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These are the best rugged phones you can buy right now

Dirt? Water? Drops? Not a problem!
By

Published onJune 4, 2024

Cat S62 Pro
MSRP: $649.99
Check price
Positives
Best-in-class thermal camera
IP68/69 and MIL-STD-810H rated
Gorilla Glass 6
Negatives
No face unlock
No wireless charging
No 5G support
Nokia XR21
MSRP: $499.99
Check price
Positives
Crisp screen
Loud speakers
Acceptable camera
Rubber-coated for grip
Convenient fingerprint sensor
Additional useful buttons
Negatives
Large and heavy
Left button taps easily
Lack of microSD/USB3
DOOGEE DK10
MSRP: $999.00
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Positives
Very rugged
Super fast 120W charging
50W wireless charging
Good design
Powerful performance
Negatives
Unknown brand
Pricey
Samsung Galaxy XCover 7
MSRP: €380.00
Check price
Positives
More affordable
Very rugged
Removable battery
Negatives
Hard to get in the USA
Specs are modest
Kyocera Duraforce Pro 3
MSRP: $899.99
Check price
Positives
Very rugged
Good specs for a rugged phone
Removable battery
Negatives
Expensive for the specs
Only available from Verizon
Unihertz Tank 2
MSRP: $599.99
Check price
Positives
Very rugged
Huge 15,500mAh battery
Integrated projector
Good performance for a rugged phone
Negatives
Large, bulky, and heavy
Ulefone Armor 26 Ultra Walkie-Talkie
MSRP: $649.99
Check price
Positives
Walkie talkie support
IP68/IP69K/MIL-STD-810H certifications
Large 15,600mAh battery
Good specs
Negatives
Bulky and thick
Lesser-known brand
CAT S22 Flip
MSRP: $159.99
Check price
Positives
Rugged
Runs Android
Flip phone
Not too expensive
Negatives
Only 2GB of RAM
Small screen
Sluggish performance
Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola
MSRP: $699.99
Check price
Positives
Attractive, durable ThinkPad-style design
Excellent battery life
Clean, fast Android build
Charges quickly
Negatives
Mediocre cameras
Most ReadyFor features exist in Microsoft Phone Link

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 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 capabilities 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 available 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.
  • 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

Cat S62 Pro Construction
Chase Bernath / Android Authority
aa2020 the best

If you’ve spent any time at 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 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. It launched in 2020, but we keep it around because it is still a widely available phone from an important manufacturer. A newer Cat phone is available, but we haven’t made it our top pick because it isn’t widely available. That said, the Cat S75 ($573.99 at Amazon) 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.

Cat S62 ProCat S62 Pro
AA Recommended
Cat S62 Pro
Best-in-class thermal camera • IP68/69 and MIL-STD-810H rated • Gorilla Glass 6
MSRP: $649.99
If you're looking to detect thermal energy or just want a top-tier rugged phone, buy this phone.
With a FLIR 3.5 professional-grade sensor, the Cat S62 Pro features the best thermal camera on any Android phone. While the rest of the phone may not live up to its flagship price tag, the top-tier thermal sensor provides enough value to justify a purchase for those who need to see more than meets the eye.

Pros

  • Excellent thermal camera
  • Glove mode
  • IP68/69 and MIL-STD 810H certified

Cons

  • The specs aren’t great
  • No 5G support
  • No face unlock
  • Getting old

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 DK10: DOOGEE may not be that popular, but it knows how to make a great rugged phone. This one gets really close to flagship territory, but so does the price.
  • Samsung Galaxy XCover7: If you want to go with a trusted brand, it’s hard to beat Samsung. It helps this is also a great phone with a competitive price, good specs, and a very generous update promise.
  • 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 26 Ultra Walkie-Talkie: This is a rugged phone with a great design, pretty potent specs, a huge battery, and walkie talkie functionality built-in.
  • 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 XR21

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 $500 price is pretty good for what you get.

Nokia XR21Nokia XR21
Nokia XR21
Solid rugged construction • Good battery life • Non rugged-looking design • Good upgrade promise
MSRP: $499.99
Performance could be improved | Not the best cameras

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Update promise of three OS upgrades and four years of security patches.
  • Appealing, yet durable design

Cons

  • Average cameras
  • Weak processor

DOOGEE DK10: A good price, rugged body, and awesome specs

DOOGEE DK10

DOOGEE may not have the name recognition of either Nokia or Cat, but it knows how to make durable devices. The DOOGEE DK10 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 pretty awesome specs, surpassing even the highest end of devices in some departments. For starters, it can have up to 32GB of RAM! This is accomplished by combining 12GB of native RAM with 20GB of extended RAM, borrowed from the internal storage. It also has a MediaTek Dimensity 8020 processor and a 6.67-inch AMOLED display with 120Hz refresh rates.

The quad-camera set-up in the rear makes it a pretty versatile shooter, and one of them offers night vision! And while the 5,150mAh is pretty average, the charging speeds aren’t. You can juice this phone up at 120W wired and 50W wirelessly. It’s a $519 dollar phone. Not too badly priced, considering it’s entering the higher-end market.

