The 8 Best Rugged Smartphones of 2020

These devices are sure to hold up under the toughest conditions

Best Overall: LG G7 ThinQ

A lot of phones that are advertised as "durable" often lack the shiny, flagship features you’d get with an iPhone or a top-tier Samsung. But those super high-end smartphones usually have glass backs and fronts, sometimes even curving around the sides — which is kind of the opposite of “durable.” The LG G7 ThinQ, on the other hand, seems to perfectly tread the line. It has a super-bright, 6.1-inch display with a head-spinning pixel density of 564ppi. There’s a notched design for a fuller display, but you can shut it off to look more like the classic bezel displays you’re used to. There are two 16MP rear cameras and an 8MP front-facing camera, powered by some decent software for great photos. It also has a 3,000 mAh battery for plenty of power alongside 64GB of memory, 4GB of RAM and expandable microSF memory. The 2.8 GHz Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor for great speeds.

Fortunately, these features don’t come at the expense of durability. The LG G7 ThinQ has Gorilla Glass 5 on the front that also covers the camera and the sides are built of solid aluminum. It also features UP68 dust and water resistance and MIL-STD-810G shock resistance — features you'd normally see on rugged phones, not flagships. They’ve even bolstered the insides with a huge heatpipe to help dissipate temperature fluctuations and keep the phone running fast and cool.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Sonim XP8

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 Budget: LG X Venture

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 Value: Xiaomi Pocophone F1

Xiaomi has built an impressive, thriving business on the concept of flagship features for a mid-tier price. The Pocophone has taken this to the extreme with a head-spinning level of options at just over $300. There’s a 6.18-inch, 2246 x 1080 FHD+ display. That display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass for added crack protection. It has 6GB of RAM, plus the ability to expand with microSD, and the whole thing is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 854 processor protected with Liquid Cool technology. The camera array is top-notch, too, including a dual 12MP + 5MP set on the back and a 20MP front camera, all supported by 4K video capabilities.

You can pick it up in a cool, gradient Steel Blue color or a sleeker Graphite Black, and all signs point to a beautiful looking phone in-person. But the durability is the real star here. With the aforementioned Gorilla glass, a crack-resistant plastic back, and tons of reviews and videos online showing just how durable this thing is, the ruggedness is something of an unsung feature here. And it all comes at a great price. 

Best Features: Kyocera DuraForce PRO 2

Kyocera is a brand name you might not have heard since the early days of cell phones. In a way, they’re a brand who’s always been known for durability (reach into your old cell phone drawer and you might find a working Kyocera from the early 2000s). The DuraForce line has remained active for a few years, and the name alone should indicates an emphasis on durability. The entire build, by the manufacturer’s description alone, is military-grade. And that holds true because it has been certified to meet MIL-STD 810G standards for shock, temperature and even radiation (though we wouldn’t recommend microwaving it). But perhaps even more impressive is its actual sapphire display. Unlike plastic or even the tempered glass seen on most smartphones, actual sapphire is extremely difficult to scratch. And, unlike Apple, Kyocera seems to be manufacturing a pure composite of sapphire for the display. 

Underneath all that rugged protection is a host of modern features including four microphones for phone calls that can cancel up to 106dB of unwanted noise. The rear camera is 13MP with the option for 4K, wide-angle recording and a front-facing cam sporting a 5MP sensor. There’s a sizeable 3240 mAh battery that offers USB type-C or Qi wireless charging so the power support is up there, too.

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

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.