Device Review: Zebra EC30 Enterprise Companion

The Walkie Talkie for the 21st Century

MANUFACTURER: Zebra Technologies
MODEL: EC30
OPERATING SYSTEM: Oreo

Zebra Technologies released the EC30 “Enterprise Companion” as a cost-effective solution to drive efficiency for frontline workers. Specially designed for portability, Zebra hopes this device will simplify employee communications, expand access into associate workflows, improve inventory accuracy, and enhance customer interactions. 

The Zebra EC30 Enterprise Companion device was released in late 2019 and is expected to roll out to retailers and hospitality companies in early 2020. 

Since BlueFletch is continuously evaluating and recommending hardware for our clients, I decided to conduct an in-depth device review of the EC30.

If I were to summarize my analysis into one sentence: don’t let the size of the device deter you from its functionality. 

While you will immediately notice the small 3-inch screen, the power behind the internal components is what made a lasting impression for me.

In the sections below, I will discuss my findings in regards to manageability, security, performance, and how the device scores from an EMS support perspective.

Zebra EC30

How easy is it to manage?

The device comes pre-installed with Android Oreo, and there is a GMS and non-GMS variant available. To get the most manageability, I recommend choosing the GMS build so you can take advantage of the Android Enterprise API’s and all the additional features Google has built into the operating system. Unlike other voice assistant solutions, this device can also be managed by any of your EMM systems, such as Workspace ONE or SOTI Mobicontrol. 

How easy is it to secure?

With all Zebra Android devices, the EMDK comes pre-installed so developers can customize the device to your security team’s requirements (i.e. lockdown or block user access to device settings). We’ve found the Zebra EMDK to be an industry leader for its wide-ranging options to customize Android security. 

How easy is it to stage?

Zebra’s pre-installed StageNow tool makes staging easy, as it gives you the ability to scan a barcode to customize settings and enroll into an EMM. If you have the GMS build of Android installed, you can also leverage newer features like DPC identifier enrollment, QR codes, and Zero-Touch enrollment within the Android Enterprise ecosystem. 

Zebra Enterprise Companion

The Zebra EC30 Enterprise Companion device can be managed as an Android device by all major EMMs. Most other voice companions in the same class are not running Android, thus more difficult to manage in the field.

This device has a strong WiFi chipset, almost equivalent to those found in Zebra’s TC5X and TC7X premium series. 

It is worth noting however, this device does not have cellular capabilities available and is intended to be used as a WiFi-only device.

Scanning Performance

We found the built-in 1D/2D scanner is primarily useful for simple task type applications (i.e. Item Inventory), but falls short with tasks that require heavier scanning (like Receiving or Cycle Counts). The maximum reliable scanning range for a 1in x 1in QR code is 11-12 inches.

If you’re looking for longer-range scanning, we recommend pairing the EC30 with Zebra RFID or Bluetooth scanners for enhanced performance. 

Battery Life

Depending on usage, the battery life for this device ranges between 5-10 hours. If you are truly using the device as a voice companion or walkie talkie, we expect the battery life to be closer to 8-10 hours. 

Zebra EC30 Enterprise Companion

Cellular Performance

This device has a strong WiFi chipset, almost equivalent to those found in Zebra’s TC5X and TC7X premium series. 

It is worth noting however, this device does not have cellular capabilities available and is intended to be used as a WiFi-only device.

EMM/MDM Support

This device can be managed as an Android device by all major EMMs. Most other voice companions in the same class are not running Android, thus more difficult to manage in the field.

Look & Feel

This device was built with portability in mind. Weighing 3.8 oz and only a half-inch thin, the Zebra EC30 can be worn on a lanyard or clipped to a holster. Icons will have to be scaled and application names will have to be shortened to fit on the 3-inch display screen. See full specs.

BlueFletch Enterprise Mobility Suite Score

The BlueFletch team tested the Zebra EC30 with our Enterprise Mobility Suite software and decided to make a few design enhancements to improve usability with the smaller screen format. 

The first thing we added was the ability to use voice commands to control the device. This gives end-users the ability to quickly jump into an application, rather than relying on using touch to control the display screen. 

We also found it difficult to input login credentials due to the small screen size, so we experimented using the keyboard in landscape orientation to maximize screen space and make entering credentials easier.    

After testing the Zebra EC30 with the BlueFletch Enterprise Launcher, we gave it an “EMS Support Score” based on the following categories: technology, performance, development, supportability, and look & feel. 

Here at BlueFletch, we understand how critical it is for software and hardware to work in tandem.

We want to ensure the software we build can function properly on the Android device it’s deployed to. 

Although BlueFletch doesn’t sell hardware, we continuously evaluate devices so that we can make the best recommendation for our customers. 

Be on the lookout for a new device review each month! 

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