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These are the best rugged phones you can buy right now
Smartphones are more refined than ever, with glass builds, tiny bezels, large displays, and impressive performance. They’re great for life in an office, but most of the best phones come up short in harsh environments. For example, if you work in construction, you’re probably looking for a phone you can use as a trusty, durable tool. You need to be able to give it hell without risking it getting destroyed. With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of the best rugged phones you can buy.
You won’t find all-glass designs on this list, but you will find plenty of durable MIL-STD and IP ratings to go around. Some of our picks even have unique features like thermal cameras and walkie-talkie features to help you through your shift. Let’s get to it.
Buying the right rugged phone for your needs
There are plenty of rugged phones on the market right now, which can make choosing the right one a challenge. However, it’s not that much different from buying an everyday phone. You’ll have to decide which features you want most, and it’s essential to see what extras are available.
Here are just a few of the questions to ask while you research:
- How large is the battery? You probably don’t want to spend much time attached to a charger if you’re working a long shift. Some of our picks offer huge batteries, while others let you swap the battery for an instant charge.
- Does the phone offer durability ratings? Rugged conditions often require a phone that can withstand water and dust. It’s essential to check if your phone carries the latest IP68/IP69K ratings, though IP67 may also be enough. If you’re worried about dropping your rugged phone, you’ll also want to find a device with a MIL-STD 810H certification. If all you care for is having water protection, we have a list of the best waterproof phones.
- Is the camera any good? What about extra features? While none of these rugged phones are bound to end up among our best camera phones, having a relatively capable shooter is crucial. Accuracy is critical if you have to document anything at work, and a few of our picks offer underwater capabilities or even thermal cameras.
- What is the phone made of? Glass-bodied phones may look and feel good, but you might want metal, plastic, and rubber for your rugged phone. That way, you can feel a bit safer if it takes a tumble. It may come at the cost of wireless charging, but more rigid materials should last through even the longest shifts.
- Performance and features? Again, none of these phones will be among the best Android phones for general users. It’s also important that the general experience isn’t completely horrendous, though. And these days, some manufacturers make phones that do relatively well in this department.
Cat S62 Pro: The best rugged phone you can buy
If you’ve spent any time on a construction site, you’ve undoubtedly seen one of Caterpillar’s yellow vehicles. They’re a mainstay for their power and durability, and now Cat is in on the rugged phone market as well. The Cat S62 Pro is the best of the bunch and is currently our pick for the best rugged phone.
The FLIR Lepton thermal sensor is the standout camera feature in tough work environments.
One of Cat’s standout features is the FLIR Lepton 3.5 sensor, which allows for thermal imaging on top of the 12MP Sony camera. That means you can check the temperature of a tool or machine before you use it. Unfortunately, the thermal system does replace the laser-assisted measurement feature from the Cat S61, so you’ll have to weigh which element you need more.
As for durability, Cat crafted its S62 Pro with an aluminum frame and a TPU back panel. It comes ready with IP68 and IP69 ratings and a MIL-STD 810H rating to handle dust, water, and drops up to 1.8 meters. The Cat S62 Pro even features a crisp 5.7-inch Full HD+ display made of Gorilla Glass 6. It packs 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, which is solid for a rugged phone. Under the hood, you’ll find a Snapdragon 660 SoC powering all of Cat’s tough features.
By the way, the Cat S62 Pro is getting a bit old. A newer Cat phone is available, but we haven’t made it our top pick because it isn’t widely available. That said, it could be a better option if you can get your hands on one. Aside from being a slightly better phone, it has awesome satellite features.
- Excellent thermal camera
- Glove mode
- IP68/69 and MIL-STD 810H certified
- The specs aren’t great
- No 5G support
- No face unlock
Check out our full review to learn more about the Cat S62 Pro.
Other products worth considering
The best rugged phones:
- Nokia XR21: Nokia found a way to mix strength and style on the XR21. It looks like a phone you can use daily and offers good future update support.
- DOOGEE V30 Pro: DOOGEE specializes in making rugged devices at very low prices. This one isn’t as cheap, but its specs will impress you.
- Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro: Don’t want to stray too far from large brands? Samsung has a rugged option for you.
