There are many terms that can be used to describe this type of phone such as: unbreakable phones*, shock-proof phones, tough phones, durable phones, builders’ phones or even rugged smartphones. Each name has the same meaning, they all refer to mobile phones which are water, shock and drop-proof – regardless of whether they are mobile phones with buttons or top-of-the-range smartphones with tactile touch screens.
But, who are these phones for? These devices are very popular with working professionals who need a communication device they can take with them anywhere, safe in the knowledge that their phone will be able to withstand challenging working conditions. They can be helpful in many industries: from building sites, to factories, fire services, water and mountain rescues, farming, wood workshops, and many more. Using a rugged phone extends the lifespan of your communication device, which means you will no longer have to worry about your phone breaking. However, rugged phones are not designed solely for the world of work, they can also be used as part of leisure activities, including sports, hunting, hiking, etc. They can also be perfect for people who are clumsy and who often drop their smartphone.
As mentioned previously, there are two types of durable phones:
- The mobile phone: this is the classic version of tough phones, which normally has a keyboard with buttons and a small screen, which is not typically a touch screen. This model is primarily intended for users who are looking for a very simple device to use, which only offers basic functions, such as making calls or sending SMS messages. This type of phone does not usually allow you to browse the internet, but it has the advantage of being smaller than most modern smartphones, so it can fit easily into your jeans pocket.
- The rugged smartphone: this is the top-of-the-range option, which is currently very popular on the market. It consists of a large touch screen which enables you to browse the web, use apps (GPS, compass, barometer, etc.), take pictures and videos, etc. As they are more likely to suffer damage than conventional mobile phones, their chassis is reinforced and their screen is treated to protect against scratches. The touch screen of a rugged smartphone can also be used with gloves and wet hands, which is ideal for construction workers. Many models also allow you to insert two SIM cards, in order to be able to separate professional calls from private calls, without having to buy two different phones.
How should you decide between a mobile phone and a rugged smartphone?
Rugged phones withstand the toughest and most remote environments, they can be used in extreme weather (such as in mountain ranges or deserts), high humidity, rain and can even survive immersion in water. Given the wide range of models available on the market, how should you choose the best option for your business?
Each tough phone is given an Ingress Protection (IP) rating. The Ingress Protection rating refers to how water and dust-proof a particular phone is.
It consists of two digits (IP68, for example):
- The first digit refers to the phone’s level of resistance against solids, which is typically dust or sand in most cases. This number can be between 0 and 6: 0 means the phone has no protection against dust and 6 means that it is totally protected against dust, even if it is fine dust.
- The second number refers to the phone’s level of resistance against liquids. This number can range from 0 to 8. The higher the number, the higher the level of resistance to liquids. For example, 3 means that the rugged smartphone is protected against rain, 5 means that it is protected against low pressure water jets from any direction and 8 means that the phone could withstand prolonged immersion in more than one metre of water for one hour (the depth of water a phone can withstand when immersed is specified by each manufacturer). 9K has recently appeared on the market, which refers to protection against high-pressure cleaning.
If you need a rugged phone which is able to withstand dust and immersion in water (if you work near a water supply, for example), an IP68 phone would be perfect for you. This is also the most common model among smartphones.
In terms of shocks and falls, durable phones are also assessed against military standards. For example, if a phone meets 810G military standards, it means that the device has been tested to withstand falls of up to 1.8m onto concrete. You can check the screen resistance of a rugged smartphone using its Corning Gorilla Glass number. This number can range between 1 and 6: Corning Gorilla Glass 6 means that the screen is capable of withstanding multiple drops from over 1m height.
*No phone is completely unbreakable. Resistant models are certified by military standards of durability and can withstand drops of up to 1.8m onto concrete, depending on the model.