Best tough phones of 2019: Rugged, waterproof, and shockproof smartphones

If you are tired of breaking your phone and want to try something with more durability, then check out these tough, durable phones.
Written by Eileen Brown, Contributor
(Image: CNET)

Buying a rugged smartphone could be the best investment you could make. 

It can give you the power, extra tools, and durability you need if you are tough on your phone. These phones spend less time in the repair shop than your typical slim, delicate device, and they have all the features you need, including extra large batteries for all-day operation in a wide range of tough conditions.

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Best tough phones to buy in 2019

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Best ruggedized smartphones you need to own zdnet

Doogee S90

The $430 S90 from Doogee has a large 6.18-screen with 2246 x 1080px resolution, which will work if you operate the phone while wearing gloves. The device weighs 300g, but its value is with the extra optional magnetic modules that clip onto the back of the S90. You can add a 5,000mAh battery, a night vision camera, speaker, gamepad. walkie-talkie, or a printer to this truly modular phone. It supports wireless charging and has NFC and a useful suite of tools such as plumb bobs, spirit level, and a height calculator.

Best ruggedized smartphones you need to own zdnet

Zebra TC25 rugged smartphone

The $710 Zebra TC25 packs a lot into its smaller form factor. It has a 4.3-inch 800 x 480a touchscreen and a 3,000mAh battery, which is rated at IP65, meaning it is dustproof and will cope with water spray onto the phone (but not total immersion). Push to talk (PTT technology) enables the phone to be used as a walkie-talkie when the cellphone signal is poor. It weighs 195g and will survive multiple drops onto concrete from a height of 4 feet. And built-in barcode scanning enables point-and-shoot capture of printed barcodes.

Best ruggedized smartphones you need to own zdnet

CUBOT Quest 

The $180 Cubot Quest is a slim rugged phone, which weighs only 213g. Rated IP68, it is dustproof and waterproof and can be submerged in water up to 1.5m deep for up to 30 minutes. It has a 5.5-inch screen with an 18:9 aspect and a 1440 x 720-pixel resolution that is easy on the eye. Running Android 9.0 Pie, its fingerprint security and face unlock is fast and accurate, and NFC technology is a useful addition. Its high-strength polyester edges will survive a drop of up to 1.5m, too, making this a useful rugged phone what will not weigh you down.

Best ruggedized smartphones you need to own zdnet
Land Rover

Land Rover Explore

The $400 Land Rover Explore phone is rated at IP68, so it can be immersed in water -- or saltwater -- and is dust-tight. Its 4,000mAh battery gives hours of operating time in extreme conditions. In its toolbox, its useful night mode reduces screen glare with a red filter. Owners of compatible Land Rover vehicles can monitor their vehicle's status and location and even remotely start their vehicles. It weighs 232g and has a 5-inch screen with a resolution of 1920 x 1080px.

Best ruggedized smartphones you need to own zdnet

Ulefone Armor 6S

The $420 Armor 6S is a large rugged phone with a long-lasting 5,000mAh battery. Rated at IP69K means this phone can cope with far more extreme conditions than other IP68 devices. It is dust=tight and can be immersed in water up to 7=feet deep for up to two hours. It can wirelessly charge or utilize 9V/2A fast charging and has NFC. It weighs 9.4 ounces and has a nice large 6.2-inch screen with 2246 x 1080px resolution. A useful feature in its toolbox is the UV sensor so you can limit your exposure to the sun.

Best ruggedized smartphones you need to own zdnet


The $765 CAT S61 has a useful thermal imaging camera to locate heat sources even in the dark. It also has laser measuring and air quality monitoring in its app toolbox suite. It is IP68-rated so it can be immersed in water up to 10 feet deep for up to 60 minutes. It also drops resistant from a height up to 6 feet. It has a nice 5.2-inch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution, and, usefully, it supports touch when you are wearing gloves.

Best ruggedized smartphones you need to own zdnet

Blackview BV9700 Pro

The $380 BV9700 Pro is IP69-rated, meaning it can be immersed in water up to a depth of up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes and survive a 1.5-meter fall. It has a 5.84-inch screen with an aspect ratio of 19:9 and a resolution of 1080 x 2280 pixels, and it weighs 283g. This phone also comes with an external night vision camera, which attaches to the BV9700 Pro by USB C. The toolbox also has a gas monitor to monitor the air quality and CO2 density in your vicinity, too.

Best ruggedized smartphones you need to own zdnet

Poptel P9000 Max

The $260 Poptel P9000 Max has a 5.5-inch display at 2920 x 1080px resolution, and with its huge 9,000mAh battery, it weighs 330g. It is rated at IP68, meaning it is dustproof and waterproof for immersion in up to two meters of water for up to 30 minutes. Data exchange is quick over NFC, too, and the rear fingerprint sensor is quick and responsive. The P9000 Max has no OEM extras installed, so it is perfect if you want a long-lasting battery on a pared-down phone.

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