Military Grade Cases? MIL-STD? Mil-Spec?

What these ratings mean to your customers & their phone protection.

The Case for Cases

Smartphones are arguably the most pervasive everyday electronics item people own. Used for everything from basic telephone calls to managing finances, smartphones go everywhere their owners go, usually in a pocket, in a purse or riding on a hip in a holster. And usually, they are quite expensive—more expensive than most owners can afford to replace often.

Enter military-grade phone cases. Even without knowing exactly what “military-grade” means, smartphone owners see or hear those words and feel that with a military-grade case, their phone will be about as protected as it can be. They feel assured that their investment will be much safer than it would be otherwise.

Everyday use and pocket or purse travel exposes smartphones to the usual wear and tear and, often, significant damage if dropped on the concrete, in a puddle, at the beach, or even if a tube of hand lotion leaks in a purse or a water bottle comes open in a backpack. Small accidents like these happen all the time, not to mention how vulnerable a smartphone is in industrial environments like a factory or construction site. Military-grade cases can protect a phone from any or all of these dangers. More and more case manufacturers are including this style of case as featured parts of their product line—and not just for smartphones but tablets as well.

Trident Case offers three military-grade cases—the Kraken A.M.S Series and the Cyclops Series—both of which meet the standards for vibration, dust, sand, rain and drop, and the Aegis Series, which meets the standards for drop and vibration. Griffin is staying on top of the trend with the Survivor All-Terrain cases, which are mil-spec tested for drops and rain, and Body Glove has at least three military-grade cases—the ToughSuit, the ShockSuit and the DropSuit. And all Urban Armor Gear cases are independently tested to meet military standard for drop protection.

What Does Military Grade Mean?

“Military grade,” when used to describe phone cases, refers to MIL-STD-810G (military standard 810G), the latest version of a set of tests developed by the US Department of Defense to determine the “environmental worthiness and overall durability of material system design” of certain types of objects. These tests were designed to measure the durability of objects in use by the military and are named in alphabetical order. So, for example, an object that meets MIL-STD-810F would have been tested using the previous version of the standards. The current version, MIL-STD-810G, is over 800 pages long and lists hundreds of tests. And since these tests and their procedures are made available to the public, they are very handy for companies that want to highlight the durability of their products. Manufacturers can choose from among them for the tests most applicable to the products or product features they’d like to measure, and using the procedures outlined in the MIL-STD, perform the tests themselves or have the testing done at an independent lab. The tests that case manufacturers usually include are for water-resistance (rain and humidity), sand and dust-resistance, waterproofing (immersion), vibration and shock (drops and impacts).

IP Rating vs. Military Grade

The difference between “IP rated” and “military grade” or sometimes “mil-spec” (military specifications) can be tricky, because even though they are sometimes listed together in a product’s description—especially phone and tablet cases—they are not issued from the same agency.

IP ratings, those ratings that look like IP57 or IP68, don’t originate with the military or government. They are “ingress protection” ratings measured according to standards developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission. Ingress protection is basically how protected a device is against outside elements like sand or water getting inside, and the MIL-STD tests for ingress have simply borrowed the IP scale for rating purposes.  This explains why you’ll see both MIL-STD and IP ratings for phone cases, since the tests used for them are almost all for ingress. The first number in the rating tells the level of protection, 1–6, against solid objects like sand and dust particles.  A rating of 6 in the first number would mean total protection against dust particles. The second number tells the level of protection, 1–8, against moisture. A rating of 8 means a device is protected in total submersion, but the exact depths and lengths of time of submersion that would get an 8 rating are determined by individual manufacturers, depending on the type of device and its intended use. Zero or X indicates there is no protection or the device wasn’t tested for that element.

Going Mil-Spec

Cases make up about 36 percent of the total smartphone accessories market, with only headphones coming close to that share at 34 percent. While there will always be consumers who prefer a little more style and glamor when it comes to their cases, the trend toward better and better real protection can’t be ignored. Even though some of these cases do sacrifice a bit of a phone’s slim profile or beautiful design, what they add in durability definitely makes up for it. Plus, protecting an expensive device like a smartphone or tablet doesn’t hurt at all when it comes to resell value!

When your customers are shopping for a new case or for a case to purchase along with their new smartphone or tablet, make sure you have a good assortment of mil-spec cases for them to choose from. Take a look at our great selection on Petra.com to find all you need to stock your shelves today—and use the information here to inform them on the benefits of having one!

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