Best rugged smartphones in 2023

Mobile phones often boast fancy cameras or big screens, but even top-performing consumer models probably wouldn’t survive on a construction site or other punishing scenarios. Fortunately, there are rugged phones out there that are built to handle impacts, dirt, moisture, and more. Some of them might come from the same brands that make notable flagships, but others are from dedicated manufacturers that focus on making the toughest devices they can. To help you sort through the many models available, I’ve gathered this list of the best rugged phones available.


Our favorite rugged phones you can get in 2023

A Doogee V MAX phone seen at an angle with an orange swirl background show on its display.

Doogee V MAX

Best overall

A versatile option for all sorts of jobs

$464 $580 Save $116

The Doogee V MAX offers a rugged IP68/IP69K rating and has been MIL-STD-810H tested to withstand the harshest of conditions. This phone gives you plenty of features that are useful on every job site, including a night-vision camera, long battery life, and even 5G support.

Pros

  • Up to 109 hours of talk time
  • Night vision camera
  • Waterproof and drop-resistant
Cons

  • Heavy
  • Only pre-installed with Android 12

The Doogee V MAX is my overall pick for the best rugged smartphone. It boasts an IP68 and IP69K rating, meaning it’s dust-proof and waterproof, and it’s been MIL-STD-810H tested, too, so no matter what you put it through, it will survive. Extreme conditions will not be a concern, either, because this phone can work in temperatures ranging from -67 °F to 158 °F. Even a plunge into water is no problem, thanks to the V MAX’s ability to survive immersion up to four feet for 30 minutes.

You also get a bright 6.58-inch 120Hz screen that lets you see everything clearly. The 108MP main camera makes it easy to take beautiful snapshots, while the 20MP night vision camera is handy in low light, while the 8MP wide angle lens takes in full scenes.

With 20GB of RAM and 256GB of storage, you won’t face slowdowns or hiccups, either. Plus, you can upgrade the storage to 2TB if you wish. The 22000mAh battery will get you up to 109 hours of calling time, and 33W fast charging means you can get back to work quickly. Note it is quite heavy at over a pound in weight. Plus, this phone only supports Android 12, but it’s not too uncommon to see rugged phones running older operating systems in general. It does support 5G and Wi-Fi 6, however, which is somewhat rarer. If you need a rugged phone that does practically everything, then the Doogee V MAX is it.

Product image of a CAT S62 Pro showing the front and back on a transparent background

CAT S62 Pro

Premium pick

High-end features in a tough package

$552 $650 Save $98

From the same well-known maker of construction equipment comes the CAT S62 Pro, which is ideal for tough job sites. It has an excellent thermal imaging camera and is drop-test, waterproof, and can operate from -4 °F to 392 °F. Furthermore, this phone is built using aluminum and Gorilla Glass, so it’s certain to last.

Pros

  • Built-in thermal imaging camera
  • Sleek, no-nonsense design
Cons

  • No 5G
  • Battery life is on the short side

CAT might be best known for making construction equipment, but they make phones, too. And the CAT S62 Pro is built to handle the same job sites as the company’s other products. This phone has been drop-tested up to six feet and exceeds MIL-STD-810H protection to guard it against vibration, shock, and extreme temperatures from -4 °F to 392 °F. Thanks to its IP68 and IP69K rating, it can survive complete immersion. Plus, it can even be wiped clean using antibacterial wipes and sprays or even bleach.

And while many rugged phones come with cameras, the CAT S62 Pro has a FLIR thermal imaging camera. You can combine this thermal imaging with pictures from the main 12MP camera to create hybrid images to pinpoint leaks, hot spots, and other problems on the job. The thermal camera can also add linear detail from a scene to let you see even more of what’s going on and get a fuller picture of your job site.

