How to Select Mobile Service Management Hardware

Selecting a mobile device to use with Aptora Mobile (Total Office Manager) field service management software is an important thing to consider. Here we offer contractors some helpful information on how to select a mobile device for your technicians and other employees.

Generally speaking there are currently two schools of devices you can safely go with: Android Devices (Phones/Tablets), and iOS Devices (e.g. iPhone/iPad).

That said, the specific device you choose from within those two schools of devices is entirely dependent on your preference, as both will work equally well with Aptora Mobile, but have their own differences (independent of Aptora Mobile) that may influence your decision to choose one operating system over the other (such as speed or customization) or one device over the other (such as build quality). Again, since both Android and iOS devices are both compatible with Aptora Mobile, I cannot give you a recommendation for choosing one over the other based on compatibility. I can however give you a few bits of food for thought as you consider what device you want to go with.

Operating System and Features

There are a few factors that come to mind that I feel might be important for you when considering what kind of device to buy. Before going on though, you might consider whether you prefer an Android or iOS device. Nothing about the physical device can change the software that runs on it and if you don’t like the operating system, you can’t change it. Do a bit of research, take hands on trials with in-store displays, learn about the features the system offers, or whatever is necessary for you to determine which of the two is better for you. Then you can more easily narrow down which Android or iOS device you want based on some of the following ideas as both schools will offer one device or another that will give you some or all of what you want in the physical device.

Screen Quality
Not just resolution but viewing angle and brightness. Some device displays simply look better than others. You can find high-resolution HD displays that look brilliant but in direct sunlight are washed out. Viewing angles and readability in direct sunlight are often selling points in some devices. If you’ll ever be looking at your device outdoors (even in just normal daylight) this might be a factor to consider as a screen you can’t see is useless. There are far too many different screen technologies available to summarize here. AMOLED, Super AMOLED (SAMOLED), LCD, and SLCD are very popular choices in terms of quality.

If you’re doing research into Apple’s “Retina Display” technology used in its newer iOS devices, it may help in your research to know that the “Retina Display” is just a brand named high resolution LCD display and it may help to research LCD displays in conjunction with the Retina display.

Build Quality
Build Quality is not to be confused with shape or size. When I refer to build quality I usually mean durability and the materials used to construct the outer shell of the device.

This too may boil down to preference as what feels comfortable to me may not feel comfortable to you. The outer shells of iPhones are made of a durable glass. Some Android phones are made of plastic while others are made of aluminum. I personally prefer metals to plastics as there tends to be less noticeably damage if the device is dropped (if you manage to damage an iPhone the result looks pretty bad, even though the device will still function, because broken glass looks like broken glass). The metals tend to be heavier, however, though not by much. This is something I actually prefer personally. I like to feel like I’m holding something when I have that $500 device in my hand.

If you intend to use a case on your device, build quality is less of a factor since you might not even notice it due to the case.

Screen Size
Is bigger really better? That depends on how you look at it. The Samsung Galaxy Note II is currently one of the largest smartphones on the market with a 5.5” HD Super AMOLED screen. It’s so large, in fact, that it falls into a separate class of devices called the “Phablet” (Phone/Tablet). It’s too large to reliably use with one hand and it comes with a Stylus to use many of its features. This was a hugely popular device but there is also a large number of people who specifically avoid larger devices like this. The iPhone remained almost the same size since its inception (recently getting (.3”) larger with the iPhone 5). The reason behind this was that Apple wanted the device to be ergonomic in that the average person could reach every corner of the screen with their thumb while holding the device in one hand.

If you have large hands, small screens are a problem as buttons tend to be a pain to manage. Generally speaking, the larger the screen, the larger the buttons. If you have to zoom in, the larger screens allow you to still see more than the smaller ones. Larger devices are also less comfortable to hold, are heavier, and might not be able to fit in your pockets. Keep these ideas in mind as your looking for the right device.

Specifications
Because Aptora Mobile will likely not be the only thing you do on your device you need to consider the technical specifications, as you would a computer. Many devices today are shipping with powerful dual- or quad-core processors, gigs of memory, powerful graphics chips, and more storage than you’ll ever need. A quad-core processor won’t make Aptora Mobile much than a dual-core would. If there’s anything else you plan on doing with these devices, you might want to keep these things in mind. As an example, older iPhones can’t use some of the features available to the newer ones (like SIRI) due to hardware limitations.

Battery Life
For this one….good luck. Battery life will vary based on how you use the device and the specifications of the device (some screen technologies and processors are much more power hungry than others). These are usually selling points for high-end phones. You shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding information here.

Cost
Self-explanatory.

Unfortunately, we cannot give you any recommendations on what type of device you should get. Because any iPhone or Android made in the last two years would work, it really comes down to what type of device you actually want. In our office, we have users of every type of operating system (Windows, Android, iOS, Blackberry). Without arguing the merits of one OS over the other and then device verses device, there really isn’t a “best choice” to be given here. For the purposes of Aptora Mobile and your question: the iPhone 3Gs, iPhone 4, iPhone 4s, iPhone 5, and any Android device running version 2.3 or higher would work. There’s a pretty large pool of devices to look through. The choice is ultimately yours.

 

By Chris Brown-DeMoreno
Database Migrations Specialist

Chris got his start at Aptora in the technical support department. He now works in our Data Migrations department. He is an avid computer enthusiast with a special interest in anything mobile.

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3 Comments

  1. Can you give me some insight as to what type of technologies the web interface uses?

    Is it mainly HTML5?

    If that’s the case, wouldn’t the most HTML5 Compatible device be preferable, like BlackBerry 10 devices?

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