Rugged vs. Consumer Devices: Six Criteria to Evaluate Before You Make Your Choice

rugged devices

Will consumer or rugged devices deliver a higher ROI for your organization?

As manufacturers, warehouses, and transportation and logistics companies continue to grow with mobile, this is a common question to ask. The truth is you need to weigh a lot of criteria. While the price tag on a consumer device may appear to save you money, there are other things to consider. Those include the hidden costs, IT management concerns, and user experience issues.

To make the process easier for you, here’s a list of six criteria you should consider. Once you look at all the facts, you’ll see why, in almost every case, a rugged device is a better fit for enterprise activities. Our partner, Zebra Technologies, has produced many innovative, rugged devices that help blend the best features of both types of devices.

Rugged Device Security

rugged devices

Security is often the most crucial issue for a company. Consumer devices do not have the advanced security features usually required for an enterprise device. This is why companies often look to rugged devices.

Zebra’s handheld devices feature the Android Operating System—the same as you’ll find powering a smartphone. However, Zebra developed Zebra’s Mobility Extensions (Mx) to improve security. A Zebra rugged handheld will give you features like data encryption, the ability to lock or wipe clean a stolen device, and the prevention of downloading unwanted apps.

Rugged Device Durability

rugged device durability

Rugged devices are labeled as such for a reason. Your workers use your devices in the harshest environments—Those settings are far different than what a typical smartphone faces every day.

It’s hard to find consumer devices that have survived tests for drops of 5 to 8 feet and thousands of tumbles. Zebra devices are not only drop tested, but also come with an Ingress Protection (IP) sealing rating, which ensures functionality even if exposed to spills and dust.

Rugged Device Lifecycle

rugged devices lifecycle

A hidden cost with a consumer device is the rate of the device’s churn. This means older devices get retired, and new devices are brought to market. If you select a consumer device over a rugged enterprise device, you may end up paying more money for devices in the long run.

Consumer devices generally turnover every 12 months. Zebra mobile devices have a minimum life cycle of 3 years. With Zebra, you also get a guarantee to have the ability to purchase the same devices for 3 years, along with additional support of 3 years after a device has been discontinued.

Typically, you also have to buy new accessories with each new generation of consumer devices, which adds to your total cost of ownership. With Zebra, you typically do not need to purchase additional accessories, and apps can be ported to new devices without development effort in most cases.

Data Capture

rugged data capture device

If barcode scanning is essential to your business, there’s no comparison between Zebra’s devices and a consumer device. Consumer devices are not designed for intensive scanning; moreover, they are not able to scan damaged and poorly printed barcodes or those placed under shrink wrap. Zebra is the leader in scanning solutions. You can scan up to 70 feet away with some Zebra products, and you’ll never have issues with damaged barcodes.

Rugged Devices Battery Life

rugged devices battery

The typical consumer device cannot handle long shifts in your workplace. Rugged enterprise devices like Zebra’s have long-lasting batteries—up to 15 hours for example. Zebra devices also allow you to replace the battery. Consumer devices typically cannot do either.

IT Management

Your IT team needs to have complete control over your devices for preparation, troubleshooting, and handling any issues that arise. That’s not possible with a fleet of consumer devices as most do not support standard enterprise mobile device management (MDM) solutions. This lack of fleet-level control leads to more hidden costs to your company.

Zebra’s Mx Androids allow for enterprise-level IT management and supports MDM. Your IT staff will manage all your Zebra devices from one place.

Contact Heartland today to see how Zebra’s rugged devices, enterprise-class solutions can help your business be more productive!

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