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What does MIL-STD-810G mean? Combat ready phones explained
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 rugged 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?
If a device boasts MIL-STD-810G compliance, it should, in theory, be durable. It will be far more likely to survive drops and harsh environmental conditions. MIL-STD-810G devices have gone through a series of 29 tests to prove their high level of resistance. These tests include resistance to a bevy of things that can hurt a device in hostile or harsh environments.
MIL-STD-810G devices are tested against:
- Low pressure
- High temperature
- Low temperature
- Temperature shock
- Fluid contamination
- Solar radiation
- Salt fog
- Sand and dust
- Explosive atmosphere
- Acoustic noise
- Acidic atmosphere
- Gunfire shock
- Temperature, humidity, vibration, and altitude
- Icing/freezing rain
- Ballistic shock
- Time waveform replication
- Rail impact
- Mechanical vibrations of shipboard equipment
What about MIL-STD-810H?
While MIL-STD-810G is a much more common standard among smartphones, a newer standard succeeds it. The list of tests is actually the same (listed in the previous section), but tests have been updated with newer standards for better accuracy and ruggedness. That said, the difference between MIL-STD-810G and MIL-STD-810H might be minuscule for most users, but it’s essential to keep it in mind if you want the latest military standard revision.
MIL-STD-810H is becoming much more common with newer rugged phones, so you probably won’t have issues finding a device with the latest standard.
Which phones have MIL-STD-810G or MIL-STD-810H?
If you work on a building site, are constantly dropping your phone, or enjoy hiking and rock climbing, you might want to consider a MIL-STD-810G-rated phone.
The best phones with MIL-STD-810 compliance:
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 or 810H standard.
Additionally, many smartwatches, fitness trackers, and other wearables also carry MIL-STD-810G/H ratings.
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 have easily stood up to this mild test, yet it immediately lost functionality in one of the buttons.
How can that happen? Quality control issues and bad luck aside, it comes down to a lack of strict regulation.
For a smartphone to claim MIL-STD-810G, manufacturers must meet several 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 prove that the tests were actually carried out. Therefore, a company can claim that its device complies with this standard having “fudged” or entirely omitted certain parts!
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 LG made some solid phones with MIL-STD-810G ratings, their design sensibilities alone mean they’re unlikely to be as durable as something explicitly built as a “rugged phone” with rubber corners and a protective screen. These might well be MIL-STD-810G compliant, but I find it hard to think that these phones are truly “combat ready,” as they are almost entirely made of glass.
With something like the DOOGEE, the designs scream durability. Those things look like bricks! The problem is that the devices don’t quite live up to their 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 and MIL-STD-810H standards are certainly very encouraging things to look out for, but it’s still worth doing a little of your own research too. Also, remember that just because you can abuse a phone more doesn’t mean you should. These standards shouldn’t be an excuse to be completely careless with your device. They are there for those “just in case” moments.
MIL-STD-810G is a standard created by the US military. It ensures a certain level of durability with a series of 29 tests. In theory, products with this rating should be field or combat-ready.
MIL-STD-810H is the evolution of MIL-STD-810G. This standard involves the same tests, but these have been updated for better accuracy and ruggedness.
Technically speaking, MIL-STD-810H is the best level of ruggedness offered by this rating system. That said, the difference between it and MIL-STD-810G might be insignificant to most users. Both represent very rugged products.