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Best rugged smartphones of 2021: waterproof, shockproof and IP68 mobiles

Best rugged smartphone
Best rugged smartphones (Image credit: Doogee / AliExpress)
PRICE
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
VERDICT
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID

The best rugged smartphones on the market offer extreme durability, massive batteries and a wealth of features specific to outdoor use cases. We've tested all the top handsets designed for intensive use and picked out the absolute best options.

The following rugged smartphones are dust and water resistant, and sometimes are totally waterproof, with cases or shells that are tough enough so you can drop them on hard surfaces without them breaking. Some of these devices will survive any impact, bump or drop without bearing a scratch, making them ideal for use while outdoors or in dangerous environments. 

Some of the phones on this list have even undergone stringent tests to ensure they meet military standards and can thus withstand extreme temperatures, shocks and more.

Software on the best rugged smartphone is no slouch either, as most offer extra features that are vital in certain lines of work: some might have infrared cameras, sound level meters, and sometimes even VOC (volatile organic compound) detectors.

So whether it's your hobby or your profession that is leading you to to wild or dangerous places, has you needing a device that'll last a long time with plenty of features, or simply makes you prefer hardy phones over fashionable yet fragile standard smartphones, the best rugged smartphone is what you need.

Finally, just bear in mind that while all ruggedized smartphones will be waterproof and dustproof (and therefore meet the IP68 specification), not all waterproof phones will be ruggedized. So think carefully while shopping for the best rugged smartphone for your needs, and make sure you look into all the features that these handsets boast.

So, read on to find out our top picks for the best rugged phones on the market right now.

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Best rugged smartphones

Ulefone Armor 9

Ulefone Armor 9 (Image credit: Future)

1. Ulefone Armor 9 FLIR rugged smartphone

An essential tool

Specifications
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.3-inch
Resolution: 2340 x 1080 pixels
CPU: Helio P90
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 6,600mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 5MP + 2MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Great price+Endoscope and FLIR cameras
Reasons to avoid
-No VOC sensor-Only 128GB storage

The Ulefone Armor 9 FLIR is the best ruggedized smartphone you can find right now, boasting a few top tools you'll struggle finding on its rivals.

The phone comes with both an endoscope and FLIR camera, giving you a versatility for a range of tasks, as well as a big battery to ensure the handset lasts longer and enough processing power for most tasks.

Best of all, the Ulefone Armor 9 FLIR doesn't cost too much, so its tricks aren't exclusive to those who can afford it. If you need something hardy and long-lasting, this is our pick for the best rugged phone right now.

Read our full review: Ulefone Armor 9 FLIR rugged smartphone

The Blackview BV9900 Pro

The Blackview BV9900 Pro (Image credit: Future)

2. Blackview BV9900 Pro rugged smartphone

Lost its crown, but still great

Specifications
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.84-inch
Resolution: 2280 x 1080 pixels
CPU: Helio P90
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4,380mAh
Rear camera: 48MP + 16MP + 2MP
Front camera: 16MP
Reasons to buy
+Fantastic price+FLIR
Reasons to avoid
-No 5G-Smaller battery capacity

The Blackview BV9900 Pro used to have the title of our favorite rugged smartphone, and while it's been beaten to the post, it's still a worthy buy.

The Blackview BV9900 Pro has a FLIR thermal imaging camera, a rarity on rugged smartphones despite how useful it can be. This joins an array of 'standard' cameras lead by a 48MP one which is useful for a range of photography needs.

The phone performances well with its MediaTek Helio G90 chipset, which is paired with 8GB RAM, and takes on many tasks with ease. It's also pretty well protected for a rugged phone.

Sure, the phone is a bit behind in a few ways - its battery could be better and we would have liked to see 5G connectivity, it's still the best rugged smartphone you can get right now.

