Best rugged smartphones (2016)


Generally speaking, rugged smartphones need to be tough (as in: not to break when you drop them), but they don't necessarily have to be water-resistant. As long as a handset is compliant with the MIL-STD-810 standard (which may, or may not include protection against water), it's considered rugged. With that in mind, allow us to present a list of 5 devices that you should check out if ruggedness is a must when it comes to your next smartphone. Only three of the handsets listed below have bee introduced in 2016, but the other two are still good enough (they're not older than 1 year anyway). The phones are listed from the most expensive to the cheapest one.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Buy from AT&T ($794.99)


Display5.1 inches Super AMOLED, 1440 x 2560 pixels, 576 ppi
HardwareSnapdragon 820 CPU, Adreno 530 GPU, 4 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal memory (expandable)
CamerasRear: 12 MP with OIS, phase detection auto focus, f/1.7 aperture. Front: 5 MP
Battery4000 mAh with wireless charging, fast charging

Pros

  • High end processor and lots of RAM
  • Excellent cameras
  • Good, sharp display
  • Long battery life
  • Fingerprint scanner

Cons

  • AT&T exclusive
  • At $794.99 off contract, it's quite expensive

While it may not be as pretty as the Galaxy S7, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active does everything that the regular S7 does, and it's by far the most powerful handset on our list. Compared to the S7, the S7 Active has the added benefit of being a tough device: it can survive drops from up to 5 feet (1.5 meters) on a flat surface. Moreover, the rugged S7 Active comes with a larger battery that provides significantly longer usage times than the 3,000 mAh battery of the S7. 


LG V10


No images

DisplayMain: 5.7 inches IPS, 1440 x 2560 pixels, 515 ppi. Secondary: 2.1 inches, 1040 x 160 pixels
HardwareSnapdragon 808 CPU, Adreno 418 GPU, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of internal memory (expandable)
CamerasRear: 16 MP with OIS, RAW capture, laser auto focus. Front: dual 5 MP
Battery3000 mAh, wireless charging, fast charging (user replaceable)

Pros

  • Large, sharp display
  • Good cameras (the dual front-facing shooter is great for wide-angle selfies)
  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Lots of RAM
  • 64 GB of expandable storage space

Cons

  • Not dust- and water-resistant
  • Rather poor battrey life

The LG V10 is the only handset on our list that doesn't offer protection against dust and water. And yet this is a MIL-STD-810 certified device that's protected against shock, vibration, and drops from up to 4 feet (1.2 meters). The LG V10 is notable for offering a secondary ticker display above the normal 5.7-inch screen, though we weren't convinced about its usability.


Cat S60 

Register to buy in the US (probable price: $599)


Display4.7 inches, 720 x 1280 pixels, 312 ppi
HardwareSnapdragon 617 CPU, Adreno 405 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal memory (expandable)
CamerasRear: 13 MP with thermal imaging. Front: 5 MP
Battery3800 mAh, user replaceable

Pros

  • The toughest smartphone on the list
  • Can survive under water up to 16 feet (5 meters) for up to 1 hour
  • Thermal camera

Cons

  • Not yet available to buy in the US
  • Bulky

Do you need a smartphone that's tougher than most other rugged handsets out there? Then you should check out the Cat S60, an Android Marshmallow-based phone that can survive drops on concrete from up to 6 feet (1.8 meters), while also offering extended protection against water. In addition, the Cat S60 is the world's first smartphone to feature a thermal camera (powered by FLIR), which lets you visualize heat that isn't visible to the naked eye. Unfortunately, the Cat S60 is currently not available in the US, but it should be released in the coming months.

Samsung Galaxy S6 Active

Buy from AT&T ($594.99)

No images

Display5.1 inches Super AMOLED, 1440 x 2560 pixels, 576 ppi
HardwareExynos 7 Octa CPU, Mali-T760 MP8 GPU, 3 GB of RAM, 32 GB of internal memory (not expandable)
CamerasRear: 16 MP with OIS, laser auto focus. Front: 5 MP
Battery3500 mAh, wireless charging, fast charging (not replaceable)

Pros

  • Impressive battery life
  • Good, sharp display
  • Powerful processor and plenty of RAM
  • Good cameras

Cons

  • No microSD card support
  • AT&T exclusive

Yes, we know, the Galaxy S6 Active is 1 year older than the S7 Active, but it remains a very good rugged smartphone (plus, following a recent software update, it's running Android Marshmallow - just like the S7). While it has some drawbacks compared to the S7 Active (including and older, but still powerful processor, no fingerprint scanner, and non-expandable internal memory), the S6 Active is just as tough and protected against water as its new sibling, while being cheaper and offering superior battery life.

