The best rugged smartphones (opens in new tab) 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.
Best rugged smartphones of 2022
- Nokia XR20 (opens in new tab)
- Ulefone Armor 9 FLIR (opens in new tab)
- Blackview BV9900 Pro (opens in new tab)
- Doogee S97 Pro (opens in new tab)
- Ulefone Armor 10 (opens in new tab)
- Unihertz Atom XL (opens in new tab)
- Cat S62 Pro (opens in new tab)
- Oukitel WP8 Pro (opens in new tab)
- Doogee S90 (opens in new tab)
- Blackview BV9500 (opens in new tab)
- Blackview BV8800 (opens in new tab)
- UleFone Power Armor 14 Pro (opens in new tab)
- Doogee S98 (opens in new tab)
- Jesy J20 (opens in new tab)
- Blackview BL8800
Software (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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 wild or dangerous places, and 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 (opens in new tab) 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.
We've also featured:
- The best rugged laptops (opens in new tab)
- The best rugged tablets (opens in new tab)
- The best rugged hard drives (opens in new tab)
Best rugged smartphones
The Nokia XR20 is the first rugged smartphone to launch under the Nokia banner with the help of HMD Global which now owns the brand. Unlike other rugged smartphones that stand out due to their designs, the Nokia XR20 is meant to blend in with its slim profile and sleek look.
In terms of durability, the XR20 is IP68 certified, MIL-STD-810 rated and is the first rugged smartphone to feature Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. The device also features a red emergency button along with a dedicated, non-customizable Google Assistant button.
However, what really sets the XR20 apart from the pack is the fact that HMD Global has guaranteed that the device will receive four years of security updates with three years of OS updates. The company is also including free one-year screen replacement.
Read the full review: Nokia XR20 5G rugged smartphone (opens in new tab)
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 has 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 (opens in new tab)
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 performs 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 (opens in new tab)
The Doogee S97 Pro may have a lower screen resolution than last year's Doogee S95 Pro but the company had made up for this by including both a laser rangefinder for calculating volumes, surface areas and angles as well as a huge 8,500 mAh battery.
The device features a mixture of black plastic and gray metal with a deliberately utilitarian design. It's also one of the heaviest rugged smartphones with a weight of 350g. Despite this, the S97 Pro handles reasonably well thanks to its curvy edges and its display is surprising bright. There are also two customizable buttons, a fingerprint reader and the rear of the device houses four camera sensors .
While the Doogee S97 Pro lacks 5G, it is one of the fastest rugged smartphones on the market based on our tests where it scored the highest PCMark number to date and delivered solid overall performance. If battery power, multiple cameras and a laser rangefinder are features you look for in a rugged smartphone, then the S97 Pro just might be for you.
Read our full review: Doogee S97 Pro (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 the Cat name 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 an 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 (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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've 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 (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The latest Blackview ruggedized design built around the new Helio G96 quad-core SoC from MediaTek has four rear cameras and a massive 8380 mAh battery. In terms of durability, the BV8800 is IP68, and IP69K certified, MIL-STD-810 rated and can handle being submerged for 30 minutes up to 1.5m.One of the cameras can record in complete darkness, and the standard 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is plenty for a relatively inexpensive design.
Its weaknesses are that it’s big, heavy, only 4G capable, can’t record 4K video, and when connected to Netflix, Google or Amazon streaming services, it limits the stream resolution to 480p. The counter-punch to these disappointments is that it can snap 50MP images, last 270 hours on standby, has dual SIMs and comes at a very competitive price. The Doke 3.0 operating system is based on Android 11 and hasn’t strayed too far from the vanilla OS to be a problem yet.
Read our full review: Blackview BV8800 rugged smartphone (opens in new tab)
The latest UleFone design offers a big screen, massive battery and a workable specification for what appears to be a modest outlay by modern phone standards.
The downside of having a 6.52-inch TFT display and a 10,000 mAh battery, is that this is a substantial device that children and smaller adults will require both hands to hold.
It comes with 6GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage and the ability to augment that with another 1TB through a Micro SD card. This technology is all encased in a drop, dust and water-resistant structure that is rated for both IP68 and IP69K and MIL-STD-810H certification.
With the rubber gaskets covering the USB-C port and 3.5mm audio jacks in place, it can operate for up to 30 minutes fully submersed up to 1.5m, and it can even take video and still images underwater.
The weaknesses of this design are that it can only capture up to 1080p resolution video, and it doesn’t support the Widevine L1 encryption standards for streaming, resulting in a maximum of 480p resolution from Netflix and Amazon streaming services.
Read the full review: UleFone Power Armor 14 Pro (opens in new tab)
The Doogee S98 is a solid rugged smartphone on a budget with a beefy specification list that includes 8GB of RAM, 256GB onboard storage, night vision camera and a 64-megapixel camera sensor. Its USP is a 1.2-inch circular display at the back but we consider it to be a gimmicky feature rather than an essential one because of its limited use case. It can only show time, show incoming calls and allow the user to control music. The S98 is still a perfectly good rugged smartphone with the full gamut of relevant certifications and tests. At less than $260 at the time of testing, it represents outstanding value for money; other than the lack of 5G connectivity, there’s not much we can criticize at this price point.
Read the full review: Doogee S98 (opens in new tab)
Jesy is a small Chinese phone brand that hasn’t launched anything new since 2018, but it recently launched a new rugged design in 2022, the J20.
This device fits a similar pattern to the recent Doogee and Blackview products, packed with many useful features, including a 48MP main camera and night vision mode.
Where it’s less conventional is that this product is only available through a Kickstarter campaign that Jesy created to promote and sell this product.
In our review of this product, we identified several limitations with the implementation that included no resolution control over photos and a maximum of 1080p video capture.
Due to decryption protocols, it can only view Netflix and other secure streaming services in 480p resolution.
While this is a perfectly serviceable phone that can tale some abuse, we’ve seen better value from other Chinese phone brands that don’t use Kickstarter to market their products.
Read our full review: Jesy J20 rugged smartphone (opens in new tab)
Smartphones with a true infrared camera are a rarity and the Blackview BL8800 is cheap and relatively cheerful once you go past its bland and unassuming design. It is equipped with a big battery, is relatively speedy and its large display is ideal for fun and work.
The lack of a microSD card slot can be problematic though as it only has 128GB storage, which could be a problem if you want to use it as a pseudo night vision CCTV for example. However, this shouldn’t distract you from the real bargain that the BL8800 is. Should Blackview decide to keep its price south of $300 after the promotional period, it should be high on your purchase list.