Today’s mobile phones are feature-packed and stylish. But for all that power and flair, they’re shockingly fragile.
Whether you’re especially clumsy or need a phone built to handle harsh work environments -- such as construction yards or outdoor environments -- rugged phones won’t turn into a paperweight if you drop them on the ground or in a puddle.
But you won’t find many options in retail stores. So where do you find the best rugged phone options? We’ve got you covered. Here are 6 excellent options for anyone looking for a phone that can take a beating.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020
1. Ulefone Armor 7
Best Rugged Phone for the Everyday Person
Featuring a 6.3-inch 1080p screen with a 19.5:9 screen ratio, a capable 2.2Ghz octa-core processor, 128GB of storage space, 8GB of RAM, wireless charging and a triple rear camera the Ulefone Armor 7 offers most of what makes a modern top-end phone great with the durability to keep up with the dents and dings of life as well.
It's not the lightest phone out there but that's because the phone includes a 5500mAh battery which reviews indicate can last a day -- if not two -- with ease.
The phone is also both MIL-STD-810G certified and IP68/IP69K rated meaning it can handle dust, physical shocks, full submersion in water, and just about anything else you might throw at it. The chassis itself is also reinforced with metal and rubber to help cushion and falls.
Finally, with 2G, 3G, and 4G support, the quad band phone is compatible with most GSM networks.
While most rugged phones require you to compromise features for durability, the Ulefone armor 7 packs in all the modern conveniences in a rugged package -- and does so at a fair price.
Read More: Ulefone Armor 7 Review
Get it from: Amazon
2. CAT S61
Best Rugged Phone for Industrial/Construction Use
Known for their construction equipment, you might not expect to see CAT’s name on a smartphone. But the CAT S61 features several features designed specifically for construction and industrial environments.
The thermal imaging camera, air quality sensor, and laser distance measurement tool will come in handy on-site while the IP68 water- and dust-resistance rating, MIL-STD-810G shock proofing, and the built-in protective shell will ensure the phone survives the inevitable drops and dings of work.
All of that aside, it’s also a very capable smartphone. It includes an octa-core Snapdragon processor and a recent version of Android. The 5.2-inch 1080p display will make detailed diagrams or images pop while also providing an immersive experience should you want to unwind with a movie after a day of working or outdoor adventures. There’s even a 16MP camera with dual flash to capture pictures.
If you’re looking for a smartphone that is as feature-filled as it is durable, the CAT S61 checks all the boxes.
3. Doogee S90
Best Modular Rugged Phone
Doogee has been building a reputation for high-quality rugged devices at affordable prices. Their latest release is not only rugged but fully modular.
By sliding modules on to the back of the phone, you can extend battery life, add night vision capabilities, and use your phone like a digital walkie-talkie.
The phone features both IP68 dust- and water-resistance as well as MIL-STD-810G shock resistance. However, it goes a step beyond many other rugged phones with its IP69K rating. This means it’s also highly resistant to high-pressure liquid exposure and high-temperature liquids.
With a 6.18-inch 1080p display, the phone is as pretty to look at as it is durable. And there’s Corning Gorilla Glass 4 screen protection. There’s even a glove mode for easy operation while you work.
The Helio P60 octa-core processor can handle any work-related tasks with ease while also covering more entertainment-centric tasks -- such as gaming or streaming HD video.
All of this is powered by a 5050mAh battery (with an optional 5000mAh modular battery add-on) making it one of the largest batteries in this lineup if you’re away from charging places for longer stretches.
With its modular design and IP69K rating, the Doogee S90 features a level of flexibility and protection few phones can touch while its titanium design provides a sturdy, premium feel.
4. Sonim XP8
Best Rugged Phone for First Responders
Featuring a large display and decent processing power, the Sonim XP8 doesn’t offer any major features that would make it a standout on this list. In fact, it mostly offers what any other pick here does, but at a higher price.
Unless you’re a first responder...
It’s IP69 dust- and water-resistant, features an enhanced loudspeaker, and included a dedicated push-to-talk feature.
With access to AT&T’s exclusive FirstNet network, this rugged phone will have coverage where others don’t. In the case of a congested network, it will also get priority access allowing you to place calls during a crisis when every second counts.
For the average person, there’s better value in other picks in this roundup. But with access to the AT&T FirstNet network, this rugged phone offers better coverage and priority access for first responders who depend on their phone while saving the day.
