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Best rugged Android smartphones money can buy (2016 update)

If you are looking for a rugged phone you can toss around in the mud and go to battle with in the trenches, then continue below for our top 7 best rugged smartphone available.  But if you don’t crawl around in the mud all day for a living, we would highly suggest the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active as the most rugged smartphone for everyday use.  Galaxy S7 Active should handle most of the daily mishaps you may entercounter.  It is built with shatter-resistant screen, rated the highest possible IP68 for water and dust protection, and comes with a huge 4,000 mAh battery to get you through the day.

Best Rugged Android Smartphone

ImageBrandProductPrices
Samsung Samsung Galaxy S7 Active 709.99
Casio Casio G'zOne Commando 4G LTE 0.00
Kyocera Kyocera Torque Smart Rugged Phone 99.99
Kyocera Kyocera Hydro XTRM 0.00
Samsung Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro 44.94
NEC NEC Terrain 0.00
Runbo Runbo X6 0.00
Caterpillar Caterpillar CAT B15Q 269.95


You know how smartphone manufacturers always like to flaunt the way their latest, proudest, costliest “high-end products” cater to the needs of “power users” and so justify the outrageous price tags? Well, if you ask me, they got the definition of power user all wrong.

Bruce Willis phone

Bona fide power users don’t care how fast silly cat YouTube clips load on their handhelds. Or if they can smoothly run the newest Angry Birds installment. Instead, they want devices that could survive wars, actual wars, without flinching.

Quad HD displays? How about unbreakable glass with just enough pixels to check the football scores? “True” octa-core chips? Save it, and give us a gizmo we can bounce off 4 inches thick concrete walls. PureView 41 MP cameras? No thanks, but a battery capable of lasting more than a couple of days on a single charge would be nice when stranded on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere.

Bottom line, we want phones that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone would use in “Terminator 5” and “Rambo: Last Stand”, not toys for Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner to express their feelings for Kristen Stewart in “Twilight”. Luckily, a few such rough, tough, rugged models are around, and we picked seven we think might make even Machete reconsider his stance on texting.

rugged phone

Before getting to it, we’d like to underline the “magnificent seven” was selected based on a number of criteria. Of course, the exact grade of toughness carried the most weight (sorry, Galaxy S5), but we also looked for hardware specifications from this century, relatively new software, quality-price ratio (not even Rambo’s budget is unlimited), decent design (you can’t walk around with a brick in your pocket), and finally reliable, more or less well-known mobile brands. Here we go:

7. Runbo X6

Not only does this ruggedized beast’s name have an awesome ring to it (Runbo, Rambo, get it?), but it’s also water protected for dunks of up to 30 minutes in 2 meters deep rivers, lakes, whatever. And reportedly, impossible to break unless, I don’t know, a sniper has it out for you. Plus, get this, it doubles as a walkie talkie with a 5 km range. Why would you ever need a walkie talkie? Beats me, but it sounds oh so kewl.

Runbo X5

Any downsides to the Runbo X6? You bet. For one thing, it comes from a no-name Chinese OEM. It runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (2011 called…), packs a modest dual-core 1 GHz chip, and the 4.3-inch screen is cringe worthy, with 800 x 480 pixels resolution. On top of it all, it’s a little on the expensive side of things, at $400 via Amazon.

6. CATERPILLAR CAT B15

You’re probably all familiar with IP58 and IP67 certifications since the Galaxy S5 and Sony Xperia Z2 brought them to the mainstream, but the rugged CAT B15 adds MIL-STD-810G credentials in the mix. What does that mean exactly? Well, this bad boy ain’t just shielded against accidental water immersions, it can also take a beating, as well as handle solar radiation, thermal shock, humidity, vibration, you name it.

CAT B15

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it will take a bullet for you, but you can use it in the desert, at the North Pole, when it rains, you can punch it (though why would you?), drop it whenever wherever. Price? A measly $370. On-board software? Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Hardware specs? That’s its Achilles’ heel, as it sports a 4-inch 800 x 480 pix res panel, dual-core 1 GHz SoC and 512 MB RAM.

5. NEC Terrain

Yes, the design is a violent blast from the past. I mean, I was under the impression candybars were outlawed in certain parts of the world years ago. Jokes aside, the Terrain is sure ugly, but it has one very important thing going for it. It’s cheap. $79.99 outright through Amazon, or $100 with AT&T contracts.

NEC Terrain

It’s also dust tight, water proof, plus MIL-STD-810G certified, just like the B15. Bottom line, if you’re on an (extremely) tight budget, this is your guy. Just maybe don’t ask a lot of questions about screen resolution, pre-loaded software, or cameras.

4. Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro

Looky here, an MIL-STD-810G-approved rugged handheld from the world’s most popular mobile phone maker. And affordable too, at least with AT&T pacts: $20. Off-contract, it’s a preposterous $450, albeit you can find refurb or used units at less than half the price.

Galaxy Rugby Pro

Aside from resisting shocks, water and so on and so forth, the Rugby Pro offers 4G LTE connectivity (nice), a punchy dual-core 1.5 GHz Snapdragon S4 chip, and 1 GB RAM. Too bad it’s still on Ice Cream Sandwich.

3. Kyocera Hydro XTRM

This little survivor resembles the Galaxy Rugby Pro greatly, pretty much withstanding the same “pressures” with similar grace and supporting 4G LTE. But it’s so much cheaper, at $50 (yes, fifty bucks) free of contract restrictions via MetroPCS. Plus, it’s on Jelly Bean.

Kyocera Hydro XTRM

Drawbacks? Technically, it can endure shorter, more “casual” swims than some of its rivals, including the #2 on our rankings. It’s also extra prone to cracking if you drop it from higher than, say, your hip. The battery isn’t ideal either, and the 4 GB internal storage almost pitiful.

2. Kyocera Torque

Extreme is Torque’s middle name, yet another gadget that meets military standards for everything from dust to transport shock, high or low temperatures, solar radiation, etc., etc. Where the Torque truly impresses however is in battery life, packing a ginormous 2,500 mAh juicer whose autonomy is way beyond those of Android “flagship” devices. Think 20 hours in continuous talk time, and possibly up to a week in average use.

kyocera-torque

Available with Sprint contracts starting at a penny, the Kyocera Torque is no catwalk supermodel, weighing in at close to 170 grams and being way too curvy for my own personal taste. It’s also stuck on Ice Cream Sandwich. So close to perfection, Kyocera, so damn close.

1. Casio G’Zone Commando 4G LTE

Did anyone say perfection? Ahem, meet Verizon’s Commando. A striking, robust, muscular, hunky yet also stylish phone, the 4 incher is a near flawless blend of physical strength and high-performing Android-backed hardware.

Since Verizon eliminated the contracts, you would need to buy this phone outright, which is going for $499.99 currently on Amazon.  The LTE-enabled hunk is sheltered against 4-feet drops, 30-minutes 1 m depth water dunks, rain, heavy dust, salt fog, humidity, solar radiation, ultra-low pressure, temperatures as high as 85° C and as low as -25°. Bottom line, it’s virtually indestructible.

GzOne-Commando-LTE

Oh, yes, and it features a snappy 1.5 GHz dual-core processor, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB built-in storage, 8 MP rear-facing camera, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, so it’s really the best of both worlds.

What say you, action movie aficionados/outdoorsy tech geeks? Is any of the above your ideal war comrade? Have any other suggestions? Would you have maybe ranked our top seven differently? Let your voices be heard.