- Kyocera Duraforce Pro 3: If you want the fastest Verizon speeds, the Duraforce Pro 3 is the way to go. It has pretty good specs and is powered by the Verizon network. Not to mention, it has mmWave 5G support.
- Unihertz Tank 2: A massive battery, integrated flashlight, and super rugged construction make this one of the best adventure options. But what really makes it stand out is the integrated projector!
- Ulefone Armor 24: Are you looking for something a bit more capable and cool-looking? Here’s a great option, and it also has a pretty large battery.
- Cat S22 Flip: Those looking for a rugged Android device with a unique design will love this one. It’s a flip phone!
- Motorola ThinkPhone: This is your best bet if you want true performance on a rugged device.
Nokia XR21: Rugged but stylish
Nokia’s brick may have been the original rugged phone, but the XR21 brings the OEM into the modern era as one of the best rugged phones. The XR21 is one of the most stylish options on this list, with slimmer bezels and an eye-catching design that won’t look out of place anywhere.
The Nokia XR21 is not a bad phone, either. Specs include a Snapdragon 695 processor, 6GB of RAM, and a pretty sizeable 4,800mAh battery. The 6.49-inch display is pretty nice, too, offering a 120Hz refresh rate and Full HD resolution.
Of course, Nokia got some nice certifications to ensure users this phone won’t go breaking so easily. It is IP68/IP69K and MIL-STD-810H compliant. And it’s $499.99 MSRP is pretty good for what you get.
- Good battery life
- Update promise of three OS upgrades and four years of security patches.
- Appealing, yet durable design
- Average cameras
- Weak processor
DOOGEE V30 Pro: A good price, rugged body, and insane specs
DOOGEE may not have the name recognition of either Nokia or Cat, but it knows how to make durable devices. The DOOGEE V30 Pro is one of the latest offerings. It’s large and in charge with a hefty construction. It has an IP68/IP69K certification, as well as MIL-STD-810H. That’s all to be expected, though, right?
This phone has some specs that will literally impress you, surpassing even the highest end of devices in some departments. For starters, it can have up to 32GB of RAM! Sounds kind of insane, and we don’t think we’ve seen another phone with so much RAM, but it should be able to handle all your multitasking without a hiccup.
It also has a 200MP primary camera, a massive 10,800mAh battery, a night vision camera, and a powerful Dimensity 7050 processor. And the MSRP isn’t too bad at $625.
- Huge battery with 33W charging
- IP68/IP69K/MIL-STD-810H rating
- Insane amounts of RAM
- 120Hz refresh rate
- Large and heavy
- Questionable software support
- No wireless charging
Samsung Galaxy Xcover6 Pro: Samsung’s most durable device
Samsung offers some of the best rugged smartphones, and the Samsung Galaxy Xcover6 Pro was a true winner in 2022. For starters, this is one of the very few phones that still offer removable batteries, which means you can switch out the 4,050mAh capacity in seconds. It also runs on a Snapdragon 778G processor to offer mid-range performance and keep the price in check.
There’s only one version of the Galaxy Xcover6 Pro to pick up, and it comes with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of expandable storage onboard. You get the benefit of Samsung’s generous update policy, too, as the Galaxy Xcover6 Pro is already running Android 12 with Samsung’s OneUI 4.1. It also has Gorilla Glass Victus Plus and the latest and greatest MIL-STD-810H rating.
- Great 120Hz display
- Removable battery
- Competitive price
- 5G support
- The design could be improved
- It only has 15W fast charging
Kyocera Duraforce Pro 3: The toughest Verizon phone
Most of our rugged phones rely on 4G LTE for the bulk of their service, but the Kyocera Duraforce Ultra is the way to go if you need top speeds. It’s the only entry to support Verizon’s mmWave 5G network, even if it does come at a cost. This device is pretty expensive at $899.99 MSRP.
At least the specs are OK. It comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 7 Gen 1 processor, 6GB of RAM, a 5.38-inch Full HD screen, and a 4,370mAh battery. The thing is, you can find plenty of much more powerful handsets at this price point, making the price less enticing.
If you can look past the price, though, this is definitely one of the best rugged phones you can find. The one downside is that this is a Verizon exclusive.
