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What Are Rugged Devices ?What to know before buying a rugged phone.

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What Are Rugged Devices? What to know before buying a rugged phone.


Rugged phones are not so popular, and sometimes they come at a hefty price tag. This is due to the complicated development procedures, materials, and design. Therefore, a lot of manufacturers try to get it right and if they do they come up with a device that is $300 and beyond.

Rugged phones tend to solve the problem of durability as most smartphones in the market are less durable and can’t be exposed to harsh conditions and if they do, they are the top premium phones like the $1000 iPhone x or the Samsung Galaxy 8 or 9 are way too expensive for normal people.

Therefore, in this essay, I’m going to define what a rugged device is and also outline the reasons why you might need a Rugged Watch, Phone or laptop and the top uses of it.

What is rugged?

Rugged Smartphone

This is the big question, what is often confused and misunderstood by many.
Rugged was a term coined as a marketing term derived from the outward appearance of the devices as most durable phones, laptops tended to have a rough finish. Therefore, this term is not standardized but conventionally, there are 3 levels of ruggedness:

  • semi-rugged
  • fully rugged
  • ultra-rugged

These levels try to explain the extent to which a device is able to withstand drops, vibration, water immersion, dust exposure and exposure to extreme temperatures.


Sometimes referred to as business rugged. This is mostly devices that are better-enhanced versions of non-ruggedized devices. This means they have better components than normal devices. Examples of semi-rugged laptops might have a spill-resistant keyboard to cover it against accidental spillage, thicker and reinforced chassis that is made of a tough material to withstand impact from a shortfall.

Fully rugged

the devices are designed to withstand harsh conditions, unlike semi-rugged ones which are just enhanced on the outside. A fully rugged device such as a laptop may have an SSD(Solid State Drive) instead of the normal HDD(Hard Disk Drive) which have moving parts. It may also lack fan which is a moving part. Therefore the device can handle vibrations and shock, a little of water exposure and extreme temperatures.

Ultra-rugged device.

Also Called military grade device. As the name suggests, It’s the highest ruggedness you’ll find on a device. It’s made to handle the most extreme conditions likes Sandstorms, sea storms heatwaves or even snow falls.


The downside is that the above levels of ruggedness are not standardized. But the good thing is that there are standards that can guide you when you want to purchase a rugged device the next time you want to go rugged. The Two Common standards when it comes to rugged devices are

  • IP Code
  • MIL STD810

IP Code – Ingres Protection

Of the two standards, this is the most common standard. From Wikipedia, it is Defined as

The IP CodeInternational Protection Marking, IEC standard 60529, sometimes interpreted as Ingress Protection Marking, classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against intrusion (body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures. It is published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The equivalent European standard is EN 60529.

This standard aims to give a clarity on the vagueness that Devices marketing teams use such as waterproof. Therefore a device that is marketed IP68 can withstand permanent submersion in water at a depth of up to 1.5 meters for 30 minutes.

Below is IP rating chat

IP.. First digit:
Ingress of solid objects
Second digit:
Ingress of liquids
0 No protection No protection
1 Protected against objects over 50mm e.g. hands, large tools. Protected against vertically falling water drops or condensation.
2 Protected against solid objects over 12.5mm e.g. hands, large tools. Protected against falling drops of water, if the case is disposed up to 15 from vertical.
3 Protected against objects over 2.5mm e.g. wire, small tools. Protected against sprays of water from any direction, even if the case is disposed up to 60from vertical.
4 Protected against objects over 1.0mm e.g. wires. Protected against splash water from any direction.
5 Limited protection against dust ingress.
(no harmful deposit)
Protection against low-pressure water from any direction. Limited ingress permitted.
6 Totally protected against dust ingress. Protection against high-pressure water from any direction. Limited ingress permitted.
7 N/A Protection against short periods underwater.
8 N/A Protected against long, durable periods of immersion in water.
9k N/A Protected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.


Although developed primarily for military applications, the standard is often used for commercial products. The Environmental Engineering Considerations and Laboratory Tests, is a United States Military Standard that emphasizes tailoring an equipment’s environmental design and test limits to the conditions that it will experience throughout its service life,

The MIL-STD guidance and test methods are intended to:

  • be used to develop analysis and test criteria tailored to the equipment and its environmental life cycle;
  • evaluate equipment’s performance when exposed to a life cycle of environmental stresses
  • identify deficiencies, shortcomings, and defects in equipment design, materials, manufacturing processes, packaging techniques, and maintenance methods.



Features of a rugged Devices esp Rugged Phones

SO Before You buy a rugged phone, Below are some of the common features found in most of them

  • IP standard
  • Gorilla glass
  • dual directional power supply
  • High res display
  • Thermal sensors
  • IR distance monitor

Conditions suited for rugged devices

  • Extreme temperatures Desert heat, Snowfall, High-temperature working environment
  • Drops and Vibrations
  • Water  and marshy areas
  • Dusty areas like in the desert

Who’s are rugged devices recommended for?

  • Construction workers- Construction worker are the main target of such devices.
  • Shift workers- As the device contains replaceable batteries multi-charging, several disks
  • Extreme temperatures People who
  • Active lifestyles like swimmers
  • Fishermen
  • Farmers

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