Comparing Purpose-built Mobile Devices to Consumer Smartphones for Medical Courier Services

Medical courier mobile deviceOne of the most frequent questions MCE gets is, “Can we run your courier application on an iPhone or Samsung smartphone?”. This question is often posed when a lab already owns consumer grade smartphones and changing to a purpose-built mobile device raises questions about needs and cost. Although we understand why outreach labs initially consider running medical courier operations with consumer smartphones, a quick investigation into purpose-built mobile devices reveals that the longevity, ruggedness, design, and built-in scanner of these devices provides the biggest bang for your buck and a cost savings in the long run.

MCE, as an organization, internally sets a standard to build value and bring reliability to your outreach courier operations. To do that MCE can’t cut corners or offer a product we can’t stand behind 100%. To ensure your courier operations run reliably and with little to no issues, MCE has intentionally selected purpose-built devices, like the Zebra TC26, to run its courier application on.

Let’s look at the advantages purpose-built mobile devices have over consumer smartphones in environments like medical courier services.

Purpose-built Mobile Device


Consumer Smartphone

Ergonomically designed to perform scanning functions with one hand


Requires awkward wrist positions for scanning

Palm-balanced with natural thumb placement – Preferred by end-users


Finger balanced for taking videos and pictures

Designed for professional use and are ruggedized to provide higher tolerance to drops


Designed for consumer use

A barcode scan engine for capturing barcodes up to 40% faster than smartphones


A camera mostly designed for taking pictures and videos and suited only for occasional barcode scanning

Ability to read damaged barcodes or barcodes that aren’t “perfect”


Can’t read damaged barcodes

Zebra mobile devices are designed to last at least 4 years, but consumers are using it on average for 5 years


Only designed to last for 1-3 years

Replaceable Battery


No replaceable battery – new device must be purchased

Batteries are designed for long or double shifts


Batteries are not made for shift work and need recharging more frequently

Has a mobile device management system (MDM) that provides complete administrative control over the device including operating system (OS) updates to ensure compatibility


Updates may be added by the user or automatically, potentially leading to incompatibility and downtime with work apps

More IT support and app support


Lack of rugged design and no MDM translates into more difficulty troubleshooting and more downtime

Only a 4.4% annual failure rate – providing a longer life cycle


A 12.8% annual failure rate – needing to be replaced more frequently

Provides a longer cycle of operating system upgrades


System upgrades may be limited

Considering the longevity-of-use for purpose-built devices, less downtime and maintenance, the ruggedness of the device, the ability to perform tasks more efficiently, the ability to provide better technical support through the device, and the ability to replace batteries as needed equates to a lower total cost of ownership for purpose built mobile devices. In working environments, consumer smartphones will need to be replaced more frequently, have more downtime, work less efficiently, have more difficulty with technical issues and support, and will cost your lab more in the long run.

Consumer smartphones, while great for personal use, just can’t compete with purpose-built mobile devices designed for field work like medical courier services. Even if your lab doesn’t track specimens using barcodes, you can still track specimen counts in MCE and these devices will still perform better than smartphones and last longer. As a professional business, offering professional courier services, your employees deserve professional grade devices that allow them to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

Dependable, Reliable, & Efficient Medical Courier Operations

When it comes down to it, your customers need to know your medical courier services are dependable, reliable, and efficient. One of the main reasons why MCE does not offer its system through an app store or favor consumer devices is because they are not as reliable and are much more difficult to support. While consumer level systems may work “ok” for smaller homegrown courier companies, professional organizations need something more dependable.  

We often hear from labs and medical couriers, who are running operations with other apps on smartphones, that those systems can be “buggy” or frequently “crash” while out in the field. It’s important to remember that most mobile apps require a minimum operating system level to ensure the program works correctly. As upgrades to courier apps are made and new operating system upgrades are released, the company must ensure compatibility for everyone using its mobile app no matter what mobile brand or operating system upgrade users are running. It must work properly for everyone.  With so many varying consumer devices available in the market, that is a difficult task to achieve and couriers are more likely to run into technical issues using them. Because of the professional devices MCE uses, and the control those devices provide, MCE’s system is extremely reliable. Should a system issue occur our local support team is available 24/7 and are excellent at helping customers resolve issues.

Talk with MCE About Our Medical Courier Management Software and the Purpose-built Zebra TC26 Mobile Device It Runs On.

Ask yourself this, would your pathologists use consumer grade microscopes to make diagnoses for patients? We hope not. Professional organizations use purpose-built professional grade devices to offer dependable and quality services to customers. There shouldn’t be an exception for the mobile technologies provided to your medical couriers. Furthermore, these professional mobile devices are now priced competitively to consumer smartphones. 

We encourage you to fill out our contact form and schedule a web demo of MCE. In the web demo we will show you how MCE’s courier mobile app works on purpose-built mobile devices and how the administrative website works. We would also like to know more about your courier operations to understand what issues or improvements you are trying to make. Schedule a web demo of MCE today by contacting us here. 


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Thanks for your interest in Medical Courier Elite! If you're interested in learning more about our solution and how it can help your business, we'd be happy to schedule a demo, provide a quote or answer any questions you may have.

181 East Evans St. | Florence, SC, 29506
Phone: 843-656-2084 or 877-331-7427