What You Should Know About Charging your Enterprise Mobile Device

All Chargers Are Not Created Equal!

We’ve all been there . . . you need to make a call, but your phone only has one bar and there isn’t a wall plug in sight. Borrowing or swapping chargers between devices is common practice, especially for consumer devices and most of the time this is a solution that works. 

Many non-iOS devices (consumer and enterprise) use micro USB ports for charging.  One might assume that a standard cell phone charger and cable would suffice to charge a mobile handheld device with a larger battery, multiple radios etc.  This may or may not be the case, because all chargers, nor cables, are created equal.    

Though the form-factor and user interface of an enterprise handheld device is similar to a retail Smartphone, the similarities stop there. The functionality of a multi-radio mobile computer draws power at a much higher rate than a Smartphone.  Add extended battery options commonly used for enterprise applications, and the amount of power required to charge an enterprise device in a reasonable time period becomes more significant.    

Guidelines for Charging

Many cell phone wall chargers and 12v volt car adapters typically provide charging/operating power ranging from 5 volts @ .5 amp (500 milliamps) up to .9 amp (900 milliamps).  Some are higher. USB ports on PCs, laptops and USB hubs typically provide charging/operating power at 5v @.5 amp (500 milliamps) also.  Theoretically, these types of chargers would eventually charge an enterprise handheld device, but at a considerably slower rate.  But if the device requires 2 or more amps and is on and “running”, the mobile device may not charge at all, even when connected to a low power charger.

Optimum charging for most enterprise handheld devices, is best at an input voltage of 5v @ 2.0 amps or higher (or as called out on the device rating plate).  In addition, the USB cable should be a 28/26 or 28/24 cable to achieve the best results (faster charging times).  Thin (28/28) inexpensive retail cables (28/28) may reduce the benefit of using a more powerful charging due to the wire size. 

The same holds true for many of the more sophisticated SmartPhones, tablets and the like. Like enterprise mobile computers, they may require a charger that provides more amperage to achieve the fastest possible charge time.  Check the power specs on your mobile device and compare it to the power specs on you wall charger.  The charger should always be in the same voltage range and at an amperage output equal to or higher than the mobile device.

The Bottom Line

Consideration of battery needs and charging options is a critical part of the mobile computing solution.  The time it takes to fully charge a device can be as important as the amount of active use time you get from the battery charge itself.