There is growing demand for rugged smartphones and tablet computers that can withstand the dirt and knocks of field work, and manufacturers are responding with products that include high-definition displays, cameras and audio.
The Torque G01, released by Kyocera Corp. for KDDI Corp.’s au mobile phone service in July last year, meets United States Department of Defense military specifications for durability.
Waterproof and protected by a shock absorber, it is perfect for outdoor leisure such as fishing trips or mountain expeditions, according to Kyocera.
The company says its proprietary technology allows users to hear conversations clearly even in noisy environments such as construction sites. Among its features is the ability for it to be operated with gloves on.
Kyocera believes there is strong demand for shock-proof smartphones. A survey it conducted found around 90 percent of users have dropped their devices.
One user, a 43-year-old electrician who often works on roofs and at other elevated locations, says he uses the Torque G01 because he “doesn’t need to worry” if he drops it. Mothers say they can use the phone while working in the kitchen or while playing with their kids for the same reason.
With smartphones now being used in many different types of environments, Kyocera developed the Torque G01 “for easy use in any location,” said Katsuhiro Okamoto, one of the device’s developers.
The Toughpad is a heavy-duty tablet computer which Panasonic Corp. designed for corporate use. It conducted durability tests such as repeatedly dropping the product on a concrete floor from a height of 3 meters and submerging it in 1.5 meters of water for more than half an hour.
The Toughpad even works normally in severe environments such as “strong wind and rain which makes it impossible to open and hold an umbrella,” said Kenichi Mochizuki, the machine’s designer.
The Toughpad debuted last autumn. Demand has been growing from utility companies as well as police and fire departments, Mochizuki said.
Research firm MM Research Institute Ltd. says smartphones accounted for more than 50 percent of all mobile phone service contracts for the first time at the end of September and the ratio is expected to top 70 percent in fiscal 2018.
“There is a need for heavy-duty smartphones and tablets because of their specific features, though they are niche products,” said an MM Research official.
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