Today’s mobiles are feature-packed and stylish. But for all that power and flair, they’re shockingly fragile.
Whether you’re especially clumsy or need a mobile built to handle harsh work environments -- such as construction yards or outdoor environments -- rugged mobiles 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 high street stores. So where do you find the best rugged mobile options? We’ve got you covered. Here are 5 excellent options for anyone looking for a mobile that can take a beating.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2020
1. Ulefone Armor 7
Best Rugged Mobile 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 mobile 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 mobile 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 mobile is compatible with most GSM networks.
While most rugged mobiles 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 Mobile for Industrial/Construction Use
Known for their construction equipment, you might not expect to see CAT’s name on a mobile. 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 mobile. 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 mobile that is as feature-filled as it is durable, the CAT S61 checks all the boxes.
3. Doogee S90
Best Modular Rugged Mobile
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 mobile, you can extend battery life, add night vision capabilities, and use your mobile like a digital walkie-talkie.
The mobile features both IP68 dust- and water-resistance as well as MIL-STD-810G shock resistance. However, it goes a step beyond many rugged mobiles 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 mobile 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 larger 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 mobiles can touch while its titanium design provides a sturdy, premium feel.
4. 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 mobiles. This comes with the trade off of being a noticeably heavy mobile though. But if you don't mind feeling it in your pocket or bag, reviews indicate it 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 mobiles, 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 mobiles can touch the Blackview BVR 9500 Plus. Better yet, with MIL-STD-810G and IP68/IP69K ratings, it's is ready for nearly anything you can throw at it.
Read More: Blackview BVR9500 Plus Review
Get it from: Amazon
5. Nokia 800 Tough
Best Rugged Basic Phone
If you're looking for the durability of a rugged mobile without all the features -- or distractions -- of modern mobiles, the Nokia 800 tough is a great value.
Ideal for those with active lifestyles or who need something that can take a few drops and dings, it features a grippy, rubberized shell and durable candy bar construction.
The 2.4-inch colour display makes it easy to read texts or check caller ID while the emphasized buttons make sure you dial accurately -- even with gloves on. There's also Google Assistant support for voice dialing, reading messages aloud, or leaving yourself reminders.
There are basic feature mobile apps. However, this isn't a full smartphone and apps are mostly limited to navigation, communications, and those sorts of things.
The mobile includes 4GB of internal storage. If you're planning to listen to music or podcasts, you'll need to use the microSD slot. It supports cards up to 32GB.
With waterproofing and a rugged case, the Nokia 800 Tough is ready to handle just about anything you might throw at it while keeping you in touch with those that matter to you.
How We Chose
The picks in this roundup are what we think are the best rugged mobiles available in 2020.
We selected these models based on analysis of expert reviews from around the web, user feedback on sites like Amazon and network stores, forum comments on our site, social media discussions, and more.
When answering the question, “What’s the best tough mobile for the average buyer?”, we considered the following primary criteria:
While any mobile can claim its durable, IP ratings and MIL-STD ratings ensure a certain level of dependability and performance. Everyone mobile in this roundup is at least IP68.
A mobile that can survive anything doesn't do much good if you hate using it...
We researched each 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 mobile available, they are well-priced for rugged mobiles in 2020.
The best place to find out about how a mobile 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 mobile.
In short, we did the research—so you don’t have to.
Recap: Best Rugged Mobiles
- 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
- Blackview BVR9500 Plus: Best Rugged Phone for Battery Life
- Nokia 800 Tough: Best Rugged Flip Phone
Still Not Sure?
As this roundup shows, having a rugged mobile 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 mobile options, our mobile comparison tool makes exploring the models available
simple. You can even compare up to 5 mobiles side-by-side to make it easier to see which one is right for you.
P.S. If you already own a mobile and want protection from water damage without buying a whole new mobile, our roundup of the best waterproof cases provides options to keep your old favorite safe from splashes, dips, and downpours.
Disclosure: You should know that in some cases, we may receive a referral fee (at no additional cost to you) for products purchased through the links on our site. These links help support our work but they do not influence our content. Our editorial recommendations are always genuine and we try to feature only the best products and services. Why trust us?