Rugged Smartphones

Things you must consider before buying a rugged smartphone/cellphone in 2019:

  • When choosing an outdoor mobile phone, be sure to use the IP code (IP stands for International Protection Standard). This is usually the more meaningful than the often spongy manufacturer information on water and dust tightness. We recommend at least IP67 better still IP68.

  • For optimal operation outdoors, like, in direct sunlight, an outdoor phone or outdoor smartphone should be equipped with a bright and matte (ie not reflective) display .

  • So that your interlocutor can understand you even in strong wind or in a noisy working environment (such as a construction site), an outdoor mobile phone should have a noise canceling microphone .

  • An integrated flashlight (or a dedicated LED flash) is also a must have for any cell phone or smartphone that carries “Outdoor” in its name. Because a flashlight is not only important to find your way in the dark, but also in an emergency to attract attention.

  • It is always assumed that a metal case is the best choice for a cell phone or smartphone. For outdoor phones, this is not true. A housing made of plastic or rubber absorbs shocks and falls better and gives the energy not so strong to sensitive components, such. As the display, from.

  • If you want to use an outdoor smartphone as a navigation system, it should support in addition to GPS and the Russian satellite system GLONASS . Because the additional satellites increase the accuracy and reliability enormously.

  • For harsh weather or a cold winter, an outdoor mobile phone with gloves should be usable . In addition, large keys with good pressure point and a large key spacing are beneficial. Outdoor smartphones are best equipped with a resistive touch screen, which is a touchscreen that responds to pressure.

Frequently asked questions about rugged smartphones

1. Where can I find an overview of all outdoor mobile phones and smartphones?

You can find all phones and smartphones listed on our page in our product overview , in which you can sort models not only by alphabet, publication date, popularity or customer rating, but also according to your characteristics such as: As price, IP code, manufacturer, battery, operating system, memory size or cell phone features can sort.

2. Should I buy an outdoor phone or an rugged smartphone?

The question of whether it should be a cell phone or smartphone, is not necessarily easy to answer, because both have their advantages and disadvantages, which are explained in more detail below:

2.1 Rugged smartphones are better equipped and have more features

It’s obvious that smartphones are vastly superior to most simple phones in terms of features and software. Most outdoor smartphones have GPS and high-resolution cameras. You can surf the Internet with W-LAN or mobile network, listen to radio or MP3 songs, watch videos, stay in touch with friends via Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Skype, etc., play games or look up train connections using apps. Convert currencies or find a restaurant nearby.

There are also many apps that can be of great use in outdoor activities, such as: Weather, compass, geocaching , emergency, planting or one of the many route planner apps.

2.2 Ruggedsmartphones usually have a shorter battery life than outdoor cell phones

A disadvantage of rugged smartphones is that their battery life usually can not keep up with that of outdoor phones. So the battery of models such as the Sonim XP3300 Force, Samsung Xcover 550, Samsung B2710 or Cyrus CM15 holds one or even several weeks, while most smartphones usually only offer a battery life of one or two days. But even here there are exceptions, such. B. the Runbo F1 , which has a very strong battery.

2.3 Outdoor smartphones are often less robust than outdoor phones

Another disadvantage of many smartphones is their lower robustness. They have more sensitive electronics than simple cell phones, a less well-protected outer shell and more attack surface for damage due to their large display. Although most rugged smartphones are IP67 or even IP68 certified and therefore very well protected against water and dust, many Survial phones such For example, the Sonim XP3300 Force, Sonim XP1300 Core , Cyrus CM15, or simvalley MOBILE XT-640 offer better protection against impact, falls, and other environmental factors.

On the other hand, rugged phones are often quite clunky and heavy, whereas there are Survival smartphones that hardly differ externally from ordinary smartphones like the CAT S30 , CAT S40 or the Kyocera Torque KC-S701.

2.4 Outdoor smartphones are on average slightly more expensive than outdoor phones

In terms of price, an rugged smartphone is generally a bit more expensive, although there are both affordable smartphones, such as the Motorola Defy mini , which can be had for less than $100, and expensive, rugged phones like the Sonim XP5300 Force 3G . for which you have to put between 300 and 400 € on the table.

3. Can I order rugged phones on this website?

No, unfortunately that is not possible. If you want to order an outdoor phone or outdoor smartphone, you can do so only through our partner stores (eg Amazon). You can find the corresponding links on the detail pages for the respective mobile phone. Just click on the buy button and you will get directly to the online shop.

We recommend the purchase on Amazon, as we ourselves have had very good experiences with the online retailer and Amazon offers not only low prices, but also a good customer service. Unless you are ordering all phones are on Amazon, not with an Amazon Marketplace seller free shipping and can if not satisfied will be returned via the Amazon return center within 30 days after purchase easily.

