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Rugged Smartphones

September 9, 2021

“How does a smartphone compare with a stand-alone body worn camera in terms of withstanding the elements?” This is a great question we often receive, and the good news is that many smartphones on the market are “rugged” out of the box – that is, they do not require a protective case. Furthermore, many smartphones even exceed the specifications of traditional proprietary body worn cameras.

IP Rating

One rating you may come across is a device’s “IP Rating” (e.g. IP 57). This is an international standard and is an abbreviation for “Ingress Protection.” The first digit represents protections against “intrusions” (e.g. dust) while the second digit represents protection against moisture. Higher numbers represent better protections. As an example, a device that is “IP 68” would be "dust tight" and protected against complete, continuous submersion in water. Nearly every phone used by Visual Labs clients, including sleek, flagship phones like the Samsung Galaxy S21, has an IP 68 rating. This exceeds the IP rating of arguably the most popular stand-alone body camera on the market. Below is an entertaining video demonstrating the rugged nature of the Sonim XP7 smartphone. The “fun” part begins at the 1:30 mark.


MIL-STD-810 is a series of performance and manufacturing guidelines set by the United States Department of Defense. Tests are performed on a device with respect to temperature, humidity, altitude, salt fog, shock, and vibration, among others. A drop test is also part of the standard. The latest publication regarding this standard is MIL-STD-810H. Again, many phones meet these high military-grade standards, including phones made by Kyocera, Samsung, Sonim, Ulefone, and others.

BWC Videos

We have been given permission from two of our customers to release videos where law enforcement officers used their smartphone body camera underwater. In both cases, the devices continue to function as expected to this day, as reported by the Sheriff and Colonel, respectively.

In the first video, a Polk County, Oregon Sheriff's Deputy seeks to assist a missing juvenile. His Samsung XCover PRO smartphone body camera with Visual Labs software was used to record the incident.

In the second video, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources water patrol officer slips into a lake while assisting a group of citizens. In this case, a Kyocera DuraForce PRO 2 smartphone was used.

In today’s world, users expect their phones to withstand a variety of conditions, so we expect most phones released in the near future to meet one or both of the standards listed above. This will provide even more device choices for Visual Labs agencies.

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