MOBILE HARDWARE REVIEW: Zebra’s EC50/EC55 Enterprise Computer
Earlier this year Zebra introduced their new EC50/EC55 enterprise computer, which they described as “a new category of individually assigned mobile computers.” Basically, it’s a smartphone that is supposed to do a whole lot more in business environments than other smartphones on the market today. As an adviser of supply chain technology solutions, we took a close look to determine if the smartphone is truly unique in its class.
To start with, the EC50 and EC55 are the thinnest and lightest of Zebra enterprise mobile computers with an integrated scanner. They are meant to provide the best of all worlds, including a true smartphone look and feel that workers want in their business device, the durability for all-day everyday business, plus all the business features workers need to increase personal productivity, collaboration, and device value. The two models are almost identical and are designed to meet the needs of workers inside a facility and out in the field — the WiFi-only EC50 or the WiFi/cellular EC55.
Personal Smartphone or Rugged Business Device?
The devices certainly live up to a smartphone’s sleek design that workers love. The device sits in the palm of your hand, is lightweight and has an excellent finish. The front looks like a sophisticated smartphone, with a front-facing camera and a notification LED. On the back is a camera and a flash. So yes, we feel workers will really enjoy Zebra’s smartphone feel and design. But what about business productivity?
The business features are prominent and their design is well-thought-out. On the outside there are many business-related buttons including a PushToTalk (which allows employees to talk to each other via wifi), a volume button, and the power and 1D/2D scan module are on top. On the back of the device, there are two contact points just below the location of the NFC chip. These contact points make it possible to connect the so-called Trigger Handle. This turns the device into a scan gun. There is also a variant of the EC55 without these contact points if they are not needed.
In regards to the EC50/EC55’s ruggedness, the device complies with MIL-STD-810G specifications and can withstand a fall from a height of 1.2 meters onto concrete without further protection. This makes the slim design of the device even more impressive.The device has received the IP67 certification with regards to dust and water resistance, and can be submerged in water for half an hour at a depth of 1m, without affecting its functionality.
Storage and Camera Functionality
The EC50 / EC55 RAM and internal storage include 3GB and 32GB or 4GB and 64GB respectively, depending on the version. You can expand the storage capacity via a microSD card. The camera on the front has a resolution of 5 MP, while the main camera on the back has a sensor with a resolution of 13 MP. The aperture of f/2.0, and the screen’s 1280×720 pixels on 5 inches is average, but the brightness is fine with 450 nits. When we tested the device while working out in the sun, the panel was easy to read.
Is the device a good investment for inside or outside an enterprise’s four walls?
As far as we’re concerned, yes! For the sake of keeping this blog post short and to the point, Zebra’s EC50 and EC55 include so many valuable business features in a smartphone, more than we expected including:
- Excellent power consumption — the device includes a larger battery with a considerably long life.
- Added support via LifeGuard for Android — the device includes Android version 10, but Zebra promises upgrades up to, and including, Android 12. After that, it depends on the support from Qualcomm whether there will be any upgrades. But Zebra’s LifeGuard for Android provides support for up to eight years. Such support is a win-win for organizations that do not want too many different devices and different platforms in circulation.
- Greater functionality via Mobile DNA — the device includes many added features at no extra cost. Some of our favorites are:
- Mobility Extensions (Mx) — a free extra layer of features that make Android safer
- StageNow — allows you to configure a device or hundreds of devices easily by scanning a barcode or use an NFC tag
- DataWedge — allows you to send data collected via scanner, NFC chip, camera, or Bluetooth scanners to any application.
- PowerPrecision Console — monitors the state of batteries
- Device Diagnostics — determines whether a device should be brought to a Zebra Repair Center, or if on-site repair is possible.
What about total cost of ownership (TCO)?
Zebra indicates the TCO for the EC50/EC55 is half that of regular consumer smartphone devices. It seems logical to us that investing in an EC50 / EC55 solution would help you gain back your investment in less time than comparable consumer-grade devices.