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Which Mobile Device Should I Buy for My Construction Company?

June 8, 2016
 / Field / , / crews / , / mobile device / , / job management / , / construction / 
If you’re wondering what kind of iPad or tablet to buy for your crew, you’re not alone. HCSS customers often ask this question, so to save you from doing the research, here are our recommendations for the best tablets to buy for your job site.
Apple to the Core
More than three million time cards have been entered on iPads by HCSS customers, including 10 of the top 15 ENR companies and 1000 heavy civil and infrastructure construction companies. 
The most popular iPad among our customers is the latest generation Apple iPad Air because of its overall user experience, feature accessibility, and size. Even if you typically gravitate toward Android devices, you’ll want to consider going with this Apple tablet.
User Experience Apple iPad Air 2 on job site with foreman
Your crews will be able to integrate iPads into their daily routine with little training or prior experience with mobile devices. Apple prioritizes a user-friendly interface, so your iPads naturally feel fast, fluid, and intuitive, even in the field. 
Eugene Eshbach, Manager of Construction Information Systems at Allan Myers, said they invested in the Apple iPad for their 240 foremen nearly four years ago because they saw Apple as the long-lasting and prevalent device for businesses. “In general, Apple devices don’t change often, so you know you’ll get the same intuitive user experience across all of their products,” he said. “If you can use a device at all, you know you’ll be able to use an Apple device for years to come.”
Feature Accessibility
HCSS develops and updates software for iOS before Android because 80% of our customer base uses Apple devices. We want to get the greatest number of features to the most customers quickly, so Apple users typically receive the newest HCSS features months before Android users.

Lecon Inc. purchased 15 Android devices for their superintendents in 2013. However, they moved to iPad Air 2s after the HCSS User’s Group Meeting in 2015 where they realized most companies were using Apple devices and accessing the newest features before Android users. According to Caleb King, Project Manager at Lecon, “We wanted more features faster. We didn’t want to be behind everyone else, so investing in Apple devices made more sense as we look toward the future.”
Your foremen will be comfortable using the iPad Air in the field because it’s lightweight and the screen is big enough to easily type on and navigate. The iPad Mini’s keyboard and screen often is too small for foremen, and the iPad Pro can be unwieldy on a job site because it’s like replacing a laptop with an equally large tablet. The Air is a happy medium between the Mini and the Pro.

Caleb said Lecon worried that the iPad Air might still be too large for their superintendents to carry around, but the feedback from the field is that the screen is very easy to read and the keyboard is ideal for typing. Eugene agrees that the Mini’s keyboard is too small for Allan Myers’s foremen to use, and said the Pro is better suited for viewing plans in the office or trailer, not necessarily for taking around on a job site.
Android Alternative
Although most HCSS customers use Apple iPads, we don’t discourage companies from using Android tablets. 

If your company prefers Android, we recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tabletSamsung Galaxy Tab series, which starts around $350 – a realistic entry point for quality Android tablets and roughly $150 less than the Apple iPad Air. In our experience, you can’t go with a $50 tablet and expect the same usability that you get with a more expensive device.

The 8.4” Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is similar in size to an iPad Air, however the device is not as intuitive, so some training may be involved. This tends to be the case with most Android tablets, so here are some quick tips to get your crews up to speed on the basic user interface.

HCSS works to achieve parity with Android shortly after iOS feature releases, but keep in mind that only 20% of our customers currently use Android devices. While you might save a little bit of money at the start, you are likely compromising quicker accessibility to the latest features in the long run if you go with Android.