Rugged vs Consumer for Enterprise Mobile Device: Six Questions to Help You Decide

Rugged vs Consumer for Enterprise Mobile Device: Six Questions to Help You Decide

As enterprises have gained more options for mobile technology to support their operations, the decision on which devices to use has become more difficult. Enterprises can choose from hundreds of devices with a variety of operating systems, features and price points to support field service, logistics and other mobile enterprise activity. Before diving into device-by-device comparisons, enterprises should consider a fundamental decision: whether to use a consumer-grade or rugged, enterprise-class device. Consider the numbers:


  • 94 percent of the executives polled in a recent Panasonic study think that constant connectivity and 24/7 data access are important for their employees, with 43 percent saying they’re critical.1
  • On average, mobile workers lose 50 to 80 minutes of productivity when their mobile devices fail, and productivity loss represents as much as 41 percent of a mobile device’s total cost of ownership.2


The consumer vs. rugged argument has gone on for years but hasn’t been conclusively resolved for two reasons. First, the line between consumer and rugged devices has blurred. Second, and more importantly, the right choice depends heavily on each organization’s specific work processes, usage environment, preferences and budget. The most important considerations include the environments devices will be used in, the processes they will be used for, how long the enterprise wants the devices to remain in service, how much maintenance and downtime are considered acceptable, and how much mobile workers depend on their devices to do their jobs.

This article highlights the key differences that emerge between rugged and consumer devices when they are used to support enterprise operations. The following are six questions to ponder as you discover where your field mobility solutions could benefit from rugged devices.

In what environment will your devices be used?

If your employees use devices in warehouses or trucks, they need devices that can stand up to tough conditions. Unlike consumer devices, rugged devices are specifically engineered to work even if dropped from a forklift or exposed to truck vibration.

Are your devices exposed to a wide variety of environmental conditions?

If your employees and the devices they use are regularly exposed to water, dust, fluctuating temperatures and other outdoor and indoor environmental conditions, you should consider ruggedization. Rugged devices are specifically designed to handle extreme environments, so you can continue to deliver no matter the condition.

Do your workers need specific device configuration and regular app updates?

Rugged devices typically allow more OS and hardware personalization than consumer devices. Personalization allows devices to be configured to the optimal settings for your company’s unique needs, which means your employees work productively and continue to meet your customer's expectations.

Are your device repair fees adding up?

A business with 1,000 mobile devices spends approximately $170,000 more per year to support consumer-grade devices than the enterprise-grade devices.3 That’s because consumer devices have a shorter life cycle and increased frequency of failure than rugged devices, which also translates into a higher cost of ownership.

Do your employees keep sensitive data on their mobile devices?

Consumer mobile devices are more susceptible to viruses and unauthorized access (your kids, for example) and are easily lost or stolen. An enterprise-grade, rugged device is more easily managed through your mobile device management.

Short Guide to Honeywell Rugged Devices

Fifty-five percent of managers polled identified “providing workers with suitable/appropriate devices” as a significant challenge.2

If you have similar concerns, consider investing in quality hardware and software to facilitate growth within your business. Rugged devices are shown to improve total cost of ownership and guarantee more years of usage.

Honeywell’s rugged handheld computers provide multipurpose utility in an ergonomic form factor, driving improved productivity for your mobile workers and a lower total cost of ownership for your business.

Honeywell’s Mobility Edge is a unified hardware and software platform for all form factors. It allows for rapid deployments, enhanced performance, support through Android R and adaptability to changing needs.

With Mobility Edge, a one-time investment in setup, deployment and provisioning is reusable across all devices.


  • Our handheld computers combine the advantages of consumer devices and high-end industrial mobile computers into a single rugged package.
  • Honeywell devices are designed with the worker in mind, and they provide targeted functionality, a tactical keypad and enhanced connectivity.
  • Our mobile devices have power management advantages that help ensure batteries will last the length of the shift. For remote mobile workers, device uptime is crucial — dead batteries can represent a lost day of work.
  • Barcode scanning capability is another important ease-of-use differentiator. Smartphone cameras can read some barcodes but are not necessarily designed for the task.


This dynamic platform for mobile computing is designed to help:


  • Accelerate Deployments
  • Optimize business Performance
  • Extend life cycle
  • Strengthen Security


Honeywell handheld computers include:


  • The latest Android operating system technology
  • Our SmartSystems device management software
  • Superior industrial design and ruggedness


The Mobility Edge family includes:


  • Honeywell CN80, mobile computer, an ultra-rugged device for warehouse, manufacturing, and transportation and logistics environments. The most durable handheld Honeywell has ever made, it features both keypad and large touchscreen interface for quick, efficient data entry.
  • Honeywell CT60, mobile computer, a rugged versatile business tool for highly mobile frontline workers in scan-intensive workflows in pickup and delivery, DSD, and parcel post. It offers a long-lasting battery, high-performance scanning, and exceptional durability and reliability.
  • Honeywell CT40, mobile computer, a full-touch, five-inch display device designed for retail, hospitality, and light field mobility environments. It’s an intuitive, compact productivity tool optimized for hours of comfortable use.
  • Honeywell CK65, mobile computer, a rugged, flexible solution for warehouse and manufacturing environments, with both touchscreen and keypad data input options for quick data entry and enhanced scanning read ranges of up to 15.2 m (50 ft).
  • Thor VM1A, the world’s top-selling vehicle-mounted computer. Hits the sweet spot of overall size, display size, and keypad. The Smart Dock enables use on multiple vehicles and reduces support and maintenance costs. A field-replaceable front panel minimizes downtime.
  • Thor VM3A, designed for the toughest distribution center environments, manufacturing facilities and freight operations. In fact, it’s the industry’s most capable full-size vehicle-mounted mobile computer. The VM3 computer combines a 30.73 cm (12.1 in) display with breakthrough innovations that deliver rapid value for your workflows.





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Honeywell customizes solutions by working closely with clients to identify their unique needs, challenges and goals. Along with offering more than 100 years of industry expertise, our team of innovators solves real problems and drives breakthrough results through better data insights and connected technology.

Learn more at honeywellaidc.com or Contact a Honeywell Solutions Expert today!  Call 1-800-934-3163.

1, 2 https://www.supplychainbrain.com/articles/27569-rugged-mobile-devices-a-supply-chain-necessity
3 https://dsmedia.com/rugged-vs-consumer-devices-in-the-warehouse/
4 https://www.automation.com/pdf_articles/VDC_Research_TCO_Whitepaper.pdf

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.