5. Blackview BV9500 Plus
Best Rugged Phone for Battery Life
With a whopping 10000mAh battery, the Blackview BV9500 Plus offers two times more battery than most top-end phones. This comes with the trade off of being a noticeably heavy phone though. But if you don't mind feeling it in your pocket or bag, reviews indicate the phone offers days of life on a single charge.
Powered by a 2.1Ghz octa-core Helio P70 processor, it won't quite offer the performance of top-end phones, but reviewers found it more than enough to enjoy the latest apps and games at reasonable settings.
On the rugged front, the phone is MIL-STD-810G rated and IP68/69K rated. This means it has a high level of shock, dust, and water resistance. It's ready for the work site or your next outdoor adventure.
Cameras are the weakest point of the phone. While it features a dual 16MP/0.3MP rear camera and a front-facing 13MP lens, they won't keep up with the likes of Apple or Samsung. That said, reviews found pictures serviceable enough as long as you're not expecting top quality.
If battery life is worth the added weight, few phones can touch the Blackview BVR 9500 Plus. Better yet, with MIL-STD-810G and IP68/IP69K ratings, the phone is ready for nearly anything you can throw at it.
Read More: Blackview BVR9500 Plus Review
Get it from: Amazon
6. Kyocera DuraXV LTE
Best Rugged Flip Phone
If you're looking for a rugged phone but you're not worried about all the bells and whistles of a modern smartphone, the Kyocera DuraXV LTE is a great value.
It features a grippy, rubberized shell and a durable flip phone design. With Military Standard 810G ratings, IPX5/IPX8 ratings for waterproofing, and IPX6 rating for dustproofing, it's capable of handling just about anything.
The 2.6-inch color display makes it easy to read texts while the chunky buttons make sure you dial accurately -- even with gloves on.
Reviewers particularly liked the volume pumped out by the speaker on the phone. Whether you’re taking calls or jamming out to your favorite tracks, you’ll have no trouble hearing.
Lastly the phone offers 16GB of internal storage and supports microSD cards up to 64GB. In combination with the included media player, you can store a nice collection of podcasts or music.
If you’re looking for all of the media flexibility, connectivity, and communications options of a smartphone without the actual “smarts” this one is a great pick.
If durability is a concern, the Kyocera DuraXV LTE is up the challenge and includes all the communications essentials.
How We Chose
The picks in this roundup are what we think are the best rugged phones available in 2020.
We selected these models based on analysis of expert reviews from around the web, user feedback on sites like Amazon and carrier stores, forum comments on our site, social media discussions, and more.
When answering the question, “What’s the best tough phone for the average buyer?”, we considered the following primary criteria:
While any phone can claim its durable, IP ratings and MIL-STD ratings ensure a certain level of dependability and performance. Everyone phone in this roundup is at least IP68.
A phone that can survive anything doesn't do much good if you hate using it...
We researched each phone model in this roundup to ensure they offer will offer dependable performance for years to come.
While budgets vary from person to person, we wanted to be sure that all of our picks offer good value compared to competing models. While these might not be the most budget-friendly phones available, they are well-priced for rugged phones in 2020.
The best place to find out about how a phone works is from the people using them every day. If there's a problem, reviewers will usually let you know in a hurry. All of our picks feature a range of reviews across multiple sites to ensure that information is as accurate as possible.
We compared the things most people consider when choosing a rugged phone.
In short, we did the research—so you don’t have to.
Recap: Best Rugged Phones
- Ulefone Armor 7: Best Rugged Phone for the Everyday Person
- CAT S61: Best Rugged Phone for Industrial/Construction Use
- Doogee S90: Best Modular Rugged Phone
- Sonim XP8: Best Rugged Phone for First Responders
- Blackview BVR9500 Plus: Best Rugged Phone for Battery Life
- Kyocera DuraXV LTE: Best Rugged Flip Phone
Still Not Sure?
As this roundup shows, having a rugged phone no longer means dealing with poor performance or old hardware.
But there is still not a single pick that will be perfect for everyone.
The models above offer a variety of options across a range of price points to help you find the perfect match for both your needs and budget.
If you’d like to see additional rugged phone options, our phone comparison tool makes exploring the models available
simple. You can even compare up to 5 phones side-by-side to make it easier to see which one is right for you.
P.S. If you already own a phone and want protection from water damage without buying a whole new phone, our roundup of the best waterproof cases provides options to keep your old favorite safe from splashes, dips, and downpours.
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