What does MIL-STD-810G mean? Combat ready phones, explained.

MIL-STD-810G is a U.S. 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, including shock tests, vibration tests, and more. This means it should be field ready, or even “combat ready” in principle. A lot of technology sold to the U.S. 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. A recent example is the Doogee S90: This 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.

Below, we’ve listed a few phones which boast MIL-STD-810G compliance

  • LG G8 ThinQ
  • LG G7 ThinQ
  • LG V50 ThinQ
  • LG V40 ThinQ
  • LG V30 and V35 ThinQ
  • CAT S41

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.

Additionally, many smartwatches, fitness trackers, and other wearables also carry MIL-STD-810G ratings.

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The limitations of the MIL-STD-810G rating

ThinQ MIL-STD-810G

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!

Buying MIL-STD-810G compliant smartphones

Shock Resistant MIL-STD-810G

So, 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.

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