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Updated Mar 21, 2024

Samsara GPS Fleet Management Review

author image
Neil Cumins, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst

Table of Contents

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Editors Score:9.2/10

Samsara is our pick for the best GPS fleet tracking service for startups because of its intuitive interface, advanced fleet tracking features and real-time visibility. It has everything you need to maintain ELD, IFTA and DVIR compliance.

Plus Sign Pros
  • Samsara allows businesses to track their fleets in real time.
  • Samsara can serve various industries and help businesses comply with all relevant regulations.
  • Samsara's software integrates with various third-party applications, making the platform even more valuable to small businesses.
  • Samsara offers maintenance and management tools for buildings, equipment, staff compliance and other related areas.
Minus Sign Cons
  • Samsara doesn't list pricing online, so you must fill out an online form or contact a representative for a quote.
  • Clients must sign up for at least three years.
  • Samsara requires businesses to have at least three vehicles.

Startups and small businesses with limited resources need an affordable GPS fleet tracking system that’s easy to use and inexpensive to maintain. Samsara’s reasonably priced, intuitive platform is an excellent option. It offers real-time tracking, customizable contracts, industry-specific tracking plans and all the features businesses need to optimize vehicle performance and improve driver safety and behavior. We appreciate that Samsara’s tailored features ensure every dollar counts for businesses on a budget. 

Samsara GPS Fleet Management Editor's Rating:

9.2 / 10

Cost
8.1/10
Features
9.8/10
Refresh time
9.8/10
Usability
9.5/10
Customer service
9.0/10

Why Samsara Is Best for Startups

Samsara combines scalability with advanced features. In fact, it’s one of the most comprehensive tracking solutions we reviewed, offering real-time visibility and giving fleet managers the data they need to make critical decisions. You can access dashcams for complete fleet visibility, integrate fuel cards for optimal fuel performance, and view numerous alerts and reports for overall fleet management.

Samsara clearly understands that every small business is unique, and its GPS fleet tracking systems reflect that. Instead of cookie-cutter packages designed for a broad audience, Samsara offers custom fleet tracking plans based on specific needs. 

Over the years, Samsara has expanded from telematics and camera safety into driver workflows, asset management and third-party integrations. Its robust fleet safety and compliance features help businesses adhere to crucial industry regulations. We appreciate how simplifying compliance takes the pressure off startups and small businesses focused on operations. For these reasons and more, Samsara is our choice for the best GPS fleet management system for startups. 

Did You Know?Did you know

Samsara helps businesses comply with electronic logging device (ELD) regulations, International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) specifications, hours of service (HoS) mandates, and driver’s vehicle inspection report (DVIR) laws.

Samsara DVIRs

Samsara can help businesses comply with various regulations, such as DVIRs. Source: Samsara

Usability

We found Samsara’s software intuitive and easy to navigate – a huge benefit for time-poor startups with numerous pressing tasks. You can build mobile-friendly monitoring dashboards that display the information most pertinent to your business, while live tracking enables real-time fleet management. We were impressed by the vendor’s map overlays, which show traffic, weather, terrain and satellite views. We also like that fleet managers can customize the home screen, allowing more granular control over how information is presented.

Samsara’s industry-specific solutions add to its usability. While the company can help many business types and industries, it excels at servicing transportation, logistics, food and beverage, construction, government, or passenger transit businesses. Samsara’s industry-specific solutions give it a distinct unique selling proposition in a crowded industry. 

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

Fleet management looks different for various industries, so Samsara allows businesses to customize industry-specific solutions to improve oversight.

Samsara Features

Samsara is a comprehensive fleet management system with numerous real-time fleet tracking services:

Tracking hardware

Choose from plug-and-play tracking devices, cameras, asset trackers, and various other accessories.

Driver safety and performance

Manage drivers’ performance with in-cab dashcams, behavior reports, driver training and rewards programs.

Fleet maintenance and optimization

Samsara tracks engine diagnostics, fleet health and maintenance. It also tracks fuel usage and integrates with fuel cards.

Alerts and reporting

Receive real-time alerts and reports, as well as a helicopter view of your fleet.

Improved dashcams

Upgraded high-quality dashcams feature AI detection and bespoke health reports.

Tracking Hardware

We were impressed by Samsara’s hardware variety – its offerings are much more robust than those of many competitors we reviewed. In addition to standard plug-and-play devices, you can set up in-cab cameras to get a direct view of what your driver sees. Samsara also offers the following trackers and accessories:

  • Environmental monitors
  • Asset trackers for powered and non-powered equipment, including trailers
  • Wireless door and cargo monitors
  • Panic and privacy buttons
  • Engine immobilizers
  • Auxiliary input hubs
  • IP indoor and outdoor cameras for monitoring parking lots, garages, etc.
  • ID card readers

Access to many tracking devices and accessories is ideal for startups and small businesses that must assemble a custom tracking system that suits their needs. Businesses can start with a basic tracking setup and add other devices as their business grows. It’s reassuring that Samsara’s software can support over 10,000 separate assets.

