Should You Be Using a Mobile Computer or a Smartphone in the Warehouse?

November 21st 2014 19:22:33 PM

There has been some debate in the warehouse management world about the value of the mobile computer vs. the smartphone. Last year, we wrote an article explaining the differences between mobile computers and smartphones; however, we realize there is still some confusion about the two and how they relate to warehouse management. Before we dive into the benefits of each, let’s take a quick refresher course and brush up on our warehouse device knowledge.

Mobile Computers

Mobile computers have an actual operating system, such as Windows 8, allowing users to do anything they would be able to do on a regular PC. These highly customizable solutions come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the environment they will be used in. You’ve probably seen rugged mobile computers in the form of barcode scanning devices on the warehouse floor. They can come bulky or compact, with a few keys to many keys. There are even some mobile computers that can be attached to equipment in the warehouse to speed up the information gathering process.


Unlike many mobile computers, smartphones are not made specifically for the warehouse. Smartphones are typically small, commercial-grade, portable hand-held devices used for primarily for web access, phone calls, and text messaging. While they can come equipped with barcode scanning technology and operate on an operating system like mobile computers, smartphones are ultimately commercial-grade devices. Recent technology advancements, however, have boosted the value of the smartphone in the warehouse. Software companies have created warehouse management applications that can be downloaded directly to users’ phones so they can perform the same functions as they would on mobile computers.

So which is better?

It really isn’t a question of which device is better overall but of which device is better for you and your needs. Mobile computers and smartphones ultimately perform the same function; they just differ in how they are made and how they can be handled. Many warehouses prefer to use mobile computers when they need a more rugged solution, such as on the receiving dock. Others prefer to use smartphones to automate essential inventory management tasks, such as barcode scanning and inventory counting. You don’t have to choose one or the other. In fact, we have many clients who use mobile computers and smartphones interchangeably. That’s the true beauty of technology!

In order to use both, however, you need to work with a warehouse management technology consultant who knows what they are doing and what solution you need. Our Sage 100 mobile warehouse management solutions work well with both mobile computers and smartphones, but others may not. Give us a call today to see how you can use these technologies to improve your warehouse management efforts.


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