The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is the most recent example of Samsung’s range of rugged smartphones to go on sale in the US. Let’s take a look at this rather unique and different handset in Samsung’s phone family.
The Galaxy XCover Pro is the successor to the XCover 4, which released back in 2017. It was released first in Europe in February 2020, and finally made its way to the US in November 2020.
Unlike most smartphones in the XCover series, the new XCover Pro flaunts a more modern-day design. It has a 6.3-inch LCD display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and a punch hole on the top left corner. The screen can be operated with wet hands or while wearing gloves. The phone is powered by Samsung’s octa-core Exynos 9611 silicon, paired with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. It gets a 4,050mAh battery with 15W fast charging.
The dual primary camera setup on the Galaxy XCover Pro includes a 25MP wide-angle lens and an 8MP ultra-wide sensor. On the front is a 13MP selfie snapper. What’s different about the XCover Pro is that, unlike recent Samsung smartphones, it comes with a removable battery. That said, it’s also IP68 water and dust resistant, and carries US military standard certification (MIL-STD-810) for durability and ruggedness.
It features two programmable buttons that allow users to turn the flashlight on/off or create text messages by using their voice. The volume keys and power button/fingerprint reader are separate.
Samsung also announced a partnership with Microsoft claiming the device can leverage these programmable buttons in Microsoft Teams. This provides direct access to Teams’ new Walkie Talkie capability. Samsung hopes this will help employees communicate faster in industries like retail, healthcare, logistics, and manufacturing.
The phone runs Android 10 out of the box. However, a software update for the phone has started to roll out in some parts of the world. In addition to updating the OS to Android 11, it also has the Samsung OneUI 3.0 skin.
The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is highly rugged at a reasonable price. Having a removable battery for a phone that also has a high IP68 water and dust resistance rating is rather unique. The two programmable buttons are nice touches as well for people who need to keep working and don’t want to touch the screen all the time.
The phone’s main weakness is the use of the in-house Exynos 9611 chip. Samsung’s processor simply doesn’t offer a lot of performance compared to the latest Qualcomm products, not to mention Apple’s latest in-house chips. Also, offering just 4GB of RAM and 64GB of onboard storage could make this phone almost obsolete as soon as it was launched.
While the Galaxy XCover Pro stands out among its Samsung brethren, it’s not the only rugged phone you can buy. Here are a couple of solid alternatives for this phone that you could consider.
Read more: Best rugged smartphones
- Cat S62 Pro – The Caterpillar S62 Pro, like the XCover Pro, has a nice design, especially if you compare it with the bulkier older Cat phones. Like the XCover Pro, it some solid mid-range hardware specs. More importantly, it also has been given the higher MIL-STD 810H resistance rating standard instead of 810G, boosting thermal shock performance. However, this is an imported phone from Europe and it’s a bit more expensive than Samsung’s phone.
- Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW – If you use Verizon Wireless as your carrier and can use its ultra-wide 5G network, and you want a rugged phone, you might want to consider the Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW. Right now, it’s the only rugged phone that can connect to Verizon’s fast UW 5G speeds. On the plus side, you get a speeder Qualcomm Snapdragon 765 5G processor, 6GB of RAM and 128GB of onboard storage. There’s a microSD card slot to add up to 1TB of additional storage. On the other hand, the display is much smaller at 5.45-inches. The price is much higher as well, at close to $900 without a contract.
Should you buy it?
Let’s get this out of the way – the Galaxy XCover Pro is not designed to be a consumer smartphone. Its primary audience is enterprise customers who want a more rugged phone while traveling, or working outside under various conditions. Having said that, this phone is thinner and sleeker compared to most rugged phones on the market, and its mid-range price of $500 makes it highly affordable as well.
If you’re looking for a phone that can take a serious beating, the Galaxy XCover Pro may be for you. But if that’s not a priority, there are better options out there.