Those nervous aahs and gasps when you drop your phone on a rocky surface, and you pray and hope that your phone may not be damaged! Well, minus the gasps and the prayers, that’s basically what people are doing at Otterbox!
According to a study by Protect Your Bubble, a gadget insurance firm, roughly one-third of all phones break within 15 months of purchase. It is not surprising at all that this company has made a fortunes off the trade of protecting our phones by breaking them via rigorous testing.
With otter toys and statues peeking out from every corner, OtterBox’s headquarters situated in the scenic Fort Collins could be mistaken for Silicon Valley’s tech playgrounds. The slide in the lobby doesn’t help either!
After being astonished by their office, they show you what they call P.I.T (Prototype Innovate and Test). Only then you know the meaning of the word awestruck. It is a testing lab designed to put phones and cases through all sorts of pain and misery using devices and contraptions similar to those used in the medieval times.
According to the designers, a lot of the “torture devices” in the lab are used to cause the most common type of damage that could occur in case your phone didn’t have a casing. Although the contraptions are not much “tech savvy,” the concept behind the torture devices is quite amazing.
These devices constitute different tests that include a four-foot drop test from a machine that looks like a phone booth and a small tanning chamber where UV exposure for mobiles is tested to check phone casing’s ability to resist fading. Last but not the least, there comes the thermal shock chamber, an oven for one minute and a refrigerator for a second, that is designed to test how cases handle extreme temperatures.
Many of these tests and the corresponding equipment are extracted from industry standards, while other tests are uniquely designed by OtterBox after their own experience and customer feedback.
Most of the fascinating tests were introduced on the basis of customers’ feedback like the ‘purse test.’ According to the team at OtterBox, they concluded from countless reviews sent in by its customer service department that a women’s purse is practically ground zero for phones. Replicating the inside of a purse was a tough task, so the team at OtterBox transformed a Maytag dryer into a purse tumbler. This meant that the phone with company’s casing was put into a satchel with a nail file, a hair brush, car keys, and other such stuff that one would normally find inside a purse. The satchel is then thrown into the tumbler and a gruesome total of 100 revolutions is done on the phone, with a meter drop at each end.
OtterBox also performs a ‘jeans test’ on the phones that looks like a DJ scrubbing a turntable. It consists of a machine that starts rubbing a piece of jeans like fabric on a phone case over and over again to mimic two years worth of sliding a phone into your pants’ pockets.
What if the smartphone doesn’t survive the P.I.T.?
The team at Otterbox sends the feedback back to the phone engineers who then make the necessary adjustments and send the phone over for a re-test.
When the engineers receive the information from a phone manufacturer about what they need, most of the phone cases are ready to be shipped in as little time as eight weeks. When it comes to testing out the latest iPhone models, even OtterBox only knows when the entire world finds out. For the testing team, time is nothing less than a precious gem.
Did you like the P.I.T. of doom for the mobile phones? Have any more suggestions for new mobile endurance tests? Comment below!