What makes a rugged PDA rugged? – IP Rating

So this week we’re going to get back to our roots and talk about ruggedness.  In fact if there was a national “ruggedness” week then this would be it as we’re going to talk about all kinds of areas of ruggedness, including water and dust protection, drop specs, MIL-STD, screens, gorilla glass and all of that stuff!  What good are facts without a bit of opinion, so we’ll be giving you tops, out thoughts and what we think about all aspects of ruggedness, including rugged smartphones, test out the 5 rules of ruggedness and if they still apply today and more in this weekly series.

We’re going to kick of today by looking at dust and water resistance.

What is an IP Rating

IP stands for “Ingress Protection” which means literally means giving the permission to enter! An IP rating is all about stopping the nasty dust and water particulates that can at best ruin the usability of a device and at worst totally kill it.

An IP rating usually comes with 2 digits, so you’ll commonly see IP64 or IP68 on a rugged PDA.  The table below gives tells you everything you need to know about the ratings:

IP Ratings explained.

So some rules to help you get started!

1. IP 42 and IP43 are not rugged, not at all so if you see these anywhere on a spec sheet, don’t be fooled!  The Motorola ES400 originally had 2 written on it, Motorola took it off but in our humble opinion it didn’t stop thousands of people thinking it was rugged!

2. IP54 is the lowest level of “fully rugged” you get.  It was the standard for many years and it is still a reliable measure of ruggedness.  You need to look at the device design though to double-check as the dust rating of 5 means that the device might not be totally dust tight. However this could mean dust can get under the keypad or if the device has a dual sealed touchscreen and LCD then it might not need IP64.

3. IP54 is good enough to resist all but the very worst good old British weather and rain.

4. Anything with an IP over IP65 will often require extra screws and seals to keep it extra waterproof, remember if you need to change your battery, SD card or SIM in the field, this could be a real pain to do.

5. Always check the build quality of your device.  It might be IP67 in the lab but manufacturer of some mass-produced rugged smartphones might not quite be up to spec.

6.  If in doubt talk to us!  We even have our own Rugged Rating system that takes into account our experience and customer feedback for every device we sell.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about Drop specs.

The Rugged and Mobile blog.

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.