devices. While updating devices creates more work for the IT team, it also keeps those devices more secure and enhances their functionality. 

Consistency and flexibility

Since all Apple devices are made by Apple, the operating system, hardware, user experience, and features are much more similar. This can help streamline the MDM process. On the other hand, Android devices are far more diverse. Therefore, it may be easier to customize an Android device or find an existing model that more closely meets your needs and budget. However, managing disparate devices is inherently more complicated. 

Efficiency and speed

iPhones have a reputation for being faster than Androids. Particularly as an Android device ages and/or more apps are installed, it’s likely to slow down. Both users and the IT team may have to put in a little more time when working with Android devices. 

Durability

While concrete statistics aren’t available, Apple devices are widely believed to outlast Android devices. For your IT team, this can mean less time configuring new equipment.

Expense

Apple devices tend to have higher price tags than Android, so they generally require a larger upfront investment. However, their greater longevity and efficiency of management may make them more budget friendly in the long run. 

Security

Security is a top concern in both Apple and Android MDM. Neither platform is immune to threats. However, it’s easier to install apps from illegitimate sources to Android devices, making viruses and malware easier to distribute and harder to track. The App Store has stricter security standards, so your company devices may be less likely to pick up cyber cooties from apps. 

What’s the difference between MDM and MAM?

While MDM focuses on overseeing devices, mobile application management (MAM) targets the control of corporate apps and associated data. A company may use an MDM or an MAM depending on its needs, but most achieve the highest level of control with a combination of the two. 

With more and more employees using mobile devices for work, effective MDM is critical to improving your business’s efficiency and protecting data. Apple MDM and Android MDM vary somewhat, but either may be appropriate for your company. If you’re considering using Apple devices at work, see how easy Apple MDM can be with a free 30-day trial of SimpleMDM or learn more from the SimpleMDM blog.

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