Amrel APEX AH53|
Modern, durable 5.3-inch multi-purpose Android handheld fills multiude of roles
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
Based in El Monte, California, AMREL (AMerican RELiance) has a long history of offering value-added applications in vertical markets. The Rocky line of ruggedized computers was introduced in 1995 and has been updated, enhanced, and fine-tuned every since. AMREL also offers innovative rugged handhelds for both military and industrial applications, and their new APEX AH53, launched in March 2015, is their first designed exclusively for Android.
What AMREL's latest rugged handheld represents is a meld between a modern big-screen Android smartphone and a tough, durable mobile computer with industrial-grade features and components. And that includes an optional dedicated 1D/2D bar code reader and not only an app that uses the integrated camera as consumer phones do. This, of course, means that while the APEX AH53 looks just like a generic consumer smartphone from the front, it's really a considerably thicker and significantly more substantial device that can take a beating.
Specifically, AMREL's tough Android handheld measures 6.4 x 3.4 inches — a footprint just a little larger than that of the Apple iPhone 6 Plus — but instead of being a sliver of a device as all leading consumer phones are, the AH53's housing is about three quarters of an inch thick, and 1.14 inches thick in the top part where the scanner bulge is. And it weighs 13.5 ounces. This is a tool for the job.
The device is powered by a non-specified 1.2GHz quad-core ARM Cortex-A8 processor (we guess MediaTek MTK6589, but we're not not sure). There is 1GB of LPDDR2 RAM (also known as "mobile" RAM), 4GB of eMMC Flash, plus up to 32GB of additional storage in the unit's microSD Card slot located inside the battery compartment. The battery itself is user-accessible and replaceable, and packs 14.4 watt-hours, which is a good size for this type of unit.
The 5-point projected capacitive multi-touch display measures 5.3 inches diagonally, which makes it almost as large as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus screen. Resolution is a somewhat unusual 854 x 480 pixel, also known as FWVGA (Full Wide Video Graphics Array), with a 16:9 aspect ratio. That's less than most big-screen consumer smartphones, but it's still about 190 dots per inch, i.e. sharper than, for example, Dell's UltraSharp 24-inch 4k monitor and all early iPhones and iPads. Brightness is 350 nits, quite good for a handheld, but the specs don't mention anything else about the display other than its 140 degree viewing angle both horizontally and vertically (which is also quite good).
Wired connectivity and charging is via a micro USB 2.0 host port on the lower right side of the unit, a headphone jack is on top, the power button is on the right, and there's a blue scanner button on each side. For wireless, the AH53 comes with 802.11b/g/n WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, NFC for card reading or device to device communication, GSM, and optional 3.75G wireless broadband. There's a SIM card slot inside the battery compartment. Also optional is the 1D/2D barcode reader. For additional data capture there's a 8mp autofocus documentation camera with flash.
Since Amrel targets the AH53 for field deployment, the device is built to operate within a suitably wide 14 to 122 degree Fahrenheit temperature range. It is also sealed to IP67 level, where the first "6" means it's totally sealed against dust, and the second "7" that it can survive full immersion in water. There's also an impressive 5-foot drop spec.
So what it all boils down to is that with the AH53, AMREL offers a tough, modern, and very versatile Android handheld that serves as a phone, a mobile computer, and an industrial-grade data collection device. It would be good to learn more details (scanner, ruggedness specs, processor, etc.) about this interesting device, but those may still be forthcoming.