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The 5 best rugged tablets: For the toughest customers

What is the best rugged tablet? The Getac F110 is our top choice. We compared the military-grade rating, display, memory, storage, weight, battery life, and other specs to find the best rugged tablet for you.
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Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Phones and tablets have become an irreplaceable part of our workday, allowing us to remotely edit spreadsheets, monitor inventory, communicate with each other, or manage fleets. But most phones and tablets aren't made to withstand tough environments like construction sites -- or just frequent drops. 

There are, however, a subset of tablets that are built to withstand the most abuse (because let's face it, nothing is indestructible). They're often a pricey investment, but thanks to their tough exteriors, they'll prevent you from spending more money getting devices repaired or replaced. 

The tablets below are built to power through whatever wear and tear you can throw at them.

Best rugged tablet

Display: 11.6-inch display | Processor: Intel Core i5 | Storage: 256GB | Memory: 8GB | Cameras: 8MP rear, FHD webcam | Weight: 3.08-pounds | Dimensions: 12.4 x 8.15 x 0.96-inches | Connections: 1 x USB-C, 1 x headphone jack, 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 2, 1 x HDMI, 1 x Docking connector | Battery 2 x 2,160mAh

The Getac F110 is a rugged Windows tablet that can take a severe beating. It's MIL STD 810H & IP66 certified, so it'll withstand virtually whatever you throw at it. You can get it with Windows 10 Pro, powered by 11th generation Intel processors, 8GB of memory, and SSD storage ranging from 256GB, 512GB up to 1TB. 

There's a 1080p 11.6-inch touchscreen display, a Windows Hello camera system for face authentication, and a myriad of ports and connection options for accessories and scanners. 

Getac also has the F110 C1D2, a version of this same tablet that is approved for work in a biohazardous environment. You can find that particular model here

Pros:

  • Windows Hello compatible
  • Biohazard model available
  • Plenty of ports

Cons:

  • Very expensive
Best compact rugged tablet

Display: 8-inch display | Processor: Exynos 9810 | Storage: 64GB or 128GB | Memory: 4GB or 6GB | Biometrics: Fingerprint | Colors: Black | Cameras: 13MP rear, 4K video. 5MP front camera | Weight: 427 grams | Dimensions: 8.42 x 4.99 x 0.39 inches | Connections: 3.5mm headphone jack, USB-C | Battery: 5,050mAh

The Galaxy Tab Active 3 is a smaller version of the Tab Active Pro. It's equipped with an 8-inch display, MIL-STD 810H certification, IP68 rating for dust and water. That means you can drop it from up to 1.5m or leave it in water for up to 30 minutes, and it should survive without any issues. 

There are two models. Both the 64GB storage and 128GB model come with 4GB of memory and a 5,050mAh battery. The battery can be swapped out, making it easy to change batteries if you start to run low. You can even run the Active 3 without a battery as long as it's connected to a dedicated power source. 

Android 10 is installed out of the box, and it comes with Samsung's DeX platform that converts the tablet interface into a laptop-like experience. Because it's running Android, you'll be able to get all of the apps and services you usually get from the Play Store. 

Pros:

  • Two hard drive sizes
  • Removable battery
  • Fingerprint reader
  • 4K video capable

Cons:

  • Small screen
  • Limited ports
Best older rugged tablet

Display: 10.1-inch display | Processor: Qualcomm SDM660 2.2GHz | Storage: 64GB  | Memory: 4GB | Color: Black | Cameras: 8MP rear, 5MP front camera | Weight: 1.98-pounds | Dimensions: 8.42 x 4.99 x 0.39 inches | Connections: Dock connector, headphone jack, USB-C, USB-A | Battery: 2 x 3,200mAh

The Toughbook A3 launched in early 2020 and still looks like a viable rugged tablet. It has a 10.1-inch display, giving you more room to get work done in the field when compared to something like the Tab Active 3. 

It boasts 4GB of memory, 64GB of storage, with microSD card support up to 64GB, and dedicated modes when it senses rain or the user is wearing gloves (a common feature for most ruggedized tablets). 

It's IP65 certified for water and dust resistance and has a battery life of 9 hours. You can hot-swap the battery packs, however, meaning you don't have to wait for the tablet to power down and then back up when you need to change batteries. 

Pricing starts at $2,699, and you'll need to go through Panasonic's sales partners to pick one up.

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Expandable storage
  • Excellent battery
  • Hot-swap battery

Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Limited ports
Best customizable rugged tablet

Display: 11.6-inch display | Processor: Intel Core i3-8145U | Storage: 128GB or 256GB | Memory: 8GB or 16GB | Cameras: 8MP rear, 5MP IR camera | Weight: 3.31 pounds | Dimensions: 7.99 x 8.23 x 12.29-inches | Connections: 1 x USB 3.1, 1 x USB-C, 1 x headphone jack, 1 x RS-232 port, 1 x Docking Pogo, 1 x Backpack Pogo | Battery 34 Whr 

The Latitude 7220 is dubbed a Rugged Extreme Tablet by Dell, and it has the specs to back it up. It comes with Windows 10 Pro pre-installed and has enough ports that make modern laptops jealous. Its design exudes a rugged exterior. 

