From the battlefield to the ops center, mobile devices are now providing defense personnel with enhanced situational awareness and improved decision-making at the edge, delivering a new level of technological strength. This is a result of an ongoing collaborative effort involving Department of Defense (DOD) and Samsung engineers to combine military-grade smartphones and tablets with specialty software designed for military operations.

Working closely with the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Samsung delivered our first custom, tactical, read-only memory (ROM) in 2016 and subsequently launched S9 Tactical Edition in 2018. S9 TE proved itself with special operations personnel, and their input was subsequently incorporated into S20 TE, which is now supporting thousands of military personnel in a variety of assignments across all branches of the military.

S20 TE is uniquely suited for military ops because it comes with a preconfigured software suite and its sturdy, proven hardware design includes purpose-built drivers to support tactical radio and mission device protocols, including accessing drone feeds and laser rangefinder information. S20 TE supports all conventional cellular capabilities, including LTE wireless (multicarrier and private), CBRS, Bluetooth, enhanced Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi 6. It can be tethered to secure tactical communication systems and supports a stealth mode that disables LTE and e-911, while muting all radio frequency broadcasting for completely off-grid communications.

High performance with mission-critical apps

S20 TE works exceptionally well with apps like the Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK) and the Battlefield Assisted Trauma Distributed Observation Kit (BATDOK) because it has a programmable side button that enables a one-touch instant launch of the chosen app. ATAK gives operators dramatically enhanced real-time situational awareness through mapping, messaging and geofencing. All team members and relevant information is viewable simultaneously on a single screen. BATDOK collects and distributes real-time patient information, enabling medics to wirelessly monitor the vitals of multiple patients, quickly capture a complete history of each patient’s treatment (from point of injury through medical evacuation) and then convey critical information to the next level of care.

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The DOD influence is evident in other S20 TE capabilities specifically designed to support field operations, including a mode to accommodate viewing through night vision devices, an auto-rotating lock screen to facilitate use in a flip-down chest mount and auto-touch sensitivity to use the screen with gloves. For field personnel, S20 TE is paired with a rugged Juggernaut case that can be chest-mounted or worn on the forearm.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3 rugged tablet with soldiers on screen and water and dust in background

Rugged tablet is designed for the field

Another purpose-built device that’s seeing widespread military use is Tab Active3, a rugged 8-inch tablet that’s IP68-certified for dust and water resistance (submerged up to 5 feet for 30 minutes) and MIL-STD 810H compliant, meaning it can withstand repeated drops from 5 feet up. Tab Active3 can be used in the rain and with or without gloves. It has two programmable side buttons for launching your most critical apps in one click. The tablet can also be used with a versatile, rugged S Pen, which allows those in the field to quickly select portions of the screen, add notes or highlights and instantly send them to team members. A fast-charging swappable battery (up to 5,050mAh) ensures long service when away from a power source.

The size, utility and rugged hardware of Tab Active3 make it ideal for users ranging from a field commander running a fast-moving operation to a maintenance worker going through an aircraft checklist. And like S20 TE, Tab Active3 is an exceptional tool for maximizing apps like ATAK and BATDOK.

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Both S20 TE and Tab Active3 support Samsung DeX, a computing innovation unique to Samsung mobile devices. DeX allows a user to create a PC-like experience from their Galaxy smartphone or tablet just by connecting it to a larger display and keyboard. This is ideal for a command post staffed by personnel who also have field responsibilities. DeX can also support in-vehicle operations for units like military police who would otherwise use a mounted laptop.

DeX users maintain full computing ability in their vehicle, and then they can take the same mobile device into the field with them. A single smartphone or tablet can support operations in the field, in the vehicle and in the station or command base — one device to support multiple missions.

Secured by Knox

Cybersecurity is a DOD priority, and both S20 TE and Tab Active3 are protected by Knox security, a defense-grade security platform built into Samsung mobile devices from the chip up for superior protection that keeps data safe and encrypted. Knox Dual Data at Rest (DualDAR) provides a smooth user experience and meets NSA requirements for protecting confidential data.

Advancements in mobile technology now provide significant operational benefits for frontline and support personnel. And there’s no shortage of options, either – other devices like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S8 Plus, and Galaxy S22 Ultra provide other, unique benefits for rugged use cases – like the S Pen, making the act of recording written information more seamless than ever.

Today’s soldiers are comfortable with the form factor, and the straightforward user experience ensures rapid adoption of the technology. In training, on the battlefield, in the air and during triage, operators are using smartphones and tablets to accomplish missions more and more efficiently. As those missions evolve, Samsung is committed to providing mobile devices that will reliably support those who serve.

For all your defense-grade mobility needs, see how Samsung’s lineup of Tactical Edition smartphones and rugged tablets are built to support field operations. And learn more about how you can execute safer, more effective incident response with a mobile-first approach in this free white paper.

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Matthew Ferguson

Matthew Ferguson is the Army key account manager at Samsung Electronics America and a two-time Iraq war veteran. He formerly worked at Oracle as a Linux, Virtualization and DevSecOps Enterprise Account Manager covering the U.S. Army.

View more posts by Matthew Ferguson