The introduction of ”ruggedish” smartphones is a global trend — and traditional rugged computer makers are best equipped to supply truly rugged smartphones and tablets, says Handheld’s founder and CEO Jerker Hellström.

In this commentary, Hellström takes a look at the trend of large cell phone manufacturers launching smartphones that are rugged. Some might call the smartphones “ruggedish.” What follows are the views of Jerker Hellström.

Many large mobile phone makers are scrambling to make their devices more rugged. For instance, it would be hard to not notice Sony’s promotion for its waterproof Xperia Z model, or Samsung’s launch of the waterproof and dustproof Galaxy X4 Active.

But most smartphones that are being sold are still not rugged in any aspect. Drop your ordinary smartphone in the water, or anywhere else for that matter, and you will most likely end up with a cracked display. More importantly, the waterproof devices that cell phone makers launch are not truly rugged or ruggedized. Let us call them “ruggedish.” They might be waterproof but lack other aspects of ruggedness.
 
Let us briefly recap the definition of ruggedness:
 
— The devices should have passed some American military standard (MIL-STD) tests. A total of 24 laboratory test methods ensure that the equipment can handle low pressure at high altitudes; exposure to high and low temperatures plus temperature shocks; rain, humidity, sand and dust; leakage; shock and vibration.
 
— They must be highly rated on the ingress protection (IP) scale for protection against dust and liquids.

Many of the new ruggedish smartphones have improved IP ratings, but seldom as high as the truly rugged smartphones offered to customers by traditional rugged computer makers. And hardly any of them are tested for MIL-STD-810G standards.

What are the reasons for this new ruggedish trend? I think that basically it comes down to the huge success of smartphones and mobility in general. People carry their smartphones or tablets everywhere, are constantly online, and want their devices to work also when they are jogging or working in the rain. They also keep dropping them. The cracked display is a common sight these days.

Handheld US is a North American supplier of rugged PDAs and handheld computers. The  company, with offices in Corvallis, Ore., and its partners deliver complete mobility solutions to organizations in government and industries such as logistics, forestry, public transportation, construction, military, and security. Go here for details on public safety product offerings from Handheld US.

The Handheld NAUTIZ X1 ultra-rugged smartphone meets MIL-STD-810G military standards for withstanding humidity, vibration, drops and extreme temperatures. This video outlines some of the product’s features.

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