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Low Cost Rugged, Waterproof and Dustproof Smartphones Powered by Mediatek Processors

November 15th, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

If you need a truly waterproof and dustproof smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, compliant with IP67 standard, is probably the most popular phone with this particular feature. However, the phone sells for nearly $600 on site like Amazon, and it may be nice to have some lower cost options. Today, I’ve come across two smartphones powered by Mediatek dual and quad core SoC that are both compliant with IP67 standard, and although their specs do not match the Galaxy S4 Active, the features found in these phones are still pretty good, and they can be purchased at a much lower price. The smartphones I’ll feature in this post are also rugged, which is not really the case for the Samsung device.

IP67 standard? What does that mean in practice?

The IP Code, Ingress Protection Rating, aka International Protection Rating, classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against the intrusion (including body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water.

The protection levels for solid particle (i.e. dust), the first digit after the IP suffix, are classified as follows:

Level Object size protected against Effective against
0 No protection against contact and ingress of objects
1 >50 mm Any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part
2 >12.5 mm Fingers or similar objects
3 >2.5 mm Tools, thick wires, etc.
4 >1 mm Most wires, screws, etc.
5 Dust protected Ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment; complete protection against contact
6 Dust tight No ingress of dust; complete protection against contact

So if you’ve got something certified  IP6X, that means it’s fully dust proof.

The second digit corresponds to the liquid ingress protection, and there are 9 levels of protection.

Level Protected against Testing for Details
0 Not protected
1 Dripping water Dripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect. Test duration: 10 minutes
Water equivalent to 1 mm rainfall per minute
2 Dripping water when tilted up to 15° Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle up to 15° from its normal position. Test duration: 10 minutes
Water equivalent to 3 mm rainfall per minute
3 Spraying water Water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect. Test duration: 5 minutes
Water volume: 0.7 litres per minute
Pressure: 80–100 kPa
4 Splashing of water Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect. Test duration: 5 minutes
Water volume: 10 litres per minute
Pressure: 80–100 kPa
5 Water jets Water projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects. Test duration: at least 3 minutes
Water volume: 12.5 litres per minute
Pressure: 30 kPa at distance of 3 m
6 Powerful water jets Water projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects. Test duration: at least 3 minutes
Water volume: 100 litres per minute
Pressure: 100 kPa at distance of 3 m
7 Immersion up to 1 m Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion). Test duration: 30 minutes
Immersion at depth of at least 1 m measured at bottom of device, and at least 15 cm measured at top of device
8 Immersion beyond 1 m The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer. Normally, this will mean that the equipment is hermetically sealed. However, with certain types of equipment, it can mean that water can enter but only in such a manner that it produces no harmful effects. Test duration: continuous immersion in water
Depth specified by manufacturer

So if you purchase an IP67 certified smartphone you can be sure it its fully dust-proof, and it can be immersed up to 1 meter deep for a minimum of 30 minutes. You won’t be able to go diving, but if you go snorkeling, or fall in the water, your device will cope just fine.

If you just want protection from the rain, or water gun fights, IP67 will obviously protect your device, but the extra costs is hardly justifiable, and you’re probably better off with waterproof armbands or bags.

ALPS / Enjoy S09 Quad Core Waterproof Smartphone

Waterproof_Smartphone_Quad_coreEnjoy S09 smartphone has the following specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT6589 quad core cortex A7 @ 1.2GHz + PowerVR SGX544MP2 GPU
  • System Memory – 1GB RAM
  • Storage – 4GB NAND Flash + microSD card slot (Up to 32GB)
  • Display – 4.3″ touchscreen display. Resolution: 960×540
  • Networking – GSM / GPRS / EDGE 850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA / HSPA 850/1900/2100 MHz,Data Transfer GPRS,HSPA,EDGE. Dual SIM card support.
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1, and GPS
  • Camera – 8.0MP rear camera with flash and autofocus, 0.3MP front camera
  • Sensors – G-sensor, proximity
  • USB – micro USB
  • Misc – FM radio
  • Battery – 2800mAh non-removable battery
  • Protection rating – IP67
  • Dimensions – 15 cm x 8 cm x 2 cm
  • Weight – 270 g

This Android 4.2 smartphone comes with a power adapter (100~240V), earphones, a USB cable, a screwdriver to open the SIM card and microSD card compartment , and a user’s manual in English. Watch the “Oops! I dropped the phone in the washing machine!” video below for a cool demo of the ruggedness and waterproofness of the phone.