- Nice OLED display
- Verizon’s 5G mmWave support
- MIL-STD 810H rated
- Average cameras
Unihertz Tank 2: A rugged phone with an insane battery and a built-in projector
Unihertz is known for being pretty bold with its new devices. Some are tiny, some have a physical keyboard, and most are rugged. The Unihertz Tank 2 is definitely one of the most interesting of the bunch, though.
For starters, the phone comes with a huge 15,500mAh battery. And while that isn’t as much as the first Unihertz Tank’s 22,000mAh unit, that’s because the manufacturer had to save room for something else. Get this: the phone comes with an integrated laser projector. It’s not the brightest at 40 lumens, but it will do for watching anything in dark environments. Another interesting feature includes the dual flashlights in the back.
It’s also not a bad phone otherwise, especially considering the $599.99 MSRP. Specs include a 120Hz 6.79-inch Full HD+ screen, a Helio G99 processor, 12GB of RAM, 60W fast charging, and Android 13.
- Huge battery
- Good performance
- Integrated flashlight
- Built-in projector
- Very resistant
- Big bezels
- Very bulky
Ulefone Armor 24: Biggest battery in town
Ulefone is known for being a bold manufacturer and taking risks others wouldn’t. The Ulefone Armor 24 is proof of this. Just look at it! This is one of the best rugged phones because of its unique looks, but also its set of unique features.
Likely the most interesting feature here is the battery. This thing rocks a massive 22,000mAh battery! Not only that, but it can fast-charge at 66W. IOt also comes with a 1,000-lumen flashlight, two IR lights, and night vision.
Specs include a Helio G96 processor, 12GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, and a 6.78-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a Full HD+ resolution. Not only that, but it has 10W reverse wired charging, so you can also use its massive battery as a power bank. And, of course, you get IP68/IP69K and MIL-STD-810H certifications.
The device has a $499 MSRP, but you can find it discounted very often.
- Huge 22,000mAh battery
- Fast 66W charging
- Good specs for a rugged phone
- Very bright flashlight
- Lesser-known brand
- No wireless charging
Cat S22 Flip: It’s a flip phone!
It’s a flip phone! Need we say more? And it actually runs Android 11, but it’s the Go Edition. The only real downside is that it’s exclusive to T-Mobile in the USA, but it’s a good option if you happen to be a Magenta customer.
The phone features IP68 and MIL-STD-810H certifications. Otherwise, it’s a pretty basic phone focusing mainly on design. Specs include a Snapdragon 215 chipset, 2GB of RAM, and a small 2,000mAh battery. The display is also tiny at 2.8 inches.
And if it helps, this happens to be among the cheapest rugged phones on this list.
- Awesome flip phone design
- Super portable
- Very rugged for a flip phone
- T-Mobile exclusivity
- Super basic specs
- Tiny screen
- Runs Android Go
Motorola ThinkPhone: A high-end experience on a rugged phone
The Motorola ThinkPhone is special. It comes with much more modern high-end specs when compared to other devices on this list, but it is mighty expensive, and we don’t think it offers as much value as it costs. At least, that should be the case for most users. It’s not really made to be a rugged device, anyway. It just has rugged capabilities.
It’s made to be more of a business phone, as opposed to a rugged handset. You can definitely tell this by the look of the phone. It highly resembles Lenovo’s ThinkPad look. It’s pretty slim at just 8.2mm of thickness, and it doesn’t look like an indestructible beast. That said, it was granted the MIL-STD-810H and IP68 ratings. Theoretically, it should handle torture as much as the best on this list. Looking at it, though, we’re just unsure if it actually can in practice. We’re sure the fancy aramid fiber, Gorilla Glass Victus, and aircraft-grade aluminum help.
The performance should be excellent, though. The device has a Snapdragon 8 Plus Gen 1 processor, 8-12GB of RAM, a pretty nice 6.6-inch P-OLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate, a triple-camera system, and a large 5,000mAh battery.
- High-end performance, which is rare in rugged phones
- Slim for a rugged phone
- It looks like a regular, more discrete device
- It’s expensive for the specs
- We’re not sure if it’s quite as rugged as actual rugged phones
- We didn’t find the special business features too exciting
You may not be happy with what the best rugged phones offer in terms of performance, features, and specs. These can be underpowered and have an overall lacking experience in comparison. The best way to get the best of both worlds is to find one of the best Android phones available and throw one of the best rugged cases on it.