Best rugged Android smartphones money can buy (2019 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 Cat S60 or the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active as the most rugged smartphone for everyday use.

CAT PHONESCAT PHONES S60 Rugged Waterproof Smartphone with integrated FLIR cameraBuy on Amazon|$444.9(Price as of 03/24/2019 20:31 ET)

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Made by the same company that makes industrial heavy equipment, Caterpillar also has a phone division that makes rugged phones.  Their latest phone, the Cat S60, was released in June of 2016, so it has most of the modern technologies you would look for in a smartphone, and combine it with the rugged protection, this just might be the perfect and best rugged smartphone available today.  It comes with a 3GB RAM, huge 3800mAh battery, 13MP camera, IP68 certified for waterproofing, running Android 6.0.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

CAT PHONESCAT PHONES S60 Rugged Waterproof Smartphone with integrated FLIR cameraBuy on Amazon|$444.9(Price as of 03/24/2019 20:31 ET)

* Links in this table contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Thank you for your support. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

17 Replies to “Best rugged Android smartphones money can buy (2019 update)”

  1. Jesy j9s is waterproof phone, the smartphone looks very impressive, its functionality is also great, and for the average user, there will be more than enough.

  2. jesy j9s Camera has 16 megapixels with an external lens made of sapphire crystal. Also, it features an optical stabilization system.
    The front Camera comes with 8 megapixels. For the Quality of the Pictures, I have to say it is really good.

  3. These were great for its time; expensive but worth it… ruggeds were rare back then: by the way! Have you seen the agm line ? They remember me this one: but since they are way cheaper the first time that my agm a8 fell down from my pocket i almost got a heartatack … but it survived without a scratch 🙂 and now i am looking for the way to got myself a x1 18k gold edition

  4. Yeah… this title is click bait… shake on you especially since quotes are from winter.

    Anything android pre 5.0 is… oh yeah obsolete due to security issues.

  5. So sad people release phones and then never look at them again, support them, update them or keep their users secure.

    If just one (not stupidly priced) phone came out with the latest software (and not worrying about QHD, FHD is fine), I’d jump on it.

  6. my favourite ruggedphone is the agm x1 I have bought AGM x1 a month ago the and I have to say that I am very satisfied. The phone is perfect: incredibly durable and surprisingly powerful (I would have never said that, like you) and, a very important thing, that really makes me love this device, is the battery life!! 3 days by using it continuously (working on site the apps istalled by AGM are very useful and the quality photo are really important for the workers etc.). Only with long battery life, the outdoor smartphone can truly be “outside”. 5400 mAh massive battery, combined with power-efficiency Snapdragon SOC processor, provide exceptional performance for the phone. Deep custom Samsung Super AMOLED display allows for vivid colors but low power consumption at the same time. Say goodbye to short battery life. Then the customer service of the company is good despite being halfway around the world (agm is a Chinese firm), in English they told me that my X1 will be updated to Android 7.0. And i am waiting for Barcelona, i heard something about the agm x2… o_o I hope you update your list!!! 😉 tell me what do you think

  7. I’ve enjoyed my Casio G’zOne C811, but being stuck at Jelly Bean (Android 4.1.2) it is making itself obsolete. Why do these manufacturers not keep up with their OS updates?! It’s a great, tough phone, but without an updated OS, it is becoming increasingly disappointing to use.

  8. The Runbo Q5-S may according to reports be recalled by the manufacturer due to water leakage.

    The Runbo Q5-S may according to reports be recalled by the manufacturer due to water leakage. The Runbo Q5-S (Light) was the replacement to the old X5. The Runbo Q5-S (Light) has lower specifications than the old X5 and was thought an affordable alternative to the old X5 as Runbo original devices generally lean towards the higher end in the rugged smart phone offerings.

    However, if your are needing a rugged phone without the smarts then the Q5-S could have been an affordable answer as Runbo original devices are well known for their ruggedness and quality.

    Runbo Systems are offering a full refund on return of the Q5-S within 30 days of purchase for a full refund or a very attractive optional upgrade to the New Runbo Q5-D (4.5G). Courtesy The Web. Rugged-Phones…

  9. Hey, you can read press releases ! Good on ya!

    But seriously, have you tested any of these phones? Do you even know what your words mean? MIL-STD-810G is a meta-standard. Unless you specify which of the tests that are covered by 810G were run on each phone model, and what the outcome was, saying “810G approved” means exactly bupkiss. zilch. nada. In fact, some of the phones above are absolute crap as far as ruggedness is concerned.

    Sorry to be so negative, but I myself was taken in by the advertisement, only later to learn what those words mean – or don’t. Look for reviewers with real-life tests, not for people regurgitating corporate adverts.

  10. Hi and thanks for the blog. I just ordered my LAND ROVER A9+. I wonder if you forgot it or maybe ignored it’s existence , as it fits nicely in your above description. I have not tested it yet but i was hesitating for a long time btw it and the CAT b15Q. Both sound fishy as brand to me ( both brand well know to me in my everyday life ,but for cars and construction gear heheh) However considering the LRa9 has very similar specs but with better battery and camera AND is at half price i took my chance (despite the one step lower OS), with the letter. GOSH i must be a geek, even commenting here ;-))

    Regards, business mummy with tough babies =tough phones 🙂

  11. Now we are talking about a smartphone that I can get enthused about! The delicacy of most smartphones is why I have opted out of buying one and kept with an older model flip phone. I am way too hard on phones to buy one that is not specifically labeled as rugged.

  12. To be honest, I’d like to see a rugged smartphone featuring the premium specs of the Galaxy S5 or HTC One…it seems anything that is rugged gets downgraded quite a bit.

  13. I think the reason some of us get semi-cheap phones is because we all know they are going to be the same. We would rather spend the extra money on a harder case to help protect the phone. If both ranked at the same level of being tough we would stop wasting so much money on things we don’t need.

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