Army Testing Smartphones in Combat

Off-the-shelf consumer electronics proving durable in field

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 3, 2011 3:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – Want to fight a war? There are some 85 apps for that being developed by the Army as it seeks to adapt off-the-shelf smartphones and tablet computers for use in combat. The Army is beginning desert trials of the iPhones and other devices next week, stress-testing a wide variety of applications, reports the Wall Street Journal. Existing military equipment can perform many of the functions being tested, but the smartphones have the advantage of being lighter and easier to use.

Army officials say they don't plan to issue smartphones to every soldier, and the purpose of the testing is to see what works and what doesn't. "We want to give people the right phones for the right reasons, not just give them another shiny thing to hang on their equipment carriers," says one of the Army's project leaders. The smartphones are proving surprisingly durable: Out of the hundreds handled by soldiers so far, the only phone to break was one that a major dropped on a carpeted floor.

The Army aims to use smartphones to allow troops to send information from the front lines and download up-to-the-minute information.
The Army aims to use smartphones to allow troops to send information from the front lines and download up-to-the-minute information.   (AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq)
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