Samsung Rugby III Review

Introduction and Design

Traditionally Nextel and Motorola come to mind when thinking of a ruggedized phone, but both Verizon and AT&T have tried their hands at the market with the Casio G’zOne and Samsung Rugby families, respectively. AT&T’s latest Rugby, the aptly-named and PTT-equipped Rugby III, doesn’t offer anything ground breaking over its predecessor but serves as a nice refresh with a few added features. With Military Spec 810G and IP67 certification the Rugby III is built to withstand dust, shock, vibration, humidity, rain and submersion for up to 30 minutes. Will it be able to withstand our rigorous testing? Read on to find out!


The Samsung Rugby III does not stray far from the design of previous Rugby devices. The clamshell device features a prominent speaker grill when closed, sitting above a 1.3” 128x128 outer display. On the inside the main display has been bumped from 2.2” to 2.4” (but keeps the QVGA resolution) which contributes to the slightly larger footprint of the Rugby III compared to the Rugby II. The displays are not the best, washing out easily in strong light. On some other rugged devices you’ll find a high contrast, black and white front display to combat this but not on the Rugby III.

You can compare the Samsung Rugby III with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The large keypad is easy to use but feels flimsy and has a lot of flex, with a less than reassuring pop as you move your fingers over the keys. In fact, the materials used in general do not seem appropriate for a rugged phone. Instead of grippy and impact absorbing rubber accents, the Rugby III is constructed entirely out of hard plastic that has only the slightest amount of soft touch. There is some helpful relief on the sides that aid in grip, but the inverted dimples on the battery door actually decrease grip rather than improve it. In order to maintain a water-tight seal the battery door employs a locking mechanism that can be operated with a fingernail in a pinch. Under the battery you’ll find the microSD and SIM slots.

In addition to the volume rocker, along the sides you’ll find dedicated PTT and Speaker keys, as well as the phone’s single port. This microUSB port is used for both charging and audio, and an adapter is included to use a standard 3.5mm headset. Of course this port must be closed tightly to ensure the water resistance of the device.

The Samsung Rugby III doesn’t offer the in-hand reassurance of durability that other rugged devices offer. While thicker than most devices out there, it still feels like your average, basic flip phone due to the hard plastic casing and complete lack of rubber trim.


The Rugby III is designed to meet Military Sped 810G for dust, shock, vibration and rain. In addition it is certified IP67 for submergibility in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. We started by testing the Rugby III certifications, and it withstood drops on both carpet and concrete from hip level. The hard plastic housing, however, was immediately scuffed up pretty badly. The Rugby III got splashed with water and left in wet grass for a few minutes without any issues. Finally, we locked the battery door and sealed the microUSB port and submerged the Rugby III in just under 2’ of water, about 1/3 less than the device is certified for. After 30 minutes we retrieved it to find the device powered off and unwilling to power back on. As you can see in our video, we rechecked the battery lock and microUSB seal and they were indeed tight.

It is not apparent where the water leaked from, because the battery bay as well as the charging port appeared to be dry when we checked. The phone eventually did power on, but the external speaker was non-functional. We let the device sit for several hours and tried it again. This time, the speaker worked but it powered down immediately and has refused to power up since.

Samsung Rugby III 360-degrees View:

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