How “rugged” is my device?

This post is courtesy of Correct Field Technician Derek Tse

How many times you have dropped your smartphone or accidently poured coffee over you tablet? I can confess that having dropped my iPad, it is a painful experience when you see your device’s screen shattered. That is the primary reason why we wrap our devices in cases, or better yet we buy “ruggedised” device that will protect itself from the elements and the accidental drops.

Manufacturers know this for a fact. Sony® have come out with their smartphones that are waterproof and dustproof. Samsung® have their flagship phone S4 Active. There are also many rugged cases you can buy to protect your phone/tablet – Otterbox® and LifeProof® make great cases to ensure your devices can handle the odd accidental drop.


So what makes a device or case water, dust and shock proof? Let’s have a look at what the manufacturers use.

If you check the specifications of any rugged device, you will notice either of these two standards…

  • IP rating
  • Compliant to Military Standard or “MIL-STD-810”

So what are these two standards and how does it show us if these devices are water, dust or shock proof?


IP Rating

IP rating or Ingress Protection Rating/International Protection Rating is a numbering standard to show the degree that liquid and dust can penetrate the device. It is made up of two numbers – the first number is about solid/dust proofing and the second number is about water proofing. Majority of products would have a rough protection level of 2 for solids and level 2 for water.

Depending on your environment or activity that your devices will be used in, make sure that you check the specification. If not, you may end up with an expensive paperweight or an expensive repair bill.

Military Standard or “MIL-STD-810”

With military standard as the name implies, the devices goes through roughly 28+ tests ranging from heat/freeze temperatures to explosions and gun fire. We are talking very extreme condition testing, not something that your daily commute would ever need unless you drive a tank to work.

With this standard, not many consumer companies will acquire the certifications due to the high cost to run the batteries of test. What they do instead is to create similar tests that come as close to the real testing standard.

Be aware when the product says that it has been tested under military standards as it may not have adhered to the actual MIL-STD-810 standard code. Double check what type of tests they have done as this will give you an indication of what type of punishment you can dish out to your device.


Now that we have a better understanding on what we need to look for, it is always a good practice to have some sort of protection for your device. Whether you have a simple silicone case or screen protector or even a Lifeproof® case, it will help to keep your device safe and sound.