Read our full review: Blackview BV9900 Pro rugged smartphone

The Doogee S95 Pro

The Doogee S95 Pro (Image credit: Future)

3. Doogee S95 Pro rugged smartphone

A performance powerhouse

Specifications
OS: Android 9.0 (Pie)
Screen size: 6.3-inch
Resolution: 2160 x 1080 pixels
CPU: Helio P90
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 5150mAh
Rear camera: 48MP + 8MP + 8MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Two SIM trays+Good performance
Reasons to avoid
-Fingerprint magnet

The Doogee S95 Pro might not be the best rugged smartphone on this list but it's certainly not far from that position, with the handset boasting enough features that could see it high on a list of non-rugged devices.

The handset is incredibly well protected with a metal and rubber frame that'll protect it from lots of what nature (or people) can throw at it. It also has features like an SOS button, fingerprint sensor, and  three rear cameras.

We were pleasantly surprised by the Doogee S95 Pro's performance. It packs the best Mediatek chipset (as of writing) as well as 8GB RAM, which is more than some of the other best rugged phones on this list. If you need a decent amount of processing power, maybe this is the rugged phone for you.

Read our full review: Doogee S95 Pro rugged smartphone

Ulefone Armor 10

Ulefone Armor 10 (Image credit: Future)

4. Ulefone Armor 10 rugged smartphone

The first 5G rugged phone

Specifications
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.6-inch
Resolution: 2400 x 1080 pixels
CPU: Dimensity 800
RAM: 8GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 5,800mAh
Rear camera: 64MP + 8MP + 5MP + 2MP
Front camera: 16MP
Reasons to buy
+Great cameras+Excellent build quality
Reasons to avoid
-5G costly-Camera bump protrudes

The Ulefone Armor 10 5G is the first 5G-compatible rugged smartphone, and though it may not be the best protected handset we've tested, it's still got features which make it competitive with its rivals.

You won't find wireless charging in many ruggedized smartphones, nor will you get cameras this good or indeed 5G compatibility, so if those features sound important to you, this may be a great pick.

Sure, it's a little bigger than many could want in a rugged phone, and the storage may be too low for some, but you may not mind these shortcomings.

Read our full review: Ulefone Armor 10 5G rugged smartphone

Unihertz Atom XL

(Image credit: Future)

5. Unihertz Atom XL rugged smartphone

A well-rounded bargain for a rugged smartphone

Specifications
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 4-inch
Resolution: 1136 x 640 pixels
CPU: Helio P60
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4300mAh
Rear camera: 48MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Oleophobic screen+48MP main camera
Reasons to avoid
-Old CPU-No cover for ports

Unihertz is a company that constantly has at least one device in our list of the best rugged phones, and currently the Atom XL is the best phone from the company we've tested.

The Atom phones are pretty small, and even this extra-large version is still pretty tiny with a 4-inch screen. It's impressive, then, that such specs are packed in as a 4,300mAh battery, 48MP camera and 6GB RAM, most of which are specs you'd find on a 6.something-inch non-rugged smartphone.

Some drawbacks we found with the phone are the processor, which is a little on the old side (Mediatek has a Helio P90 in some phones right now), and it had a protection flaw that the USB and headphone jack had no cover.

Read our full review: Unihertz Atom XL rugged smartphone

Cat S62 Pro

Cat S62 Pro (Image credit: Mark Pickavance)

6. Cat S62 Pro rugged smartphone

A solid rugged smartphone that builds on its predecessor

Specifications
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 5.6-inch
Resolution: 2160 x 1080 pixels
CPU: Snapdragon 660
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 4000mAh
Rear camera: 12MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Built to last+Android 10
Reasons to avoid
-12MP rear camera-No wireless charging

The Cat S62 Pro is a great rugged smartphone from one of the most popular companies in the field, Cat, which builds on its predecessors in a few major departments. In fact, this is the best rugged smartphone with Cat naming you can buy right now.

If you buy the Cat S62 Pro rugged smartphone you're getting specs that would look good on a standard smartphone like the Snapdragon 660 chipset, a FHD screen and 128GB storage, and it runs Android 10 too which isn't something you can say about many rugged smartphones.