The 7220 has a display that measures 11.6 inches, up to 16GB of memory, up to 256GB of storage, and is equipped with an Intel Core i3 processor. In addition to the touchscreen, there are several physical buttons along the bottom of the housing to navigate Windows 10.

Pretty much every aspect of the tablet can be customized during the building process of the purchase. For instance, you can opt to put an Intel Core i7 in it, should you need the extra power. You can also add an optional keyboard, extra battery packs, or pick between AT&T, Verizon, or Sprint for mobile connectivity.

Pros:

  • Plenty of ports
  • Plenty of memory and storage
  • Windows Hello compatible
  • Tons of customization options

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Accessories sold separately
Best rugged tablet for Samsung users

Display: 10.1-inch display | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 670  | Storage: 64GB | Memory: 4GB | Cameras: 13MP rear, 8MP front camera | Weight: 653 grams | Dimensions: 243.5 x 170.2 x 9.9 mm | Connections: 1 x USB-C | Battery 7,600mAh 

Samsung's biggest ruggedized tablet runs Android 9, providing a similar experience to the company's smartphones. The 10.1-inch display works with the S Pen stylus, making it possible to jot and write down notes on the display. You get 64GB of storage, 4GB of memory, and a 7,600mAh battery. There's a 13-megapixel rear-facing camera and an 8-megapixel front-facing camera. You can add up to 512GB of storage via a microSD card.

This rugged tablet is ideal for someone who needs the added protection but also prefers Samsung's ecosystem of apps, devices, and services. 

Pros:

  • Decent display size
  • Lightweight
  • Two cameras
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Only one USB-C port
  • Requires microSD card for more storage

What is the best rugged tablet?

The Getac F110 is the best rugged tablet, according to our research. We analyzed multiple specifications, including the military-grade rating, display, memory, storage, weight, battery life, and other specs to determine which tablet was best for you. 

Rugged tablet

Price

Display size

Storage

Getac F110

$2285

11.6 inches

256GB

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3

$628

8 inches

Up to 128GB

Panasonic Toughbook A3

$2400

10.1 inches

64GB

Dell Latitude 7220 Rugged Extreme

$2009

11.6 inches

Up to 256GB

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active Pro

$600

10.1 inches

64GB

Which rugged tablet is right for you?

Start by asking yourself which operating system you want or need. You basically have two choices: Android or Windows 10. Based on that answer, you've narrowed down the selection process quite a bit. From there, look at the finer details of each tablet. Can you customize the build? What kind of accessories are available? What do you need the tablet to do? 

Choose this rugged tablet...

If you need...

Getac F110

A well-rounded and very tough tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3

A rugged tablet that's small enough for easy travel

Panasonic Toughbook A3

A reliable rugged tablet and don't need top-tier components

Dell Latitude 7220 Rugged Extreme

A tablet that you can tailor to your exact needs

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active Pro

A rugged tablet you can easily integrate into your Samsung device network

How did we choose these rugged tablets?

I've been testing tablets since the first iPad launched, and I've used a large number of tablets over the years. Using personal experience with tablets and reviews across the internet from users and pros alike, I was able to narrow down this list of rugged tablets. 

Wouldn't a case be just as effective as a rugged tablet?

Yes and no. Some of the higher-end cases, like those from Otterbox, are certainly designed to protect your tablet. But there are some aspects of a rugged tablet it can't reproduce. For example, some of the tablets in this roundup are designed to withstand severe temperatures in addition to being tougher to break when dropped.

What does "military grade" mean?

If a device is advertised as being "military grade," that doesn't necessarily mean it was developed for military use, but rather rigorously tested against MIL-STD 810 standards. This testing process runs devices through extreme conditions to simulate what soldiers may encounter during deployment or combat. The standards compare device performance in situations where it may be violently dropped, thrown, or even exploded. They also test how devices hold up in heavy rain, high and low temperatures, coming into contact with chemicals, and resist dust and fungus infiltration. Most commercially available "military grade" devices are tested for drops, shocks, and water resistance.

Does Apple make a rugged tablet?

At the time of writing, Apple does not make a ruggedized version of any of their iPad models. However, you can buy a range of ruggedized cases like the Otterbox Defender or aXtion Bold to protect your device from drops, shocks, and water.

What is a rugged tablet?

A rugged tablet is a tablet that has been designed to withstand extreme conditions. Whether it's bad weather, very high or very low temperatures, or the tablet is going to get knocked around a lot, the extra durable case protects the delicate internal components from damage and corrosion. Rugged tablets are best for mobile professionals who do a lot of field work, like construction contractors and engineers.

Why should I buy a rugged tablet?

Rugged tablets are on the high end of expensive, so it can be tempting to get a regular, consumer-grade model and plunk it in a "rugged" case. And that will work...for a time. Cases can only do so much to protect internal components like processors and storage drives from damage that can occur from bumps, shocks, and moisture. But a tablet that has been designed by the manufacturer to handle extreme conditions is much better equipped to handle just about anything you can throw at it. From waterproofed and reinforced cases to hot-swappable batteries, a rugged tablet can be a great investment and valuable asset for mobile professionals who need to work in all kinds of weather.

Are there alternative rugged tablets to consider?

Here is an honorable mention:



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