Most of today's modern smartphones are built with glass backs to match the glass display, but all of this glass makes a phone susceptible to breakage if dropped. Phone manufacturers and wireless carriers are more than happy to sell you insurance in case of breakage, but there is another option available to you.
One can also pay $50 or more for a rugged case to wrap around your . These cases usually come with some level of drop protection (6ft to 13ft), but even with such a case, this case/phone combination has not been put through the MIL-STD 810G range of tests that we find in nearly every rugged phone on this list. It's also interesting to note that most of these rugged phones are much more affordable than flagship phones as they are built to get work done and not outfitted with high-end cameras and other advanced technology. Given their price and utility, these options are great to designate as a work or outdoor adventure phone while you keep a flagship around to pop your SIM card in when you want the latest and greatest in mobile technology.
The glass displays in phones are the weak link and even with these rugged phones that is one area susceptible to breakage. The material around the display is integrated into these phones so there is a better chance of screen survival on these phones, but if they do break then you are out less money than if your flagship phone suffered a cracked display.
The following phones are all designed to withstand the elements with high IP ratings for dust and water resistance, in addition to durability characteristics with phones that meet MIL-STD 810G standards.
You can read more phone buying tips and how we make our recommendations here.
Rugged phones are built to withstand the elements of field work and with the new Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW we get the additional support of Verizon's 5G network. We have this phone in our hands for evaluation and have already taken it out into the sands of a Florida shipyard to test its durability and capability.
The Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G, priced at $899.99, is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G processor with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, two rear cameras, 5.45 inch IPS LCD sapphire shield display, and large capacity 4500 mAh battery. It supports wireless charging so you don't need to remove the bottom USB-C port plug to top it off.
The phone is designed to withstand the elements and rough handling with IP68 dust/water resistance, MIL-STD 810H shock test certification, and a display designed to protect against drops and scratches. The phone is encased in a shell with additional corner protection and tactile texture to keep it in your hand.View Now at Verizon
Unlike bulky rugged phones of the past, the XCover Pro has dimensions that match other standard smartphones while offering better protection from the elements and accidents. It's powered by a Samsung Exynos 9611 processor with a 6.3-inch display, dual rear cameras, and more.
Rugged features include MIL-STD 810G 1.5m drop test certification, IP68 dust- and water-resistant rating, a large capacity 4,050mAh removable battery, and Pogo Pin support for accessories.
It also supports Push-To-Talk with upcoming support for Microsoft Teams. The $500 price is right for such a capable, rugged phone.$499 at Samsung
The Unihertz Atom XL is an affordable, capable rugged phone and a unique aspect of this Android smartphone is that it is tiny, so it fits well in a pocket out in the field.
A 4-inch display is present on this phone that is powered by Android 10 with 6GB of RAM and 128GB internal storage. It has an IP68 rating along with MIL-STD 810G certification. A 4,300mAh battery keeps the phone going all day long, too.
The Unihertz Atom XL also supports Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) so you can use the phone with the included antenna as a walkie-talkie when there is no cellular connectivity available. This is a great feature for those working or playing outdoors.$329 at Unihertz
Some people in the field prefer to enter text on the phone with a physical keyboard and the Unihertz Titan provides a QWERTY keyboard with a monster 6,000mAh battery. It has an IP67 water- and dust-resistant rating with a rugged shell to match.
A 4.5-inch display is present with 6GB of RAM, 128GB internal storage, and a 16MP rear camera. It is a hefty phone at 303g, but if you want a BlackBerry-esque keyboard then this is the phone for you.$349 at Amazon
One great function we have seen in some Cat phones is support for thermal cameras. A thermal camera is a perfect tool for fieldwork, whether scanning for hot spots in a switchboard or seeking them out in an emergency situation.
The Cat S62 Pro has a 5.7-inch display with glove mode, IP68 dust/water resistance, MIL-STD 810H drop test up to 1.8 meters, and more. Android 10 is present with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor.
The FLIR Lepton 3.5 thermal camera is the star of the show with the ability to measure temperatures between -20 degrees Celsius and 400 degrees Celsius.$655 at Amazon
Unlike the Cat S62, the S42 is a more typical rugged phone with a design built to withstand the elements. It has an IP68 rating, MIL-STD 810H certification, and Push To Talk support.
Cat is known for including some handy utilities in the phone to help you get work done. There are tools for farming, construction, outdoors, and more.$299 at Cat
Like most phones in this rugged smartphone collection, the DOOGEE S68 Pro has an IP68 dust- and water-resistant rating. In addition, the S68 Pro has an IP69K high-temperature resistant rating not seen on many phones today. MIL-STD-810G certification is also present so this is one tough phone.
The phone has a reasonable $220 price tag with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, triple rear camera array, and aaa large 6300mAh battery that supports wireless charging and reverse-wireless charging.$189 at DoogeeMall
Unlike most rugged phones, the Cat S52 is actually quite slim at 9.69mm with a weight of just 210g. It has a 5.65-inch display protected by Gorilla Glass 6.
The phone has an IP68 dust/water resistant rating, satisfies MIL-STD 810G standards, and has glove support.$320 at Amazon