Samsung Rugby Smart Review

Introduction and Design

Long ago, in a time when owning a smartphone was perceived to be a luxury, the Samsung Rugby established itself as AT&T’s premier rugged style device with push-to-talk capabilities. In fact, it seemed to hit a chord with people because we eventually saw a successor in the form of the aptly named Samsung Rugby II, which interesting enough, was released close to two years agos. Rather than sticking firm with the same form factor, the latest member in the rugged line, the Samsung Rugby Smart, aims to tackle all the intricacies associated with today’s modern smartphone – while still sprinkling that dash of ruggedness to keep us soundly confident that it’ll live through some minor accidents.

The package contains:

  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Safety and Warranty Guide


When you’re a rugged style device, being fashionable or good looking is the least of its worries. Rightfully so, that’s blatantly obvious with this one. Practical in every way for its category, the Rugby Smart exhibits all of the qualities akin to any rugged style device – like its rubber grippy sides, textured back plastic cover, and a lock mechanism for its rear cover. Of course, it all culminates together to offer a resounding sense of durability in easily handling the usual normal wear and tear we put our devices through on an everyday basis.

Beyond that of course, it meets military standard 810F for protection against dust, humidity, rain, shock, and temperature. Even though it’s able to withstand “shocks” from heights of 5 feet in our testing, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll survive being thrown out of a two-story building. Nevertheless, it’s undoubtedly better protected than your average smartphone, and on top of that, it’s waterproof up to 1 meter under water for 30 minutes, which are things you don’t tend to see that often with most devices.

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

Around its sides, everything appears to be reinforced to solidify its impervious nature. For example, its volume rocker and power button are fashioned out of tough plastic, while still offering a tasteful response and feel. Furthermore, its ports are well protected thanks to plastic covers tightly shielding its 3.5mm headset jack and microUSB port.

Accidental presses are pretty non-existent with this one because it opts to employ rectangular sized physical Android buttons instead. Thankfully, this modern smartphone doesn’t skimp out with things just because it’s deemed as being rugged, and with that, we’re grateful to find a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera.

In the rear, a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash is placed squarely in the middle towards the top edge of the phone – with two notches nearby for its speakerphone. After moving its lock mechanism to remove the rear cover, we’re given access to its 1,650 mAh battery, and underneath that, we find its SIM card and microSD card slots.


Classified as a mid-range smartphone, we’re intrigued to see it packing a generous 3.7” WVGA (480 x 800) Super AMOLED display that’s no doubt attractive with its good details and vibrant colors. Much like anything else with a Super AMOLED panel, we’re treated with something that easily catches the attention of our eyes – like its wide viewing angles and iridescent glow. Sure, we’re still finding ourselves shielding it away from the sun when trying to view it outdoors, but we’re forgiving since it’s still usable and simply shines blindingly in the dark.

Samsung Rugby Smart 360-degrees view

Interface and Functionality:

Hardly anything new in the software department, since it’s essentially the same rehashed TouchWiz experience, we’re not totally shocked to find it running Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread out of the box. Yes, we know that it’s mind-boggling to not see this one with Ice Cream Sandwich, but nonetheless, that’s just the way it is and we simply have to accept that. Underneath all of the fancy TouchWiz widgets, the Samsung Rugby Smart still offers the same deep level of personalization attached with Android as a whole – and for that, we’re gladly accepting of it all.

No doubt spoiled by some handsets with super large displays, our fingers struggle to type out long messages on the Samsung Rugby Smart and its cramped on-screen keyboards. Even though it maintains a decent responsive rate in registering the touch of our thumbs, its layout is simply too cramped to comfortably type with minimal mistakes.

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Well folks, there’s nothing new with its core set of organizer apps, but that doesn’t stop us from being content by it all. For example, it offers the same lovable Gmail experience found with all other Android smartphones – so yeah, it’s good enough for most things without too much complications.

Similar to any other smartphones on AT&T’s lineup, it’s stacked to the roof with the normal set of preloaded third party apps – though, AT&T makes sure to make its presence known. Specifically, we find AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Navigator, Featured Apps, and myAT&T. As for those third party apps, they consist of AllShare, Amazon Kindle, Qik Lite, Quickoffice, and YPmobile.

