Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 Review

Introduction and Design

Galaxy Xcover 2 is Samsung's first shot at rugged telephony for the year, as the Android handset sports water-, shock- and dust-proof certifications.

The Xcover 2 upgrades the specs of its predecessor, and throws in some neat features, like a dedicated shutter key and an Aqua mode in the camera interface that lets you shoot underwater without special housing.

Is the phone's tough soul a worthy enough advantage to overlook the midrange specs and somewhat bulky exterior? Read on the review to find out...


Despite the comparatively thick chassis, the Galaxy Xcover 2 is very light and pretty comfortable to hold due to the patterned back and sides that aid your grip significantly. The handset feels very ergonomic in the hand, too – no sharp edges and a solid feel, so it is indeed a good choice for when you are in motion and the last thing you want to think about is careful handling of a thin and fragile handset.

You can compare the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The dark gray plastic chassis and black fascia with metal earpiece grid hint that Samsung's designers haven't spent countless hours busting their heads over the chassis, as it looks like a typical company midranger from the front. The back is a different pint of beer, though, as it sports that circular screw which keeps the back cover shut tight, so as no water or sand can get into the electronics when the going gets tough.

Xcover 2 is IP67-certified, meaning that it is dust- and sand-proof, and you can also submerge it in up to three feet of water (not beer!) for up to 30 minutes without worrying about the internals – the phone sounds like a good match for the beach or your next rafting trip.

The physical keys below the screen are solid, with good tactile feedback, and very easy to feel and press without looking. The same goes for the power/lock key and the camera shutter on the right, as well as the volume rocker up left.

That same volume rocker is given another handy function – long-press the volume up for a second or two, and the powerful LED will come on as a flashlight, even when the screen is locked.

As for the flip covers that protect the charging and audio ports – they are one of the few we've tried so far that can be easily pried out and then fit back almost perfectly.


There is nothing high-def about the screen on the Xcover 2 – it is a regular 480x800 pixel WVGA 4-incher with 233ppi pixel denisty. Colors seem true, however, and the viewing angles are excellent.

There is one unpleasant downside with this screen, though – there is no automatic brightness adjustment sensor, so you have to manually choose the level from the slider in the notification bar or in the settings.

Moreover, the screen is not very bright to begin with, and even at the maximum settings, outside visibility under direct sunlight will be an issue, which is a bit puzzling for a phone that is aimed for outdoor usage. Also, for a rugged handset, Samsung could have included a touchscreen that can be operated with gloves and other objects, like on some Nokia and Sony units.

Interface and functionality:

Samsung's latest Nature UX over Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean is what you'll find on the Xcover 2, with the typical value-added features like Smart Stay, PopUp and AllShare Play. The company has also thrown in a few apps that should hint how the handset is meant for the active types among us, like Cardio Trainer Pro, plus we already mentioned that you can turn the flashlight on with the volume rocker, and these are about the only elements that hint at a more outdoorsy handset than usual.

Here we have to complain a bit about the on-screen keyboard. The keys are small, with much space between them, so it somehow feels more cramped than usual for a 4” display. It is hard to press the correct key, especially with larger fingers, so turning the phone in landscape mode is the way to go if you have to do a lot of typing, and even for a quick reply.

Thankfully, Samsung's collaboration with Swype for its UI keyboards is valid on the Xcover 2, so you can turn on continuous input in the keyboard settings, and swipe away, which, coupled with the word prediction, makes the portrait mode much more useful.

Processor and memory:

A 1 GHz dual-core processor with ARM Mali-400 graphics is what powers the Xcover 2, and the interface performs very well with it, as no lag at all can be observed while swiping around and scrolling up and down in the interface.

There is a gig of RAM, which comes enough for your everyday multitasking, and 4 GB of internal memory, which can be expanded with a microSD card for up to 32 GB more.

Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Samsung Galaxy Xcover 22956696539
Sony Xperia E dual2424555227,4
Google Nexus 447571018858,6
Motorola DROID RAZR2895617836,7

Internet and connectivity:

Samsung's default browser didn't give us any trouble while rendering pages, zooming or panning around, as can be expected with Android Jelly Bean and a dual-core processor. There is no Adobe Flash support from the box, naturally, so sideloading from Adobe's archives will be necessary if you need it.

The handset supports 14.4Mbps HSPA+ speeds, and has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, DLNA and Wi-Fi Direct.


Samsung has put a run-of-the-mill 5 MP shooter at the back of the Xcover 2, with an LED flash next to it. The interface sports the typical rich amount of shooting modes, scenes and color effects you can expect from Samsung, with one notable new addition.

The pictures come out very well positioned in terms of accurate colors and contrast, and there are rarely white balance issues. Add to this the good amount of detail and decent dynamic range performance which doesn't overexpose the bright side of contrasting areas in the frame, and we have a pretty good shooter on the Xcover 2.

Video capture is done with HD 720 quality and fluid 30 fps, which the phone easily maintains inside and out. The footage is with accurate colors and no skipped frames, excessive artifacts or wandering focus.

The Aqua mode is meant for shooting underwater, as we have a handset that can stay three feet under for about half an hour, so you can have fun in the hotel pool without the need for extra waterproof housing on the handset.

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 Sample Video:

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Samsung's standard music player is not going to win any awards for interface design awards, but is functional, and you can choose from a number of sound modes and equalizer presets directly from it. Playing music through the loudspeaker of the Xcover 2 is not going to wow you, though, as the unit is strong, but the sound comes out flat and quite distorted at the highest volume.

The handset plays every major video format you throw at it, up to HD 720p definition, and you can detach the video currently running to hover as a window on top of all other screens underneath with the PopUp Play function.

Call quality:

There is only one microphone on the Xcover 2, so don't expect any noise-canceling miracles while you are calling from the jungle with it, as there is some echo and distortion on the other side, and the surrounding noises can be heard, too. The earpiece performs about average, as the voices come a bit hollow, albeit with decent volume.


Samsung hasn't listed talk times yet, but the 1,700 mAh juicer of the Galaxy Xcover 2 is rated for 570 hours of standby, which is pretty decent, and we didn't notice any excessive battery drain during the review time with the handset.


If you are looking for a rugged but fairly light and compact Android handset, look no further than the Xcover 2. Granted, it doesn't have the specs or panache of the waterproof Xperia Z, but it is shockproof and won't break the bank for you.

Even if you are not the outdoorsy, but rather the careless gadget owner type that tosses their phone around and often goes into the pool with it by accident, Xcover 2 will offer a piece of mind. The specs are enough for powering the Android Jelly Bean device with ease, and the handset takes pretty good pictures and video, too, so it is an alternative to any mid-range smartphone.

There are a few quibbles, mainly with the outdoor visibility and the need for manual screen brightness adjustment, but other than that you won't be disappointed, especially when you find out that you can shoot videos underwater without a case, or turn the flashlight on with a touch of a button.

Direct competitors are Sony's rougher Androids, like the Xperia go, which has a smaller display, or the almighty Xperia Z, which would however be more fragile and expensive. The Lumia 820 also can give the Xcover 2 a run with the waterproof jacket on, though its Windows Phone OS has to catch up in the apps department.

Software version: JZ054K

Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 Video Review

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  • Rugged yet ergonomic waterproof handset
  • Good picture and video quality


  • Outdoor screen visibility could be better
  • No ambient light sensor
  • No second mic for noise-cancellation is a challenge outdoors

PhoneArena Rating:


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