Mobile phones are an integral part of our lives and they serve different purposes for different people. In fact, some users special mobile phones for specific needs. If you want to go hiking or carry out other tough activities, then your fragile $1000+ flagship mobile phone may not be a good companion. This is because there is a chance that there could be an accident and you will need a device that can withstand whatever is thrown its way. Rugged mobile phones are designed to withstand harsh conditions.
Did you say a screen guard and protective case will help? Well, they may prevent external scratches but can’t prevent internal damage from high-impact falls. This is why a rugged mobile phone is your best bet. These devices come with internal metal and external rubber reinforcements that keeps the phone safe. With these, when there is a high-impact fall, you are certain that your device will hold on to its own. These rugged phones are designed for outdoor use and they are made for tough activities.
We have compiled the top five mobile phones, the toughest beasts that you can find in the market. The point of focus in these devices is the design and toughness. Thus, some of the devices had to sacrifice top-notch features because it’s not a major concern for a rugged phone.
What is a rugged smartphone?
Before we look at the top five rugged phones to buy, let us take some preambles. What does the phrase “rugged mobile phone” really mean? A rugged mobile phone is a type of mobile device designed to withstand harsh environmental conditions such as extreme temperatures, dust, water, and shock. These phones are built to be more durable than regular phones and often feature reinforced frames, protective cases, and scratch-resistant screens. They are designed for people who work in outdoor or rugged environments, such as construction sites, mining operations, or military operations and need a mobile device that can withstand the wear and tear of these environments.
IP rating and MIL-STD-810G are very common cert and standards for most rugged mobile phones. While IP rating simply checks its water and dustproof status, MIL-STD-810G is a military standard used to test the durability and resilience of military equipment. The testing procedures outlined in MIL-STD-810G cover a wide range of environmental hazards, including extreme temperatures, humidity, shock, vibration, and exposure to dust and water.
MIL-STD-810G provides a series of standardized test methods and procedures to evaluate the performance and reliability of equipment under a variety of environmental conditions. The tests are designed to simulate real-world scenarios and challenges that military equipment might face during transport, storage, and use in the field.
Cons of a rugged mobile phone
Before you think of buying a rugged mobile phone, it is good to know the major cons that come with this type of device.
- Forget about beauty or sleekness. These devices are not meant to be premium, beautiful or sleek. With the thick rubber fittings for protection, it certainly can not be a sleek device.
- Forget about 2K OLED screens and high-tech specs. At most, rugged products come with a mid-range for a lag-free user experience, nothing more. And using a Full HD screen is the best scenario.
- While they may be affordable, there are usually more expensive than regular mobile phones with the same hardware. This is because a lot will be spent on making the device tough.
- There are not many “big name” brands with rugged mobile phones. Only a few like Samsung, Nokia and Motorola are now joining the train. If you need a rugged phone from a big name, then you will have to do a deep search.
- Weight may be an issue. With all the protection around the phone, weight gain is inevitable.
The best rugged mobile phones to buy
1. CAT S62 Pro
The CAT S62 Pro is a rugged smartphone designed for outdoor enthusiasts and professionals who need a tough device that can withstand harsh environments. It was released in 2020 as an upgrade to the popular CAT S61 model and features several improvements, including a better camera and faster processor.
The phone has a durable design and is built to withstand extreme conditions. It is IP68 rated, which means it is water-resistant and dustproof. It can also withstand drops from up to 1.8 meters and has a scratch-resistant screen made of Corning Gorilla Glass 6. Also, this device met the MIL-STD-810H standard. This means that it has passed a series of tests to determine its ability to withstand harsh environments and conditions. This includes high and low temperatures, humidity, vibration, and shock. The phone also has a unique feature, which is its thermal imaging camera. This camera can measure temperatures up to 400 degrees Celsius. It ca be used to detect leaks and locate an animal.