Kyocera DuraForce XD



Display5.7 inches IPS, 720 x 1280 pixels, 258 ppi
HardwareSnapdragon 400 CPU, Adreno 305 GPU, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal memory (expandable)
CamerasRear: 8 MP. Front: 2 MP
Battery3700 mAh (user replaceable)

Pros

  • Good battery life; the battery is removable
  • Loud speaker
  • Cheaper than other rugged smartphones

Cons

  • Still runs Android 5.1 Lollipop
  • Screen isn't too sharp
  • Mediocre processor
  • Thick; too large and too heavy for the 5.7-inch class

If you want a rugged smartphone, but you're not ready to splash out more than $500 for it, the Kyocera DuraForce XD may be exactly what you need. Granted, this handset won't impress you with its features (which look like those of a mid- to low-end device), but it's protected against shock, drops, dust, and water, and includes a generous battery.

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16 Comments

1. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

The S7A can't even pass a water test, S6A is still the best.

3. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

thats just unofficial water test from some random internet guy... and S7A did pass water&dust test for official world class testing standart by International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and of course they didnt just test 3-4 units to get that IP68 certification

4. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Busted for trolling lol, I was serious when I said the S6A is still the best tho. Longer battery life, similar performance and lower price.

9. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

2016 phone but include 2015 one... sonim xp7700 is sd400 phone too and much more rugged than any of those and has better battery life its also.covered by a 3 years warranty thats cover everything even liquid and physical damage and is also one of the few intresect smartphone. pa need to stop licking samsung *** :(

2. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

I would think the Moto x force is more durable than the V10 but ok don't include it.

5. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

What's the V10 doing on there? The Moto X Force or Moto Z Force deserve that spot more than it...

7. MingLiangChen

Posts: 329; Member since: Jul 06, 2012

Or maybe none of them because of lower rated water protection.

13. Roegge

Posts: 18; Member since: Mar 11, 2017

About next-gen processors ... well the AGM X2 is the most affordable ( check goo(dot)gl/wZkgWk with Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 (The most current to date) and 4 GB for the standard version and 8 GB RAM for the PRO model !!

15. RicardoreiraCapo87

Posts: 9; Member since: Mar 23, 2017

Oh yeah!  they announced the X2 ! In the current market, there is space for all kinds of devices with different options in specifications and design: Agm is for an audience that really needed comfortable ruggeds and now they are becoming really potent :)

6. willywanta

Posts: 502; Member since: Jun 04, 2014

LG V10 is not a rugged phone

10. shield

Posts: 834; Member since: Sep 12, 2015

LG V10 is a rugged phone - MIL-STD 810G - grade salt, fog, humidity, transport shock and thermal shock resistant and Dura Guard stainless steel 316L, Front glass is double Gorilla Glass fourth generation

8. newuser1

Posts: 276; Member since: Dec 10, 2010

HP Elite x3 - IP67 certified - dust and water resistant - Water resistant up to 1 meter and 30 minutes - MIL-STD 810G - grade salt, fog, humidity, transport shock and thermal shock resistant

11. salvo unregistered

my favourite ruggedphone is the agm x1 I have bought AGM x1 a month ago the and I have to say that I am very satisfied. The phone is perfect: incredibly durable and surprisingly powerful (I would have never said that, like you) and, a very important thing, that really makes me love this device, is the battery life!! 3 days by using it continuously (working on site the apps istalled by AGM are very useful and the quality photo are really important for the workers etc.). Only with long battery life, the outdoor smartphone can truly be “outside”. 5400 mAh massive battery, combined with power-efficiency Snapdragon SOC processor, provide exceptional performance for the phone. Deep custom Samsung Super AMOLED display allows for vivid colors but low power consumption at the same time. Say goodbye to short battery life. Then the customer service of the company is good despite being halfway around the world (agm is a Chinese firm), in English they told me that my X1 will be updated to Android 7.0. And i am waiting for Barcelona, i heard something about the agm x2... o_o

14. Roegge

Posts: 18; Member since: Mar 11, 2017

I want the x2: it seems this would reach only 600 euros! Sure, some will think its expensive but be aware that it is a high-end mobile: an Iphone 7 plus and Sansumg S8 + (both with minor or similar features and without IP68 certification are around 1000 euros :O ) as I read in goo(dot)gl/wZkgWk it will arrive mid 2017!

12. Roegge

Posts: 18; Member since: Mar 11, 2017

have you seen the review on the agm RIO! Its the most affordable ip68 smartphone that i have seen ( goo(dot)gl/xMwsDu ) ?? its quite an amazing phone too! dang! Agm is on fire right now!

16. RicardoreiraCapo87

Posts: 9; Member since: Mar 23, 2017

For what i have been reading in thier offcial FB page , Android 7 update ( for the x1) is confirmed to Aug at best! It will be interesting to see how the SO takes advantage of the phone… it looks cool already and honestly i dont think it will kill anybody to wait a little more! i prefer a custom SO than a generic one.

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