Rugged or Consumer devices: How to choose the right devices for your business

Enterprise mobility is imperative for modern businesses. It is no longer about whether or not organizations should embrace mobile technology for optimizing business operations, improving employee productivity and streamlining business processes- businesses already are convinced that enterprise mobility is essential. But the next big challenge for businesses that are just starting out with enterprise mobility is to choose the right set of device hardware. With an overwhelming number of options available in the market with several features, choosing the right device between consumer or rugged devices is tough.

rugged vs consumer
Rugged vs Consumer Devices

In this article, we’ve discussed a comparative study between rugged or consumer devices, to help you pick the right device inventory for your business. The main factors to consider when deciding between consumer or rugged devices are:

  • Environment
  • Compatibility with business tools
  • Connectivity
  • Security
  • Durability 
  • The total cost of ownership

Choosing a Consumer device: An overview

A consumer device is essentially a smartphone or a tablet- any Android or iOS-based handheld device. The consumer device is a personal device that doubles up as a work device for accomplishing day-to-day work tasks- from checking emails to sharing files.

First things first, it is quite easy to refurbish and use consumer devices- the iPhones, iPads, Android tablets and phones for business use. Not only are they readily available, but they bring about ease of use, thanks to the familiarity with the users. Moreover, the consumer devices are cheaper than the specialized, custom, ruggedized devices that lure businesses into buying them, lowering the initial cost of investment.

Photo by Daniel Romero on Unsplash

And while the consumer devices are easy to use, they are not necessarily business-ready, they might not support the extensions and API integrations that are critical for the business tasks and each configuration might need painstaking manual efforts from your IT teams. 

Moreover, consumer devices are typically connected to the internet over mobile data and/or Wi-Fi, but the radio signal quality is not necessarily sufficient for on-field business operations and frontline tasks. 

When it comes to security, consumer mobile solutions are flimsy and creating security configurations can be difficult because the device is often owned by the employee. Device sharing opens up new security challenges and with new OS updates being launched frequently, the security of consumer devices is increasingly jeopardized.

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Choosing a Rugged device: An overview

A rugged device is essentially a smartphone or a tablet, dedicated for business-specific use. The rugged devices are not the typical run-of-the-mill devices available in the consumer electronics market but are often custom-made. These devices have hardware + software capabilities including barcode scanners, RFID scanners. The primary differentiating point between rugged and consumer devices is that the hardware of rugged devices is designed to operate in harsh environments, extreme weather conditions, vibrations, water, pressure, dust and have durable battery life and extendable battery packs in order to support for longer durations of work out in the field. 

Rugged Devices

Provisioning rugged devices for enterprise applications and extensions are streamlined with OEM level configurations. Additionally, maintaining device and data security is easier for rugged devices, since the devices are specifically configured for enterprise tasks, have multi-layer protection against malware attacks and threats and the device updates can be controlled as well as delayed. These devices also have enterprise-grade radio signals that provide internet connection even at the most remote locations.

Bringing speed and efficiency to the operations, rugged mobile solutions have better performance and are hence, most ideal for enterprise use, for frontline as well as knowledge workers. 

Rugged vs Consumer device: The verdict

Apart from the ease of use, the low total cost of ownership is what might initially look like an attractive element for businesses to invest in consumer devices. But it is important to understand that with frequent use and repeated high-performance operations, the consumer devices might need additional costs for support and maintenance, investing in rugged devices is a smarter choice. For business needs that do not necessarily need specialized devices, BYOD or employee-owned devices, which are consumer devices are the right way to go, enabling the enterprises to have the best of both worlds.

The debate between consumer and rugged devices is longstanding but with the right rugged device management tool, provisioning, managing and maintaining the performance and security of both is a cakewalk. Choosing the right MDM technology that can encompass the management needs of both- from OOB provisioning to OEM-level configuration, API integrations to advanced security management is the safest bet for enterprises venturing into mobility. 


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Renuka Shahane is a Sr. Content Writer at Scalefusion. An engineering graduate, an Apple junkie and an avid reader, she has a 5+ years of experience in content creation, content strategy and PR for technology and web based startups.


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Thousands of businesses rely upon Scalefusion for managing their mobile device, desktops & laptops and other endpoints