Android Service Comparisons: Mobility Edge vs Zebra Lifeguard

Android Service Comparisons: Mobility Edge vs Zebra Lifeguard

Don’t underestimate the value of the access, credentials, and data used by your devices. As an organization, you keep critical information on your devices/network. This information and access to it is prized by cybercriminals. It can be used to commit crimes on behalf of your company/individuals or be sold on the dark web, enabling others to commit crimes.  Hackers can use information from one system to get access to another. If it is a ransomware attack, your data can be encrypted in which the hacker demands payment in exchange for restoring access and/or data. OS updates help prevent such attacks.

In this article we will explore the difference between Honeywell Mobility Edge and Zebra Lifeguard™ program which are the methods by which each company supports Android versions on mobile computers.

Zebra Lifeguard Program

Zebra uses their Lifeguard  program to charge for Android maintenance and Android upgrades, while saying Android maintenance is “included” for free. The fact is that this is a paid service1 without a guarantee through Android 11 like Mobility Edge.

  • Zebra products like TC77 are supported “5/5”; that is, the product is available for sale for 5 years and supported for 5 more years, resulting in a 10-year life span, until 2029.
  • The TC77 was launched on Android 8/O and now has Android 10 available. It is specified to be upgradable through Android 11. TC77 has not received Android 9, creating a version gap.
  • So how is the TC77 OS “maintained” when it hasn’t received Android 9? It has had to rely on backporting instead of receiving Android 9, and would again have to do so once Android 11 is no longer current.
  • Based on Zebra’s Lifeguard FAQ, security patch support is not guaranteed. Patches to vulnerabilities are offered on a “We do our best” basis. Certain systemic issues may be too disruptive to system stability to patch. According to Zebra’s FAQ, “We can only backport updates in cases where the functionality previously existed and/or the update does not impact the integrity of the platform.” This is the case for any Android device backport.

Hidden Issues with backporting. Some mobile device OEMs refer to their OS backporting practices as security updates.  These backporting practices come with hidden issues that enterprises need to understand.

  • New OS features not available for backporting. New features included in new OS versions are not made available to backport to earlier OS versions.
  • Incomplete security patching. Vendors cannot guarantee that every vulnerability found in newer Android versions can and will be backported. Backporting is only possible where the functionality previously existed and/or the update does not impact the integrity of the platform.
  • Processor level vulnerabilities. Patches for proprietary low-level processor code must come from the chipset vendor and are often not available for older OS versions.
  • Lack of new security features. Customers relying on older Android versions can't take advantage of security improvements added to newer versions.

Honeywell Mobility Edge

Mobility Edge is the first and only platform to guarantee support through Android 11, and is committed to working towards compatibility with Android 12 and 13.

Honeywell has made it easy for our enterprise customers to migrate applications from one Android version to another using its Mobility Edge platform. 

Mobility Edge is based upon extensive research gathered from Honeywell’s global community of customers from a range of industries. Honeywell recognized that businesses wanted a unified hardware and software platform for all form factors – one that allowed for rapid deployment, robust performance, and adaptability to changing needs.

Our innovation allows us to meet the challenges of supporting a mobile workforce - and Mobility Edge is the answer. This unified, dynamic platform for mobile computing is designed to:

  • Accelerate Deployments. Validate once. Deploy everywhere. Faster, easier, and at lower cost. Enabling versatile out-of-the-box capabilities and a rapid provisioning suite, Mobility Edge expedites development, certification, setup, and training involving multiple form factors at once.
  • Optimize Business Performance. Boost productivity and drive efficiency. Powerful, embedded tools across the platform drive faster data capture and secure, enhanced worker communications. The unified, intuitive experience facilitates user adoption and helps employees complete vital tasks.
  • Extend Lifecycle. Forward compatible. Future-proof. Mobility Edge reduces TCO and minimizes headaches with an enterprise-wide approach to maintenance releases, and hardware designed to support ongoing upgrades to the operating system guaranteed through Android 11, and committed to continue working towards compatibility through Android 13.
  • Strengthen Security. Mobility Edge provides a unified, dynamic hardware-and-software platform with built in security, and the best available future security made possible by unbroken Android version continuity, and forward compatibility.

Service and support data went into the development of Mobility Edge. We optimized our mobility devices based on the work patterns of many customers and actual users. Using historical insights, we addressed common failure points during the design phase, making our Mobility Edge products more resilient and stable. We also mined our detailed service data to further improve and refine product quality. By providing a unified hardware-and-software platform with an agile approach, we can bring you more secure and reliable solutions across your operation, all while continuously evolving to mitigate against new security threats.

Mobility Edge offers an integrated, repeatable, scalable approach to workflow automation that is based on a common hardware and software platform. Designed for Android™, it delivers a unified platform that all software solutions are based on. Businesses can develop and deploy faster while reducing development costs.

The Mobility Edge unified platform is composed of:

  • Common Hardware (System On Module, or SOM), which includes the CPU, memory, WWAN (in selected devices), WLAN, Bluetooth, and near-field communication (NFC).
  • Common Operating System Image with support for multiple generations of Android, guaranteed through Android 11, and a commitment to work towards Android 13 compatibility.
  • Common Software Ecosystem that includes not just Honeywell software, but also Honeywell-approved ISVs (independent software vendors).

Together these common elements minimize your company’s cost, effort, and risk. They accelerate your time-to-value so you can start deploying devices with the latest security and features into the hands of your mobile workers much faster. And they maximize your ROI by extending the lifecycle of your devices.

Upgrading OS versions with Honeywell is easier

Honeywell’s Mobility Edge is a unified hardware and software platform for all form factors. It allows for rapid deployments, enhanced performance, and adaptability to changing needs. With Mobility Edge, a one-time investment in setup, deployment, and provisioning is reusable across all device types.

When Honeywell completes development and validation of the current Android OS image for one device, we have virtually done it for all the Mobility Edge platform family of devices. This makes it extremely easy for our customers who normally have more than one type of device in their mobile device fleet.  

Mobility Edge platform devices are guaranteed to be upgraded through Android 11.  No other device OEM has this guarantee across a broad device portfolio. While upgrading OS versions is ideal, today Honeywell also provides critical security updates for older OS versions, for up to five years past Google’s last security patch.  Honeywell offers this service at a fraction of the cost of what the competition charges.

Honeywell Mobility Edge is a leader in Android version support providing the best available security to our customers. Honeywell is deeply committed to the longevity and quality of the Mobility Edge platform. The following products are built on the Mobility Edge platform: Honeywell CT40, CT40XP, CT60, CT60XP, CN80, CK65, RT10A, VM1A, and VM3A.

Contact a Honeywell Solutions Expert today! Call 1-800-934-3163


1 Zebra Lifeguard for Android

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Barry J. Ewell

Barry J. Ewell is a Senior Content Marketing Communications Specialist for Honeywell Industrial Automation. He has been researching and writing on supply chain topics since 1991.