A Visual Tour of the Nokia Test Center

Nokia puts its phones through rigorous testing before they land in customers' hands. We had the opportunity to take a tour of the Nokia Test Center, just outside of San Diego, and witness some of these tests.

Welcome to the Nokia Test Center

Your phone goes through a lot of abuse--even if you try your best to protect it. Nokia wants to make sure your phone can withstand the wear and tear of every day use, whether it's getting scratched up in your handbag, falling out of your pocket, or getting rained on. The Nokia Test Center in San Diego is just one of six test centers around the world. Other test centers are located in Finland (three separate locations, Germany, and China. According to Nokia, the phones are tested throughout the design process--from the first prototype to the final product. Each phone goes through at least 200 mechanical tests--here are a few of them.

Flip Phone Hinge Test

Anyone who's had a Nokia flip phone knows that those things can take some serious abuse--yet somehow, the flip mechanism always remains intact. This machine tests the durability of a flip phone's hinge--as you can see from the picture, this machine tests the hinge quality of several phones at once by forcefully shutting them over and over.

Screen Bender

We might see flexible displays in the future, but current phone displays can only withstand so much bending. This machine tests how far a Nokia display can bend--before it shatters.

Chemical Test

You might be surprised to find out that common household items, such as sunscreen, can damage a phone. Nokia likes to coat its devices in make-up, sunscreen, and various cleaning solutions to make sure they can stand having a little hand lotion spilled on them.

Extreme Temperatures

Phones should be able to travel with you (they are "mobile," right)--whether you happen to be going to a humid, tropical jungle or a dry, hot desert. Nokia has controlled climate chambers to see how extreme the weather can get before phones go haywire. If you're caught in a snowstorm you'll probably want your phone to function, so this type of test is essential before phones hit the market.

Moisture Resistance

Here's a closer look at one of the moisture chambers. The chamber simulates the phone's resistance to light rain or humidity.

Sun Damage Testing

Sunlight can bleach the color of your phone and leave it looking a little worse for the wear. These specialized chambers simulate the effects that various levels of sunlight have on a phone's paint and finish. If a phone gets bleached from prolonged sunlight exposure, it's sent back to the lab for further paint analysis.

Dust Resistance

Dust is everywhere, and it can really damage your electronics. To test how dust-resistant a particular device is, Nokia puts several phones in this large container and fills it with large amounts of dust particles. The container is then shaken around in an effort to get the phones as dusty as possible.

Pressure Test

A lot of people keep their phones in their back pockets, and they don't want those phones to snap in half every time they accidentally sit on them. Nokia tries to ensure that its devices can stand extreme force by placing 100 Newtons of pressure on each device.

Phone Twister

This machine tests the maximum flexibility of Nokia's phones by continuously twisting them back and forth. We doubt many of you are actively twisting your phones, but it's interesting to see how thorough Nokia is when it comes to testing their devices.

Phone Forensics

After the phones have been put through their paces, they're sent over to the forensics lab for analysis. Here phones are examined and every detail is written down. Using various pieces of equipment, Nokia can determine the base elements of their components and how well they responded to the rigorous testing.

Epoxy-Encased Parts

Lab tested phones are encased in a clear epoxy and sliced up using a diamond-tipped circular saw. The epoxy holds the pieces together and allows for easier viewing under a microscope.

3D X-Rays

Sometimes two identical looking devices can perform very differently in the same tests. In these cases, Nokia lab technicians take 3D X-rays of a device to pinpoint the weakest point. These 3D X-rays can reveal a ton of information that wouldn't normally be seen with a regular X-ray or through a normal microscope.

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