Smart Phones vs. Two-Way Radios: Communicating in the Workplace

Although giving your employees smart phones to communicate at work might seem like the obvious choice, more companies could benefit from the use of two-way radios than you might think. We’ve taken a look at the most important factors to consider when choosing a communication solution at work and weighed up the pros and cons of smart phones and two-way radios for each category.


Two Way Radios: Depending on your specific needs the price of a low-range radio can cost you between £150-£250, but if you go for one of our license-free options or opt to hire long-term instead of buying, that price can be reduced.

Smart Phones: A relatively low-end smart phone starts at £100, however there are additional costs like the monthly cost of a contract and extra charges if your employees go over their data limits.


Two Way Radios: Are designed to hold up in tough conditions and can withstand water, dust and extreme temperatures. Many radios come with a 12 to 24 month warranty, and with proper maintenance will last you 5 to 7 years.

Smart Phones: Can be easily broken if dropped or exposed to water. Some phones are waterproof, but it often means paying a lot more, and most phones need replacing every couple of years. 


Two Way Radios: Have push to talk, some digital ones have texting capabilities, and Motorola’s email gateway for MOTOTRBO radios even allows you to access emails and work orders.

Smart Phones: Can call, text, email, video call and access the internet.

Speed of Communication

Two Way Radios: Communicate without delay at the press of a button. Can also communicate with multiple other radios at once, making getting important information to the right people quick and easy.

Smart Phones: Can provide quick communication unless the phone’s signal is compromised, which can happen in busy crowds or remote areas. If you’re calling someone, you have to wait for it to dial and for them to pick up, which might not seem like long, but in an emergency those thirty seconds can be crucial.


Two Way Radios: Many come equipped with Lone Worker or Man Down functions, which are potentially lifesaving if you have employees working alone, at a height or operating heavy machinery. These functions allow workers to be remotely monitored and checked on periodically to ensure they are safe, giving you and your workers peace of mind. Intrinsically Safe/ATEX radios are also available, which are safe to use even in explosive environments.

Smart Phones: Have no specialised safety features.

Mass Communication

Two Way Radios: Make it easy to communicate with all radio users, pre-determined groups of users, and individuals within seconds with groups and All Call functions. Communicate via Push-To-Talk or text messages.

Smart Phones: Are able to send text messages to multiple people at once, though this also often requires a WiFi or 4G connection. Group calls are also possible over WiFi or 4G, but usually result in people talking over each other and relies on all recipients being near their phones and able to pick up quickly.

Long Distance Communication

Two Way Radios: If you just need to communicate with other people in the same building as you, or across the site of an event, two-way radios will work just fine, but with a bigger distance than that most radios will struggle. However, here at 2CL we also offer 2CL Talk, a UK-wide communication system which relies on 3G, 4G and WiFi. This is especially convenient for communicating with workers in different locations if you have multiple premises around the UK.

Smart Phones: An advantage of smart phones is that you can communicate with almost anyone else in the world with a smart phone, provided you both have signal. This is useful if your employees need to travel for work and you want to keep in touch with them, or you need to be able to contact clients when you’re not in the office.


Two Way Radios: Two-way radio networks is reliable provided you obtain the correct type of Ofcom licence.

Smart Phones: Mobile phone and 4G networks can become intermittent or drop out altogether in busy areas and is often hard to get in rural places. If a serious incident occurs, especially in a busy city like London, phone networks will often drop out altogether – not ideal if you are trying to communicate important information in an emergency!

Battery Life

Two Way Radios: A battery in a digital two-way radio can last for 12 to 24 hours even with frequent use and takes about 8 hours to charge.

Smart Phones: Phone batteries are known for running out at the most inconvenient moments. Most phones need to be charged at least once a day but depending on your usage it can be a lot more than that, and charging takes several hours.


Two Way Radios: Are great for improving worker productivity. Things get done much quicker when you can remotely communicate with someone on another floor or on the other side of a noisy warehouse. Ticketing and work orders can also be accessed from a two-way radio with additional applications.

Smart Phones: Are notorious for being a huge distraction to people, especially in a work environment. Unless your employees need to be able to send and receive emails on the go or need access to the internet in order to get their work done, there’s no sense in handing them a device that has endless possibilities to distract them from what they’re supposed to be doing.


Although there is a time and a place for using smart phones, there are a lot more advantages to using two-way radios at work than you might think. Whether in a noisy factory, a busy retail environment or a building site, two way radios are a great way for many businesses to keep their workers connected.