Motorola MC55 Rugged Smartphone - Motorola MC55

Niall Magennis

By Niall Magennis



Our Score:


The model we had for review, the MC5574 - PZCDKRRA7WR (rolls off the tongue doesn't it?), has a standard numerical keypad, but the device is also available with a full QWERTY keyboard instead. As well as the numerical keypad there's also a wealth of programmable buttons plus a handy button for turning on and off the screen's backlight to help preserve battery life.

The 3.5in screen is much larger than the displays you usually find on smartphone, but unfortunately its resolution at 320 x 240 pixels is relatively low so text and graphics look quite blocky. Nevertheless, it is bright and responsive to stylus or finger presses which is what really matters on a device like this.

The MC55 is built around a Marvell XScale PXA270 520MHz processor and in use feels relatively nippy. However, it's not exactly laden down in the memory department as it has just 128MB of flash memory and 256MB of RAM, which might be a problem if you need to run really memory hungry apps. At least storage space can be increased using MicroSD cards which slot into a holder found under the device's clip on battery pack.

But the MC55 is not just about performance, it's also about features and in this department it scores pretty highly. At the top of the handset there's a 1D/2D laser barcode scanner with a decent 60cm range and this is matched on the rear by a 2-megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash. The image quality from the camera isn't brilliant, but it's certainly good enough for the type of signature collection and other data grabbing purposes it's likely to be put to on a daily basis.

There's also onboard GPS thanks to the built in SiRFstarIII chip. This works brilliantly as not only is it fast to lock on to satellites from a cold start, but it's also very good at hanging on to weak satellite signals to the extent that often it can even keep a lock on your position indoors.

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Mike B

May 25, 2009, 5:27 pm

The problem with a device such as this is the cost. Is it really worth more than 4 times the cost of a similar non rugged device?

Unless you work in a warehouse or deliver parcels its attraction is limited. An average field service engineer that might use such a device is no more likely to break a standard device when carried in a suitable leather case! Even if they do your can buy a fair few replacements! Lets be honest you can't fit these rugged devices in you pocket or on a belt as they are just too big and heavy, so they get carried around in your hand and are therefore exposed to more damage and need to be rugged! In other words their size generates their need to be rugged!

The only reason this device can be sold is there are many managers out there who feel staff can't be trusted with a normal PDA! They will also have in their minds the British need to differentiate what the sales and managers have over the rest of the 'lower grade' staff!

The only useful feature is the laser barcode scanner but unless this is extensively used a suitable software barcode solution using most PDAs built in cameras would be as good. Alternately the use of an external bluetooth barcode scanner and a standard PDA would be as good.


May 25, 2009, 10:51 pm

It could be useful if it was completely waterproof, less expensive and not Motorola :) Military specifications, not children's toys.


June 21, 2010, 4:28 pm

I think it would be a great idea to incorporate barcode labels in to more everyday life. Having seen that the iphone has app's that you can download to scan and compare prices of food online, as well as an app that tells you the content of the food. Would look in to it myself, get a bit of use out of my <a href="">barcode label printing</a> skills. Great start, just hope they keep developing the idea!

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