Smartphones are great. But many of them are not that tough. They are susceptible to damage when dropped or exposed to extreme conditions. If you want a tougher and more durable option, consider getting the best rugged smartphone.
Rugged phones have tough outer shells to survive shocks, vibrations, knocks or drops. They don’t easily get cracked or damaged. They are also water, dust and weather-proof, which enables them to withstand extreme temperatures and conditions.
Many of them are IP68-rated, which attests to their durability. These are ideal smartphones for various outdoor work and activities like hiking, mountaineering, biking, trekking, and others. There are also waterproof smartphones that are not rugged, if that’s what you’re looking for. You can also check out these cheaper waterproof phones if you’re on a tight budget.
But if you want something that’s more than just waterproof, the best rugged smartphone might just be what you’re looking for.
The Best Rugged Smartphones
|Best Overall||CAT S61 Smartphone|
|Cheapest||Blackview BV5500 Smartphone|
|Ulefone Armor 3T Smartphone|
|Best Value||CAT S41 Smartphone|
|Highly Recommended||Motorola Moto Z2 Force Smartphone|
|Runner Ups||AGM X3 Smartphone|
|Ulefone Armor 6 Cell Phone|
|Sonim XP8 Smartphone|
8 Best Rugged Smartphones
Most smartphones are not built to be rugged. But there are brands that focused more on making tough and durable smartphones. Aside from being rugged, the smartphones we’ve featured here do more than just being tough. In our assessment, the following are some of the best-rugged smartphones of the year.
When it comes to being rugged, CAT smartphones are definitely on the top. This does not come as a surprise because it’s the same company who is known for making construction equipment. Its best rugged phone by far is the CAT S61. It does it all, and is really built to be durable and tough. It can take on any environmental challenge (dust, water, heat, shock, name it).
It holds MIL SPEC 810G, IP68 and IP69 credentials. It is resistant to salt, sand, pressure, vibration, dust and mist, and is waterproof up to 3 meters for 60 minutes. Not to mention that it’s drop-proof up to 1.8 meters, so no need to worry about it getting easily cracked or damaged even when dropped onto concrete or hard surface.
This smartphone also takes it to another level with its integrated thermal imaging camera which you can use to read and detect temperatures up to 400°C. It even has an air quality sensor to measure humidity, temperature, and organic compounds indoors.
- Indoor air quality monitoring
- Laser-assisted distance measuring
- Thermal imaging camera
- 4,500mAh battery
- 8MP fixed focus front camera
- 16MP Autofocus main camera
With all these features, we can say that the CAT S61 is the best rugged phone in the market.
You can also use this smartphone to measure distance and area layout. This is made possible by its laser-assisted distance measure feature. To use this, you’ll need to download the Measure app.
The CAT S61 has great features. But it comes with a price. It’s the most expensive smartphone on the list. If you want a cheaper CAT smartphone that’s also great, check out the CAT S41. This phone is also built to be tough and handle extreme conditions but is not that heavy on the wallet.
This smartphone is MIL SPEC 810G and IP68 certified. It is waterproof up to 2 meters for 60 minutes. It can also handle salt, mist, dust and thermal shocks. Its Corning Gorilla Glass 5 screen is scratch-free as well. To top it off, it is drop-proof up to 1.8 meters.
It may not have the other features that the CAT S61 offer, but it has a powerful battery which you can use to charge other devices through its Battery Share feature.
- 13MP Autofocus main camera
- 8MP fixed focus from camera
- Octacore 2.3GHz processor
- IP68 and IP69 Certified
- Super Bright 5-inch Display
Looking for the cheapest rugged cell phone? That would be Blackview BV500. It’s very affordable, especially when compared to other rugged phones in the market. Despite its price, it is packed with great features.
Built for outdoor enthusiasts, this smartphone has IP68 waterproof certification and military-grade drop-proof feature. It can be underwater (up to 2 meters) for a maximum of 2 hours and can withstand working temperatures of -30°C to 50°C. Moreover, it can survive a drop of up to 6 meters onto a hard surface like concrete.
However, its cameras are of lower specs than the expensive models, with 8MP + 0.3MP rear camera and just 2MP front camera. However, it has a Face ID recognition feature which the CAT smartphones don’t offer. Overall, it’s still a great choice if you’re looking for a rugged outdoor smartphone with good value.
- 5.5-inch HD Screen
- Corning Gorilla 3 Glass screen
- IP68 Waterproof and Dustproof
- 1.3GHz Octa-core processor
- Facial recognition
AGM X3 is a combination of ruggedness and performance. Not many rugged phones have great cameras and sound quality. This one’s an exception. It allows you to enjoy the features of sleek, slim smartphones and at the same time the durability of rugged phones.
