THE SADDEST sight in the world of hi-tech is the cracked screen of an iPhone 5 or Galaxy S4. We know how much these devices cost, and often how much emotional investment has typically gone into their purchase. We have a sense, then of the effect of the impact of whatever scarred their new device.
Other less visible scars – like water damage, cracked casings and torn SIM slots – are no less a blow, but their pain is not as visible to the world.
The mobile manufacturing industry has been slow to respond, resulting in a booming market for third party cellphone covers.
Just lately, though, there has been an awakening. The Sony Xperia Z is the most visible symbol, as a high-end smartphone with a 5” screen and outrageously great camera.
As important as these specs, however, is the fact that it not only has hardened glass, but is also waterproof. It can go underwater for about half an hour, as long as it isn’t heated up from intensive use before.
The heat generated can result in the glass panel on the back raising a little, leaving an opening in the joins.
Samsung has taken Sony’s lead by producing an Active version of the Galaxy S4, which also offers waterproofing on what is otherwise almost the same device as the standard S4.
For serious protection, though, these devices still need bodyguards: careful humans or protective casings. The smartphone user who is exposed to industrial-grade battering would need to look beyond small tweaks in design.
One of the most convincing solutions yet has just been released in South Africa. It is the Titan 3.5” Rugged Smartphone from Cernotech, distributed in South Africa by RuggedPhones.
It’s an Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) device with hardened glass, enhanced speakers, protective casing, 1GHz processor, GPS, barometer and pedometer. It complies with US military standards for use in harsh environmental conditions, and is submersible to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes. That’s the same as the Xperia Z, but the ruggedised casing means heat is not going to open any cracks.
It won't win prizes for weight (205g), screen resolution (800×480 pixels) or memory (512MB), but, for the mountain climber or cave explorer or girder grafter, those are minor disadvantages in the context of its shock-proof design.
While iPhone users with cracked screens no longer sneer at such excessive caution, though, they do have an option.
Griffin Technology has released the Survivor + Catalyst Waterproof, a case that turns the iPhone 5 – temporarily, one hopes – into a waterproof, shock-proof, dust-proof device. The transparent polycarbonate case is waterproof to 3m, and shockproof from a 2m drop.
The Titan and the Waterproof have similar IP ratings – a standard measure of sealing effectiveness for electrical enclosures. The 6 in Titan’s IP-67 rating indicates it is totally dust-tight, while the 7 tells us it is “protected against temporary immersion”. The Waterproof case is rated IP-68, with the 8 declaring it is “protected against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure”.
The main drawback is that, once you use these gadgets, your standard phone will feel more fragile than ever before.
* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za
. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee
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