MIL-STD-810G is a US military specification that guarantees a level of durability for a piece of technology. Specifically, it means the equipment has gone through a series of 29 tests. These put the phone up against shock, vibration, heat, cold, gunfire shock, humidity, and more. Any MIL-STD-810G device should be field ready, or even “combat ready” in principle. A lot of technology sold to the US military must be MIL-STD-810G compliant. To win contracts, manufacturers will likely need to demonstrate that this is the case.
Now, more and more consumer manufacturers are using the rating as a way to market their devices. Devices like the Doogee S90 modular phone began life on Kickstarter, targeting manual workers and those that spend a lot of time hiking and climbing outdoors.
MIL-STD-810G compliance: What does it mean and which devices have it?
If a device boasts MIL-STD-810G compliance, it should, in theory, be durable. It should be far more likely to survive drops and harsh environmental conditions.
If you are someone who works on a building site, someone who is constantly dropping their phone, or someone who enjoys hiking and rock climbing, you might want to consider a MIL-STD-810G-rated phone.
The best phones with MIL-STD-810G compliance:
- CAT S42
- CAT S48C
- CAT S61
- Doogee S95
- Doogee S95 Pro Super
- Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2
- LG G8 ThinQ (Here’s our review)
- LG G8s ThinQ
- LG G8x ThinQ (Here’s our review)
- LG V60ThinQ (Here’s our review)
- LG V50 ThinQ (Here’s our review)
- LG Velvet (Here’s our review)
- Samsung Galaxy S8 Active (More info)
- Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro
- Ulefone Armor 8
- Ulefone Armor 9
- Ulefone Armor 9E
- Ulefone Armor X5 Pro
- Ulefone Armor X7
- Ulefone Armor X7 Pro
- Ulefone Armor X8
- Unihertz Atom XL
If your phone doesn’t have a MIL-STD-810G rating, you can buy a protective case for your phone that’s rated to the MIL-STD-810G standard.
While MIL-STD-810G is useful, it is not a bulletproof standard. When testing the aforementioned Doogee S90, I dropped it from a small height into a puddle (it also boasted IP69K water resistance). The device should easily have stood up to this mild test, and yet it lost functionality in one of the buttons immediately.
How can that happen? Quality control issues and bad luck aside, it comes down to a lack of strict regulation.
In order for a smartphone to claim MIL-STD-810G, manufacturers must ensure that they meet a number of stringent guidelines set out in official documentation. Ideally, this means sending a device to external testing laboratories that can emulate the same 29 tests used by the military. Unfortunately, there is nothing to stop a manufacturer from running the tests in-house and without external verification.
The company does not need to provide proof that any of these tests were actually carried out.
While in-house testing is perfectly fine on paper, the issue is that the company does not need to provide proof that the tests were actually carried out. A company can therefore claim that its device complies with this standard having “fudged” or entirely omitted certain parts!
Also important: Everything you need to know about IP and ATM ratings
Buying MIL-STD-810G compliant smartphones
What is a consumer to do?
The best strategy is to apply a little common sense and a “wait and see” attitude. While the LG G8 ThinQ is a great phone that carries a MIL-STD-810G rating, its design sensibilities alone mean it’s unlikely to be as durable as something built specifically as a “rugged phone” with rubber corners and a protective screen. It might well be MIL-STD-810G compliant, but I find it hard to think that this phone is truly “combat ready” with its almost completely glass design.
With something like the Doogee S90, the design screams durability. The thing looks like a brick! The problem is that the device doesn’t quite live up to its own hype. The only way you could know this as a consumer would be to wait and see what other users experience.
MIL-STD-810G is certainly a very encouraging thing to look out for
In short: the MIL-STD-810G standard is certainly a very encouraging thing to look out for, but it’s still worth doing a little of your own research too.