We’ve spent a lot of time before talking about the best type of device to use for your officers. There are plenty of advantages to having your officers use their own phones, especially if you can get around the regulatory hurdles.
Still, sometimes it makes more sense to outfit all your officers with company phones, and we’ve received a number of questions about this topic from current and prospective customers. Ideally, you want to get a phone that is durable, high performing, and won’t break the bank.
On top of that, you have to consider the specific needs of your security operation, how you’re going to manage all these devices, and the particulars of your wireless plan. Selecting the right device is a multi-step process.
Talk To Your Provider
Start out by going directly to your provider, whether that’s Verizon, AT&T, whoever. Don’t go to a reseller either, make sure you’re talking directly to a corporate employee so you can take advantage of whatever deals they’re offering.
Remember that the wireless business is an extremely competitive market. If you’re with Verizon, don’t be afraid to go to AT&T and see what they’re willing to offer you to switch. Then take that number back to Verizon and see if they’ll match it.
Mostly, though, you want to go to the carrier because they understand the functionality of the phone better than anyone else. You want to talk to them about your specific needs so that they can help you pick out the phones and the data plan that will be most suitable.
What Makes A Good Phone?
There are a few different qualities that a make a phone well suited for use in a security operation. Durability ranks high among the desired traits, since you know officers are going to be using them a lot, sometimes outside in the elements, and might end up dropping them quite a bit.
The durability issue, along with the cost, is why you might not necessarily want to use an iPhone. You don’t want to pay a lot upfront for phones, and then constantly have to be replacing them because the screen is broken. Plus, it’s easier to lock down Android phones for the limited use you’ll want your officers to have. Still we do offer the Silvertrac app on both Apple and Android.
A good phone will also have a quality camera that can take clear pictures for reporting purposes, a long battery life so there’s no chance of it dying during the shift, and a nice large screen so that it’s easier for officers that might be older or less accustomed to technology to use.
Among our favorites are
- The Samsung Galaxy S5, which has a very speedy processor and an excellent camera.
- The Droid Turbo by Motorola, which is splash proof and can last up to 48 hours on a single charge.
- The Kyocera Brigadier, which is waterproof, dustproof, scratch resistant, and has a touch screen that can be used even with gloves.
As important as it is to talk to your carrier, you should also be doing your own research to find the phone that’s right for you. Phonearene.com is an excellent resource and its list of the best rugged smartphones is a great place to start. In addition to our suggestions, it includes
- CAT S50
- Sonim XP6
- Sonim XP7
- Kyocera DuraForce
- Plum Gator Plus
- VeryKool Rock RX2
- Conquest S6
How To Manage Phones
It’s not enough just to get the right phones, you have to have the correct policies in place to make sure your officers are using them properly. Without clear guidelines, you can have officers breaking the phones through carelessness, using them as distraction tools on-site, or running up big data charges by downloading apps.
Make sure you have clear documentation and a contract in the new hire handbook that the employee signs affirming that they will use the phones for business purposes, understand what constitutes misuse, and understand the consequences of violating this properly. Having this documentation will make it much easier if you need to discipline or fire an employee.
There are also good tools out there to help you manage a large number of smartphones and to lock the phones so that officers can only use approved apps.
“If you don’t want the officer on Netflix, or streaming music, or watching YouTube videos… you’re going to want to make sure you’ve locked those apps so that the officer can’t download applications and run up your data plan,” said Johnny.
Buying high-quality, durable phones and instituting strict employee use policies will help you maximize your productivity and limit costs.