4. What does IP67, IP68 or IP54 mean?

This means that the outdoor smartphone is dustproof and waterproof for up to 30 minutes at one meter depth. The first digit, in this case the 6, indicates the protection against the ingress of foreign bodies and the second digit the protection against the ingress of water. The higher the number, the better a device is protected.

5. Where can I compare all outdoor phones?

You can check the specifications and prices of all outdoor phones and smartphones, such as: Weight, display size or IP code, compare in our outdoor cell phone comparison . Our comparison allows the comparison of up to 5 devices simultaneously.

Alternatively, you can also use our  productoverview to compare models. You can z. B. sort by price, product name or date of publication or by product properties such. B. IP code, battery or operating system filter.

6. Are there any models from HTC?

No, unfortunately, there are currently really weatherproof or resistant cell phones from HTC. We also do not know if there will be outdoor models of the Taiwanese manufacturer in the future, although more and more manufacturers are currently offering outdoor-ready models and HTC will probably have to jump on the train sometime.

The only known HTC model that comes closest to a survival phone is the HTC Butterfly. It has a quad-core processor with 1.5 GHz, 16 GB memory, an 8-megapixel camera and a 5-inch display with Full HD display and is thus very well positioned. Its outdoor suitability leaves something to be desired, which is why it is not listed here on the page. It has a fairly short battery life and is only IPX5 certified, which is far from being waterproof. According to the IPX5, it is protected against a jet of water from all directions from a 6.3 mm nozzle with a flow rate of 12.5 liters/minute and a pressure of 30 kN/m² from 3 meters away on the phone.

7. Are there also robust smartphones with a different operating system than Android?

To our knowledge, there is currently no outdoor smartphone that runs with Windows Phone , iOS , Blackberry or other operating systems than Google’s Android.

As for the future, we can only make guesses. We think that it is unlikely that there will ever be an iPhone suitable for outdoor activities. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus are waterproof, but not shockproof. However, there is the possibility for the iPhone to buy a special protective cover, which protects it from falling, such. For example, the Otterbox or Lifeproof.

That there will be a weatherproof Windows smartphone, is already quite possible, although this will depend heavily on how the popularity of the still rather insignificant operating system Windows Phone will develop in the future.

8. Are there any outdoor phones or rugged smartphones that you can use as a radio?

Yes, the Runbo Q5 , Runbo X6 . These models can all be used as a full-featured, 70 centimeter amateur radio, assuming, of course, you are in possession of regulatory approval. To use the outdoor smartphones as a radio, a supplied antenna must be screwed on.

9. Are there rugged flip phones?

The only known outdoor flip phone is the Motorola Brute i686. Unfortunately, this is not available in the German market. Whether it will appear in the future, a robust clamshell on the market, we do not know. However, we consider the introduction of such a cell phone to be rather unlikely, since the demand for flip phones has been steadily declining since 2006 and for quite some time mainly bar mobile phones have hit the market.

10. Which is the most robust phone in the world?

That’s hard to say, as there was no real competition or multi-model test in this respect. Potential candidates for this title, however, would be the Sonim XP1300 Core , XP3300 Force or XP5300 Force 3G , which are characterized by their extreme resilience. The Sonim XP3300 Core was even named the “toughest phone in the world” in 2011 in the Guinness Book of World Records. It survived a fall from 25 meters height on concrete floor.

Useful Terms for Rugged Smartphones:


GLONASS is an acronym for  Globalnaya nawigazionnaja sputnikovaja sistema is a global satellite navigation system operated by the Russian Ministry of Defense.

In its operation and structure, it is similar to the US NAVSTAR GPS and was developed during the Cold War for military strategic reasons in parallel and independently. The development of the system began in 1972, but was declared operational in September 1993.

In the aftermath GLONASS had to fight problems due to defective satellites and the functionality of the system was limited. By order of Russia’s prime minister, Vladmir Putin, the system was rebuilt for the equivalent of 1.8 billion euros and is back in 2011 completely and globally available.

Like GPS, GLONASS needs about 24 satellites for proper operation to ensure that there are always four satellites visible in one location, and recipients such as outdoor phones or navigation systems to fully locate the latitude, longitude, sea level, and time To be available.

For some time, in addition to GPS and GLONASS receivers are installed in mobile phones. The following outdoor mobile phones and smartphones already have such a receiver.

Gorilla Glass

Gorilla Glass, also Germanized gorilla glass or gorilla glass, is an aluminosilicate glass developed by the US manufacturer Corning Inc. , which is mainly used in mobile phones, laptops and MP3 players in the form of a display glass.