FYIDid you know

Samsara’s smart immobilization workflows can activate a vehicle’s immobilizer in response to a detected tampering event – another way to prevent and track fleet equipment theft.

Driver Safety and Performance

Startups and small businesses can’t risk incidents of poor driving behavior. Samsara addresses these concerns with robust driver safety and performance tools. 

Samsara’s software provides an overview of driver behavior. You can track speeding, monitor hard braking and acceleration, and oversee geofencing. We were particularly impressed by its ability to provide data on harsh cornering and turning. Fleet managers can easily score drivers and understand specific areas that need improvement. (Read our review of NexTraq GPS to evaluate this vendor’s impressive safety features.)

The integrated, dual-facing HD dashcams provide real-time footage while recording safety-related incidents for subsequent analysis. This functionality is similar to what we describe in our review of Azuga. Fleet managers can also opt for simpler, front-facing cameras. 

We like that fleet managers can send drivers in-cab feedback and video coaching if issues are reported. Improving driver performance is crucial for businesses with a safety focus. Additionally, Samsara’s dashcams incorporate “audio nudges” to prompt distracted drivers to focus. You can also set drivers’ mobile devices to Focus Mode, preventing them from accessing the Samsara app while driving.

TipTip

Rewarding drivers for safe driving practices can improve their performance and boost employee retention.

Samsara safety alerts

Samsara sends fleet managers an alert when distracted or harsh driving is detected. Source: Samsara

Fleet Maintenance and Optimization

Samsara’s platform generates excellent maintenance data that provide insights into your vehicles’ conditions. You can manage preventive maintenance and analyze vehicles during breakdowns. Samsara also helps you track fuel consumption and reduce your fleet’s idle time. We like that fleet managers can plan the most economical or logistically sound routes for their drivers and coach drivers to adopt more fuel-efficient habits to reduce fleet maintenance costs.

Samsara’s fuel card integration also impressed us. Fuel cards are a great way to reduce fleet fuel costs and further optimize your fleet. Samsara is one of the few companies we reviewed that integrates with FLEETCOR-issued fuel cards (e.g., Comdata, Fuelman, Universal Premium). Startups and small businesses need every available opportunity to cut business expenses, and fuel card integration is a great way to do so. 

The company is also introducing tools to help fleets maintain and optimize electric vehicles, including the following: 

  • Real-time visibility into EV charging (with the ability to set charging levels)
  • Custom charging profiles 
  • Real-time charge-status monitoring
  • EV-specific route scheduling (assessing whether a vehicle should be sent to a destination)
  • Historic charge reports 
  • Total kWh usage data

Samsara maintenance alerts

Samsara can alert fleet managers of upcoming preventive maintenance for their vehicles. Source: Samsara

Alerts and Reporting

  • Live alerts: Samsara’s live alerts allow fleet managers to stay updated. You can set up alerts for driver behavior, engine diagnostics and geofencing (from specific addresses to a user-defined area or radius). New geospatial map overlays improve tracking and service efficiency within map boundaries, including customized JSON map files. 
  • Real-time reporting: We were impressed that Samsara refreshes every second, making it one of the few companies we reviewed that provides true real-time tracking. Many GPS fleet tracking services supply breadcrumb-style updates, where the software refreshes every 10 seconds to two minutes. However, Samsara can tell you precisely where each vehicle is at any given second.
  • Detailed tracking: Samsara provides an advanced helicopter view of your fleet, zooming in on individual vehicles as they follow their route. This accurate, detailed tracking is far beyond what many competitors offer. We were particularly impressed by its ability to compare planned vehicle routes against the ones actually taken, which could indicate moonlighting or unscheduled stops. Another handy feature is the ability to upload proof-of-delivery images, fuel receipts and other relevant documentation.
  • Connected Forms: The Connected Forms function digitizes and automates equipment inspection processes for safety and operational purposes. Customizable form templates include incident reports, OSHA fire safety inspections and forklift inspections. Issues can be raised with photographic evidence and submitted to immediately trigger notifications with various priority levels, which can then be assigned to staff.
FYIDid you know

Samsara automatically delivers over-the-air updates and firmware upgrades when available, keeping your system current with the latest features.

Samsara helicopter view

Samsara offers a helicopter view of your vehicle and asset locations. Source: Samsara

Improved Dashcams

Samsara’s upgraded dashcams impressed us. Enhanced storage settings create brighter footage; you can store 19 hours of 1080p front-facing camera footage or 33 hours of 1080p dual-facing dashcam footage. Users can prioritize quality or storage, with an optional Parking Mode continuing to record even after a trip has ended.

We also like that camera misalignment and obstruction-detection technology alerts admins to issues with footage. A separate Camera Health report also identifies the percentage of healthy cameras with clear and unobstructed visibility. 

Samsara dashcams

Samsara’s dashcams can monitor driver behavior and provide a road view. Source: Samsara

Samsara Cost

You’ll pay one-time hardware and licensing costs and recurring monthly fees for Samsara’s services. We were disappointed that the company doesn’t list its pricing online; you must call the sales department or use an online price configurator and have a representative contact you with a custom quote. 

