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Handheld Nautiz X9

The modern rugged mobile PDA has come of age.
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)

On January 10, 2018, the Handheld Group introduced the Nautiz X9, a new member of the company's Nautiz product line that includes both conventional rugged handhelds with keypads as well as toughened-up PDAs that can handle almost anything.

The Nautiz X9 is one of the latter, a device that provides all the ease of use of a modern Android device but also offers professional-grade data collection. And it's the company's brawniest and most rugged Android handheld yet.

What is the Handheld Nautiz X9 and where does it fit in? It's an industrial-class Android mobile computer measuring 6.6 x 3.3 x 1.00 inches, weighing 13.5 ounces, and having a 5.0-inch capacitive multi-touch screen and an available Zebra SE4710 imager with red aiming LED and direct sunlight reading capability.

That makes the Nautiz X9 a competent, modern handheld as well as a powerful data collection tool for the shop floor or the field. The image below shows how the new X9 fits into the Handheld Group's current Nautiz product line:

Note that with the new Nautiz X9, the company's entire handheld device lineup is now either Android-based (the Nautiz X1 and X2) or available with Android (the Nautiz X4 and X8).

The Nautiz X9, however, takes smartphone convenience in a tough package to a new level. It is a modern Android device, but it is, and looks, intentionally as different from a consumer phone as a modern Sports Utility Vehicle is from a conventional passenger sedan.

In essence, with the modern Android-based Nautiz X9, the Handheld Group also bids farewell to the old Windows Embedded Handheld era. That comes as no surprise after Microsoft gave up on Windows 10 Mobile by putting it into "maintenance mode" in October 2017. We may see future handhelds running full Windows 10, but that's another story.

Unlike many toughened handhelds that hide their size and bulk behind a consumer smartphone front so as to appeal to customers used to sliver-thin consumer phones, the Nautiz X9 presents itself as what it is, a tough, well-protected handheld with a big battery and industrial grade components. The image below shows the Nautiz X9 from the front and back and all sides. It's an honest, purposeful design.

The 6.6 x 3.3 inch footprint of the Nautiz X9 is that of a modern rugged PDA. The X9 display measures 5.0 inches diagonally — the biggest display of all of Handheld's Nautiz devices. That's large enough for any task that needs to run on a computer you can still stick into a pocket.

What about tech specs? The Nautiz X9 display is of the IPS variety, which means it has virtually perfect viewing angles from all directions. 1280 x 720 resolution means 294ppi (pixels per inch). That's sharper than Apple's "retina" iPads. There's 16GB of internal mass storage, which can be complemented via microSDHC card. The processor is an as of yet unspecified 1.3GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A53 design and there's of course, capacitive multi-touch.

While many industrial handhelds have an often unsightly "scanner bulge," the roomy Nautiz X9 doesn't need one to accommodate an optional Zebra SE4710 1D/2D imager (see here). And there is a user-replaceable battery with a large 17.8 watt-hours of capacity. That's plenty enough to last through any shift.

On the software side, the Nautiz X9 comes with Android 7.0 "Nougat." This is the most recent Android version with a major commercial presence. According to the Android Developers page, Nougat already had a 23.3% marketshare among all Android versions in January 2018 (see here). Note that Nougat brought much improved multi-tasking, multi-window mode, and seamless system updates to Android, moving the platform another good step forward.

Further, the Nautiz X9 is one of the relatively rare enterprise handhelds with Google GMS (Google Mobile Services) certification. This means it's been certified by Google, comes with Google-branded apps (such as Maps, Gmail, Drive, etc.), and has access to the Google Play store (we still wish Google would change the name of its app store! It's far more than play).

But let's get to the true purpose of the Nautiz X9, that of being a handheld computer unafraid of the bumps and grinds and spills of a typical workday. The Nautiz X9 can handle 5-foot drops, has an very wide operating temperature range of -4 to 131°F, and carries IP67 sealing where the "6" means it's totally dustproof, and the "7" that it can be fully immersed in water. It also passed MIL-STD-810G tests for vibration, humidity, and altitude.

What, overall, does that make the Nautiz X9? It's the modern rugged handheld come of age, having found its own form, style, and purpose. It's handy, useful, and up-to-date in every respect. There's one less reason to use brittle consumer tech on the job, even if it's in a bulky case.


Handheld is a manufacturer of rugged PDAs and mobile computers. Handheld and partners worldwide deliver complete mobility solutions to businesses in industries such as logistics, forestry, public transportation, construction, military and security.

Specifications Nautiz X9
Added/changed Added 01/2018
Form-factor Rugged Android PDA
CPU/Speed Quad-core ARM Cortex-A53, 1.3GHz
OS Android 7.0 "Nougat" (GMS)
RAM/ROM 2GB RAM/16GB Flash
Card slots 1 x microSDHC (32GB), 2 x SIM
Display type Sunlight-readable TFT with strengthened glass
Display size/res 5.0"/1280 x 720 pixel (294 ppi)
Digitizer/pens Projected capacitive multi-touch
Keyboard/keys Onscreen + scan button
Navigation onscreen
Housing Unknown
Operating Temp -4° to 131°F (-°20 to 55° Celsius)
Sealing IP67, IEC 60529
Shock 26 5-foot drops per MIL-STD-810G, Method 516.6, Procedure IV
Altitude 15,000 feet (4,572 meters)
Humidity MIL-STD-810G, Method 507.5 5 to 95% non-condensing
Size (WxHxD) 6.6 x 3.3 x 1.0 inches (166 x 86 x 25 mm)
Weight 13.5 ounces (385 grams)
Power 3.7V, 4,800mAH, 17.76 whr Li-Ion
Interface Micro USB 2.0, High-speed / OTG, 3.5mm audio, dock
Sensors G-sensor, ambient light, proximity, pressure, magnetometer, gyroscope
Wireless Dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0 LE, WWAN (GSM/HSPA+, 4G LTE), GPS/Glonass
Camera Rear-facing 13mp auto-focus camera with LED flash, front-facing 2mp
Data collection NFC, optional Zebra SE4710
List price Starts at US$999
Web page Nautiz X9 web page
Brochure Nautiz X9 brochure
Contact www.handheldgroup.com