A remarkably advanced mission-critical Handheld purpose-built for public safety deployments
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
As of May 2015, it's not easy to keep track of all parts of the former Motorola, the iconic symbol of American technology and ingenuity that over time has been split up, merged, and assumed new owners. An example is the LEX L10 handheld that Motorola Solutions — and not Zebra Technologies which now owns the enterprise business of Motorola Solutions — announced on May 19, after having issued a pre-announcement in October 2014. So what exactly is the LEX L10?
Motorola Solutions calls it a mission-critical handheld, just like the older LEX 700 that was launched early 2012. The LEX L10 is hardly bigger than a consumer smartphone but it's really an entirely different type of device, one that connects to public safety LTE broadband, is remarkably rugged, and was designed from the ground up to give public safety personnel a tool they can count on in the thick of things. The emphasis here is on providing critical information in the field, helping with monitoring the environment, gathering information, and just generally be more aware. Which requires hardware, software and security that transcends what's available in consumer phones.
Considering these ambitious goals, the LEX L10 is remarkably small, light, and handy. It measures just 5.6 x 2.85 x .55 inches and weighs less than seven ounces with the standard battery. That's a footprint just a tad larger than the iPhone 6 (the smaller of the two iPhone 6 models), but due to its durable construction the LEX is twice as thick as the super-slender iPhone and at 6.9 ounces weighs half again as much. That's still smaller and lighter than most ruggedized phone/handheld computer combination devices. The LEX L10 has a nicely sized 4.7-inch display with 720 x 1280 WVGA resolution, which would have been considered impossible in a ruggedized device just a few short years ago. And like virtually all consumer smartphones, the LEX L10 has a capacitive multi-touch screen.
In a sign how things have changed, while the original LEX 700 of 2012 initially ran Windows Embedded Handheld 6.5.3 with eventual availability of Android (it now uses Androud 4.2.2), the new LEX L10 is Android-only from the start. And the times where rugged hardware always seemed to be a bit behind in technology appear to have gone as well. Under the hood of the LEX 10 is an entirely competent 2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm MSM8974AB "Snapdragon" processor with an Adreno 330 GPU. There are 2GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC storage, and that's expandable by up to 64GB via microSD card. There's a micro-A USB 2.0 port, a standard 3.5mm audio jack, and an accessory/charging surface mount port. The auto-focus camera has smartphone-class 8 megapixel resolution and an LED flash. There are triple microphones for superior voice quality, and the dual 1-watt speakers can generate loudness up to 106 dB!
On the wireless and communications side the LEX L10 shines as well. Since public safety agencies heavily rely on voice communications, the LEX L10 was not only designed for one-handed operation, it also has a dedicated, tactile push-to-talk (PTT) button. It supports 4G LTE (bands 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 20, 26 and 28) but can also connect to other networks, including carrier 3G/UMTS (bands 1, 2, 4, 5, 8) and Quad Band GSM. It also supports IMS/VoLTE and IMS/SMS services on 4G LTE in addition to circuit switch voice and SMS. Radio can be operated in covert mode by securely touch-pairing it with the LEX L10 via Mission Critical Bluetooth to remotely control the radio's zones, channels, volume and activate an emergency.
On the ruggedness side of things, sealing is at the IP67 level, where the "6" means the device is fully dustproof, and the "7" means it's also fully waterproof, including immersion down to about three feet. The LEX L10 can handle 4-foot drops, and the 14° to 131° Fahrenheit operating temperature range is wide enough for deployment almost anywhere. The display is damage-protected via Gorilla Glass 3. Moto doesn't spec what the LEX L10 is made of, but it looks rather tough and well-protected.
Not being law enforcement officers and not having had any hands-on with the LEX L10, we cannot comment on how well it all works. Motorola Solutions' press release emphasizes that "within the LEX L10's rugged hardware lies a secure, dedicated software platform and user interface (UI) that supports capabilities that are above and beyond consumer-grade smartphones. The LEX L10 was conceived and designed for real-world front-line policing, where day-to-day use scenarios differ vastly from those of the consumer. It features a dedicated push-to-talk (PTT) button and enhanced audio that delivers an excellent PTT experience and ensures that communications being transmitted and received by officers on the beat are loud and clear," and also that Moto's "PSX ("Public Safety Experience") is a unique user experience that transforms the Android operating system to enhance safety and efficiency for front-line officers.
Motorola further stresses that with Motorola Solutions' WAVE Work Group Communications, the LEX L10 provides instant voice interoperability with any broadband device or land mobile radio (LMR) system, allowing users to gain access to dynamic resource mapping with the Intelligent Data Portal, take remote control of a two-way radio, securely stream real time video for situational awareness, fly a drone, as well as a continually expanding range of other options.
The below video shows the Motorola LEX L10's key features:
And the next one provides an overview of the PSX (Public Safety Experience) system:
Specifications Motorola LEX L10
Mission Critical Handheld
2.3GHz quad-core Qualcomm MSM8974AB
Android KitKat 4.4.4 with PSX User Interface
2GB/16GB eMMC, expandable to 64GB via microSD
1 x microSD (up to 64GB), dual-SIM slots
Outdoor-readable TFT LCD with covert illumination mode, Gorilla Glass 3
4.7-inch/720 x 1280 pixel x 480 pixel
Touch, volume buttons, dedicated PTT buttons, 4 function buttons
14° to 131°F (-10° to 55°C)
Continues to run after multiple drops to concrete from 4 feet
5.6 x 2.85 x .55 inches (143 x 73 x 14 mm)
6.9 oz. (195 grams)
Li-Ion 2,280mAh ("10 hours"), high capacity 4,560 mAh ("20 hours")
micro-A USB 2.0, speaker, 3.5mm audio jack, accessories/charging port
front: 2MP, rear: 8.0mp AF camera with LED flash and digital zoom