The CAT S62 Pro runs on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor and has 6GB of RAM. This means it is decent enough to handle most apps and games. It also has 128GB of storage, which can be expanded up to 256GB with a microSD card. The phone has a 5.7-inch Full HD+ display with a resolution of 1080 x 2160 pixels. It also has a 12MP rear camera and an 8MP front camera. The rear camera is capable of recording 4K video, while the front-facing camera can record Full HD video. The CAT S62 Pro also has a large 4000mAh battery, which can last up to two days on a single charge. It also has a fast-charging feature, which allows the battery to be charged up to 50% in just 30 minutes.
2. Blackview BV9900 Pro
The Blackview BV9900 Pro is a rugged smartphone that was released in 2020. It is designed to withstand tough environments and has a durable construction that is resistant to water, dust, and shock. The device features a 5.84-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels and is powered by a MediaTek Helio P90 processor with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.
This device supports IP68 cert. and also follows the MIL-STD-810G standard. This means that it is resistant to shock, vibration, and extreme temperatures. The Corning Gorilla Glass 5 ensures that the display is tough while the thermal imaging camera allows it to detect heat signatures. It is useful for people who work in industries such as construction, firefighting, or law enforcement. This is not a feature of a regular mobile phone. On the design, the Blackview BV9900 Pro comes with reinforced corners. These can absorb shock and protect the phone from accidental drops. There is also a glove mode that allows users to use the touchscreen while wearing gloves. This makes the device good for tough areas.
The outdoor toolkit of this device makes it useful for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, or mountaineering. On the regular end, this device comes with a quad-camera setup at the back, which includes a 48MP primary sensor, an 8MP ultra-wide sensor, a 2MP depth sensor, and a 5-megapixel thermal imaging camera. At the front, there is a 16MP selfie camera. The device is powered by a 4380mAh battery with support for fast charging and wireless charging. Other features of the Blackview BV9900 Pro include a fingerprint scanner, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity.
3. Sonim XP8
The Sonim XP8 was released in 2018 and it comes with a Snapdragon 630 SoC. This device is built to withstand extreme conditions. It is a phone that is designed for those who work in industries such as construction, firefighting, and law enforcement, or for those who enjoy outdoor activities.
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The Sonim XP8 is designed to be ultra-durable. The device is MIL-STD-810G certified, meaning it has been tested against a range of environmental factors such as extreme temperatures, vibration, shock, and humidity. The device can withstand drops of up to 2 meters and is rated IP68 for water and dust resistance. This makes it ideal for use in harsh and unpredictable environments.
This mobile phone comes with a decent 4900 mAh battery which provides up to 35 hours of talk time and 600 hours of standby time. It also supports fast charging, so you can quickly get your device up and running in a short amount of time. Also, the device is designed to work where there is so much noise. It features a powerful speaker that can reach up to 100 dB. This makes it audible in even the loudest of environments. The Sonim XP8 features a touch screen that can be used even when wearing gloves or with wet fingers. It has the Corning Gorilla Glass 3, thus it is safe from scratches and drops.
4. Doogee S97 Pro
The Doogee S97 Pro is a rugged smartphone that is built for those who live an active lifestyle. It is designed to withstand harsh and unpredictable environments and is suitable for use in industries such as construction, oil and gas, and law enforcement. The device boasts several features that make it a rugged phone. The device is IP68 and IP69K certified, meaning it is dustproof, waterproof, and can withstand high-pressure water jets. It is also MIL-STD-810G certified, meaning it has been tested against a range of environmental factors such as extreme temperatures, vibration, shock, and humidity.
Under the hood, the Doogee S97 Pro has a large 8500mAh battery that provides up to 38 hours of talk time and 950 hours of standby time. Just like other rugged phones, this device has a thermal imaging camera and also uses Corning Gorilla Glass for protection. You can also click on the screen of this device with a wet hand or with gloves. The Doogee S97 Pro also features PTT (Push-to-Talk) tech. This allows users to communicate with each other instantly and efficiently. This will help users to easily talk on the phone when they are in a tough environment.