We like that Samsara supports a wide range of fleet sizes, starting at just three vehicles, and can scale to meet your business’s needs as your fleet grows. However, the company requires a 36-month contract – a serious commitment for many businesses. (The company does provide a free trial so you can test the service.)

TipTip

Samsara has negotiated discounted insurance from specific third-party providers. When buying small business insurance for your fleet, check if the company works with Samsara.

Samsara Setup

Setting up your Samsara system is straightforward. After signing up and creating a solution that fits your needs and budget, you can install the plug-and-play GPS fleet tracking devices into your vehicles’ OBD-II ports in minutes. (Samsara doesn’t offer hardwired tracking devices.)

Samsara has an extensive third-party marketplace that includes apps from Ford, Stellantis, GM, and fuel card providers. There are also hundreds of maintenance, safety, coaching, compliance and fuel management apps, as well as an API to help you integrate your fleet data into your business software. This functionality is impressive, but note that integrations and APIs will add time to your setup process. 

Samsara Customer Service

Samsara’s customer support is available 24/7 by phone, email, web chat or help ticket. This level of support impressed us, as many competitors we reviewed had limited one-on-one help availability. 

We also found Samsara’s online resources quite valuable. There are regularly updated blogs and webinars, videos, and product tours, plus guides to everything from fuel card management to collision avoidance technologies. We were also impressed that Samsara is accredited with the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating. Many rivals aren’t BBB accredited.

Samsara Drawbacks

Although Samsara is an excellent GPS fleet tracking service for small businesses, we noted a couple of limitations: 

  • Three-vehicle requirement: Samsara’s most significant potential drawback for startups and small businesses is the requirement of at least three vehicles. If you need tracking for only one or two vehicles, check out our review of GPS Trackit. This vendor imposes no minimum fleet size restrictions.
  • Lengthy contract: The other significant drawback is Samsara’s average contract term of 36 months. While this is standard across the fleet tracking industry, a short-term or month-to-month contract may suit startups better in their volatile early growth stages. If a lengthy contract is a deal-breaker for you, read our review of Force Fleet Tracking. This vendor doesn’t require a contract and provides a 60-day free trial. 

Methodology

Selecting a GPS fleet tracking system can be challenging, so we did some of the heavy lifting for you. We spent hours researching and analyzing GPS fleet tracking systems to identify the top solutions on the market. We looked at hardware, features, pricing and contracts, usability, refresh times, and customer support. We got hands-on experience with demos and product videos when possible. When searching for the best GPS fleet tracking system for startups specifically, we focused on comprehensive features, ease of use and implementation, real-time updates, customizable contracts, and scalability. 

Samsara FAQ

Logging in to the Samsara platform is straightforward via the desktop or mobile app. You need a driver’s name, password and fleet ID to log in. Head to Samsara’s online driver sign-in portal and enter your login credentials.

Drivers can sign in using nine possible methods, including QR codes with the driver-facing dashcam and in-cab audio alerts. QR codes can also be texted to drivers.

If your fleet needs to adhere to the ELD mandate, install the Samsara ELD into each vehicle’s OBD port. Once connected, your driver can log in to the Samsara driver portal or app to record when they’re on or off duty. The ELD hardware will automatically record essential information, like engine diagnostics and safety details, and the driver portal will record driving data.

Samsara’s mobile app is primarily driver-oriented. You won’t find fleet data or key assets on it; for that, you must log in to the manager-centric desktop interface. The mobile app is aimed at preventing HoS violations, capturing field data, and providing drivers with custom workflows and real-time ETAs. Setting the app to Focus Mode prevents it from distracting the driver while the vehicle is in motion.

Clients can receive an automatic annual review that condenses data, including the total number of trips and fleet miles, the average distance traveled per asset, most used reports (such as HoS), the number of pages viewed by admins, and the number of events reviewed. Other calculations show a fleet’s average fuel efficiency, plus the number of videos and total volume of footage. Samsara claims to record 6 trillion data points each year across 40 billion miles and 85 billion minutes of camera footage.

Overall Value

We recommend Samsara for …

  • Startups and small businesses that must track three or more vehicles or assets.
  • Businesses requiring real-time telematics on their fleet.
  • Fleet managers who want a comprehensive tracking solution that can scale with their business.
  • Companies requiring services like temperature maintenance and site security.

We don’t recommend Samsara for …

  • Businesses looking for preset tracking system plans with online pricing.
  • Fleet managers looking for a short-term or month-to-month contract.
author image
Neil Cumins, Business Ownership Insider and Senior Analyst
Neil Cumins is an award-winning small business owner who has run a limited company for nearly two decades. Through his personal and professional experiences, he is well-versed in a range of B2B and B2C topics, from invoicing to advertising to the use of artificial intelligence. Prior to starting his own business, Cumins worked as a marketing executive. With deep insights into the ever-changing technology landscape, Cumins is particularly skilled at evaluating business software and guiding fellow entrepreneurs to the tools and strategies that will equip them for entrepreneurial success. Over the years, he has worked with some of the world’s biggest hardware and software manufacturers, as well as countless SaaS brands. Today, he also spends his time consulting on compensation and other business matters.
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