Ruggedized mobile technology can make public utility field work more efficient, effective and safer for everyone involved.
You’ve taken the plunge and purchased smartphones for every critical employee in your business. Whether they’re field technicians, sales representatives or the executives who oversee these teams, they will now have devices that will allow them to work from anywhere, opening the door for significant improvements in productivity and on-the-go collaboration.
But wait — before you hand out the smartphones, consider this: Should you provide a protective case along with the device? A case might seem like a minor detail and is overlooked by many IT leaders planning a mobile project. However, you’re making a substantial investment to buy mobile devices, and a rugged case is a smart way to protect that investment and reduce the churn of repairs and replacements.
The Hidden Costs of Smartphone Repair
According to a recent survey, nearly a third of Americans have broken their phone in the past year. Repairing smartphones costs less than replacing them, but it’s still not inexpensive. The average screen repair costs more than $100, and accidents will not be covered under the phone’s warranty unless you purchase an extended warranty that specifically covers a dropped phone.
Phone damage also drains productivity. Time lost while an employee waits for their phone to be repaired can quickly become more expensive than the repair itself. Think of the sales representative that can’t close a deal as fast because they don’t have access to the inventory information on their device in real-time, or the field service technician that can’t communicate as efficiently to get work orders from headquarters. A small investment in phone cases can deliver ROI quickly.
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What the decision ultimately boils down to is risk versus cost. How much will it cost to buy the cases, and how much will it cost you if the employee damages the smartphone? If your employees don’t use ruggedized phones, purchasing the cases and issuing a policy requirement that the phones must stay in the cases will likely save money in the long run. Even if you can’t buy cases in bulk, you’ll likely come out ahead if you prevent just a few breakages and some lost productivity.
The Right Case for the Job
Deciding on the right case for your mobile deployment will depend heavily on how, where and with what peripherals your team will be using their smartphones.
Water Hazards: Most of today’s smartphones are water resistant, so for most users there is little need for a specialized waterproof case. Water resistance is indicated by IP67 or IP68 certification. If devices are at all likely to come into contact with water or dust, opt for an IP68-certified device. For those who work in or around water, there are a number of specialized cases offering extra protection or even enabling the device to float on the water.
Drop Protection: Drops are the biggest threat to your phone, particularly for newer models with edge-to-edge glass screens. A case will significantly reduce the chance of a broken screen for a device dropped onto a hard surface. If your team works outdoors or in an industrial environment, opt for a case with reinforced corners and raised bezels that protect the screen. Many of the best rugged cases combine a rubber, internal slip and hard exterior for extra protection. Screen protectors are also available to protect the display against shattering or scratches. Alternatively, you can opt for a ruggedized smartphone with MIL-STD-810G, like Samsung’s Galaxy S8 Active, which does not require you to purchase a separate case or screen protector.
Accessories: When purchasing a case, make sure it’s compatible with any other accessories that will be attached to the device, such as scanners, point-of-sale card readers or in-vehicle docks. Some cases are designed to fit into a holster worn on the belt, chest or arm for easy access. Also consider access to biometric sensors, the USB port and headphone jack, and compatibility with wireless charging.
Office-based workers are well served by a basic case. A worker in the field might get the same device, but a more ruggedized case and screen protector to guard against drops and harsh conditions. In a retail or warehouse setting, the same device may be used for mobile point-of-sale transactions or require a case that can attach to a barcode scanner. Some employees might require a case that can prop up the phone, such as a field technician viewing documentation while conducting repairs.
While most employees will be careful with their company-issued phones, providing a case to help them protect your investment is a smart move. You’ll likely be able to purchase cases in bulk at a significant discount to the consumer pricing, and you’ll have peace of mind that your assets are protected right away.
Small businesses can get discounts and special offers on mobile devices by buying direct from Samsung.