As we draw near to the end of our series on Understanding the Rugged PDA better we’re going to look at one of the most mis-understood elements, namely the phone and data capabilities of the device.  We term the phrase “Data” as how you send information to and from a rugged PDA whilst in the field and using one of the mobile network operators, such as O2, Verizon or T-Mobile for instance.  Its how couriers update your parcel tracking for instance.  The phone capabilities usually come as part of the package too.

I’m not going to talk about the differences between GPRS and HSUPA etc, there’s a great post we did right here, this blog keeps it layman’s and simple to help you choose the most suitable rugged PDA for your needs.

What is this GPRS V 3G choice I get?

Briefly though the speed of the data chips get better so quickly these days that the incremental improvements are seen on any new device.  So when we you see 3G, HSDPA (3.5G), HSUPA(3.75G), HSPA+ (3.9G), they are all roughly speaking just slight improvements to the 3G chip and they’re all going to give very similar performance, regardless of what the spec sheets say as this is largely due to the actual networks not having been upgraded yet or throttling speeds anyway.

Vodafone are trialling 4G in London right now which is a game changer, I don’t think any 3G phones will run on it, so 4G is the next big thing round the corner you need to be aware of.  The 3G networks aren’t going away any time soon though and I think it’ll be a little while before we see 4G take up in the business/rugged markets in earnest.

When would I choose a GPRS Rugged PDA over a 3G one?

GPRS is still popular in the rugged PDA market and it still has a place.  Despite being slower, GPRS chips make rugged PDA’s cheaper, it is a more stable technology, it uses less power than 3G and most of the UK outside the major cities still only has GPRS or Edge (2.5G) network coverage anyway.  If you’re only sending data like job updates, parcel tracking etc then GPRS can still be a wise choice for you.

Why buy one with 3G then?

Well put simply its analogous to having a faster broadband connection.  Yes it is faster, if you’re syncing photos, or wanting to download larger data than it does have it’s place.  It will make the phone generally quicker, being more forgiving to less tightly written applications and it will work int the background more easily and quicker too.  It’ll eat up that 500MB allowance in an instance though so watch out!  Using YouTube on a smartphone is one thing, but I’ve seen bespoke apps with bugs in them that eat up the data in minutes!

What about the phone?  Do Rugged PDA’s have phones too?

The phone is incremental to the data chip, so they almost always come together.  There a few data only devices on the market but largely you get the phone come with the data chip.  This is the same phone as you’ll find in any smart phone so you can take calls, text and run any SIM card in your phone.

Are Rugged PDA’s unlocked?

Yes they are and certainly if you buy from us here!  All you do is put any SIM card in the device, follow the instructions to set up your data access and you’re away!

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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