There are tonnes of different mobile phones and tablets on the market. Some cheap and some expensive. It’s a minefield, and most people have no idea where to start. In this blog post, I will review some low-budget alternatives.
In my previous blog post, I talked about the rock star of the rugged phone industry, but not everyone can afford to spend £500 per engineer. So what are the alternatives? What are the features your engineers will be needing? Is it a dual sim Android phone or maybe one that allows for wireless charging? A small phone? A large one? The first step is to write down your priorities and make sure you have all the information before you risk making a mistake.
If you’re a small business, either working for yourself or run a small team of engineers, you may find you already have suitable personal phones/tablets which you could use for work. This idea is called ‘Bring your device to work’.
It means you use your device for work. Some employees won't mind this - and may even prefer it, while others may kick up a fuss. I’d always recommend that you consider this strategy before going and spending a lot of money on new phones and tablets for your engineers. It has a few key benefits:
- The first is plumbers and engineers are less likely to break them, drop them in puddles or leave them in Plumb Centre. If they do, then they’ll be replacing their own phones. The second key benefit is cost. You don’t need to pay for an expensive phone. The suggestion is that you pay something towards their phone. That will incentivise your employees to utilise their own devices.
- Buy a spare one in case it gets broken. It’s cheaper, easier and less hassle to keep your mobile strategy run smoothly than have an engineer wait a few days for a replacement device.
- Buy spares, like for smaller businesses; it’s just easier to give an engineer an additional device than wait for a replacement, especially as it’ll cause disruption to that engineer's daily work. Jobs could get missed, schedules are harder to manage, and information could get lost if the engineer isn’t able to just continue with his job.
- Get them insured. It’s worth it. Devices will get broken. Save yourself the hassle and cost and ensure the devices with next day replacement.
- Make engineers responsible for their equipment. Whether it’s a phone, a power tool or stock.
- Mobile phones for engineers need rugged cases. Let’s not pull punches; engineers have fat thumbs. Things get dropped, bumped and scratched. Buying a £20 sturdy case will save you the hassle and cost of continually replacing damaged devices.
Productive engineers are ones that know what they’re doing. You can only blame yourself when an engineer doesn’t enter information correctly or spends 20 minutes sending an email because he/she lacks confidence in using the equipment you provided them. It’s critical that you understand that you can’t expect people just to use or understand technology. You wouldn’t give an employee a new gas analyser without any basic training, so why would you allow them a phone or tablet without at least first giving them training.
Buy the best you can afford. Speed and performance of devices make a big difference to engineers on site. If the phone is slow or has a small screen, you’ll get resistance from your engineers. They’ll hate using the technology and will make excuses. That will mean your strategy will be harder to implement and you’ll get diminished results.
Buying older devices just say they will look and feel old faster and require replacing sooner as manufacturers and software providers stop supporting them.
Don’t just buy one type of device across all engineers, provide choice as if someone is used to an iPhone, then buying then an Android will cause confusion and reduce adoption of technology as they need to learn something new (before learning any new system/software).
*Updated January 2019*
Moto E5 Plus
Price: £139.95 - Amazon
- OS: Android 8
- Screen size: 6.0-inch
- Resolution: 720 x 1440
- Storage: 32GB
- RAM: 3GB
- CPU: Snapdragon 425
- Battery: 5000mAh
- Camera: 12MP
- Weight: 196.6g
- Dimensions: 160.9 x 75.3 x 9.4mm
Pros: Larger display | Fantastic battery life
Cons: Battery life comes at cost of performance
Samsung Galaxy A8
Price: £242.99 - Amazon
- OS: Android 8 (Android 9 update available soon)
- Screen size: 5.6-inch
- Resolution: 2220 x 1080
- Storage: 32GB
- RAM: 4GB
- CPU: Exynos 7885 (2x 2.2GHz + 6x 1.6GHz)
- Battery: 3000mAh
- Camera: 16MP
- Weight: 169g
- Dimensions: 149.2 x 70 x 8.4mm
Pros: Great performance | Water-resistant
High end device
Price: From £599 - Apple
- OS: iOS 12
- Screen size: 4.7-inch
- Resolution: 1334 x 760
- Storage: From 64GB
- RAM: 3GB
- CPU: A11 Bionic Chip (2x 2.39GHz Monsoon + 4x Mistral)
- Battery: 1821mAh with wireless charging
- Camera: 12MP
- Security: Touch ID
- Weight: 148g
- Dimensions: 138.4 x 67.3 x 7.3mm
Pros: Great performance | Water-resistant | Fast charging
Cons: High end price
The growing popularity of smartphones and tablets has had major implications for field services organisations. In the next blog post, for installer magazine, Jason, explains how installers can now have a complete knowledge base available at their fingertips, enabling them to deliver a better customer experience.
Already using our software?
If you are using our job management software or simply want more recommendations for field service engineers, check out our new blog on the best mobile devices.