How Do I Choose the Best Rugged Cell Phone?

Patti Kate

If you require a rugged cell phone that will withstand rough handling or even some occasional abuse, you'll need to look for one that is constructed with the most durable exterior available. Although no cell phone is guaranteed to be drop proof, heavy-duty construction may help a phone withstand being dropped. If you tend to use your cell phone outdoors a lot, or if you enjoy sports such as boating, camping, and hiking, choose a cell phone that is also water resistant.

Some older models of cell phones have proven to be more durable.
Some older models of cell phones have proven to be more durable.

A tough and rugged cell phone may be difficult to find, but models are available that are made to be sturdy and resistant to the elements. When you go shopping, ask the sales associate for assistance. Explain your needs and requirements and ask to see different phone models. You should look for the outer shell of the cell phone to be strong and made with high-grade materials, not flimsy plastic.

A rugged cell phone might be ideal for younger users who are more careless.
A rugged cell phone might be ideal for younger users who are more careless.

Regardless of how tough and durable the shell of the cell phone appears to be, if it has a slippery feel, it may not be suitable. If your rugged cell phone is slippery enough to fall through your fingers and hit the floor, it can become damaged. Look for grooved sides for a comfortable grip. Rubber coating will help prevent the phone from slipping out of your hand.

Assuming you've found a rugged cell phone with a strong clam shell design and rubberized grip, the next feature should be water resistance. Unfortunately, you may not know for sure just how water resistant the phone is until you've been caught in a rain shower. This is why it is important to read reviews.

Reviews from other consumers can let you know how the cell phone has stood up to various conditions. Don't stop at reading a few consumer reviews, however. Read reports from various experts in the industry who have tested the device to get some solid, unbiased opinions. It's also important not to allow the sales representative to talk you into a model of cell phone you are unsure of.

Before making your final decision, ask the sales associate if the model you're considering has been stress tested. This means the cell phone had to pass stringent tests for performance in various outdoor weather conditions. The testing should also include performance after impact, such as crashes to a concrete ground. If the phone in question has performed well in tests under various conditions, this should be a good choice.

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Discussion Comments


@KoiwiGal - On the other hand this makes them more expensive. I tend to need a rugged phone because I'm hopeless about dropping them, even during a walk downtown, and all I want is a cellphone that can withstand my clumsiness, rather than one I can take on a week long trek.

I think a lot of the time people want to go on those treks to get away from their cellphones.

My friend told me that there are even phones you can take that won't call anyone except emergency services, so that you can have the safety factor without having people call you every ten minutes while you are trying to enjoy the great outdoors.


I believe you can also get cellphones that will float if you drop them in water, which could be a good feature when boating. After all, it doesn't matter how water proof the phone is, if it sinks to the bottom when you drop it.

I like that most of the time phones that are called "rugged" in sales catalogs also contain extra features like built in compasses or thermometers, and of course most phones can provide some kind of GPS.

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