Nokia 5500 Smartphone Crash Test

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Nokia 5500 Smartphone Crash Test

07.11.2006, MForum.ru

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Today we are going to test the world's first sport smartphone claimed to be water-, dust-, and shock-proof. It is not the first time we crash test Nokia phones but it is the first time we do it to a "smart" phone.


Although the idea of making protected version of a smart phone seems to be obvious it is Nokia who managed to implement it first. From the other hand who else could do it but Finns.

Main Nokia's competitor in making protected phones was Siemens. Legendary Siemens ME45 was the most popular off-road phone of all times. Before acquisition by BenQ Siemens managed to release whole series of protected phones: M65, M75, ME75. After the merger the only announced model was BenQ-Siemens M81. But there are no smart phones among them. Neither Siemens nor BenQ are as strong in making "mobile computers" as Nokia is. Another key player - Sony Ericsson - is relatively strong in making smart phones but doing rather bad in making weather-proof phones. Z710i is claimed to be water-resistant but not shock-proof. There are lots of other smart vendors (Qtek, E-Ten, etc.) but no protected models at all. Motorola and Samsung are weak from both smart and protected sides. Hence it was quite logical to see first smart phone from Nokia.

Nokia 5500 is one of the most compact smart phones nowadays. It is quite hard for non-specialist to see that there is a mobile computer inside this tight phone body. Surely many buyers of this piece of hardware wouldn't even guest that is has open operating system inside.

 

Nokia 5500 Nokia 5500

Nokia 5500

Nokia 5500

Nokia 5500 before the crash test

Video-review of Nokia 5500

So let's review the protected features of the phone. First of all it is rubbered body - from keyboard to battery cover. The battery cover itself is fixed by a bolt(!). Second, it is metallic frame over the perimeter as well as metallic plate covering the battery. Third, there is an insert of soft plastic covering all side buttons as well as infra-red sensor. And forth, rubber cover on the socket, which is frankly speaking does not fit well enough from our point of view leaving doubts about it's resistance to water.

To tell you the truth after the first review we were quite skeptic about protected features of the phone. This came mainly from our previous experience with Nokia protected phones. They always looked tough and rough but our crash tests showed them quite weak. The main reason for previous failures was that phone body was made up of two parts inserted in one another. All Nokia protected phones were made this way: Nokia 5210, Nokia 5100, Nokia 5140, and Nokia 5140i. When dropped into water the liquid immediately comes in a gap between two parts resulting in the same level of water-resistance as all other even non-protected phones. When dropped on a hard surface parts easily break apart as well.

Nokia 5500 on the other hand is different from it's predecessors. It has whole body where battery cover is fixed by a bolt, same as in legendary Siemens ME45. It also has metallic frame. Is it going to help it survive our tests?

Test number 1. Dust

This is the easiest test. We put phone into vacuum cleaner's dust bag, then clean up our room. After that we open up the bag and take out the phone.

Nokia 5500 inside vacuum cleaner Nokia 5500 inside vacuum cleaner

Inside vacuum cleaner

Where dust could come into? First of all it is gaps and holes. Are there gaps in Nokia 5500? There are no gaps between keys on keyboard as it is made of a whole peice of rubber. There is no gap between battery cover and the body as it is very tightly fixed by a bolt. As we expected the most vulnerable part was a socket. We had to blow dust away from it. We also did it to speaker and microphone holes.

Nokia 5500 after vacuum cleaner Nokia 5500 after vacuum cleaner

Nokia 5500 after vacuum cleaner

Nokia 5500 after vacuum cleaner

Nokia 5500 after vacuum cleaner

Next we buried our phone into ground. It is more wet but it is also less thin than dust.

Nokia 5500 in ground Nokia 5500 in ground

Nokia 5500 in ground

But even relatively big particles of ground managed to get into socket:

Nokia 5500 in dirt

After cleaning the socket and wiping the phone with a wet cloth we were happy to see our phone looking brand new:

Nokia 5500

Nokia 5500 cleaned after dust and ground test

The only evidence of our test was a little bit of dirt in speaker hole. If we try harder we would clean that as well but we didn't.

Test 1 succeeded!

