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April 22, 2020
Samsung has begun shipping its new Galaxy XCover Pro ruggedized phone for frontline workers. The XCover Pro’s push-to-talk feature touted by Samsung is initially only available on the Verizon 4G LTE network.
When Samsung introduced the Galaxy XCover Pro ruggedized phone earlier this year, the company showcased it integrated with Microsoft Teams. Simultaneously, Microsoft launched a walkie-talkie feature coming to Teams and highlighted that it will first appear on Samsung’s new Galaxy XCover Pro.
Initially though, partners who have customers seeking the Galaxy XCover Pro’s walkie-talkie feature right away can use it on Verizon’s network.
To make use of it, the Verizon Push To Talk Plus application is bundled from the carrier on the phone. Partners can acquire the phones from Verizon or its distributors. Later, Verizon will offer them in its retail stores.
Partners can also offer the phones on other 4G LTE networks with unlocked versions of the Galaxy XCover Pro ruggedized phone. The unlocked versions are available from distributors, as well as directly from Microsoft and Samsung.
Microsoft has said it will offer a private preview of the Microsoft Teams walkie-talkie feature during the first half of this year. The Galaxy XCover Pro runs with the current Microsoft Teams client and other Android-based Office apps.
Frontline workers will ultimately be able to use the Microsoft Teams walkie-talkie feature with the push-to-talk capability on Samsung’s new phone.
Push-to-talk is intended to make frontline workers more productive by enabling them to have instant communications with each other and their managers. Target environments include retail stores and other customer-facing settings such as hotels, hospitals and in transportation, both companies have emphasized.
“This new push-to-talk experience enables clear, instant, and secure voice communication over the cloud, turning employee- or company-owned smartphones and tablets into a walkie-talkie,” according to a post by Microsoft corporate vice president Emma Williams.
Microsoft and Samsung introduced their respective push-to-talk capabilities at the National Retail Federation Big Show in New York.
Samsung’s Chris Briglin
Chris Briglin, head of marketing for B2B products at Samsung, told Channel Futures that the Galaxy XCover Pro is well suited for retail. In a retail setting, customer-facing frontline workers need to communicate and gather information.
“It’s a rugged smartphone that we think is going to enable frontline workers to be extremely productive and without sacrifices, Briglin said. “It balances the line between traditional rugged devices and the consumer device with the case.”
The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is the company’s latest effort to expand its Android smartphone line for frontline workers who require more rugged devices. It is IP68- rated, meaning the Galaxy XCover Pro for frontline workers can withstand drops of up to five feet. Similarly, Samsung claims it can tolerate dust or getting wet. It has a display designed to work with those wearing gloves.
While it doesn’t have the bells and whistles of Samsung’s $1,000-plus Galaxy S20 line, the Galaxy XCover Pros are lower cost mobile phones, priced at $499.
The phone has a 6.3-inch FHD+ display, has a user-replaceable 4,050 mAh battery that supports fast charging and has a base configuration of 4GB of memory, 64 GB of embedded storage and a microSD slot that enables up to 512 GB. It also comes with a single 13 MP camera and dual rear cameras, 25 MP and 8MP, respectively.
Samsung is also emphasizing the Galaxy XCover Pro for those looking to streamline workflows for frontline workers. The company has lined up support for third-party scanners, image recognition software and other peripherals.
Among partner offerings available with the Galaxy XCover Pro are the Infinea XC 1D/2D scanner from Infinite Peripherals, the SKX SmartSled Bluetooth barcode reader from Koamtac and the wearable MARK Basic barcode scanner from ProGlove.
Scandit, which offers real-time data scanning software, has also developed a software update without requiring modification to existing Android apps.
Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.
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