The 8 Best Rugged Smartphones to Buy in 2018

These devices are sure to hold up under the toughest conditions

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Rugged smartphones are designed to handle the worst of situations: Six-foot drops on solid concrete, frigid temps, dust, and even water. If your job or adventure is rough, then it’s important that your tech is too. Thankfully, the best rugged smartphones here will give you the peace of mind of mind no matter what you weather or work conditions have in store for you. These devices come with strong, dependable batteries, shatter-resistant Gorilla Glass, waterproof, and more. Not sure where to start when it comes to selecting one? We can help you out. Read on to find the best rugged smartphones to buy today.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Active has a modern, sleek design, featuring a metal frame body and a shatter-resistant Gorilla Glass 5 AMOLED HD display boasting a 1440 x 2960 pixel resolution.

With an IP68 rating, the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active is built to withstand nature’s elements and forces whether its dunked in five feet of water for 30 minutes, keeping out all dust particles with its concealment, or handling a six-foot drop. Inside, it features a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor running on Android 7.0 Nougat with a 64GB internal memory with an expandable memory up to 256GB via microSD card. You can expect about 30 plus hours of talk time from its 4000mAh battery and shoot 4K video at 30 fps using its 12-megapixel camera. 

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Sonim XP8

Sonim XP8

Courtesy of Sonim

Sonim prides itself on producing the world’s toughest smartphones, and the Sonim XP8 is no exception. The world’s most reliable rugged smartphone is made with a military-rated design that’s tested to adapt to any condition, including 6.5-foot drops on solid concrete, submerged underwater, and more.

Aside from it’s Hulk strength, the Sonim XP8 acts like a normal smartphone using Android 7.11 software with a 2.2 GHz speed and 4GB of RAM supporting an LTE Band 14, packing 64GB of storage, and giving all day usage with its removable 4900mAh battery. The phone’s five-inch Gorilla Glass 3 glove-friendly display is wrapped in a completely sealed durable body that’s completely dustproof, can withstand temperatures from -4 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit, be submerged in water up to 6.5 feet for 30 minutes, and handle 2,000 pounds of weight. It's also resistant to shock and chemicals and comes with a three-year comprehensive warranty.

Best Value: LG Electronics X Venture

LG Electronics X Venture

Courtesy of Amazon

The LG Electronics X Venture is a well-rounded rugged smartphone that's affordably priced under $300. It's designed with a metal frame and reinforced corners with a 5.2-inch full HD Gorilla Glass 4 display that protects against the toughest of scratches. Its IP68 dust- and water-resistance rating means it can be under water up to 4.9 feet for 30 minutes. The shock-resistance meets the highest military standard for products in the United States, so it can handle drops on concrete. The LG Electronics X Venture is user-friendly with multiple language options running on a fast Android OS and come equipped with a 16-megapixel rear camera and a five-megapixel front-facing camera that makes it just like any other phone, but stronger.

Best Budget: Ulefone Armor 2

Ulefone Armor 2

Courtesy of Ulefone

The Ulefone Armor 2 brings the big beefy brawniness at an affordable price. The rugged smartphone doesn’t skip out on powerful features, including an IP68 dustproof and waterproof rating, a 4700mAh battery, 16-megapixel and 13-megapixel cameras, and 6GB of RAM.

The Ulefone Armor 2 is housed in a glass fiber reinforced polycarbonate and metal with a Gorilla Glass 3 display in a sealed enclosure that leaves out dust, water, and sand. It’s eight-core chipset Helio P25 comes packed with four 2.6GHz processing cores and four 1.6GHz cores, giving it the capability of handling multiple tasks like running 60 fps games with a breeze. Its reliable connectivity supports 27 frequency bands under six types covering all major global carriers with a compatibility with CAT6 technology for max download speeds of 300Mbps. Colors come in tan and gray.

Best High Tech Features: AGM X2

The AGM X2 is a powerhouse in rugged smartphones due to its impressive high tech features. The IP68 rated smartphone includes a 16-megapixel front camera (12-megapixel rear), a 5.5-inch FHD AMOLED display, and a hefty 6000mAh battery that charges in one hour, allows you to talk for 50 hours, and has a 480-hour standby time. The AGM X2 is designed with a Gorilla Glass 5 display with a structural protection fortified by its rubber and metal outfit that give it shockproof, dustproof, and waterproof capabilities. Inside you’ll find 6GB of RAM and a Qualcomm Snapdragon 653 Octa Core CPU that makes the AGM X2 a rugged smartphone that handles with smooth and snappy performance.

Best Emergency Battery: CAT S41

When you absolutely need a rugged phone with an emergency battery that’s second to none, the CAT S41 has you covered and full of energy. It’s 5000mAh lithium-ion battery doubles as a power bank for other phones and gives you 44 days of standby time with 39 full hours of talk time.

The tough CAT S41’s credentials include a MIL-SPEC-810G and IP68 water- and dust-resistant rating and is built with a scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass 5 screen that can handle roughly six-foot drops on solid concrete. The CAT S41 has a battery share feature that allows you to power other devices and you can set a specific percentage where you can stop charging to conserve your own power. It comes with a two-year warranty.

Best for Construction: CAT S61

The high tech CAT S61 is the handyman’s dream for rugged smartphones on the list with useful tools that make it perfect for construction or inspection operations. The tough and rugged smartphone includes an integrated thermal imaging camera, laser-assisted distance measure, and indoor air quality monitor.

The CAT S61 is designed with a metal frame body with a Gorilla Glass 5 display cover and includes both an IP68 and IP69 rating; it can handle drops from six feet, resist particles, can go three meters underwater for an hour, and even withstand temperatures ranging from -13 to 131 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. Its highlights are its sensory tools like its thermal camera that can read 752 degrees Fahrenheit in complete darkness, use lasers to measure distances, and even alert you of air pollutants like solvents and paints. It comes with a two-year warranty.

Best Flip: Samsung Rugby III

Samsung Rugby III

Courtesy of Amazon

OK, we know this isn't a smartphone, but if you're looking for a flip phone with grit, the Samsung Rugby III is a wise choice. The affordable rugged phone may not be as technologically powerful and robust as the smartphones on the list, but it brings together a compact design, affordability, and toughness that handles any element you throw at it.

The Samsung Rugby III’s body may be small at 2.1 x 0.8 x 4.1 inches and light at 4.7 ounces in weight, but its IP67 certification and MIL-SPEC-810G rating means it seals out dust, protects against drops, and can handle water to one meter for 30 minutes. Despite its age, it includes Bluetooth 2.1 compatibility, and features both a GPS navigational system and even a microSD slot for expanded memory storage up to 32GB. The Rugby III includes 3G connectivity and has a battery life that will give you nine hours of talk time with 20 days on standby.

Our Process

Our writers spent 8 hours researching the most popular rugged smartphones on the market. Before making their final recommendations, they considered 21 different smartphones overall, screened options from 13 different brands and manufacturers and read over 35 user reviews (both positive and negative). All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.