How Smartphone Lifecycle Reduces TCO of Mobile Barcode Scanning

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Previously, enterprise data capture solutions were limited to expensive, dedicated handheld barcode scanners and mobile computers. Today, thanks to advancements in mobile technology and software, companies are able to leverage the built-in hardware on smart devices to capture data from barcodes at the enterprise level.

Large companies are beginning to deploy mobile data capture solutions for a variety of use cases across the supply chain. These solutions are transforming enterprises by mobilizing thousands of employees and their workflows— driving productivity and changing operations forever.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifecycle

As part of their assessment of mobile data capture solutions, IT departments need to consider device lifecycle. Enterprises need to select a barcode scanning device that will withstand the deployment environment without needing to be quickly repaired or replaced.

Currently, the average lifecycle of a consumer-grade smartphone in the workplace is about two years. This may be shorter than a traditional hardware device like a mobile computer or handheld barcode scanner. However, smartphones offer numerous maintenance and upgrade-related cost advantages throughout their lifecycle that result in a lower total cost of ownership (TCO).

The upfront price of a smartphone can be as much as 40 to 60% less than that of a dedicated hardware device. Providers of these devices will counter a smartphone’s built-in initial cost savings with the promise of a longer lifecycle. But a closer look at the operational expenses typically associated with a traditional scanning device reveals there is an additional price to be paid for that longer lifecycle. Read more in Scandit’s TCO comparison.

Any mobile barcode scanning device or solution with which you choose to perform data capture will require some level of ongoing maintenance and repairs to be effective. This is as true for smartphones as it is for traditional scanning devices. But the maintenance regimen for a smartphone is very different than the upkeep schedule for a dedicated hardware device.

Long repair cycles and device downtime can quickly drive up data capture costs and slow down operations. Unfortunately, traditional scanning devices frequently break down and require fixing. Repairs for both dedicated hardware and software need to be performed manually. This increases the cost as well as the time required for remediation of issues. While a barcode scanning device is out of service, the organization must either endure reduced data capture ability or purchase an expensive replacement device.

In contrast, it is easy to conduct maintenance on smartphones, which are not as likely to break down as dedicated hardware devices. Fixing barcode scanning software is as simple as pushing the latest cloud-based app update directly to employee devices. Hardware fixes can be handled by the manufacturer or reseller.

If hardware replacement is absolutely necessary, even when accounting for additional investments, the low upfront costs of purchasing a backup device still keeps smartphone TCO below that of a traditional barcode scanner. Learn more in our latest white paper.

Staying Current

Another factor that makes overall smartphone TCO lower than that of a dedicated hardware device is that enterprises can evaluate and upgrade smartphone hardware and software more often than with traditional barcode scanning devices. Smartphone software and hardware is updated much more frequently than dedicated device hardware and software.

The scanning capability of a smartphone rests in a cloud-based software. This provides IT departments with increased control over software implementation as newer technology emerges. Cloud connectivity allows instant access to the latest functionality, giving IT buyer’s peace of mind with future-proof solutions.

Meanwhile, the process of implementing upgraded hardware is much less expensive and time-consuming for smartphones than for traditional barcode scanning devices. Built on familiar platforms such as Android and iOS, mobile solutions and the devices they run on are continually evolving to better address enterprise demands. This allows for more flexibility in the future to strengthen the solution offering through updates and added capabilities.

In contrast, the replacement cycles for traditional barcode scanners are a much slower and costlier process. This can result in organizations being forced to work with outdated hardware and software over time.


Looking at the total picture, smartphones offer equivalent scanning performance at a fraction of the TCO of dedicated barcode scanners. Smartphone-based data capture solutions can be significantly more cost-effective than traditional alternatives, while providing access to a broader range of functionality.

The reduced hard costs of purchase and replacement, coupled with the lessened soft costs associated with maintenance and operation, mean that smartphones can often save companies a significant amount of time and revenue. The longer lifecycle of traditional scanning solutions does not pose an advantage when it results in higher maintenance and replacement costs, increased downtime, and reliance on outdated technology.

For more information on lifecycle advantages of smartphone-based data capture solutions download our latest white paper “Embracing Mobility: A Guide to Mobile Data Capture Deployment in the Enterprise.”