I initially found the phone on DealExtreme for $379.10, but it seems it’s also called ALPS S09, and can be purchased from Aliexpress for $255 up (most are selling it in the low $300). Some shops claim the device is even certified IP68. Nevertheless, that means adding ruggedness and IP67 certification to a phone costs over $100.

MOXIV M8 Dual Core Waterproof Smartphone

If you’re convinced you want an IP67 certified rugged phone, want decent performance, but quad core is not a necessity, you may consider MOXIV M8 powered Mediatek MT6572 dual core processor.

MOVIX_M8_Waterproof_Smartphone

MOVIX M8 specifications:

  • SoC – Mediatek MT6572 dual core cortex A7 @ 1.2GHz + Mali-400 GPU
  • System Memory – 512MB RAM
  • Storage – 4GB NAND Flash + microSD card slot (Up to 32GB)
  • Display – 4.0″ touchscreen display. Resolution: 800×480
  • Networking – GSM / GPRS / EDGE 850/900/1800/1900, WCDMA / HSPA 850/1900/2100 MHz. Data Transfer GPRS,HSPA,EDGE. Dual SIM card support.
  • Connectivity – Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, and GPS
  • Camera – 5.0MP rear camera with flash and autofocus, 0.3MP front camera
  • Sensors – Information not available.
  • USB – micro USB
  • Misc – FM radio
  • Battery – 3000mAh battery
  • Protection rating – IP67
  • Dimensions – 13.4 cm x 7.2 cm x 2.1 cm
  • Weight – 230 g

MOXIV M8 smartphone runs Android 4.2, and comes with a Lithium-ion battery, a power adapter (100V-240V AC to 5V/1A DC Charger) with a microUSB cable, a microUSB to minijack? cable (for charging), a 30-pin plug adapter to charge iPod, iPhone 4/4S as the device can be used as a power bank too, a microUSB plug adapter (also for charging other devices), earphones, and a user’s manual in English.

MOVIX M8 only appears to be available in DealExtreme. It’s available in Yellow for $209.80, and in Green for $213.90. Again it costs over $100 more than a non-rugged, non-waterproof smartphone with similar specs.

You can also find cheaper rugged and waterproof (IP67) smartphones on Aliexpress for as low as $75, with older processors and smaller screens.

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  1. Paul
    November 16th, 2013 at 19:40 | #1

    Thanks for these reviews, but “Weight – 514 g” – wtf? is it also radiation-protected with lead inserts?

    And I’d personally take all this water-proofness with grain of salt (sea water?) – how can you have it water-proof with external connectors like that microUSB? You need to cover it with plug? Then protection depends on how well you insert the plug, and that’s random, and deteriorates over time.

  2. mongrol
    November 16th, 2013 at 19:41 | #2

    I have an IP67 rated Lenovo A660. Can be had for around $150 now and unlike these “tradie” phones it actually looks like a nice smartphone. I use it regular for taking underwater video of the kids in the pool. The picture quality is awesome underwater.

  3. November 18th, 2013 at 11:10 | #3

    @Paul
    DX must have made a mistake, or listed the total package size. Going to the Australian version of DX, I can see the weight is actually 270 g (and correct the post accordingly), and on Aliexpress (for ALPS S09) it’s around 256 to 258 grams.

  4. November 20th, 2013 at 16:32 | #5

    @Eric
    W63 looks like ALPS S09 / T10 mentioned in the post above. I think they probably gave you the wrong weight (> 500 g).
    IP68 means it can stay in water for hours, at a depth of more than 1 meter. Normally, the manufacturer is expect to specify the maximum depth, but I could not find this info on your site, nor the other sellers. Could you ask the manufacturer the maximum (safe) depth? I wonder if it is suitable for diving.

  1. November 16th, 2013 at 15:05 | #1