Zebra TC52 and TC57: A Comparison of Powerful Mobile Devices

Zebra's top selling device for a reason

MANUFACTURER: Zebra Technologies
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android Oreo (upgradable to R)

Zebra Technologies released the Android TC52/TC57 handheld touch computers in late 2018 as a follow up to the widely popular TC51 and TC56 models. Since then, the TC52 and TC57 has seen rapid adoption across the retail, manufacturing, and transportation & logistics industries.

With over one million units sold in the past year, there’s a reason the TC52 and TC57 are Zebra’s top-selling Android devices. Both are powerful, rugged devices with large display screens that are equipped with the desired features for developers and end-users. The difference in models that the TC57 has Cellular and Wi-Fi capabilities, whereas the TC52  is Wi-Fi only. 

Since BlueFletch is continuously evaluating and recommending hardware for our clients, we decided to conduct an in-depth device review of Zebra’s TC52/TC57 touch computers.

How easy is it to manage?

The device comes pre-installed with Android Oreo in the GMS variant and includes the Google Mobile Services required to support Android Enterprise deployments. The device will also be able to support Android R in future releases, so be on the lookout for those updates.

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 using the BlueFletch Launcher). We’ve found the Zebra EMDK to be the best-in-class for development support and provides wide-ranging options to customize Android security. 

How easy is it to stage?

We found it incredibly simple to stage the TC52/TC57 device using Zebra’s own pre-installed StageNow tooling. In addition, Zebra has released a OEM config application in the Google Play Store to deploy via your EMM (such as Workspace ONE, SOTI MobiControl, or the BlueFletch Playbook) to give you the same configuration options made available StageNow’s Window Configurator. 

You can also leverage the hashtag, QR, or Zero Touch Enrollment (ZTE) from Android Enterprise since it’s running Oreo. We’ve had a ton of experience configuring and managing through EMMs, and have had very few issues with these devices.

Developer Support & API Availability

The TC52/TC57 devices has some of the best support and developer kits in the industry, which is why it’s a top choice for our developers. Zebra’s EMDK provides all the features we need to securely lockdown a device with the BlueFletch Enterprise Launcher. 

Scanning Performance

As with all Zebra handheld devices, the TC52/TC57 includes the DataWedge scanning engine for customizing scanning performance and utility. 

We tested the TC52/TC57 scanner in our labs and found that it can comfortably scan a 1×1 inch QR code from 18-inches away. While this isn’t as long-range as some of the other devices you can find in Warehousing, it’s plenty sufficient for common tasks like looking up an item. 

Battery Life

Zebra claims the battery life of the TC52 and TC57 can last up to 14 hours with a single charge, which is longer than the TC51 and TC56. The battery can also be swapped out without ending a session or turning off the device. 

Cellular Performance

The only difference between Zebra’s TC52/TC57 devices is that the TC52 is Wi-Fi only whereas the TC57 also has cellular capabilities (4G LTE). Note that for true GPS, the TC57 is required. 

Look & Feel

The TC52/TC57 didn’t get as much as facelift as we would have liked to see from the TC51/TC56 series upgrade, and we feel it’s a little reminiscent of the older, consumer-grade Android devices. 

We do like the large 5 in. display and slim profile – it can comfortably fit in your pocket. We also like that when you are looking at the device from the front, you can easily see and locate the scanning callouts on the side of the device.  You can find the full specs here

Accessory Ecosystem

There are plenty of accessories that are available for the Zebra TC52 and TC57, such as a rugged case to improve its durability, a trigger for rapid scanning jobs, and an RFID attachment to increase the functionality of RFID scanning in the field. 

BlueFletch Enterprise Mobility Suite Score

The BlueFletch team installed the TC52/TC57 with our Enterprise Mobility Suite software to see how the device performs, supports, and scales in the enterprise. 

We gave the Zebra TC52/TC57 series an “EMS Support Score” of 4.8/5 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 our next device review – we’ll be evaluating Datalogic’s Memor 20.