It feels like any other small, sleek tablet. But when it slips through your fingers and falls onto the concrete below, you’ll realize it isn’t. The sturdy Samsung Galaxy Tab Active2 is designed for employees who work in roughneck environments, from construction sites to warehouses. In fact, the Tab Active2 isn’t even marketed to consumers. “Connected business is expanding beyond the office to all the employees in the enterprise,” says Jen Langan, Samsung’s senior director of mobile computing product marketing. “FedEx or UPS have tens of thousands of employees at headquarters, but they have hundreds of thousands outside of it, all of whom need to be connected to the business.” Analyst firm IDC estimates that companies bought 385 million rugged phones and tablets in 2017, and that rugged Android sales in particular are poised to grow 22% within the next five years.
Samsung talked to large enterprises to learn exactly where rugged tablets—Samsung’s and other companies’—were falling short. The most indestructible are extremely bulky and cost thousands of dollars. Samsung engineers traded off a bit of durability that its on-the-go customer didn’t need—like resistance to the gunfire vibrations common to war zones or the acidic cleaners used in many hospitals—to create a thin tablet that costs around $400 but still works after being frozen in ice or dropped dozens of times. The device’s capacitive screen is also designed for gloved hands. “We had fun testing out how many types of gloves could work with the tablet: kid gloves, work gloves, leather gloves. I even got my daughter’s soccer-goalie gloves to work,” Langan says. “We finally hit our limit with a heavy ski glove.”
Samsung is a finalist and honorable mention in the 2018 Innovation By Design Awards. Check out all the honorees here.