11 November 2020

Rugged mobile devices aren’t designed and manufactured like standard ones – they are made to withstand extremes of heat, humidity, moisture, vibration, shock and impact. This built-in toughness makes rugged devices perfectly suited to even the most demanding working environments.

But what makes a rugged device truly rugged? The tech worthy of the ‘rugged’ label must pass specific independent lab and field tests and achieve industry-standard ratings. These rugged ratings also serve as a marker of different types of ruggedness, such as moisture resistance or shock resistance, so understanding them is essential when sourcing rugged tech for particular requirements.

Here’s a summary of some of the most commonly-used rugged ratings used to classify rugged mobile devices.

IP ratings

IP ratings – or ‘ingress protection’ ratings – are the most widely used and recognised rugged ratings. IP is a set of specifications used around the world, and signifies a device’s resilience and casing seal effectiveness against anything that could cause damage if it got inside, including liquid, moisture, dirt and dust.

Each IP rating includes two digits – IP54 and IP65, for example. The first digit indicates the level of protection the device has against solid particles or foreign bodies, while the second denotes how resistant it is against moisture, ranging from condensation to full immersion.

In practice, while devices rated IP54 are considered fully rugged, most industrial environments will benefit more from rugged devices rated IP65 – capable of total resistance against ingress.

ATEX ratings

A specification devised for dangerous, potentially explosive working environments, only ATEX certified devices can be used in such settings by law. ATEX certified rugged tech is widely used in the petrochemical, mining and oil and gas sectors, as well as many others.

Each rugged device with ATEX certification is classified for use in areas with specific risk levels, such as Zone 0, Zone 1, Zone 2 , and so on.


Although it doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, this rating is an important one in the world of rugged mobile devices. It refers to more than one characteristic of ruggedness and signifies that a compliant device has been tested in a variety of harsh environments.

These 29 tests are designed by the US military and cover an extensive criteria, from vibrations and drops from height, to extremes in temperature and altitude. MIL-STD-810 testing also takes place in a range of adverse natural conditions, including rain, wind, sand and humidity. Devices with MIL-STD-810 rating are literally ‘combat ready’.

Let us find the right rugged mobile devices for you  

These ratings are just a few of the many used to indicate a device’s rugged credentials, and without expert guidance, it can be difficult to understand what to look for. That’s why our rugged device specialists are on hand to explain the features and functionality of our handhelds, tablets, truck mounts, wearables and barcode scanners, to help your business identify the right rugged hardware for your operation.

Supplying our own rugged devices and a range of industry-leading third-party rugged tech, we’ll ensure we understand your business and what you’re looking to achieve before recommending the perfect rugged solution. Get in touch with us today to find out more.  



Peter joined TouchStar (formally Belgravium) in a sales manager role in 2001.  Prior to joining the company, Peter held Partner and National Sales Manager roles within the parcel and logistics industries.

 In 2011 Peter was promoted to Sales Director and is now actively involved in promoting the value of TouchStar’s Rugged Mobile Computing solutions to the warehouse, logistics, manufacturing and field service industries. When not involved in the business, Peter is a keen and enthusiastic football and cricket fan.

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