Depending on the application, it is manufactured in a thickness of 0.4 to 2 mm and is suitable for touchscreen displays. It is characterized by its hardness and scratch resistance despite its small thickness, which makes it very popular with manufacturers.

According to Corning’s Full Product List , Gorilla Glass is used by more than 33 manufacturers in more than 1000 products. Worldwide, over 1.5 billion devices are now to be equipped with the glass.

Meanwhile, there are three generations of scratch-resistant glass, the second generation, Gorilla Glass 2, is similar stable and scratch-resistant as Gorilla Glass 1, but about 20% thinner. The latest generation, which was presented at the beginning of 2013, is Gorilla Glass 3 and should be even more stable and up to three times more scratch resistant than Gorilla Glass 2.

Gorilla Glass is also used on many outdoor mobile phones and smartphones.

IP code

When buying a rugged mobile phone, one thing is very important to know, that is the IP code, because it has more significance than the sometimes spongy information from the mobile phone manufacturer.

The first digit in the IP code stands for the protection of the technology used in the device against the ingress of foreign bodies . The second digit indicates how well the device is protected against ingress of water . The higher the number, the better the device is protected against dust or water.

In the following two tables you will find the meaning of the two numbers according to the standard DIN EN 60529/IEC 60529.

Protection against foreign bodies (eg with IP67 the number 6)

digit protection definition
0 no protection
1 Protected against solid foreign bodies (diameter from 50 mm)
2 Protected against solid foreign bodies (diameter from 12.5 mm)
3 Protected against solid foreign bodies (diameter from 2.5 mm)
4 Protected against solid foreign bodies (diameter from 1.0 mm)
5 dust protected
6 dustproof

Protection against water (eg with IP67 the number 7)

digit protection definition
0 no protection
1 Protection against vertically falling dripping water
2 Protection against falling dripping water with housing inclination up to 15 °
3 Protection against falling water spray up to 60 ° to the vertical
4 Protection against splashes of water on all sides
5 Protection against jet water (nozzle) from any angle
6 Protection against strong jet water
7 Protection against temporary submersion (30 minutes at a water depth of 1 meter)
8th Protection against continuous submersion (water depth is determined by the manufacturer)
9 Protection against water during high-pressure / steam jet cleaning


1. The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 is certified to IP67 and thus dustproof, which indicates the 6, and protected against temporary submersion, what the 7 indicates.

2. The Nokia 3720 classic is IP54 certified and thus dust-proof, which indicates the 5, and protected against splashes of water, which indicates the 4.


SAR (Specific Absorbance Rate) is the measure of the absorption of electromagnetic fields in biological tissue and is commonly expressed in W/kg.

The absorption of electromagnetic field energy always leads to a warming of the tissue. This so-called dielectric heating is used, for example, in pest control or in microwave ovens.

For mobile phones and smartphones, the SAR value will often be that of modern devices between 0.10 and 1.99 W / kg. The WHO recommended upper limit is 2.0 W/kg.


The MIL-STD-810 is a US military standard that defines test conditions for military equipment. The current standard is MIL-STD-810G dated October 31, 2008. The predecessor, which is also frequently used on devices, is MIL-STD-810F of January 01, 2000, which was last updated on May 5, 2003.

What are the environmental influences of MIL-STD-810?

The MIL-STD-810G includes just about every environmental impact that military equipment could be exposed to, such as:

  • Low pressure (by altitude)
  • heat
  • cold
  • Thermal shock
  • Penetration of liquids
  • sunlight
  • rain
  • humidity
  • fungal infection
  • salt spray
  • Sand and dust
  • Explosive atmospheres
  • immersion
  • acceleration
  • vibrations
  • sound waves
  • shocks
  • explosions
  • acid
  • ice rain

How meaningful is the MIL-STD-810?

The current MIL-STD-810, the MIL-STD-810G, is a more than 800-page document that describes in great detail test methods for military equipment, but unlike IP certification is not a binding norm. This means that the test methods described in the document can be modified as desired and adapted to the device under test.

In addition, there are neither government nor private institutions that certify the conformity of a device with the MIL-STD-810. Manufacturers are therefore not only free to decide which test methods are used to test a device, but can also test devices themselves.

Manufacturer information such as “MIL-STD-810G certified” is therefore not particularly meaningful. So if you want to buy a very rugged device, you should first find out which test methods were used, whether the tests were performed by the manufacturer or by an independent body, and what manufacturer limits were set for each test.

According to the US website  Rugged PC Review , many manufacturers even agree that no tests were performed on the devices at all, but that they were designed to meet the requirements. The reason for this is that many of the tests described in MIL-STD810 are very complex and in most cases require special testing equipment.

Here are some best rugged smartphones from different brands. Check the reviews for full information.