BlackBerry Smartphones: The Story of Durability Testing [VIDEOS]


Hi, I’m Ryan. I’m a Hardware Engineering Technician in the Hardware Support Lab at Research In Motion® (RIM®). Today, I’m going to give you an inside look at the testing we do during the development of your BlackBerry® smartphone to help ensure it lives up to the high standards that BlackBerry is known for. Our team works to make sure that your BlackBerry smartphone is both durable and reliable – which basically means we try to break them so that you, #TeamBlackBerry, would be hard pressed to do the same. =D

Your BlackBerry smartphone is your connection to your friends and family. It is your lifeline, and we want it to always stay in operating condition so that you can stay in contact with the important people in your life. So when you accidentally drop your BlackBerry smartphone, or sit on it, or spill your morning coffee on it, we want it to keep working.

So how do we work to ensure that your BlackBerry smartphone will keep working? Well, we drop them, bend them, shock them, soak them and zap them…a lot. We also do some nerdy things like reading digital signals to make sure everything is speaking the right language – they look like this:

Cool, eh? Yeah…not really, but it is helpful for our team. This video is a bit cooler:

[YouTube link for mobile viewing]
*Filmed using my BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet

You’re probably wondering why we dropped that BlackBerry® Curve™ 9360 smartphone in a bucket. It’s called a “Moisture Ingress Test” and it’s one of the many important tests that we perform on your BlackBerry smartphone to make sure that it lasts. The water contains a dye so that we know where water can enter a BlackBerry smartphone; with this info, we can improve the device’s water seal.

Allow me to run through a few of the other durability tests we perform on BlackBerry smartphones:

[YouTube link for mobile viewing]

BlackBerry Smartphone Drop Testing

Dropping your BlackBerry smartphone is one of the toughest things you can do to it. It’s also one of the most common mishaps that we all make (sometimes I wonder if there’s butter on my fingers!). Just like you, we drop our BlackBerry smartphones…only we do it intentionally.

Every BlackBerry smartphone model gets dropped hundreds of times before the hardware is deemed strong enough for mass production and consumer use. When dropped, the BlackBerry smartphone is filmed using high-speed cameras for review and analysis that could lead to revisions in hardware design to make the device stronger and more durable. Every design revision is then tested to make sure it can endure consumer use – whether that’s on a construction site, in the boardroom, or downtown with your friends.

In the video above, you’ll notice a BlackBerry® Curve™ smartphone being dropped. We recorded this with our high-speed camera at 2000 frames per second! You may have noticed the wave that the impact sent up the casing on the side of the device. Did you know that the BlackBerry smartphones are designed to do that? By allowing the device to bend, we are able to absorb the shock from the concrete into the plastic… just like a shock absorber on a car!

BlackBerry Smartphone Bend Testing

[YouTube link for mobile viewing]
*Filmed using my BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet

Not only do we drop BlackBerry smartphones, we bend them too! Check out this video of my co-worker bend testing a BlackBerry smartphone. Why are we bending this poor smartphone? Well, many people like to keep their smartphones in their back pocket and sometimes, unfortunately, they sit on them. This test makes sure your BlackBerry smartphone can withstand the pressure of your posterior.

More BlackBerry Smartphone Tests

Do you love the keypad on your BlackBerry smartphone? We push the keys on BlackBerry smartphones literally millions of times to sure they click with the right pressure and can withstand all the e-mails, BBM™ messages and tweets that you type. Have you ever been shocked by a door handle? Your BlackBerry smartphone has been too! We zap them with what is called an Electrostatic Discharge, or ESD, to make sure that the sensitive internal components are protected.

I hope you all see how committed RIM is to making your BlackBerry smartphone the strongest and most reliable smartphone available. We definitely enjoy what we do in the Hardware Support Lab, but we also enjoy hearing how what we do is making your BlackBerry experience better. Tell us your BlackBerry smartphone durability stories in the comments below!

About Ryan P

Ryan is a Hardware Engineering Technician in the Waterloo Product Development Centre. He has a background in Electrical Engineering and enjoys blogging about technology. Ryan is here to give you the inside scoop on neat things happening inside RIM’s design and product realization centre’s. Outside of work you can find him playing music at local venues, or enjoying time at the cottage.

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