“Should I bring my smartphone with me?” Chances are you have exposed your smartphone to some extreme conditions if you have an active lifestyle. I have trashed several mobile devices while enjoying some outdoors activities, so I’m always interested in the rugged smartphones that have been growing in numbers.
Most carriers now offer at least one rugged phone so we wanted to round up the best of the best and see how they compare. Read on to see if you need tough Android phone in your pocket.
Verizon – Casio G’zOne Commando
The Good: Built to MIL-STD-810G spec standards – meets military standards for water immersion, rain, shock and dust resistance, vibration, salt fog, humidity, solar radiation, altitude, and high and low temperature storage. Ships with apps for an active lifestyle including Earth Compass, Thermometer, Sunrise Sunset, Tides, Walking Counter, Star Gazer. Other highlights include 5 MP camera, 800 MHz Snapdragon S2 processor, large front-facing speaker, microSD slot, and support for Verizon’s push to talk service.
The Not-so-good: No 4G LTE, and still runs Android 2.3.
Last Amazon Price: $0.01 on contract, $449 off contract
Final Words: Casio is one of the few OEMs really pushing forward with rugged phones. The G’zOne series has been around since 2006, and the Commando is the first Android-powered device in the family. Casio was an official sponsor of X Games Los Angeles 2012 and Red Bull Signature Series, so they are investing in increasing their brand awareness.
We like the tough design of the Commando and think it would be a great rugged phone for an outdoors enthusiast on Verizon. You could easily add a line to your Verizon Share Everything plan and pick up the Commando for free.
Casio recently teamed up with Hypebest to create a series of videos that focused on the extremities of the environments that challenge the unique individuals they are targeting. The latest video features free-climbing, base-jumping group The Skyliners.
AT&T – Samsung Rugby Smart
The Good: Built to 810f military spec standards - waterproof, dust proof, and shock resistant. Device highlights include 3.7 inch Super AMOLED Plus display, 1.4 GHz single-core processor, 5 MP camera, and support for AT&T 4G HSPA+ network.
The Not-so-good: Stuck with Android 2.3, some user reviews say the screen cracked after several drops.
Final Words: The Rugby Smart is a nice pickup for AT&T customers if you can get it free on contract. Otherwise, you are best getting an unlocked rugged phone and just swapping your SIM card over when you want to use it.
Last Amazon Price: $0.01 on contract, $349 off contract
Sprint – Motorola Admiral
The Good: Meets the military specifications for dust, shock, solar radiation, and temperature extremes. Corning Gorilla Glass means touchscreen display is scratch-resistant. Highlights of the device include a 1.2 GHz Snapdragon S2 processor, QWERTY keyboard, 5 MP camera, microSD slot, and push-to-talk (PTT) service over Sprint Direct Connect.
The Not-so-good: Stuck on Android 2.3, no 4G speeds, and display is only 3.1 inches.
Final Words: This is one of the few rugged phones that is designed for a business environment. The QWERTY keyboard is great for email, but the display might be too small for some. This phone can also be found for free on contract, and it has one of the lower prices if you just want to purchase the phone only.
Last Amazon Price: $0.01 on contract, $289.99 off contract
T-Mobile / Unlocked – Motorola Defy
The Good: Lowest price for no-contract rugged Android phone, dust-proof as well as water and scratch resistant.
The Not-so-good: Phone is starting to age and newer Motorola Defy XT556 is coming soon. Device is stuck on Android 2.2.
Final Words: Good choice if you are looking for a cheap phone to take out on the weekend and don’t want to damage your primary device.
Wrapping Things Up
Looking down the list shows us that rugged phones can’t compete with the flagship devices in terms of specs, but the target customer for these phones isn’t interested in specs. An outdoors enthusiasts just wants a device that can survive the elements and still make calls.
What’s your view on rugged phones? Would you compromise on hardware specs and outdated software to have a mobile device that could survive a swim in the toilet and keep on ticking? Let us know if you would consider purchasing a rugged device as a backup to take on outdoors trips or maybe as a tough phone for a child.