Test number 2. Beer, milk, water

Some people ask why we put our phones into different liquids: beer, lemonade, etc.? Isn't it enough to test them in water? First, we test phones in water anyway when we wash them after beer, etc. Second, our polls show that people's phones die in other liquids not less frequently than in water, beer being the most frequent killer of mobile devices. It is typical situation when a phone lies on a table when somebody accidentally hits a glass of beer standing next to it. Moreover other liquids are not so neutral as water in terms of voltage resistance and they also possess some really nasty qualities like stickiness of beer, for example. Some phone's keyboards stop functioning just because of that.

Nokia 5500 in beer Nokia 5500 in beer

Nokia 5500 in beer

As always we start calling the phone and then pour beer on it:

Beer test video

The phone stayed in beer for about 30 seconds. It is far more time than it typically takes a user to withdraw the device from hazardous conditions (unless he/she has something more important to save from it). What are the consequences? The phone continued to work during the test. No electronic failures were detected. Ringing speaker significantly lost loudness but it is typical when there is water inside its holes. The sound source becomes physically isolated. Usually after the liquid evaporates it starts ringing normally.

We thoroughly washed phone in water to clean it from beer:

Washing Nokia 5500 after beer Washing Nokia 5500 after beer

Washing Nokia 5500 after beer

After checking if phone functions well we put it in milk:

Nokia 5500 in milk Nokia 5500 in milk

Nokia 5500 in milk video

Milk has fat, which is quite difficult to clean from some surfaces. Colorful traces of it could be found on display cover. They can be removed only with some cleaner. In case of Nokia 5500 we found no traces of milk whatsoever:

Nokia 5500 after cleaning from milk

15-20 minutes after our water procedures we found condensation on display. The moisture came inside phone. Tiny water drops could be seen on the back side of lens as well:

Moisture inside Nokia 5500

Test number 3. Drop on a hard surface

How do we measure physical durability of a phone? We drop phone on a hard surface in a series of 3 drops. Every series is repeated in five orientations: strictly vertical display up, strictly vertical display down, strictly horizontal display down, vertically 45° bottom down, vertically 45° bottom up. The whole procedure is executed from the height of 0.6, 1.2, 1.8 and 2.4 meters (2, 4, 6, and 8 feet). The maximum number of drops is 60 (20 series of 3). Every series of 3 drops is marked by Kn result. Kn=1 if there are no visible damages to phone and it is completely functional. Kn=0.9 if the phone break into parts (detached cover, etc.) but could be recovered without any change in appearance or functionality. Kn=0.7 if phone has some little damages (scratches, deformations, etc.). Kn=0.5 if repairing phone requires significant cost (compared to it's own price): crack, split, etc. Kn=0.2 if phone loses some non-critical functionality (no display lighting, no vibro-call, etc.), Kn=0 if phone becomes useless for making calls (no display, no speaker, etc.). The whole measure of durability is calculated as follows: 2*(K1+K1*K2+....+K1*...*K5)+4*(K1*...*K6+K1*...*K7+....+K1*...*K10) + 6*(K1*...*K11+...+K1*...*K15) + 8*(K1*...*K16+...+K1*...*K20) where K1...K5 are drops from 0.6m, K6...K10 - from 1.2m, K11...K15 - from 1.8m, K16...K20 - from 2.4m. The maximum score is 100.

Nokia 5500 drop on asphalt from 2.4m (8ft)

Our first drop experiments showed that Nokia 5500 is going to die hard. Drops from heights below 2 meters made absolutely no impact on it. It was bouncing from asphalt like a ball. After completing the full test we ended up with just some little deformations of metallic frame. Here is the comparison table:

Physical durability score

Phone

MForum.ru score (max. 100)

Nokia 5500 (protected)

95

Siemens ME75 (protected)

95
Siemens M75 (protected)

93

Motorola C115 (non-protected)

88

Siemens M65 (protected)

79

Motorola RAZR V3 (non-protected)

46

We can't definitely say which one was stronger Nokia 5500 or Siemens ME75. Both models demonstrated good results. In both cases phones didn't reach maximum score just because of scratches and small deformations. They both functioned well after full experiment. In order to say which phone was stronger we had to continue testing from bigger heights, but unfortunately we did not have ME75 to make competition this time. So we continued increasing height without it.

