8 Android device provisioning methods

Cameron Summerson
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8 Android device provisioning methods

Provisioning is the process of setting up new devices to work in a specific way you define. This is common in many enterprise technology scenarios, especially where dedicated devices like POS systems, kiosks, rugged handsets, and digital signage are concerned. 

Esper offers several different methods for provisioning a device. Each has specific benefits depending on the intended use-case, enterprise requirements, and other device integrations across the fleet. 

We’re going to cover each one to help you decide which will work best in a given situation. Here are all of the provisioning options available on Esper:. 

  • Esper Seamless Provisioning
  • 6 Tap QR code
  • Android for Work
  • Google Zero-Touch Enrollment (ZTE)
  • Knox Mobile Enrollment
  • Esper Device Provisioner
  • NFC
  • Manual installation
Simplified provisioning with Esper

Esper Seamless Provisioning

If you’re using our custom Android solution (Esper Foundation for Android) or an AOSP build, then Seamless Provisioning is the best option for you. 

Esper Seamless Provisioning option is truly a no-touch solution that enables our customers to apply provisioning templates to devices as soon as they’re deployed to a location. 

So, let’s say you need three new kiosks deployed across three locations. These kiosks need to function identically to other kiosks in your organization, so you already have a template designed to enable this functionality. With Seamless Provisioning, you can plug the device serial number (or IMEI) into the Esper console, input the Wi-Fi credentials for the network the device will connect to, and tell it which provisioning template to apply at boot. 

An onsite employee simply needs to remove the kiosk from the box and power it on. The rest of the provisioning process is done automatically. It’s basically magic. For more info on Seamless Provisioning, check out our full primer

Key Takeaways: 

  • Seamless Provisioning requires Esper Foundation for Android or a customizable AOSP build
  • Seamless Provisioning is a truly no-touch provisioning solution 

6 Tap QR Code

If you’re using off-the-shelf hardware, the 6 Tap provisioning method is among the easiest to get started with. It’s not as hands-off as Seamless Provisioning, but it’s a very clean, simple solution that shouldn’t require a full IT department to use. 

The 6 Tap method uses a QR code generated in the Esper console to apply a specific provisioning template to a device during setup. This functionality is baked into basically all GMS (Google Mobile Services) Android 7.0+ devices and is quickly accessible directly from the welcome screen. This is likely the preferred provisioning method for many organizations — especially those using off the shelf Android hardware. The only caveats here is that the device must have GMS and a camera. 

Key takeaways: 

  • 6 Tap enrollment is not touchless, but still very fast and easy 
  • 6 Tap enrollment requires Android 7.0+ with GMS and a camera
  • 6 Tap enrollment is perfect for off the shelf Android devices

Android for Work

Android for Work provisioning is similar to the 6 Tap method in terms of how the device is enrolled on Esper, but the process is slightly more complicated — and a bit more time consuming. Instead of scanning a QR code, you go through the initial Android setup process, which requires manually connecting the device to Wi-Fi . After that, however, you’ll use “afw#esper” in place of the login email, which will initiate the provisioning process. 

You may be wondering why you’d want to use the Android for Work method instead of the 6 Tap QR code method, which is both faster and simpler. Truthfully, in most cases, you wouldn’t. But Android for Work is available on devices running Android 6.0 (and above) so if you’re using older hardware, it may be the best option available. Similarly, if the device you’re onboarding doesn’t have a camera, the AfW provisioning method is your best bet. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Android for Work provisioning is available on Android 6.0+ devices and supports devices without cameras
  • Android for Work provisioning is only available for GMS devices
  • Android for Work provisioning is  slower than the 6 Tap QR code method 

Google Zero-Touch Enrollment (ZTE)

Zero-touch enrollment is Google’s provisioning option for enrolling multiple devices at one time and replaces the old Android for Work provisioning method. Devices that can use ZTE must be purchased from an Android Enterprise reseller or Google partner — not all Android devices can use ZTE functionality. “Zero touch” is also a bit of a misnomer, as internet connectivity (Wi-Fi password) must still be manually configured before provisioning can take place. 

