These are the best rugged, most durable smartphones right now (2020 update)

These are the best rugged, most durable smartphones right now (2020 update)
Smartphones – once plasticky slabs without much in terms of visual appeal – have evolved quite a bit over the years. They wow us with their near-bezelless construction and they sparkle with their glass-on-metal designs. Beauty, comes at a cost, however. Modern smartphones aren't really known for being durable, which is probably why making smartphone cases is a billion-dollar industry.

But the smartphones we've listed below are quite different. These extra-tough handsets won't wow you with their crude looks, but they'll probably outlive any of today's shiny-yet-fragile flagship phone.

That may be why most popular manufacturers are straying away from rugged phones and a few brands a left to deliver handsets tough as nails. This makes our compilation quite unusual. Here are the best rugged phones around, designed to withstand serious shock and to resist the elements!

Best rugged smartphones, a summarized list:


Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro


Pros

  • IP68 water resistance
  • Screen works with gloves
  • 4,050mAh battery
  • Modern design
  • Decent hardware specs
  • OneUI 2 software

Cons

  • The display isn't very well protected
Samsung finally decided to release a new rugged phone and the Galaxy XCover Pro is the most modern-looking phone in its class. It has a hole-punch display as the trend this year requires and its protective shell isn't too big to the point of being ugly. Despite that, the XCover Pro is compliant with a bunch of military standards for durability, so you can be confident in its ability to withstand abuse. 

The specs aren't too shabby either, an octa-core Exynos chip paired with a 4/64 RAM-storage combo and a decent battery. Sure, compared to other phones at that price it's not great, but rugged phones aren't known for their high-end specs. Compared to the rest of the devices here, that's still a pretty good deal.


CAT S62 Pro



Pros

  • IP69 water resistance
  • 4,000mAh battery
  • Decent hardware specs
  • Up to date software

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not offered by US carriers
CAT hasn't given up on rugged phones and keeps releasing new models of its ultra-durable phones. The CAT S62 Pro is more than a regular phone in a tough protective shell. It also has some extra features like a thermal camera, which some people will find very useful while on the job. But even if you don't have a need for one, it's still a pretty neat feature to have. Unfortunately, the S62 drops a couple of features the S61 had like the laser measurement sensor and the air-quality sensor. 

Unlike most phones on this list, the CAT S62 Pro comes with Android 10 and will even get Android 11 at some point. If you care about software features and not only extreme durability, this is the phone to get.

Sonim XP8



Pros

  • IP69 water resistance
  • Screen works when wet and with gloves
  • Very loud speakers
  • Huge, 4900mAh battery

Cons

  • Runs the older Android 7.0 Nougat
  • Heavy (335 grams/11.8 oz)


The Sonim XP8 is one tough phone. In fact, its maker is so confident in the reliability of the XP8 that it is offering it with a 3-year warranty. The phone's 5-inch display is puncture-resistant, while the thick, ruggedized body can withstand serious drops. As one of the very few phones with IP69 certification, the Sonim XP8 can withstand not only immersion in water but also being sprayed with high-temperature water jets. It has a battery that will last you for days, but there's one glaring problem with it. It's a very old model. Ancient chip and Android version aren't a recipe for great performance. The only reason we have it on our list is that it's one of the few rugged phones that you can get from a major carrier.


CAT S42



Pros

  • 4,200mAh battery
  • Affordable
  • Recent Android version

Cons

  • Unimpressive specs
  • Small display


If the high-end CAT phones are too expensive for you, you can get one just as tough for about half the price. Of course, there are some drawbacks, like the 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, but there are always compromises with cheaper phones. At least when it comes to durability, you can be sure you're getting one of the toughest phones out there. What's even better, you can actually get it from the US Amazon, unlike its more expensive cousin. 

Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2




Pros

  • Military-grade durability
  • Relatively compact

Cons

  • Currently only available from Verizon
  • Battery not that impressive
  • Aging specs and software

Kyocera's DuraForce Pro 2 is a good combination of ruggedness, specs and price. Costing around $450, the phone is not only IP68 certified but complies with the military standard 810G for drops, shocks, humidity and all sorts of other nasty conditions. Best of all, it manages to do that without adding too much bulk to its body. It uses Qualcomm's mid-range Snapdragon 630 mobile platform and comes with Android 8, so not exactly the latest tech, but not the worst in this niche segment either. The plastic "bumpers" aren't exactly the height of aesthetics, but looks aren't a priority in the world of rugged phones.


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