Processor and Memory:

Previously, mid-range devices were mostly sporting 1GHz single-core processors, but with this, Samsung increases the ante by outfitting it with a 1.4GHz single-core CPU with 512MB of RAM. Naturally, it’s able to handle most basic tasks with ease, but we do notice some sluggishness popping up every now and then. In fact, it’s most prevalent when running a graphically intensive live wallpaper, where it exudes huge bouts of choppiness and lag with its operation. Well, it doesn’t particularly hinder its overall usability, but rather, it’s merely a visual nuisance that softens its performance.

If you’re big into multimedia, then you’ll want to invest in a microSD card of some size because its internal memory breaks down to 1.65GB of free USB space and another 0.91GB reserved for apps.

Internet and Connectivity:

Tagged as being a “4G” smartphone, it actually boasts HSPA+ connections as opposed to the speedier and more favorable LTE, but it’s hardly a surprise. In any event, we’re deeply impressed by the web browsing performance of the handset, since it’s able to exhibit the responsiveness of some high-end devices. Specifically, pinch zooming and kinetic scrolling are accompanied with buttery smooth movements that don’t stutter even in the presence of heavy Flash content. To sum it up, it’s obviously a mid-range device, but performs handsomely as if it were a top-shelf one.

Travelling abroad with the Samsung Rugby Smart doesn’t pose any problems since it’s compatible to work with nearly all GSM networks – plus, it’ll retain HSPA+ speeds in most locales as well. Rounding out its connectivity options, it also features aGPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and mobile hotspot functionality.


Well, it could’ve been worse considering that its focus is mostly in being rugged, but we’re content by the results produced by its 5-megapixel auto-focus camera. Combing through some of our captured photos, its details are a tad soft with outdoor shots, though, its color production is right there in the middle with its neutral tones. However, they appear to be washed out and bland when taken indoors under artificial lighting. Lastly, graininess is an inevitable occurrence that happens with shots taken under low lighting, but luckily its LED flash is able to cast potent lighting to neutralize its colors.

To tell you the truth, its 720p video recording could’ve been somewhat likable if it weren’t for its god-awful muddy details and pervasive artifacting, that tremendously diminishes its overall quality. Sure, it still coughs up some exciting results, like its smooth 30 frames per second, clear audio recording, and gradual exposure, but it’s not enough to offset the poor details that make it detractive.


Hardly a compelling music interface by today’s standard, especially when it’s the same TouchWiz music player used by most of Samsung’s devices, we’re at least fond that it’s functional at its core. With its internal speaker, it’s rather average in tone with its quality and volume, but there are various equalizer settings to better attune it to specific genres of music.

Capable of playing 720p videos at the maximum (MPEG-4 1280 x 720 video in our case), we’re most enchanted by the saturated and punchy colors put out by its Super AMOLED panel. Aside from that, the experience is still worthwhile thanks to its smooth playback and overall great quality.


Sadly, our ears tells us that the calling quality of the Samsung Rugby Smart is not all that inviting due to the heavy presence of muffled voices heard through its earpiece – albeit, our callers didn’t have any issues on their end. Switching over to the speakerphone, things don’t get any better, as it’s plagued by the same muffled tones as before.

Carrying it around to various locales in the greater Philadelphia area, we didn’t experience any dropped calls or major fluctuations with its signal strength.

Packing a 1,650 mAh within its body, we’re humbled by the one-day of normal usage we’re able to get out of a fully charged battery, which is indicative of being an average performer in our books. For the chatty ones out there, it’s worth noting that it lives up to its rating by providing us 500 minutes of continuous talk time on a single charge.


AT&T customers should be relieved to know that they now have a respectable rugged smartphone solution thanks to the Samsung Rugby Smart, and when you factor in its $100 on-contract price and set of features, it does offer quite a punch for the value. Needless to say, not only does it stand out for being impervious to most punishment, but it’s also one of the few to be waterproof as well – and that’s something we don’t typically see! Beyond its tough personality, we’re surprised to find the Samsung Rugby Smart fitted with a Super AMOLED display, which isn’t something that’s akin to rugged style devices as a whole. Rather than luring people away from top-shelf smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note LTE, the Rugby Smart is instead a handset for those individuals that want a well-rounded smartphone with the advantages of having a tough shell to survive the elements – and our clumsy actions.

Android Version: 2.3.6
Build Number: UCLA4
Kernel Version:

Samsung Rugby Smart Video Review:


  • Ruggedness and waterproof
  • Packs a Super AMOLED display
  • Decent $100 price


  • Muffled calling quality
  • Cramped on-screen keyboards
  • Paltry 2GB of memory

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