ip67 android phone

Samsung is releasing a ruggedized version of their latest Android based phone called the Galaxy S4 Active. It is being marketed to the “active” crowd, and the ip67 rating means it is ruggedized in various ways against water, shock, and other elements.

This is the same rating we used to use with the big clunky mobile computers we would use in process plants for collecting data in the field. The ruggedized rating meant these computers could take some pretty rough abuse and keep running, which is obviosuly a necessity in those environments.

Why not use this phone as a replacement for those big clunky computers? The missing element is safety certification. Those old computers were also certified to be safe for use in potentially dangerous environments, which means it shouldnt be able to create an explosion in areas where explosive gases might happen to be leaked.

Most likely this phone is already safe enough to use in those environments, but this does not mean they are certified for such use. The safety certs require the device be put through some pretty harsh testing to make sure that it is not capable of creating sparks etc. Once the certification organization has proven this, it receives the certification for the level of dangerous use it has been tested for. This process is not inexpensive, and since it is only useful for a relatively small sub-market of mobile computing, not very many devices get this process done.

In addition, just because these new phones are way smaller and lighter than their predecessor, this doesn’t mean they would be a good fit for service in industrial environments. Imagine wearing gloves to try to activate a touchscreen – this is why industrial mobile computers still tend to use big keyboards. Also, battery life is already a problem on most modern smartphones, so imagine needing to use them in the field for hours on end- unless a much larger battery can be fitted, it just isn’t going to happen.

These devices might find a fit in some semi-industrial uses though. A worker or foreman who spends shorter periods of time in the field, but still needs a device that can handle the environment, could be a good fit for this new phone.

It will be interesting to see any third party companies try to adapt this commoditized technology in a way it can be further utilized in hazardous industrial environments.