Do you remember what phones people use before this touchscreen-smartphone era? Yes, the thick, big phone with buttons. These phones were a lot more tough and would not break after a few drops of rain. But of course, these phones were mostly used just for calling and an occasional game of Snake once in a while. Smartphones these days have a lot more functions that need to be protected, so its understandable that they are way more fragile than the first phones. And it’s understandable that it’s hard to find a rugged smartphone these days. It’s more about the looks than “unbreakability”. But there are some great best rugged smartphones in 2018.
Before we start best rugged smartphones in 2018 top you need to understand that rugged smartphones are not exactly the most popular phones. They can be divided into two groups: the ones that are working in an industrial environment or constructions. So the phones need to be rugged, durable and the specs of this phone are not the most important thing, basic phone functions do just fine. And the other group are people who need a mid to high end smartphones that could survive the occasional fall and work just fine after a splash of water or even being fully under water. More often than not this group are people who enjoy sports, outdoor activities and like to take their phone with them when going on their adventures. In this article we will talk about the most rugged of the rugged smartphones, so about the first group.
Best rugged smartphones in 2018
1. CAT S41
When we talk about rugged smartphones, only one company usually pops to your head – yes, the American corporation Caterpillar Inc. This smartphone actually looks pretty glam comparing to other rugged smartphones. It has a glossy surface and three very handy buttons – back, home and recent apps.At the top phone has a 3.5mm headset jack, microphone, microSD card slot, sim card slot and a gold Programmable key. On the right side, the usual – power key, volume controller.And at the bottom – a speaker and the USB port that is covered with a protective layer of plastic.
CAT S41 is dust-proof and can go down under water even to 6.5 feet for about an hour. S41 can survive drops to concrete from up to 6 feet even when falling face first. It can handle thermal shocks and salt mist spray, vibration and pressure. To add to the ruggedness the case has a great grip and it definitely doles not feel like it could easily slip out of your hands.
Other CAT S41 tech specs
- 32GB of internal storage (256GB possibility with microSD)
- Android 8.0
- 13-megapixel rear camera with LED flash (autofocus and HDR mode), 8-megapixel front camera. Both can shoot under water
- 5000 mAh non-removable Li-Lon battery. If left in stand-by can deliver up to 44 days of battery life. Light to medium use – 4 days. Using battery share can charge other devices.
2. Sonim XP8
This smartphone has a very specific audience that mostly include construction workers, people who work at chemical plants, the electricians etc. XP8 is especially aimed at those that are the first responders while working in hazardous and emergency-type condition. It has FirstNest certification that gives the first responders access to a congestion-free broadband LTE network where the data can be quickly send a received, therefore ensuring that more lives can be saved and it ensures an overall better public safety. Also kind of very cool function is a Push-to-talk function, it can be a very important tool when in emergency or when the user needs a walkie-talkie-type of service, for example like hiking.
Sonim XP8 may be not has the design that is as pretty as CAT S41, but the design is what it allows to be waterproof, it will survive falling on all kinds of surfaces and it definitely can be used in dangerous environments. It also has those three real buttons which come in very handy – back, home and recently used apps. XP8 has that Push-to-talk button, the top Sonim XPand Connector that noticeably expands the phone capabilities, because you can connect various modules to the phone, like Laser Barcode Scanner or Channel Select module. It has Sonim SecureAudio Connector for external speakers. The red Alarm key is also a very handy and perhaps life-saving function. When you push the button it automatically sends the GPS location and the user should immediately be contacted by the emergency center.
Sonim XP8 has now a very rare function – a removable battery. T has microSD card slot but unfortunately, they have removed the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Other Sonim XP8 tech specs
- 5-inch ISP LCD display with 16:9 aspect ratio
- 64GB storage, 128GB microSD
- Android 7.0 Nougat
- 12-megapixel rear camera, 8-megapixel front camera
- Corning Gorilla Glass 3, should protect against scratches and be fine after falling face-first
- Two 100 dB+ speakers with noise cancellation, they are very loud and clear
- You can operate the phone with gloves or even with wet hands
- Operates just fine after 30 minutes of being 6.5 feet under water
- 4800mAh battery. 48 h of normal usage
3. Panasonic Toughpad FZ-E1
The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-E1 is also one of the most rugged smartphones you can buy out there right now. FZ-E1 certainly has all the functions of a normal smartphone, but the way it’s built and with all the additional features… it sets this phone apart even from the rest of the rugged smartphones. Though I should note that this phone is not built for the regular consumer, it is built specially for industry workers. It has a really thick case 3.4 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches, a rounded back panel which creates a great grip.
Phone has a rather unusual Power button which if the temperature of the device is equal or less than 10.4 °F, the indicator will flash an orange and green color and the phone will not turn on until the temperature rises above the aforementioned degrees. FZ-E1 can handle high or low temperatures and it’ operating range is between -4 and +140 degrees Farenheit (-20 to +60 Celsius). Phone handles explosive atmosphere, humidity, sand, dust, vibration, shock, freezing rain, acidic atmosphere and more. It also can be dropped face-down from 10 feet without any damage.
And as if this all would not be enough – it can be used where there are gas or vapour hazards, in locations with ignitable gases, vapours or liquids, as well as in environments with lots of chemical dust, hydrocarbons, fuels, solvents and carbon monoxide. And 30 minutes down to 5 feet of water is nothing for this device.
Other Panasonic Toughpad FZ-E1 tech specs
- 5mm headset jack with protective plastic cover
- 1D2D barcode reader (does not come in all models)
- 5-inch TN-LCD display
- 32GB storage, 64GB microSD
- Windows 10 IOT Mobile Enterprise
- Can be operated with gloves. And senses rain drops and it does not activate screen.
- 8-megapixel rare camera and 1.3-megapixel front camera (don’t expect great selfies with this one)
- 8V 6200mAh battery. 14h of continuous using – WiFi and continuous web-browsing, up to full day of talking and almost 1000 hours (41.6 days) of standby. When charging it goes from 0 % to 50 % in 1 hour and 15 minutes and from 0% to 100% in about 3 and a half hours.