The 3 Best Rugged Smartphones of 2023

These devices are sure to hold up under the toughest conditions

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Whether you're active outside or work in an environment that isn't phone-friendly, durability is essential when buying a new smartphone. Some traits include Gorilla Glass, an IP rating for water and dust resistance, and build materials. A glass sandwich won't hold up like a rubberized plastic phone.

Best Compact

Unihertz Atom XL

Atom XL

Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewirea 

What We Like
  • Walkie Talkie functionality

What We Don't Like
  • Helio P60 is not a champ

  • Small screen

This smartphone is packed full of surprises. In addition to being built tough, which we'll get to, this phone has accessories that make it much more exciting, especially if you're an outdoors person. The 48-megapixel camera, 6GB of RAM, and 128GB of onboard storage are all respectable. The Helio P60 processor and four-inch screen are not the greatest by today's standards, but they are still enough to complete everyday tasks. Plus, the XL version of this phone comes with a removable antenna which allows you to turn your smartphone into a walkie-talkie.

You can tell this phone is durable just by looking at it. You'll first notice the rubberized grip around the top, bottom, and back. Add to that the grippy backplate and aluminum side rails, and this is a phone you can carry in your nail apron. The exposed screw heads add to the toughness surrounding this fierce phone.

Best Updated Phone




What We Like
  • Rugged, durable design

  • Water resistant

  • Two-day battery

  • Decent daytime photos

What We Don't Like
  • Sluggish performance

  • No biometric sensor

  • Poor low-light photos

  • Washed out, low-res screen

  • Limited internal storage

The CAT S42 is an impressively rugged phone, packing a bulky, hearty plastic exterior with covered ports and enhanced water, drop, and thermal shock resistance. It’s so well-protected that CAT advertises it as a phone you can wash with soap and water.

On the other hand, the CAT S42 features entry-level components akin to a much cheaper budget phone. It delivers sluggish performance, has a low-quality screen, and only takes decent photos in solid lighting. It’s usable, however, and the battery can provide two days of usage.

Best Budget

LG X Venture

LG Electronics X Venture

Courtesy of Amazon

What We Like
  • Headphone jack

  •  Fingerprint sensor

What We Don't Like
  • Outdated specifications

  • Released in 2017

LG has a history of making durable phones, and one of the least expensive is the LG X venture. This phone has been around since 2017, which means it's old, but there's a reason why it's still around. It's built like a tank. Most LG phones are built with MIL-STD 810G and IP68 ratings, but the LG X Venture does so with a grippy rubberized back that makes the phone comfortable to hold and use. The Snapdragon 435 sips from the 4,100 mAh battery, which means this phone will also last a long time between charges.

Add excellent amenities, including a headphone jack, fingerprint sensor, front and rear-facing cameras, and physical navigation buttons. You have a phone that is built to last. It's not perfect, though, only carrying 2GB of RAM and 32 GB of onboard storage. That's a little hard to swallow in a modern smartphone, but at least you can expand phone storage with a memory card of up to 2TB.

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