That said, ZTE offers robust security features that prevent provisioned devices from being used on another MDM — even after a factory reset. It’s also relatively fast once it’s connected to Wi-Fi since the provisioning process itself is largely automated. If you plan on purchasing devices in bulk from a seller that supports ZTE, it’s not a bad option. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Google ZTE provisioning requires devices purchased from an Android Enterprise reseller or Google partner
  • Google ZTE provisioning requires a GMS Android device (AOSP devices not supported)
  • Google ZTE provisioning is largely automated after manual connection 

Knox Mobile Enrollment (KME)

Samsung devices use a proprietary provisioning system called Knox Mobile Enrollment (KME). In many ways, it’s similar to Google Zero Touch Enrollment, as it uses a portal to provision devices onto an MDM and essentially locks the devices to that MDM, even after a factory reset. 

KME is a good option for organizations that plan on utilizing Samsung for their device fleet or have an existing provisioning process that uses KME and want to continue using it for consistency. With Esper’s implementation, you can manage all your devices — Samsung or otherwise — from your Esper Console. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Knox Mobile Enrollment requires Samsung devices with Knox 2.6+ and Android 6.0+ (only Samsung devices are supported)
  • Knox Mobile Enrollment works well for provisioning Samsung devices in bulk

Esper Device Provisioner

The Esper Device Provisioner is an option on some older Android devices (below 6.0), AOSP devices that lack GMS, or those without cameras. This method requires access to a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer with ADB (either over USB or Ethernet/Wi-Fi). The Esper Device Provisioner takes longer to enroll a device, but offers a path to provisioning when other methods are blocked by hardware, firmware, or software (i.e., GMS) limitations.

Key takeaways: 

  • Esper Device Provisioner works on Android 5.0+, AOSP devices, and those without cameras
  • Esper Device Provisioner requires a Windows, Mac, or Linux computer connected by ADB to the device


The NFC enrollment method uses the Esper NFC Provisioner to apply a provisioning template wirelessly from another device. For example, if you’re trying to enroll a GMS device that doesn’t have a camera and you’re not interested in using the Android for Work method, you can use NFC provisioning. The catch here is that both devices need NFC. The “enroller” device also requires a camera since it pulls your provisioning template by scanning a QR code. 

Key takeaways: 

  • NFC provisioning requires two devices, both with NFC
  • NFC provisioning needs a camera on the secondary or “enroller” device (the device not being provisioned)
  • NFC provisioning works with Android 6.0+
  • NFC provisioning requires GMS and Play Store access

Manual Installation

Manual provisioning is by far the more hands-on enrollment method, but is worth considering if you encounter issues using other methods. With manual installation, you’ll need the Esper app, which is available from the Play Store for GMS devices, and we can also provide the APK on request. You’ll need to execute a couple of ADB commands to set Esper as the device owner, too, meaning command line work is involved. 

First, you’ll need to set the device up in order to install the Esper app, regardless of if you’re getting it from the Play Store or sideloading it (installing an APK file directly on the device). With the app installed, fire up ADB and run these commands: 

adb install -r -t shoonya_dpc.apk

adb shell dpm set-device-owner io.shoonya.shoonyadpc/com.shoonyaos.shoonyadpc.receivers.AdminReceiver

After that, simply launch the Esper app to provision the device. 

Key takeaways: 

  • Manual installation works on Android 5.0+ with or without GMS (AOSP support)
  • Manual installation requires ADB access and executing some commands from the CLI

Provisioning shouldn’t be complicated, so we made it simple

With our choice of provisioning options, Esper makes onboarding almost any Android device achievable right out of the box. If you’re not sure which provisioning method is best for your situation, have a scenario not addressed here, or anything else, just get in touch with us. We’ll help you figure it out. It’s what we do. 


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Cameron Summerson
Cameron Summerson

Cam brings over 10 years of technology journalism experience to Esper, including nearly half-a-decade as Editor in Chief of a technology publication. He currently runs content operations and oversees the ideation, execution, and distribution plans for numerous types of content from blog posts to ebooks and beyond.