Do Shockproof Items Really Work?

They feature a rubberized material meant to absorb the shock of a fall

Shockproof hard drive

 Silicon Power

When you see the word "shockproof" listed for a hard drive, mobile phone case, or watch, what does it mean? It means the item can be dropped from a significant height and still function afterward. The "shock" is referring to the impact the drive experiences upon landing.

Many shockproof hard drives feature a rubberized material around them meant to absorb part of the shock. Some companies call these "drop-proof" rather than shockproof.

Mobile phone cases are often marketed with claims of being shockproof or shock-resistant. You need to check the item's description to determine whether it's supposed to survive a drop of three feet (one meter) or higher. Some say they're shockproof for a two-meter or six-foot drop. These phone cases often encase the front of the phone and camera lens to protect those fragile parts.

Although it evokes images of electrocution, "shockproof" doesn't mean the item is insulated from static electricity or able to function after sustaining an electrical surge. You should use all normal precautions to keep the item from being damaged by electricity.

What Standards and Tests Are Done to Determine What's Shockproof?

When an item is labeled shock-resistant or shockproof, check further to see what is meant by the designation and whether the company tests items after production. They may simply design the hard drive or item in ways they believe will result in them being shock-resistant. Check the warranty for further backing of this claim.

Military Standard 810G - 516.6

You may see items labeled as "shock-resistant to Military Standard 810G - 516.6." This refers to a method of testing shock-resistance for military-grade items as outlined in Military Standard 810G. This standard lists testing methods for several different kinds of shock, including:

  • 503.5 Temperature Shock
  • 516.6: Shock
  • 517.1 Pyroshock (from an explosion)
  • 519.6: Gunfire Shock
  • 522.1: Ballistic Shock

The standards for testing 516.6 are for infrequent, non-repetitive shocks that might happen during handling, transportation, or when an item is being serviced. If the item passes this standard, it doesn't mean it can survive shocks from ballistic impacts, gunfire, or explosions. But if you drop it, it may survive intact. Depending on the item, this standard outlines tests for functional shock, material to be transported, fragility, transit drop, crash hazard shock, bench handling, pendulum impact, and catapult launch/arrested landing.

ISO 1413 Standard for Shock-Resistant Watches

The shock-resistance standard for watches was set by the International Organization for Standardization. Watches that pass this test can still keep time accurately after falling one meter onto a flat hardwood surface. That's something that could easily happen if a watch slips off your wrist.

The watch model is tested by applying two shocks with a hard plastic hammer, delivering a precise amount of energy. It's hit on the nine o'clock side and on the crystal face with a three-kilogram hammer at a set velocity. The watch is deemed shock-resistant if it can still keep time accurately to within 60 seconds per day as it did before the shock test.