Rugged Smartphones in the Enterprise: Deciding Between Rugged Cases and Rugged Devices

Recently we’ve been discussing how companies can benefit from using rugged smartphone devices within the enterprise. Some benefits of adopting rugged smartphones include massive cost savings, enhanced device flexibility and an improved employee experience.

Our last post highlighted the cost savings rugged smartphones present by comparing the total cost of ownership of a rugged smartphone device to that of a traditional mobile computer used for barcode scanning. Today’s post will continue the discussion by comparing and examining the different uses of rugged smartphone devices and rugged smartphone cases.

The Good and the Bad: Rugged Cases and Rugged Devices

There are many factors to consider when choosing between a rugged smartphone device and a rugged case. Rugged smartphone devices can support a spectrum of unique use cases and environmental situations, while rugged smartphone cases provide the flexibility of utilizing popular and common consumer smartphone devices. In some situations a rugged case may feel unnatural on a device, though in others the familiarity of user experience of a consumer device like an iPhone 5 or a Samsung Galaxy SIII is more important.

Here’s a list of basic questions you should ask when deciding between a rugged smartphone device and a rugged case:

– What level of environmental protection is needed?
– How often will the device be used?
– What mobile platform or particular device do you want to develop for?
– Are there any special hardware requirements for the device?
– Do you need a QWERTY keyboard?

Many rugged smartphone and rugged case options exist for companies developing on the Android or Windows Mobile platforms.

Making the Decision

It’s clear that there are a lot of unique factors that play into the decision to utilize either rugged smartphones or rugged cases for non-rugged smartphones. What are your priorities in making this purchase? Is cost or functionality more important? Are you willing to sacrifice any quality in the user experience?

We recommend you choose a rugged smartphone device if:

–        You have a unique use case that requires special hardware, such as access to specialized radio frequencies or responsiveness for wet touch.

–        You require a QWERTY keyword.

We recommend you choose a rugged smartphone case if:

–        You are developing mainly for iOS.

–        Reducing costs is your main goal.

–        The frequency of use doesn’t warrant the cost of a rugged smartphone.

–        You want to provide seamless support for a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) environment.

Whether rugged by design or case, these smartphone devices present a great opportunity for the replacement of traditional rugged mobile hardware within enterprise settings. The capabilities of smartphone devices have soared past traditional mobile computers, and the smartphone is ushering in a new era of device flexibility and innovation. And the significant total cost of ownership savings alone justify this switch to smartphone-based solutions.

Stay tuned for our next post in this series which will provide a comparative guide for purchasing rugged smartphone devices and cases.