DOOGEE DK10DOOGEE DK10
DOOGEE DK10
MSRP: $999.00

Pros

  • 120W wired charging, 50W wireless charging
  • IP68/IP69K/MIL-STD-810H rating
  • Insane amounts of RAM
  • 120Hz refresh rate

Cons

  • Large and heavy
  • Questionable software support
  • Pricey

Samsung Galaxy XCover7: Samsung’s most durable device

Samsung Galaxy Xcover7

Samsung offers some of the best rugged smartphones, and the Samsung Galaxy Xcover7 is a true winner. 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 MediaTek Dimensity 6100+ processor and 6GB of RAM to offer mid-range performance and keep the price in check.

There’s only one version with 128GB of storage. You also benefit from Samsung’s generous update policy, as the device should get four major OS upgrades and five years of security improvements. The Galaxy Xcover7 is already running Android 14. It also has Gorilla Glass Victus Plus and the latest and greatest MIL-STD-810H rating.

Samsung Galaxy XCover 7Samsung Galaxy XCover 7
Samsung Galaxy XCover 7
MSRP: €380.00

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Removable battery
  • Competitive price
  • 5G support
  • Great update policy

Cons

  • The design could be improved
  • It only has 15W fast charging
  • No wireless charging

Kyocera Duraforce Pro 3: The toughest Verizon phone

Kyocera Duraforce Pro 3 official resize - The best rugged phones

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 $900.

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.

Kyocera Duraforce Pro 3Kyocera Duraforce Pro 3
Kyocera Duraforce Pro 3
MSRP: $899.99

Pros

  • Nice OLED display
  • Verizon’s 5G mmWave support
  • MIL-STD 810H rated

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Average cameras

Unihertz Tank 2: A rugged phone with an insane battery and a built-in projector

Unihertz Tank 2

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 massive 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 $600 price point. Specs include a 120Hz 6.79-inch Full HD+ screen, a Helio G99 processor, 12GB of RAM, 60W fast charging, and Android 13.

If you don’t mind waiting a bit, you can also go for the Unihertz Tank 3 Pro ($699.99 at Amazon), which is now available for pre-order and will start shipping in July. It has a larger battery (believe it or not), and overall better specs.

Unihertz Tank 2Unihertz Tank 2
Unihertz Tank 2
MSRP: $599.99

Pros

  • Huge battery
  • Good performance
  • Integrated flashlight
  • Built-in projector
  • Very resistant

Cons

  • Big bezels
  • Very bulky

Ulefone Armor 26 Ultra Walkie-Talkie: Great design, good specs, and walkie talkie support

Ulefone Armor 26 Ultra Walkie Talkie

Ulefone is known for being a bold manufacturer and taking risks others wouldn’t. The Ulefone Armor 26 Ultra Walkie-Talkie 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 walkie talkie feature, which makes it a great tool for adventurers and teams. Other specs include a MediaTek Dimensity 8020 processor, 12GB of RAM, 512GB of storage, and a 6.78-inch display with a 120Hz refresh rate and a Full HD+ resolution. Not only that, but it has a massive 15,600mAh battery can be charged at 120W wired or 33W wirelessly. And, of course, you get IP68/IP69K and MIL-STD-810H certifications. All for $650.

If you don’t care for the walkie talkie feature, you can also get the Ulefone Armor 26 Ultra ($659.99 at Amazon), which costs $50 less.

Ulefone Armor 26 Ultra Walkie-TalkieUlefone Armor 26 Ultra Walkie-Talkie
Ulefone Armor 26 Ultra Walkie-Talkie
MSRP: $649.99

Pros

  • Good specs for a rugged phone
  • Massive 15,600mAh battery
  • 120W wired and 33W wireless charging
  • Walkie talkie feature

Cons

  • Lesser-known brand
  • Very bulky

Cat S22 Flip: It’s a flip phone!

CAT S22 Flip - The best rugged phones

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 launched as a T-Mobile exclusive, but it is now older, and you can find plenty of unlocked devices out there. And it helps that it is very cheap now. You can always find it for well under $100 these days.

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.

CAT S22 FlipCAT S22 Flip
CAT S22 Flip
Rugged flip phone • Runs Android
MSRP: $159.99
A simple, rugged flip phone, that runs Android
A ruggedized classic-style flip phone, that runs Android. The Cat S22 Flip tries to keep it simple, providing little more than a communication device in a tough shell.

Pros

  • Awesome flip phone design
  • Super portable
  • Very rugged for a flip phone
  • Very affordable now

Cons

  • T-Mobile exclusivity
  • Super basic specs
  • Tiny screen
  • Runs Android Go

Motorola ThinkPhone: A high-end experience on a rugged phone

lenovo thinkphone hero - The best rugged phones
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The Motorola ThinkPhone is special. It comes with much more mainstream 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 sizeable 5,000mAh battery.

Lenovo ThinkPhone by MotorolaLenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola
AA Recommended
Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola
Attractive, durable ThinkPad-style design • Excellent battery life • Clean, fast Android build
MSRP: $699.99
Worth thinking about.
The Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola lives up to the proud tradition of the ThinkPad and is a great buy for enterprise customers looking for smart looks and reliability.

Pros

  • High-end performance, which is rare in rugged phones
  • Slim for a rugged phone
  • It looks like a regular, more discrete device

Cons

  • 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.

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