When it comes to smartphones for mobile data recording in outdoor use in logistics or in a demanding industrial environment, cost-effective consumer devices are quickly exposed to the challenges of heavy-duty day-to-day use. Here’s a sample (fictional) field report with a fact check.

From the diary of a smartphone user:

Day 1: Today we finally replaced our old clunkers with state-of-the-art technology. All of our problems are solved!

Day 3: Why didn’t we do this sooner? The employee feedback is great – no more clip-on holsters since you can just slip your smartphone in your pocket.

Fact: Heavy-duty handheld devices have larger dimensions than conventional smartphones. This is primarily due to the robust design, which stands up to repeated drops on concrete floors in tests and is often protected against splashing water.

Day 7: The device batteries don’t seem to keep their charge for the whole day, so we are now giving all users a vehicle charging cable.

Fact: Mobile computers for logistics and industry are equipped with powerful batteries that allow for over eight hours of use and are therefore suitable for continuous use.

Day 30:  We just received the first invoice from our cellular provider. After the shock subsided, we came to a quick realization: we’re using extra data volumes for Google Maps and privately installed apps like Facebook that we previously did not need.

Fact: Handheld devices used in logistics and industry only have software and functions that are necessary for their intended use. This restrictive approach prevents abuse. The cellular data volumes are calculated in advance by the service provider and billed at a fixed rate – so no nasty surprises.

Day 60: We ran out of replacement devices. Every time one of these smartphones drops on the ground, the display breaks. Repairs by the manufacturer are not centrally managed and take forever!

Fact: With the right service concept, replacement devices can be available within 24 hours. Downtime drops to zero so the service costs quickly pay for themselves.

Day 100:  A group of hackers has stolen sensitive company data from the devices. Now they’re threatening to go public if we don’t pay up.

Fact: The restrictive approach of mobile computers with proprietary software makes access to the devices and the stored data by unauthorized third parties virtually impossible. Appropriate security functions are pre-installed and updated as needed by remote software update.

Day 150: Fall has come, and it’s raining cats and dogs all day. Some of the devices have stopped working. What do we do? Call the customer and tell them to come out to the car?

Fact: The robust design of heavy-duty handheld devices can withstand impact, dust, and splashing water.

Day 200: During inventory we discovered that a number of devices were missing. It wasn’t very easy to keep an overview of our stock with all the repairs and replacements! Apparently some of our employees have found alternative uses for our equipment. We are going to purchase some form of mobile device management.

Fact: In a professional environment, a mobile device management (MDM) system is used from day one, giving the company a constant overview of the users, the devices they are using, and also handheld devices that are faulty and currently undergoing repairs.

Day 220: The German winter is upon us. Since the employees have vehicle charging cables, they often leave their smartphones in their cars overnight. Then in the mornings the devices need a few minutes to warm up before the displays work again.

Fact: Heavy-duty handheld devices are generally designed for temperatures ranging from -20 to +50 degrees Celsius. Their function is not affected by temperatures below zero – or extreme heat in summer.

Day 250: There is not one device in our inventory that has not been sent for repair at least once since the roll-out. The cost of operation for this generation of devices is much higher than we expected.

Fact: A cost-effective solution can only be determined on the basis of a combined consideration of the procurement, operating, maintenance, and training costs.

Day 300: We won’t be getting any more replacement devices because the manufacturer has come out with a new generation of devices – like they do every year. Our accessories, like the charging cradles, are not compatible with the new devices.

Fact: Mobile computers for heavy-duty use have service lives that last for several years, which ensures the use and replacement of the devices over an average of seven years. Providers of heavy-duty handheld devices build on previous generations when they come out with new developments, so that accessories can be reused across generations.

Day 301:  Company management has decided to return to heavy-duty devices as soon as possible and is chalking our foray into the consumer world up as a misstep.

 

Conclusion: Conventional smartphones are only suitable for professional, demanding use in limited circumstances. The benefits of briefly “modern” mobile devices – intuitive operation, modern design, cheaper initial investment – fade away after a short period of use.

 

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