Motorola Rugged PDA’s are the best known and still the most widely sold PDA’s in the Rugged market and as such Motorola remains the largest Rugged PDA Manufacturer in our market today.

Brief History

Everyone knows who Motorola is, and today there is a distinct split in how Motorola engage with their customers.  The “Mobility” Side is all about mobile phones and Android tablets, but the “Solutions” side is where we sit here.  Motorola bought their way into the Rugged PDA market with the acquisition of Symbol technologies in 2006, a very well-known and respected rugged PDA player back in the day.  In fact you still see the Symbol brand being used today which is testament to the strength it once had.

What Motorola has done with the Symbol brand since then has been to introduce a broader set of upgraded devices that have leant on the size and reputation of both brands in order to maintain its number 1 position in the UK .


As the largest player in the market Motorola has a broad reach and appeal.  It serves the field mobile market well with its MC55/65, 75 and semi rugged ES400 devices and has a range of devices for the warehouse and crossover between the two.  It really is difficult to fault Motorola devices in isolation and they will tend to do the job asked of them.  They’re not particularly innovative though, OK they have good scanners but they are leading the way incrementally standardising their products across the globe rather than delivering to the needs of the customers and emerging technologies right now.


Pricing is near the top of the scale, some of this is more about brand these days than the hardware.  Newer models, like the MC65 are stated to have minimal increases in pricing but in reality they have gone up to the average customer by about 15% by not offering some of the options the older devices did like 1D scanning.

"Wearing" Motorola Rugged PDA's

“Wearing” Motorola Rugged PDA’s (WT4000 on right)


You can broadly split the Motorola PDA range up into 2 streams:

Field mobile (See image above):

  • ES400 – Semi Rugged, low cost device.
  • MC65 – Lightweight fully rugged PDA
  • MC75A – Heavy Rugged PDA
  • MC9500 – Cross


  • MC1000 – CE based batch scanner
  • MT2000 – Phaser style CE batch scanner
  • MC3000 – Lightweight warehouse Rugged PDA
  • MC9090G – heavy weight Gun style Rugged PDA.
  • WT4000 – Wearable PDA.
Motorola Warehouse Style Mobile Rugged PDA's

Motorola Warehouse Style Mobile Rugged PDA’s

Newest models and Recent Highlights

  • Q3 2010  – Motorola ES400
  • Q1 2011 – MC65
  • Range of healthcare antimicrobial cased devices for MC55A, MC75A.
  • Blockbuster 2D barcode scanner.

The Rugged and Mobile Take

The negatives of dealing with Motorola are that every man and his dog sells them and this has been heightened by recent moves to sell through alternative channels to the expert resellers.  It’s becoming more and more difficult to compete against someone who wants your money but not your phone calls for help.  We also find the company becoming more and more corporatised and customers with specific requirements where they need to work more empirically with us to deliver the best solution are the area we are seeing Motorola starting to lose the battle.  Too expensive, there is better for less and big is not necessarily better in the modern world of today.

Having said this Motorola still make decent kit, they’re the “Ford” of our market with devices that are hard to fault and do the job at hand.  You’ll see plenty of old MC9090G’s still being used in supermarkets and that has to be a good sign.  Motorola are at risk of a new wave of newer, better and more innovative devices that are better suited to the way business is going to be in the new future and who work better with resellers.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the No2 in the UK and Motorola’s largest rival, Intermec.

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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2 Responses

  1. Chris

    I am looking at the MC9500 as a potential device for a meter reading solution. Are you aware if the device is about to be replaced as it is a couple of years old now. If not will Moto be releasing the ui/skin that the es400 and mc65 have for it.

    • ruggedandmobile

      Hi Chris

      As your Rugged PDA reseller we would always make sure you are aware of this kind of information before you committed and we know that other water people out there are all looking at this device too so my first advice is to come and talk to us and we’ll work along side you right from the start.

      To answer your Q’s, we have not seen any plans for the MC9500 to go end of line yet and this class of device tends to stick around a bit longer than the smaller MC65 class ones.

      As for the Upgrade, there is already a WM6.5 upgrade for this device, you need to talk to a reseller about obtaining this. I am not too sure if it contains the ES400/MC65 style MEUI we’d have to check but if not I think we can help anyway.

      Just get in touch through our main website if you need any more help