5. Ulefone Armor 17 Pro
This is the only 2023 mobile phone on this list. This device was released back in February this year and it is tougher than older Ulefone rugged phones. This device combines a 5380 mAh battery and 66W Super Fast Charging. With this, the device can achieve over 30% charge in just 10 minutes.
Who said rugged mobile phones always have to sacrifice other hardware? The Uefone Armor 17 Pro did not. The phone also comes with cutting-edge specs, such as a 108MP camera, 120Hz display, and Helio G99. Not many rugged mobile phones come with such a top camera. What’s more, it packs IP68, IP69K, and MIL-STD-810G levels of ruggedness into a lightweight design, that makes it very easy to use outdoors or on the go.
The Ulefone Armor 17 Pro features a range of other features that make it a great rugged phone. These include a programmable button that you can customize to launch your favourite apps, a dedicated SOS button for emergency situations, and a built-in compass and barometer. The speaker of this device is ultra loud. In fact, users have to be careful with its ear-drum damaging 122 dbA sound.
Although we have our top 5 rugged mobile phones above, we know that some users only buy known brands. Unfortunately, many popular mobile phone brands do not launch rugged phones. However, there are a few brands like Samsung and Nokia that release rugged phones from time to time. If you need a popular brand, then the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro and Nokia XR 20 are viable options.
Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro
Just like other rugged phones, the Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro is designed to withstand tough environments and challenging conditions. This device is IP68 and MIL-STD-810H certified, which means it can withstand a range of environmental factors, including high and low temperatures, humidity, shock, and vibration. While its 4,050mAh battery is not entirely big, it can last for up to 14 hours of continuous use or up to 13 days on standby.
The device also features a 5.3-inch HD+ display that is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass 6. The screen is designed to be scratch-resistant and can withstand drops and impacts. The Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro also features a fingerprint sensor and facial recognition tech that allows you to unlock the device quickly and easily. It comes with a powerful camera system. The device has a 16MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera that allows you to take high-quality photos and videos, even in low-light conditions. The camera system also features a variety of modes and filters to enhance your photos and videos.
Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Xcover Pro features a range of other features that make it a great rugged phone. These include a programmable button that you can customize to launch your favorite apps, a dedicated XCover Key for emergency situations, and a built-in compass and barometer.
The Nokia XR20 comes with similar features as the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 5 Pro. This device features a programmable button that you can customize to launch your favourite apps, a dedicated XCover Key for emergency situations, and a built-in flashlight and noise-cancelling microphone.
It is IP68 certified, which means it is dustproof and can withstand immersion in water up to 1.5 meters deep for up to 30 minutes. Additionally, it is MIL-STD-810H certified, which means it can withstand a range of environmental factors, including high and low temperatures, humidity, shock, and vibration. This rugged construction ensures that the device can handle drops, knocks, and scratches without affecting its performance.
The device also features a 6.67-inch FHD+ display that is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The screen is designed to be scratch-resistant and can withstand drops and impacts. The Nokia XR20 also features a fingerprint sensor and facial recognition technology that allows you to unlock the device quickly and easily. One of the most impressive features of the Nokia XR20 is its performance. The device is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 480 5G processor and features 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage. This means you can run multiple apps simultaneously without experiencing any lag or slowdown. Additionally, the device is 5G-enabled, which means you can enjoy faster download and upload speeds.
A rugged mobile phone “never gets old”. Whether it was launched in 2017 or 2023, a great rugged mobile phone remains great. They hardly lose their value because the target market does not place much emphasis on features that easily lose value. All the phones above come with sufficient RAM and storage capacity. Thus, users can run multiple apps simultaneously without experiencing any lag or slowdown. These devices support a programmable button, thermal imaging camera, Push-to-Talk key and other features that regular mobile phones do not have.