Runbo X5

We know it’s not easy to find a rugged smartphone with a decent spec sheet and a sensible price point, but this year’s CES might have brought to light the first devices to tick all those boxes. Meet Runbo’s X3 and X5, two tough as nails ICS-based handhelds going for less than $400.

The Chinese duo will most likely visually strike you from the get-go, having pretty standard bodies for rugged devices, but also massive retro antennas attached. As weird as that might look and as much as you’d be inclined to run away from these two handhelds screaming, there’s actually a point for the included antennas – both devices can work as either regular phones or walkie-talkies (say whaaaat?).

The 400 to 470 MHz walkie-talkie radios let you have awesome, supposedly crisp and free of charge conversations at a distance of up to 10 kilometers (that’s 6.2 miles for those unfamiliar with the metric system), but the cool thing is that if you don’t want to use this feature you can just get rid of those ugly and bulky antennas.


Besides the very original walkie-talkie function, the X3 and X5 have a couple of other things going for them, starting with some well-trained muscles. Both phones are triple IP67 certified, meaning that they can theoretically withstand drops onto concrete and other rough surfaces, can survive 30-minute “baths” in 3-feet deep water and are also resistant to dust.

They sound like something that could take a bullet for you in battle, but in practice X5’s screen cracked after a few violent contacts with the Las Vegas concrete in Engadget’s exclusive hands-on. The X3 did manage to escape the “test” unscathed, but you should probably still wear a bulletproof vest if you’re planning on starting a war against terrorism.

As far as hardware goes, you can’t exactly say the X3 and X5 are top-tier smartphones, but they’re definitely not entry-level either. Both devices come with dual-core 1 GHz MTK6577 CPUs, 1 GB of RAM, 4 gigs of on-board storage, microSD support and huge user removable 3,800 mAh batteries.


There are also 8 MP snappers fitted on the back of the two phones, 0.3 MP rear-facing cams, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS and a surprising app-triggered laser pointer. Both run stock Android 4.0.4 ICS, which gets them another thumbs up for us, while the only technical difference between the two is the screen size.

The X5 sports a 4.3-inch WVGA IPS panel, while the X3 comes with a 3.5-inch display with the same 800 x 480 pixels resolution. From the design standpoint, there’s another key distinction between the two, with the X3 accommodating a portrait QWERTY keyboard under the touchscreen.

Fans of feature phones should know that Runbo’s X series includes a “dumb” gadget too, the X1, featuring a 2-inch 176 x 144 pix res display.

And now for the cherry on top of the delicious Runbo cake – pricing. The X3 and X5 are up for grabs on eBay for just 380 bucks, or, if you prefer to go directly to the source, you can find them on the manufacturer’s official website for ¥1,999 ($318). Small prices to pay for such muscular phones, don’t you think?