Choosing the right device for your company can be a complicated process, the beauty with android software is that it is compatible with a range of smart phones and tablets, which makes your decision a little harder. You have to consider that your field engineers will use these phones every day for the foreseeable future, they need to be reliable, easy to use and portable. So what are the choices?
Smart Phone, tablet, phablet or rugged phone?
All four are an excellent choice for mobile workforce management software, but they all have their advantages and disadvantages. Let's start with Tablets.
Tablets are considerably larger than their smart phone cousin, typically offering a screen size between 7-10 inches, whereas a smart phone's average screen size is between 4-5 inches. This makes it easier for staff to input and read data and more details can be fit on the larger screen so there is less need for scrolling. We find that a lot of companies use tablets if jobs involve a lot of form filling or are quite "wordy", tablets are much easier to do this on. An example of this, is a large team of engineers came to us looking for workforce management software, who work on the London Underground, their jobs involved a lot of paperwork (health and safety), the tablet was an obvious choice for them!
However, very few Tablets have the ability to use mobile signal or send and receive phone calls (mostly just using Wi-Fi), although this is not a massive problem when it comes to Motivity Mobile (all information can be recorded offline and then uploaded when in range of wi-fi), they wouldn't be able to do anything on the internet. Tablets are not exactly pocket friendly either, their size means that they are harder to carry around with you, you coudn't exactly put it in your pocket; you'd have to carry it with you or put it in a bag, making them much less convenient. However, if you were set on a Tablet, the Google Nexus 7 is a good choice; it has a long battery life, it's very light and very affordable.
This is where smart phones have a massive advantage, they are small enough to fit in your pocket and they have the ability to call (shocking I know) and access the internet without Wi-Fi (utilising 3G and 4G). The screens are a little smaller, but they are big enough so functionality is not compromised (however, they seem to be getting bigger with every new release). The smart phone is a better option due to the size and access to 3G and 4G and if you were to go for the smart phone option there are a lot of very good android smart phones to choose from such as the Samsung Galaxy series, HTC one M8 and the Sony Experia Z3. If you are still unsure, there are a few more options...
What if I told you, you could have the best of both worlds! You can, hybrids are available that have a bigger screen, with all the functionality of a smart phone. Nicknamed "Phablets" for their resemblance to both devices, they typically have an average screen size of 5-7 inches making them easier to use than smart phones. Some Phablets, like the industry leading (and our recommended phablet) Samsung Galaxy Note 3, come with a stylus, making them much easier to use. The last device to consider is the rugged phone!
There is one more option to consider, many of our clients want a phone that can withstand the elements and being dropped, sat on knocked etc. This is where rugged IP rated smart phones come in, their high IP rating (Protection rating) allow them to be dropped, kicked, dunked in water, catapulted to your heart's content (although I hope you're not doing these things). These can be quite expensive however, the good rugged phones range from £200-£500, which means they are quite expensive. The better option would be to buy a standard smart phone and then buy a rugged case for it like the Otterbox defender, which retails at around £40, protecting your phone against a majority of clumsy abuse and saving you money.
I think the choice here lies between smart phones and "phablets", tablets are simply too big, compromising portability and don't have the functionality smart phones and phablets have. If you like the idea of the bigger screen size, the phablet is probably the best option, as field engineers will definitely prefer reading off a bigger screen and prefer inputting data into a phablet. Smart phones are a cheaper option than phablets though and the difference between screen size is minimal, meaning you won't notice too much difference when using one. If you're considering a rugged phone, maybe you should consider a rugged case instead, this would provide enough protection without the rugged phone price tag.