The CAT S62 Pro has a 4,000mAh battery, which is not quite as long-lasting as other rugged phones. And it doesn’t support 5G, though that isn’t too unusual in this product category. If you’re looking for a premium rugged phone that takes excellent thermal images, the CAT S62 Pro has everything you need.

Product image of the front and back of the Ulefone Power Armor 16 Pro smartphone on a transparent background

UleFone Power Armor 16 Pro

Best value

Plenty of power at a lower price

The UleFone Power Armor 16 Pro is an affordable, rugged phone with an incredibly loud and powerful speaker that’s ideal for busy, crowded job sites. On top of that, you get an extra-bright flashlight along with a 9,600mAh battery that can last up to 52 hours of call time.

Pros

  • Powerful speaker
  • High-capacity battery
  • Android 12
Cons

  • Not Verizon compatible
  • Main camera is small

If you need an affordable option, the UleFone Power Armor 16 Pro is a great choice. It can survive dust, splashes, immersion up to 5 feet for 30 minutes, and more because of its IP68 and IP69K ratings and has been tested for MIL-STD-810G. And if you work on loud job sites, the 122 dB speaker is sure to come in handy. That way, you’ll never miss a call, or you can just use it to play some tunes while you work. For comparison, many alarms come in at around 108dB, and this phone gets louder than that.

For night jobs or dim situations, you can use the 126-lumen flashlight to cut through the gloom. And the Power Armor 16 Pro can work in temperatures ranging from -4 °F to 131 °F. Furthermore, the 9,600mAh battery can last up to 52 hours of talk time, so you won’t have to stop and charge very often.

The UleFone Power Armor 16 Pro has a small 16MP main camera, however, and it only supports 4G. But at its price point, you’d be hard-pressed to find a model that’s more useful and durable.

Product image of the front and back of a Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro on a transparent background

Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro

Ecosystem integration

A rugged phone from a classic brand

The Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro is a rugged phone from the same ecosystem as many well-known flagship models. But it still offers durability, including an IP68 rating, shock- and vibration-proofing, and can survive immersion up to 5 feet for 30 minutes. Plus, it supports 5G connectivity, and you can take out the battery.

Pros

  • Compatible with the larger Samsung ecosystem
  • Removable battery
  • 5G compatible
Cons

  • Small-to-average battery
  • Selfie cam is small

If you have already bought into the larger Samsung ecosystem or want to get started, the Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro is a solid option. This phone works with the brand’s other products, and I’d say Samsung makes some excellent Android phones in general. This model has a rubber bumper to protect the screen from drops, while the touchscreen itself is still useable with gloves on. And the IP68 rating ensures it’s dust-proof and waterproof. Furthermore, it comes with virtual tools, including a gyroscope, barometer, accelerometer, and more, so you’ll always have the right gadget for the job.

With 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage space (that you can expand to 1TB), this phone will handle almost any app easily. And for something truly rare in the smartphone world these days, the 4,050mAh battery is replaceable, so even though it’s not quite as long-lasting as other rugged phones’ batteries, you can swap it out in a snap once it wears out.

There’s also a 50MP rear camera, which takes clear shots, but the 13MP front camera is rather small, even for a selfie cam. Still, it works well for conference calls with colleagues. Plus, this rugged phone supports 5G, which is still not found on many models. For ecosystem-integrated workplaces, the Samsung Galaxy XCover6 Pro is a great fit.

Product image of the front of a Nokia XR20 showing its home screen

Nokia XR20 5G

Stylish pick

Good-looking with rugged performance

The Nokia XR20 is a good-looking phone that’s still rugged, thanks to its IP68 rating. It has been built to MIL-STD-810H standards, too. In fact, you can even rinse it clean if it gets dirty. Plus, it’s 5G compatible, and Nokia promises four years of security updates.

Pros

  • 5G compatible
  • Sleek, stylish design
Cons

  • No charger in the box
  • Battery is just average

For the fashion-conscious, there is the Nokia XR20. This phone is sleek and stylish, but it still has an IP68 rating and has been built to MIL-STD-810H standards, so it survives falls, bumps, and more. If it does happen to get dirty, you can clean it with soap and water. Plus, the Gorilla Glass Victus touchscreen will still work even if you have wet hands. Nokia also promises to provide security updates for four years, so your data will stay safe, too.

You get a 48MP camera to capture everything you need while on the job. The 13MP front camera is rather small, but it’s fine for selfies or conference calls. And OZO spatial audio recording technology helps cut down on wind noise, so both your visuals and sound will be crisp and clear.

The Nokia XR20 has a 4,630mAh battery, which is alright, but you don’t get a charger in the box. Many manufacturers do that nowadays, though. And you get 5G compatibility, which is still not found on every rugged phone. Overall, Nokia XR20 does a good job of blending good looks with reliable performance.

The back and front of a Ulefone Armor 9 with the screen showing the thermal camera in use.

Ulefone Armor 9

Best for thermal imaging

A rugged phone with a FLIR camera

$420 $470 Save $50

The Ulefone Armor 9 has a thermal imaging camera that is useful for many types of jobs, and its camera setup is quite powerful overall.

Pros

  • Thermal imaging camera
  • Good battery life
Cons

  • Android 10
  • Only supports 4G

With its ability to capture detailed thermal images and take shots at night using infrared night vision, the Ulefone Armor 9 is handy on many kinds of job sites. Its FLIR camera works between 14 °F to 752 °F and lets you scan scenes to help locate items, inspect equipment, detect leaks, and even find people, while its night mode takes clear shots in low light. If you wish, you can attach an endoscope to this phone (sold separately) to further increase your imaging capabilities.

In addition to its thermal imaging and night vision capabilities, this phone boasts a 64MP main camera that takes clear shots. And with 8GB of RAM and 1238GB of storage, slowdowns and hiccups will not be a concern. It can even survive immersion up to five feet for 30 minutes.

You do not get 5G support with this phone, and it tops out at Android 10 preinstalled, but that is not unexpected for rugged phones. You still get a camera that’s great for imaging and super tough to withstand harsh job sites.

ThinkPhone with transparent background

Lenovo ThinkPhone by Motorola

Security-focused option

Keep your data secure on a tough phone

The Motorola ThinkPhone is a security-focused phone for business users with an IP68 rating, and it has been MIL-STD-81H tested to ensure its durability. It integrates well with the ThinkPad ecosystem for easy syncing between your phone and PC, too.

Pros

  • Four years of security updates with security-focused features
  • Great PC integration
  • Rugged build
  • 5G compatible
Cons

  • Camera is just average
  • May require a case for especially tough job sites

The Motorola ThinkPhone is a security-focused phone with a tough build. It features an IP68 rating and has been MIL-STD-810H tested, so it can withstand some bumps and drops. A Gorilla Glass VIctus screen protects it from scratches, while the aluminum frame offers extra durability. Motorola promises four years of security updates, and you can create a folder on your phone that is protected by a pin with a dummy icon. That way, sensitive files will stay out of sight and be safe.

This phone also integrates tightly with the ThinkPad ecosystem. You can swap data between your ThinkPad PC and the Motorola Phone. Furthermore, it’s even possible to stream apps or mirror your phone’s screen on your computer. It is not strictly necessary to have a ThinkPad to do this, either. Any PC running Windows 10 or 11 that has the Ready For app installed will work.

The ThinkPhone supports 5G, which is also handy. Note that while it’s sturdily built, I’d say you may want to invest in a rugged phone case for it because this phone may be slightly more vulnerable than some of the other options on this list. However, it will keep your sensitive files safe, and that’s good peace of mind to have on some job sites.

Product image of the front of the Kyocera DuraSport

Kyocera DuraSport

Verizon compatible

Verizon 5G comes to a rugged phone at last

The Kyocera DuraSport 5G UW is a rugged phone that works with Verizon, which is still somewhat of a rare find. It survives immersion in water up to 6.5 feet deep for 30 minutes, plus you can sanitize it if it gets dirty and keep on working.

Pros

  • Verizon 5G compatible
  • Compact and portable
  • Bright, easy-to-read display
Cons

  • Some performance hiccups
  • Low-light photos are lackluster

It can be tricky to find a phone that is rugged, 5G-compatible, and works on Verizon’s network. Thankfully, there is the Kyocera DuraSport 5G UW. It is built just as tough as other phones on this list, with an IP68 rating, and has been MIL-STD-810H tested. It can even survive immersion in water up to 6.5 feet deep for 30 minutes and be sanitized if it gets dirty. That makes it ideal for busy, messy job sites. The Gorilla Glass 6 screen is reinforced at the corners for extra durability, and the phone’s seams and joins are waterproofed. Still, despite being so tough, it’s not too bulky or awkward.

You get a super bright 6.1-inch display that works great in both sunlight and indoors. And taps still register with gloves, which is nice during jobs in the middle of winter. Plus, it comes with handy apps for a compass, barometer, weather, and more.

The 48MP camera does well during the day or in brightly lit rooms, but low-light conditions tend to produce muddier images. And you may run into some performance hiccups on its Android 11 operating system, though nothing is too sluggish to be usable. If you need a Verizon-compatible rugged phone, the Kyocera DuraSport 5G UW fits the bill nicely.

The front and back of a Ulefone Power Armor 13 phone.

Ulefone Power Armor 13

Best for measuring

A rugged phone with an infrared distance meter

The Ulefone Power Armor 13 has an infrared distance measurer, which is sure to be useful on job sites. It also boasts a 48MP camera and a large 6.81-inch screen. Plus it comes with handy apps like a plumb bob, protractor, compass, and more.

Pros

  • Infrared distance measuring
  • Long battery life
  • Big screen
Cons

  • Heavy
  • Bulky
  • Only 4G and Android 12

Many rugged phones carry a standard set of features, and the Ulefone Power Armor 13 is no different with its IP68 and IP69K ratings. But this phone also has an infrared distance measurer, which means you can get the length, area, volume, and even the Pythagorean distance between all sorts of things on a job site. If you wish, you can also add an optional sold-separately endoscope as well. Plus, apps like a protractor and compass come built-in.

A 48MP main camera takes clear snapshots, while the 8MP wide-angle and 2MP macro lenses let you take broad panoramas and extreme closeups. The 13200mAh battery lasts for nearly five days of regular use or 17 hours of continuous talk time. And with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage space, you won’t experience hiccups or slowdowns.

Note that the Ulefone Power Armor 13 only comes with Android 12 and 4G support, which is common for rugged devices. It also tips the scale at 17.35 ounces (492 g), which is over a pound. But its infrared measuring capabilities are unbeatable if you need them.

The best rugged smartphones in 2023: The final takeaway

My overall pick for the best rugged smartphone is the Doogee V MAX. It is waterproof, dust-proof, drop-resistant, and even works in extreme temperatures. Plus, it comes with a great set of cameras and 5G support. If you want something a bit more premium, consider the CAT S62 Pro, which comes from the same brand that makes construction equipment. It boasts an excellent thermal camera and a solid build. For the value-minded, I’d recommend the Ulefone Power Armor 16 Pro, which has an incredibly loud speaker and a high-capacity battery, all in a durable package that can survive harsh job sites.

A Doogee V MAX phone seen at an angle with an orange swirl background show on its display.

Doogee V MAX

Best overall

$464 $580 Save $116

The Doogee V MAX offers a rugged IP68/IP69K rating and has been MIL-STD-810H tested to withstand the harshest of conditions. This phone gives you plenty of features that are useful on every job site, including a night-vision camera, long battery life, and even 5G support.

[ad_2]

Related posts