With MIL 810G and IP68 certifications, this smartphone is tested to be durable. It is waterproof (up to 1.2 meters) and dustproof. It works in various temperature: from -25 to 55°C, and can handle vibrations, shocks and salt fog. It can survive a drop of 1.21 meters.
Aside from these durable features, the phone also has superb features for entertainment. Enjoy realistic 3D sound with its JBL speakers, as well as high-resolution cameras. However, like the CAT S61, it’s also quite expensive compared with others.
- Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 processor
- IP68 and MIL-STD 810G certified
- 3D sound effects (JBL)
- 20MP front camera
- 12MP primary camera + 24MP secondary camera
Like the AGM X3, the Ulefone Armor 6 is also a rugged smartphone that offers great specs and features. It’s the most feature-rich rugged phone on the list.
This smartphone can withstand rough handling and harsh conditions. It can handle solar radiation, humidity, water, shock and dust, and has met military-grade standards. It also has IP68 and IP69K certifications, making it a truly tough smartphone. It can normally function even in extreme temperatures, from -20℃ to 60℃.
True to its name, the Armor 6 is armored with strengthened die-cast to withstand drops from any angle. On top of this ruggedness, it is equipped with great features like the super big screen, Helio P60 AI Chipset, wireless charge, and more.
- Ultraviolet light detector
- NFC+ Google Pay
- 6.2-inch FH Super Ultra screen
- 21MP main camera + 13MP secondary camera
- IP68/IP69 protection
Despite its being feature-rich, it is not as expensive as the AGM X3 or the CAT S61. So it’s a great option for those who are looking for a rugged phone with a mid-range price.
The Sonim XP8 is built to last. This rugged smartphone offers military-rated design and smart communications. Its OneTouch Push-to-Talk feature allows users to make quick emergency communication, which makes it a perfect companion when you’re out in the wilderness or doing extreme outdoor activities.
This smartphone boasts MIL 810G, IP69, IP68 and Non-Incendive (Class I, II, III, Div 2) ratings, guaranteeing its durability. It is built to survive hazardous environments and conditions. Aside from ruggedness, this phone is also focused on providing efficient and smart communications.
- 3-year comprehensive warranty
- Snapdragon 630 OctaCore processor
- MIMO antenna for LTE
- 3 mic solution and noise cancellation
- Dual loud speakers (100dB+ output)
- 5.0-inch Gorilla Glass 3
If you’re looking for a smartphone with a long-lasting battery and Walkie Talkie function, look no further than Ulefone Armor 3T. It has a 10300mAh battery which you can use for at least 4 days (when used heavily). It even has power-saving management.
No smartphone signal? No problem. Transform this phone into a Walkie Talkie with its Smart Intercom and Dual Speakers. Supporting 1W/2W hardware intercom at 400 to 470MHz, this mobile phone is your perfect companion wherever you are, even in areas without a signal or remote areas with a weak signal. This feature and its long-lasting battery make it great for mountaineering, trekking or hiking in the wilderness.
- 10300 mAh Battery
- Smart Intercom
- Helio P23 processor
- 5.7 inch display
- 21MP rear camera (Sony)
- Water, dust and shock-resistant
The main problem with rugged smartphones is their look. And they are built that way because of their function. They are made to look and be tough and durable. This is why most of them are bulky-looking, sort of like an armored mobile phone. If you want a rugged phone that still looks as sleek as most smartphones, check out Motorola’s Moto Z2 Force.
This smartphone guarantees a shatterproof display. Its 5.5-inch Quad HD 1440p Super AMOLED display is designed to prevent it from being cracked or shattered. Its 7000-series aluminum unibody also adds protection against different conditions.
- Water repellent nano-coating
- Front loud speaker and 3 mics
- Dual 12MP rear camera ( IMX 386 sensors)
- 5 MP front camera (ƒ/2.2 aperture)
- Fast-charging (TurboPower)
However, compared with the other smartphones on the list, the Moto Z2 Force is the least tough. It’s more for people who want a smartphone that’s sleek and good-looking but with a durable twist.
You can also check out the best Motorola phones of 2019.
What People Ask About
More Than Just Being Tough
Let’s face it, with a few exceptions, rugged smartphones are not as good-looking as the sleek, elegant and slim smartphones we often see in the market. However, what rugged phones lack in aesthetics, they make up on durability. But they’re more than just durable and tough. They are packed with various features.
These smartphones are best used for outdoor work and activities, as well as extreme adventures. They are built to last and to withstand harsh conditions and weather. Of the 8 smartphones featured here, we believe that the best rugged smartphone is the CAT S61. However, if you’re looking for a feature-rich phone that combines both ruggedness and performance, 2 phones come to mind: the AGM X3 and Ulefone Armor 6.
Rest assured that all the smartphones on the list are a great companion for outdoor work and activities.
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