Mobile Innovation

Top 5 rugged cell phones

If you’ve recently dropped your phone on a tile floor and watched helplessly as the glass screen shattered, then you might be in the market for a more rugged cell phone. There’s a price we pay for the beauty of modern smartphones (in addition to the actual product price, that is), and in most case, that price comes in the form of fragility. Sure, you can use cases and screen protectors and take other precautions to protect your phone, and more and more devices are making it to the market touting waterproof designs. However, if you really want to get a rugged cell phone experience, then one of these devices is the way to go.

Our Five Favorite Rugged Cell Phones

  1.  CAT S60: CAT phoneIt doesn’t take much more than a look at the brand name to know that this phone is built to take some serious abuse. CAT, in this case, is short for “Caterpillar,” or the company that makes all those construction vehicles you see on building sites near your house or workplace. The S60 is built a bit like construction machinery, too, easily earning the title of “most rugged cell phone on the market right now.” With a strengthened die-cast frame, the CAT S60 supposedly “exceeds even military specifications” in build quality. You can drop it from 1.8 meters above the ground and it’s guaranteed not to break. The S60 is also more waterproof than anything Apple or Samsung have come up with yet, capable of spending five minutes underwater at depths of up to five meters and somehow living to tell the tale. There are other cool features as well—such as a thermal imaging camera, underwater photo and video capability, and a screen that will be responsive even if your fingers are wet or in gloves—but the rugged build is the main event.
  2. Sonim XP7: What it lacks in beauty the Sonim XP7 makes up for in brawn. With a gray and yellow design, the phone looks a bit like a construction site. That’s probably because Sonim intends this phone for people who work on construction sites, factory floors, or other environments where damage is a borderline certainty. It’s not quite as durable as the CAT S60, but it can still spend up to 30 minutes under 6.5 feet of water and still work when it comes out. It can also take its fair share of falls, heavy pressure, and even contact with corrosive substances. The phone also comes with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty—another factor worth considering if accidents tend to befall your phone.
  3. Ulefone Armor: If the Sonim XP7 is the ideal rugged smartphone for plants, factories, and other hazardous work environments, then the Ulefone Armor might just be the perfect option for outdoor enthusiasts. A little more attractive than the Sonim XP7—though still understandably bulky—the Ulefone Armor has a bit more general appeal from an aesthetic perspective. It’s no slouch in the waterproofing department, capable of surviving depths of up to 1.2 meters for up to 30 minutes and boasting a Gorilla Glass touchscreen that is usable when wet. The main perk, though, is the extreme temperature resistance. Have you ever been spending time out in the sun and listening to some music on your iPhone—only to get a notification that your phone was too hot to operate? The Ulefone Armor can work just fine in outdoor temperatures of anywhere between -40 degrees and 80 degrees Celsius. From hiking to ice fishing to sunbathing, it’s tough to beat that. 
  1. Kyocera Brigadier: Most tech companies tout Gorilla Glass display screens if they want to show that they are serious about developing rugged performance devices. Gorilla Glass isn’t the best option on the market, though. That title belongs to Sapphire screens. Sapphire screens boast unparalleled durability and scratch-proof strength. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t very many phones on the market that use Sapphire screens—due in large part to their price and the fact that they aren’t as environmentally friendly to produce. The Kyocera Brigadier is the exception, a smartphone with a genuine Sapphire Glass If you need a phone where the screen won’t scratch, shatter, or crack, you’d be hard-pressed to beat the Brigadier. The phone is also waterproof (up to 30 minutes in six feet of water), vibration resistant, and capable of operating in extreme temperatures and conditions. There’s also the “Smart Sonic Receiver” feature, which makes it easy to hear whoever is on the other line of the phone even if you are working in an extremely noisy environment or wearing earplugs.
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7 Active: If you don’t want to stray too far from the phones you’ve been using for years, then the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active is likely your best bet. It’s not quite as rugged as the other four phones on this list, but it can still take its fair share of abuse. The Active is not quite as attractive as the regular S7, having traded in the sleek metal design for a plastic body with rubberized edges. However, those features make the phone more drop-proof than your average smartphone. The S7 Active is also waterproof (up to 30 minutes in five feet of water) and resists salt, dust, rain, humidity, and more. It’s not built for the construction site or the factory floor, but if you need a phone that can take a few punches (metaphorically speaking, of course) without sacrificing the performance that Galaxy and iPhone phones provide, then the S7 Active is the right phone for the job. 

One of the best things about buying rugged cell phones is that they don’t require the use of additional cases, screen protectors, or covers. However, if you do want a carrying holster to make transporting your new device a little bit easier, eHolster has an extensive selection of options. After all, even rugged designs can’t help you if you lose track of your device. If you need help finding the right holster for your particular device, send us an email at