Conker Rugged SX50 with Barcode Scanner

So what is Rugged?

What is rugged? When it comes to mobile devices, what does rugged mean? From a user perspective, rugged is the tablet or mobile device ability to keep operating under all exposed working conditions. And not just once, but for the life of the unit, which can easily be 3 years.

However, depending upon the kind of work being performed, what is rugged for one user may not be rugged for another. For example, a mobile device in a warehouse is likely to be dropped often and may be exposed to a lot of dust, but is unlikely to face extreme temperatures or rain. On the other hand, a forester will need a unit with protection against water and a wide temperature spec, but is probably not too concerned about dust.

The right tool for the job

A mobile device is really just a tool used to help you do your work. So the cardinal rule for a user is: find the right tool for the job. An experienced purchaser of a mobile devices will carefully evaluate what kind of working conditions the unit will be exposed to and then dive into product specifications to find a unit that is rugged enough for these conditions. It is also probably a good idea to select a unit which is a little more rugged than you actually need. It is far better to be too rugged than not rugged enough, and you may at some point encounter drops and knocks that require a robust device.

So how is Rugged defined?

The level of rugged is best defined by its environmental specifications, and the 3 most common and useful specifications are: 

  • Temperature range
  • MIL-STD-810G  (formerly MIL-STD-810-F)
  • IP 

These specifications are almost always listed on the product data-sheet.

The temperature spec defines the operational temperature range of the unit. Working with a unit above or below this spec may cause the unit to fail, for example, consumer devices will not work within commercial freezers for products. 

MIL-STD-810G standard consists of a series of various environmental tests to prove that equipment qualified to the standard will survive in the field. They were designed specifically to test military equipment, but are now used to test a wide range of both military and civilian products, including mobile devices.

IP stands for Ingress Protection, and an IP rating is used to specify the level of environmental protection of electrical equipment against solids and liquids. In other words, it tells us what amount of size of solids or liquids can get inside the enclosure and possibly damage the device.

The IP Definitions – What level do you need?

IP ratings are displayed as a 2 digit number. The first digit reflects the level of protection against dust. The second digit reflects the level of protection against liquids (water).


First digit

Protection against dust


Second digit 

Protection against water

 0: No protection  0: No protection
 1: Protection against solids up to 50 mm  1: Protected against dripping water
 2: Protection against solids up to 12 mm  2: Protected against dripping water (tilted)
 3: Protection against solids up to 2.5 mm  3: Protected against water spray
 4: Protection against solids up to 1 mm  4: Protected against splashing water
 5: Protection against dust; limited ingress  5: Protected against water jets
 6: Totally protected against dust  6: Protected against a nozzle under pressure
    7: Protected against immersion (1 meter for 30 min)
    8: Protected against submersion (at depth, under pressure)

From the chart we can see that, technically speaking, the dust spec has 7 different levels, level 0 to level 7 and the water spec has 9 different levels, level 0 to level 8. But, practically speaking, rugged computers all have at least a dust protection level of 5 and water protection level of at least 4. Nevertheless at the operational ends of the scale, the levels can make a big difference. For example, a dust level of 5 means that some dust can get into the unit, whereas level 6 unit is completely dust proof.

In another example, an IP67-rated unit is totally dust proof and is capable of immersion in water for at least 30 minutes to a depth of 1 meter. This unit would be an excellent choice in either a very dusty or dirty environment or one where it may be possible to drop the unit into a body of water like a lake or a stream. On the other hand, an IP rating of IP54 is only protected in a limited way to dust and water and should never be fully immersed.

Increasingly, rugged device manufacturers are using the term IP68. What is important about the IP68 rating is that you need an additional detail in order to evaluate the true meaning. If IP67 is immersed in water, how can IP68 be more rugged? The secret is in the additional detail. If the 1-meter for 30 minutes mark of IP67 isn’t enough for you, you should be sure to compare the specifics if a device promises IP68.

Rugged Devices For Tough Environments 

Knowing what the specifications are and what they mean can provide invaluable information about how a unit will function in the field and over the long term. Speak to a Conker Consultant about the specifications to help you pick out the best Conker Rugged Device for your business.

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About Conker

Founded in 2008, Conker is a British producer of business rugged tablets, touch screen and mobile devices, providing durable and reliable systems for successful digital transformation.

The firm’s consultative approach delivers fit-for-purpose solutions that improve productivity and streamline business processes, supported by its easy-to-work with UK based service team. Customers include Eastern Forklift Trucks Limited and the food waste company, Winnow Solutions. Conker has a partnership with Fusion UEM by VXL and intends to expand its technology partnerships.

Led by founder and CEO, James Summers, Conker’s collaborative approach now empowers mobile workers to measurably improve productivity and make their lives easier by automating the mundane and streamlining business processes.

The business has received recognition within The Financial Times’ FT 1000: Europe’s Fastest Growing Companies (2018) and Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 (2017). The company legally trades as Tablet Technologies Ltd. For more information visit: