In the world of mobile phone covers and cases, there are a few phrases we constantly hear or read. One such phrase we constantly hear is “Military Grade Drop Test Standard Certification.”
Most of us assume that a mobile phone case that is a “Military Grade Drop Test Standard Certification” is indestructible. However, that is not true, as even the world’s most rugged mobile phone cases cannot completely protect your smartphone from all damages.
So in this article, we will try to explain what “Military Grade Drop Test Standard Certification” actually means and what can be expected from cases stamped with this certification.
What is MIL-STD-810G?
Military Grade Drop Test Standard basically refers to the MIL-STD-810G (military standard 810G), a series of tests designed by the US Department of Defense to determine the “environmental worthiness and overall durability of material system design” of certain types of objects.
The MIL-STD-810G (which is the latest version) is outlined in an 800-page document and there are over a hundred tests. Since all these tests are publically available, many manufacturers carry out these tests to highlight the durability of their products.
However, just because the product is stamped with the MIL-STD-810G 516.6 certification, it does not mean that it has actually undergone all the military tests outlined in the 800-page manual.
Mobile phone case manufacturers usually do the waterproofing, sand and dust-resistance and vibration and shock tests for their products. These tests are carried out either by themselves or by a third party tester.
The 516.6 Procedure IV of the MIL-STD-810G is the most common test carried out by mobile phone cases manufacturers to test their product’s durability from drops and falls.
In a nutshell, this procedure will require a mobile case (along with the smartphone) to be dropped on a surface made up of two-inch-thick plywood over concrete. The height of the drop is usually 2 metres (different manufacturers use different heights). The device is dropped 26 times, with each impact being focused on every face, edge, and corner. After every drop, the product is inspected for damages.
However, since manufacturers are allowed to use up to five different samples during this test, it means that each device is actually being dropped only up to five or six times.
Manufacturers also do not strictly follow the 516.6 Procedure, with different phone case makers conducting these tests in different ways.
“Every phone case manufacturer has to make their own interpretations about what constitutes a passing or failing test,” Paul Staggers, Engineering Manager at OtterBox was quoted as saying. “For some, a broken screen or obvious malfunction is the only thing they are looking at. We pride ourselves on looking beyond the obvious.”
Therefore, it is probably better to invest in a phone case that has been certified by third party testers rather than its manufacturers. Also, it is better to go for a mobile back cover that contains a lifetime warranty.
Difference between IP Rating and Military Grade Certification
You must have also surely heard of the IP68 rating as the iPhone 7 and the Samsung Galaxy S7 both have these certifications.
Although you may think that an IP rating is also like an MIL-STD-810G, it is not. While MIL-STD-810G rating has been developed by the US Military, IP (aka the Ingress Protection) rating standards are designed by the International Electrotechnical Commission.
The IP ratings basically determine how the product (a smartphone in this case) is protected against environmental elements like dust and water.
The first number in the IP scale (with 6 being the highest and 1 being the lowest) indicates the level of protection against solid objects like sand and dust particles. The second number, on the other hand, highlights the level of protection against liquids ((with 8 being the highest and 1 being the lowest).
So a rating of IP68 indicates that a mobile phone cover will completely protect the device from both dust and water.
The IP rating is more reliable that the MIL-STD-810G certification as there are less loopholes in the former method of testing.