Nokia 5500 drop on asphalt from 4m (13ft)

After dropping from 4m height we found more scratches on the phone, mainly on metallic frame. The frame is made of relatively soft metal, which is easy to bend with hands, but it is very lightweight. By the way Nokia 5500 is not only one of the most compact but it is also one of the most lightweight smartphones.

Nokia 5500 drop on asphalt from 6m (20ft)

Drop from 6 meters ended up with significant deformation of phone body. Metallic frame detached from the body leaving quite a big gap.

Краш-тест смартфона Nokia 5500 Краш-тест смартфона Nokia 5500

Результат падения с 6-метровой высоты

But we started worrying a little bit too early: by pressing from both sides we managed to fix the phone. We had a lot of deformations by that time. After falling from a height of 2 story building the phone continued bouncing on asphalt, which added more damage to its body. Strong hit pushed on-switch inside but it still functioned. No loss of functionality by that time.

Test number 4. Automobile

Nokia 5500 under car Nokia 5500 under car

Nokia 5500 under car

 

Driving over Nokia 5500 at 5 km/h (~3 mph)

From all phones that we driven over only those with slim body (Motorola SLVR L7 and RAZR V3) retained working displays. From our point of view Nokia 5500 had no chances to survive this test as it is not slim at all. But it did. By passing this test Nokia 5500 has definitely beaten Siemens ME75 record, as the latter broke after car test.

Nokia 5500 after car drive Nokia 5500 after car drive

But the drive was quite damaging anyway. First, battery cover retained all the bumps of the road (you can see it on photo). Second, photo lens cover broke. By this time we could see consequences of our water tests on it quite well.

We've been blamed by some readers that we drive over phones too slowly. Driving on higher speed gives more chances for phone to survive they said. Let's see:

Driving over Nokia 5500 at 30 km/h (~19 mph)

The result was opposite. Fast drive broke the display. Although the body look did not change significantly.

After driving over Nokia 5500 at 30 km/h (~19 mph)

Analysis

In order to make conclusions we disassembled the phone to see and analyse what we have done to it.

Nokia 5500 parts

We didn't find any deformation of internal parts of the phone. There were no traces of dust or dirt but we found substantial amount of water inside. It should be noted that we found water, not beer or milk, which means that if we were washing it more carefully we could avoid this. Most likely it came through the ringing speaker hole. It is quite big and rather unprotected. Thin wire mesh can protect from water drops but not from direct flow. Therefore we recommend in case you dropped your Nokia 5500 in some liquid, be careful not to wash it with direct flow. Most likely it will survive a dive (but don't put it inside a laundry washer!).

Water inside Nokia 5500 Water inside Nokia 5500

Water inside Nokia 5500

You might be wandering why we think water came through ringing hole. Aren't there other holes there? Let's explain it:

  1. Socket (charger, PC) is not a hole. The water could came just up to the contacts but no further.
  2. Battery cover has rubber along its perimeter. There are no chances that water could come through there.
  3. Speech speaker and microphone are completely isolated by thin membranes.
Nokia 5500 metallic frame

Nokia 5500 metallic frame

Another good surprise is that metallic frame is not only by perimeter. It forms a platform on which whole phone is mounted. As a result - good phone strengths and durability. The only thing we could complain is that the metal is very soft.

After drying and assembling back the phone switched on, played startup melody, and perhaps loaded the operating system. We could not tell that for sure as the display was broken. By the way we have searched internet and found suitable display matrix for just $50. We tried using phone blindly. It seems that some keys on keyboard are not responding but again can't tell for sure.

We liked Nokia 5500 but if we were able to we would fix the following:

  • we would make the frame from steel (like in Nokia 8800 or Nokia N91)
  • we would fix socket cover to better protect it from dust
  • we would cover ringing speaker by some sort of membrane

Conclusion

Our skeptic attitude toward Nokia 5500 protected features was not confirmed by our tests. We conclude that by far Nokia 5500 is the most protected phone in terms of shock-resistance (even a drop from 6m height on asphalt did not break its functionality) and water-resistance (not absolutely protected though). Apart from that Nokia 5500 is the smartest of all protected phones and the most protected from all smarties.

Will Nokia 5500 follow the success of Siemens ME45? It is hard to guess. Strong body and smart stuffing are not all that's required. Its design could be rejected by some people. The price is not very democratic either. Anyway this phone makes remarkable step forward, and we predict good sales of it for the vendor.

© MForum.ru

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