Then there are features that are useful in a rugged capacity like a FLIR sensor, a hardy build and a programmable extra button on the side.

We had issue with the low-resolution single rear camera, and also the phone doesn't have wireless charging like lots of its competitors, but if you can look past these issues it's a rugged smartphone worth considering.

Read our full review: Cat S62 Pro rugged smartphone

Rear of Device

(Image credit: Future)

7. Oukitel WP8 Pro rugged smartphone

A rugged phablet

Specifications
OS: Android 10
Screen size: 6.49-inch
Resolution: 1560 x 720 pixels
CPU: Helio P22
RAM: 4GB
Storage: 64GB
Battery: 5,000mAh
Rear camera: 16MP + 2MP + 2MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Elegant design+Oleophobic screen
Reasons to avoid
-MicroUSB port-Sub-par performance

The Oukitel WP8 Pro is a low-end rugged smartphone that offers a hardy design and new software for a low price, with a few corners cut to keep the price low.

The corners here are the presence of a microUSB port, resulting in slower charging than the current standard USB-C, a low-end processor for limited performance power, and a lower-resolution screen than many rivals.

If you can look past these issues, and are on the market for an entry-level or low-end ruggedized handset, this could be a good choice.

Read our full review: Oukitel WP8 Pro rugged smartphone

Image Credit: Doogee

Image Credit: Doogee (Image credit: Image Credit: DOOGEE)

8. Doogee S90 rugged smartphone

An ambitious rugged smartphone

Specifications
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 6.18-inch
Resolution: 2246 x 1080 pixels
CPU: MT6771 (P60) 4*Cortex-A73 2.0GHz + 4*Cortex-A53 2.0Ghz
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 5050mAh
Rear camera: 16+8MP
Front camera: 8MP
Reasons to buy
+Good value for money+Impressive performance
Reasons to avoid
-Screen has a notch-Bulky design

We were promised that the Doogee S90 would be unlike any other rugged smartphone on the market, and to be fair, that's what we got, with a modular design that lets you build a handset that best suits your needs. This modular approach means the Doogee S90 is bulkier than many of its competitors, so bear that in mind.

However, in our tests the Doogee S90 performed brilliantly, racking up some of the best numbers we’ve seen in our benchmarks.  Doogee confirmed that the price of the S90 after Kickstarter will be $369.99 (£285). The gamepad and the wireless charger will cost $29.99 (£23) each while the battery will be available for $39.99 (£31), the intercom for $49.99 (£39) and the night vision camera for $59.99 (£46).  

Sure, the Doogee S90 has been succeeded by a bigger sibling which sits higher up this list, but that just means you can pick it up for cheaper.

Read our full review: Doogee S90 rugged smartphone

  • If you're interested you can buy the Doogee S90 from its Kickstarter

Phone side angle

Image Credit: TechRadar

9. Blackview BV9500 Pro rugged smartphone

Once topped this list, but is still impressive

Specifications
OS: Android 8.1
Screen size: 5.7-inch
Resolution: 2160 x 1080 pixels
CPU: MT6763T Octa Core
RAM: 6GB
Storage: 128GB
Battery: 10000mAh
Rear camera: 13MP
Front camera: 16MP
Reasons to buy
+Very long battery life+Fast and wireless charging
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy and bulky-Not brilliant sound quality

Blackview has a range of rugged IP68 certified Android phones available and they tend to be both tough and affordable, if a little light on features. This model, however, comes in at a considerably higher price point and it has all the bells and whistles including PTT (push-to-talk) for walkie-talkie style communication. 

In fact, you'd be hard pushed to find another rugged smartphone that offers anywhere near the amount of features – and battery life – that the Blackview BV9500 Pro does. It's solidly built, which does mean it's a heck of a bulky device, but what really makes the Blackview BV9500 Pro stand out above the rest of the rugged set is its comprehensive list of features that make it ideal for outdoor use. 

Read our full review: Blackview BV9500 Pro rugged smartphone