No matter how hard you try, no matter how careful you are, the chances are that you are going to drop your smartphone at some point. Now imagine that you work outdoors, or on a building site, or you love hiking in mountains. Imagine what would happen if you dropped your smartphone then!
Water resistance is a feature that is starting to appear on some smartphones, but what if you demand more from your phone, what if you need a smartphone that can withstand more pain! I recently received a MANN ZUG 3+, a rugged smartphone with an IP68 rating. The ZUG 3+ is certainly a beast, not in terms of its internals, but its external rugged design. Although I didn’t try, the device feels like you could happily drop it from a first floor window and it would survive!
Beneath the ruggedized exterior of the ZUG 3+ you get a quad-core processor from Qualcomm, 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage. Here is a look at the rest of the specs:
|Display||4.0 inch IPS 800x480|
|Processor||1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8212 Quad Core|
|Storage||4GB, microSD card slot, up to 32GB|
|Camera||5 Megapixel Rear Camera & 0.3 Megapixel Front-Facing Camera|
|Connectivity||GPS, microUSB 2.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth|
|Networks||2G GSM: 850/900/1800/1900 MHz. 3G WCDMA: 900/2100MHz|
|Software||Android 4.3 with Google Play|
|Colors||Black, Orange, Green|
|SIM slots||1x WCDM/GSM, 1x GSM|
When you look at the ZUG 3+, you don’t think about its elegance, or its style, you just see the strong rubber exterior, and if you are like me, you start to wonder, “just how much abuse can this thing take!” The rest of the phone’s design, like its processor package or the display, are strictly secondary here. This beast is probably the biggest phone, in terms of thickness and weight, that I have seen since the 1990s! The phone shamelessly shows off its hardened exterior and its heavy duty casing. There are screws, rivets and copious amounts of rubber and thick black plastic.
Taking a guided tour around the phone, there are capacitive keys just below the display and above the prominent MANN logo. Above the display is the front facing camera and ear piece. On the right-hand side is the volume control, which is used through a rubber skin for water proofing. At the bottom is the micro USB port which is protected by a heavy-duty rubber cap. The headphone jack, which is on the top, is also protected by a similar cap. There was also a spare/replacement cap for both of these in the box. Next to the headphone jack is the power button, made from a bright red plastic.
The battery cover on the back is secured in place using two screws which allows the device to remain water tight. Under the cover you will find the battery, two SIM slots and the micro SD card slot. All are easily accessible once you take the battery cover off with the supplied mini-screwdriver.
The MANN ZUG 3+ sports IP68 water resistance. IP68 means complete protection against dust and water resistance beyond 1m. According to the specifications it can handle 30 minutes of immersion in 2 meters of water.
As you can see from the photos below I played fairly rough with the ZUG 3+ and the device took it all without any problems. All the water and mud in these shots are real, but no phones were hurt during the making of this review!
The MANN ZUG 3+ uses a quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8212 processor with a Adreno 305 GPU. It scores 17,030 on AnTuTu. Putting that into some context, it means that AnTuTu ranks this handset as just a little slower than a Samsung Galaxy S3. More than sufficient for a phone that you would buy primarily for its durable exterior.
A quick test using Epic Citadel showed that the MANN ZUG 3+ can manage an average of 48.1 frames per second at 800×480 in high performance mode, 47.9 in high quality mode, and a very respectable 43.1 in ultra high quality mode. Considering the processor package, these are solid numbers, but the lower resolution screen does certainly help the GPU perform better.
As for the Wi-Fi and GPS performance. The Wi-Fi worked very well and I had no trouble getting a signal even in the partially dead spots around my house. The GPS works very well and was even able to get a lock while I was inside, something that many other phones I have tested can’t do.
The battery in the MANN ZUG 3+ is a 2930mAh unit, which is a monster considering the Cortex-A7 based processor and the 800×480 display. I ran a few battery tests and the results were excellent. For 3D gaming I used Epic Citadel to discover that the ZUG 3+ can handle about 8 hours of intensive 3D graphics on one charge. I could hardly believe the result, so I ran the test a second time just to confirm it! As for YouTube and video watching, you can watch locally stored MP4 videos for over 12 hours on one charge, while YouTube streaming over Wi-Fi lasts for at least 10 hours.
The combination of low resolution screen, a Cortex-A7 based processor and a huge 2930mAh battery means that this device is guaranteed to give you excellent battery life. Well done MANN.
The device has a 5MP camera, which is lower than I would like, but the phone has been designed primarily for its ruggedness and not for top-end performance. There seems to be a problem with the auto-focus, especially on shots of landscapes. It is as if the device doesn’t have a very good depth of field. Having said that it doesn’t take bad pictures, if you are prepared to compensate for its weaknesses. Here are a few shots from the camera, one of them was taken from within a bowl of water. It didn’t really work, but I thought I would leave it here for completeness:
The MANN ZUG 3+ isn’t designed to be a flagship phone, however it does have all the connectivity options you would expect from a 3G device. There is Wi-Fi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, 2G GSM and 3G. The device is dual SIM and supports 3G on 900 and 2100MHz. This means that the 3G won’t work in the USA, however standard GSM calls should work. 2100 Mhz is the most common 3G frequency and should work in most places around the world, however a lot of carriers also use a secondary 3G frequency range. In Asia and South America this is often 850MHz, but in Europe it tends to be 900MHz. This means that this device offers European users better connectivity than many other Chinese devices which often only support 850/2100 rather than 900/2100.
You need to check with your carrier to ensure compatibility, or if you trust Wikipedia then this UMTS networks page could have the information you need.
The phone runs Android 4.3 with a few minor tweaks. The launcher looks fairly standard as does the device settings. The phone only goes with 4GB, of which only 2.5GB is usable. However you can use a micro SD card and there are a couple of options which basically tell the system to use the SD card for installing apps and as the default data location for photos, screenshots and videos. There is also an extra ‘Auto power on/off’ option in the settings.
Since Google Play is pre-installed there is full access to all of Google’s apps including Gmail, YouTube and Google Keyboard etc.
Pricing and conclusion
If you find yourself outdoors frequently, in environments that aren’t friendly towards smartphones, then the MANN ZUG 3+ could be the perfect phone for you. The specifications aren’t high, but the device has more than enough processing power for every day usage and for the casual gamer. However its real charm is its rugged design. Water, mud, sand, I tried them all and basically the phone survived its mistreatment. As for the price, the MANN ZUG 3+ is available for just $190 from Tabletland. As an exclusive offer for Android Authority readers you can get a further $20 off with the following coupon code: O8D3N.