The 4 Best Rugged Phones for Outdoor Adventures
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Rugged phones are tough. When they get dropped or get water splashed on them, they don’t shatter or break. And we’ve rounded up four of the best rugged phones of 2017.

There’s a whole line of rugged smartphones that can withstand anything you throw at them. Sure, they won’t be the best smartphone around, but at least you won’t spend $800 on these and break them in a month.

We took a look at some of the toughest Androids in 2013, but a lot has changed since then. If you were to look for the best and toughest phone now, these are your choices.

Budget Buy:
Blu Tank Xtreme 5.0

blu tank xtreme 5 phone

BLU Tank Xtreme -5.0" Water and Shock Resistant Smartphone - 3,000mAh Battery- Black BLU Tank Xtreme -5.0" Water and Shock Resistant Smartphone - 3,000mAh Battery- Black Buy Now At Amazon $72.50

  • Screen: 5 inches IPS, 1280×720 pixels
  • Processor: 1.3 GHz quad-core MediaTek MT6590
  • RAM: 1GB
  • Storage: 8GB (with microSD card slot)
  • Camera: 5 MP
  • Battery: 3,000 mAh
  • SIM: Dual-SIM
  • OS: Android 6 Marshmallow

Blu has a knack for making excellent budget Android phones. For instance, the Blu Advance 5.0 is the best budget smartphone for students. Even in the rugged devices, it ranks right up there with the Blu Tank Xtreme 5.0.

The Blue Tank Xtreme 5.0 is a dust-proof and water-resistant smartphone with an IP65 rating. It features a custom rubberized frame to protect the device and claims it can survive drops and falls without damage.

Unfortunately, the Xtreme 5.0 offers only Corning Gorilla Glass as the screen protection. While Gorilla Glass is excellent, it’s not shatterproof, so those drop-survival claims might not be as reliable if it falls face down. Just in case, keep in mind some of the practical things to do if your screen breaks.

And in case you didn’t notice in the specifications sheet, it has only 1GB of RAM. For any Android power user, that is going to be a bottleneck—but hey, you can’t get everything at a low price.

However, if you need better specs, give the Blackview BV7000 Pro a try. It comes with an absurd amount of RAM (4GB) and storage (64GB) and can be acquired through GearBest or Amazon. The BV7000 won’t get many security or software updates and its weatherproofing may not be amazing—but it can survive a storm or dunking without breaking.

Best Phone Among Ruggeds:
Samsung Galaxy S7 Active

Samsung Galaxy S7 ACTIVE G891A 32GB Unlocked GSM Shatter-Resistant, Extremely Durable Smartphone w/ 12MP Camera - Camo Green (Certified Refurbished) Samsung Galaxy S7 ACTIVE G891A 32GB Unlocked GSM Shatter-Resistant, Extremely Durable Smartphone w/ 12MP Camera - Camo Green (Certified Refurbished) Buy Now At Amazon $365.45

  • Screen: 5.1 inches Super AMOLED, 2560×1440 pixels
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 820
  • RAM: 4GB
  • Storage: 32GB (with microSD card slot)
  • Camera: 12 MP
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh
  • SIM: Dual-SIM
  • OS: Android 7 Nougat

It has been a year since Samsung rolled out the Galaxy S7 Active, and anyone who bought it then still has a rock-solid device in their hand. If you prefer to buy phones from reputed brands, then the Galaxy S7 Active won’t disappoint you.

Unlike the Blu Tank, this one does have a shatter-resistant screen, so you can feel a little safer about that. Samsung has also not skimped on the features, with an excellent camera, and long battery life. And it also has all those hidden Galaxy S7 features you’ll love.

Every tech reviewer who tried this phone gave it a thumbs up, despite its slight heft and bulk. It’s not as rugged as the CAT S60 or Kyocera DuraForce Pro below. But it’s also no slouch.

The Galaxy S7 Active is an AT&T exclusive, but we recommend that you don’t buy carrier phones and instead get them unlocked. You can buy an unlocked, refurbished version through the Amazon link above. And it’s a GSM-only phone, so it won’t work with CDMA phones.

Most Rugged Phone:
CAT S60

CAT PHONES S60 Rugged Waterproof Smartphone with integrated FLIR camera CAT PHONES S60 Rugged Waterproof Smartphone with integrated FLIR camera Buy Now At Amazon $469.00

  • Screen: 4.7 inches, 1280×720 pixels
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB (with microSD card slot)
  • Camera: 13 MP
  • Battery: 3,800 mAh
  • SIM: Dual-SIM
  • OS: Android 6 Marshmallow

CAT has been making some of the best rugged phones for some time now, like the B15 that we loved. The CAT S60 is their greatest yet. A strengthened frame makes it survive drops beyond military specifications. There is no worry about the phone slipping out of your hands.

The CAT S60 also has a switch to lock it down if you’re going to be underwater. Flip that switch and the phone is completely protected at depths of up to five meters, which is far more than any other phone.

Uniquely, the CAT S60 includes thermal imaging technology in its 13 MP camera. While this won’t be useful for most people, it’s an incredible tool for certain industrial jobs.

But for some people, that screen is going to be a deal-breaker. The smaller size and resolution make it functional, but not fun.

Also Excellent:
Kyocera DuraForce Pro

  • Screen: 5 inches IPS, 1280×720 pixels
  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 617
  • RAM: 3GB
  • Storage: 32GB (with microSD card slot)
  • Camera: 13 MP
  • Battery: 3240 mAh
  • SIM: Single SIM
  • OS: Android 6 Marshmallow

If the phone’s screen size matters to you, then the CAT S60 might not make the cut. In that case, go for the Kyocera DuraForce Pro, which features a larger screen with a higher resolution.

The DuraForce Pro also includes a unique sapphire shield for the screen. This makes it shatterproof, and virtually indestructible. There’s no reason to put a tempered glass screen protector on this, which also means your gloved or wet hands can use the screen more easily.

The screen apart, the DuraForce Pro and the CAT S60 are almost identical. The processor, the camera, and all other features are comparable. The S60 scores higher on battery life though.

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro is available through U.S. mobile carriers at the moment, with no unlocked version available online. The retail price (without contract) is $420, but you’ll need to manually SIM unlock the Android phone How to SIM Unlock Your Android Smartphone or Tablet How to SIM Unlock Your Android Smartphone or Tablet If you're switching carriers or going abroad, you'll need to SIM unlock your device. Here's how. Read More .

Cases vs. Rugged Phones

You’ll often hear about the option of buying a phone you like and putting it in a rugged case. And yes, some of them are fantastic—like these excellent tough cases for iPhones The 5 Toughest iPhone Cases Money Can Buy The 5 Toughest iPhone Cases Money Can Buy Apple’s latest iPhone is surprisingly robust given its light weight but it’s only designed to survive minor drops in a friendly environment. Serious falls, dirt and water aren’t a factor, and that’s a problem if... Read More .

However, these rugged cases are not good for someone who regularly leads an active life. These cases are excellent for adventure sports enthusiasts, who will need “rugged” for maybe two-three hours in a day. But if your job or life puts you in abnormal conditions all the time, a rugged phone will serve you better.

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  1. ska
    December 1, 2017 at 6:30 am

    Coolicool has some high quality rugged phones on sale. Blackview BV9000 PRO, DOOGEE S60, and Ulefone Armor 2.