Motorola MC55 Rugged Smartphone - Motorola MC55

Niall Magennis

By Niall Magennis



Our Score:


In terms of connectivity, the device is a bit of a mixed bag. You do get Wi-Fi (B and G) and Bluetooth V2.0 with EDR, and the Wi-Fi aerial seems exceptionally sensitive. When used on a street in London it picked up a total of 12 different Wi-Fi routers. By comparison the iPhone and HTC Diamond2 picked up just three. However, on the phone side of the device things aren't as hot. Although the handset is quad-band, it doesn't support 3G data speeds so you're limited to a slower Edge connection where available.

Another annoyance with the device is its fiddly power connector. The power adapter is very large (about the size of one shipped with ultraportable laptops) and attaches to a separate cable that houses a large power connector which clips onto the base of the device. At first, actually getting the power connector to attach to the device was a bit of struggle. No matter what we tried, and even though the connector seemed to be attached properly, it wasn't connecting to the power pins on the MC55 so no juice was reaching the battery.

However, it turns out that the trick is to hold the connector hard against the phone before you lock the two side clips into place. Even with this trick mastered, there were still times when it lost the connection with the phone's power pins and stopped charging. We're not sure if this was a problem solely with our review device, but it does seem to indicate that the whole connector needs a bit of a redesign.

Nevertheless, battery life isn't too bad. Motorola says it's good for around six hours of talk time and will keep ticking over for around 100 hours in standby. We got around a day and a half out of it with medium usage of the MC55's core features. That sad, this is the type of device that's likely to be placed in the charger at the end of each working day, so mammoth battery life probably isn't a priority. However, if you do need longer battery life there is a high capacity 3600mAh battery available as an option (the standard battery is a 2400mAh power pack).


The MC55 is designed as a mid-range enterprise device and as such it fits its niche quite nicely. It's fast, has a good range of features and is tough enough to stand up to even the most demanding environments. We're not overly keen on the fiddly power connector and think it could have done with a bit more memory and support for 3G. However, if you really need 3G support then you can always opt for a model from Motorola's higher-end (and even more expensive) MC75 range.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Performance 7
  • Value 6
  • Features 7
  • Design 7
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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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