Samsung's first rugged smartphone with a hole punch display is official (and coming to the US)
UPDATE#2: Shortly after properly unveiling the Galaxy XCover Pro in Korea, Samsung has confirmed the rugged handset will bring its surprisingly modern design to the US in the "first half of 2020" at a refreshingly reasonable price of $499.99. There are no other details on availability to report, but the company has joined forces with Verizon for the XCover Pro US announcement, so the nation's largest wireless service provider is pretty much guaranteed to carry this bad boy for both businesses and everyday consumers.
UPDATE: As it turns out, the Galaxy XCover Pro wasn't supposed to go official in Finland while CES 2020 was taking place in Vegas, properly making its debut in Samsung's homeland of Korea after the Consumer Electronics Show wrapped up. We don't have anything new to report on the specifications of the chaebol's latest rugged smartphone, but the tech giant is indirectly confirming the handset will be making its way to North America at some point by saying dual SIM functionality will be supported around those parts.
There are no words on a price tag of commercial release date for the US and Canada, though. Our original story follows below.
With the Galaxy S20 (or S11) family launch event still a little over a month away and the ink barely dry on the recent press release previewing the upcoming S10 Lite and Note 10 Lite, no one expected Samsung to announce any other new smartphones at the ongoing Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
But the company just surprisingly took the wraps off a fairly unconventional device called the Galaxy XCover Pro with minimal fanfare in Finland (of all places). If the somewhat convoluted moniker sounds familiar, that might be because Samsung unveiled a handset branded Galaxy XCover FieldPro just a few months back.
What's interesting is that the XCover Pro undeniably looks sleeker and cooler than the XCover FieldPro on the outside while downgrading a bunch of key specs and features.
Is this the closest we'll ever get to a Galaxy S20 Active?
Obviously, it's far too early to answer that question, but at the same time, it seems highly unlikely that Samsung will bring back its Active line of rugged Galaxy S-series flagships anytime soon. The S8 Active is two and a half years old already, and instead of an S9 Active, fans of both robust mobile device designs and high-end specifications had to settle for the aforementioned Galaxy XCover FieldPro a full 20 months after the "regular" Galaxy S9 was unveiled.
Worse still, the FieldPro caters exclusively to Samsung's enterprise customers, never actually going on sale for the masses. For now, all we know about the availability of the Galaxy XCover Pro is that official sales will be underway in Finland on January 31 at a fairly reasonable price of €499. But clearly, this is a more "mainstream" rugged effort, and we wouldn't be surprised if Samsung decides to roll the muscular bad boy out across the old continent and maybe even the US.
Naturally, its design is nowhere near as stylish as what we expect from the Galaxy S20 lineup or what the S10 series has going for it. But we applaud Samsung for integrating the modern hole punch into an otherwise conventional build capable of taking a beating thanks to military-grade endurance. The screen bezels are pretty darn thin, at least for a rugged handset with a built-in bumper designed to absorb shocks and reduce the damage caused by drops on hard surfaces.
The textured back is probably made from plastic for the exact same reason, housing two cameras instead of the single rear shooter on the XCover FieldPro, and the fingerprint sensor is moved from the back to the side, doubling as a power button.
The Galaxy XCover Pro comes with respectable but unimpressive specs
In case the price point didn't make it abundantly clear, let us highlight this is by no means a high-end cousin of the Galaxy S20 or S10 on steroids. Instead, the XCover Pro borrows the middling Exynos 9611 processor from the Galaxy A51 while settling for a slightly smaller 6.3-inch Infinity Display with an identical resolution of 2400 x 1800 pixels and some added outdoor-friendly Wet Touch and Glove Mode functionalities.
Due to its thicker screen borders, strengthened metal frame, and reinforced corners, the Galaxy XCover Pro is significantly taller, wider, and thicker overall, as well as heavier, at no less than 217 grams. But that's actually a solid improvement over the 256 grams weighed in by the XCover FieldPro.
On the not so bright side of things, the XCover Pro packs a smaller 4,050mAh battery, although the 6.3-incher also borrows the 15W fast charging technology from the non-rugged A51. Perhaps more importantly for road warriors concerned about that unremarkable cell size, the battery is user-removable, which means you can easily replace it with a fresh one on the fly.
The Galaxy XCover Pro doesn't look like a very impressive cameraphone on paper, combining 25 and 8MP rear-facing imaging sensors and featuring a single 13MP selfie shooter. Disappointingly, the handset also runs Android 9.0 Pie out the box, but when taking its 4GB RAM count and 64 gigs of internal storage space into consideration as well, the value for money feels pretty great. Let's just hope Samsung is indeed planning a global rollout in the near future.