cat rugged smartphone
cat rugged smartphone

Best Rugged Phones: Waterproof, Shockproof & Unbreakable

Here are the best rugged phones that can withstand extreme conditions and nasty falls.

Some of the best rugged phones of 2022 offer tons of new features like 5G connectivity, thermal imaging, 4K recording and even reverse wireless charging. While they may be bulky, you’re gonna want all the protection you can get if you’re prone to breaking your phone or do a lot of outdoor activities.

Plus, if you’re an outdoorsy type, or simply need a phone that’s durable and can survive nasty falls, then you’ll be pleased to know our list of the best rugged phones has everything you need. Some of these devices can even be submerged in meters of water or survive some of the longest falls!

Many of these unbreakable phones have undergone some serious testing, so much so that some are even military-certified, scratch-proof and can even withstand harsh weather conditions. This makes them great for outdoor adventures.

So without further ado, here are the most durable phone handsets to buy this year.

Best rugged phones of 2022

  1. Nokia XR20
  2. Motorola Defy
  3. Doogee S88 Pro
  4. Doogee S58 Pro
  5. Ulefone Armor 10
  6. Caterpillar CAT S62 Pro

Best all-round rugged smartphone

1. Nokia XR20 — £355

nokia xr20 best overall rugged phone

Nokia phones have had a long history of being an indestructible phone to have. The Nokia XR20 is one of the best rugged smartphones on the market and is also a 5G rugged smartphone too. While it’s not top of the range in terms of specs, it’s certainly tough and even comes with stereo speakers, a decent camera and wireless charging. It’s at an average price point of £355, which is fairly cheap when looking at the specs.

When it comes to durability, this well armoured phone 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.

Its camera capabilities are actually decent. It comes with Zeiss lenses that are a 43MP AF and 13MP ultra-wide camera too, that helps in capturing 123-deg ultra-wide images. Great for panoramic photos.

In terms of build and design, the Nokia XR20 is built with industrial exposed metal sides and comes in a nice shade of blue. You get an extended warranty, a year’s free screen replacement, four years of security updates with three years of OS updates a year’s free screen replacement to keep your XR20 safe and secure.

What’s in the box?

  • 1 x Nokia XR20
  • 1 x Waterproof USB Type C connector.

Technical specs

  • Weight: 248g
  • Dimensions: 171.6 x 81.5 x 10.6 mm
  • Cellular technology: GSM
  • OS: Android 11, upgradable to Android 12
  • Screen size: 6.67 inches
  • Resolution: 1080 x 2400 pixels, 20:9 ratio
  • CPU: Octa-core (2×2.0 GHz Kryo 460 & 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 460)
  • RAM: 4GB, 8GB RAM
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Expandable storage: 128GB
  • Battery: Li-Po 4630 mAh
  • Rear camera: 48MP, 13MP
  • Front camera: 8MP.

Pros

  • 5G rugged phone and NFC enabled
  • Long battery life.

Cons

  • Not great for low light photography.

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Best value rugged phone

2. Motorola Defy — £295.32

motorola rugged phone with colourful background and date and time

One of the best value rugged phones out there, the Motorola Defy can withstand multiple phone drops, extreme temperatures and even water immersion. It’s one of the best rugged waterproof smartphone devices with an IP68 water and dust rating. It’s quite a unique phone too, as it’s taller than other rugged smartphones out there.

The Motorola Defy measures  170 x 78 x 11mm and weighs 234g, which is pretty light for an indestructible phone. Although the Defy is currently at Android 10, Android 11 is coming further down the line, as well as security updates till 2023

It has an 8MP selfie sensor at the top of its  6.5-inch HD+ display, with a 20:9 aspect ratio. The screen is made from a Corning Gorilla Glass Victus layer that’s 0.7mm thick and is recessed by 0.5mm; great for avoiding pesky and unwanted phone scratches. At the back, you’ll find three camera sensors (48MP, 2MP and a 2MP macro), a flash LED and a fingerprint sensor. 

For a rugged phone, its battery life and connectivity features are fantastic too. It comes with NFC, Wi-Fi 5, Bluetooth 5.0, a 5000mAh battery, a 20W charger, a lanyard, a Type C USB cable and depending on where you order it from, you may even receive a pair of headphones too. Definitely worth it for the price you pay.

What’s in the box?

  • 1 x Motorola Defy
  • 1 x Waterproof USB Type C connector.

Technical specs

  • Weight: 232g
  • Dimensions: 169.8 x 78.2 x 10.9 mm
  • Cellular technology: GSM, HSPA, LTE
  • OS: Android 10
  • Screen size: 6.5 inches
  • Resolution: 720 x 1600 pixels, 20:9 ratio
  • CPU: Octa-core (4×2.0 GHz Kryo 260 Gold & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260 Silver)
  • RAM: 4GB RAM
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Expandable storage: None
  • Battery: Li-Po 5000 mAh
  • Rear camera: 48MP, 2MP, 2MP
  • Front camera: 8MP.

Pros

  • 20W fast charging support
  • IP68 dust/water resistant.

Cons

  • Android 10 instead of Android 11 OS
  • 720p resolution screen.

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Best rugged phone with long battery life 

3. Doogee S88 Pro — £259.99

Doogee S88 Pro orange outline rugged phone

One of the best rugged phones for battery life has to be the Doogee S88 Pro. It comes with a whopping 10,000mAh of battery life, it’s virtually an indestructible phone resistant to the elements and great for outdoorsy types. It also has IP68 Waterproof, dustproof and shockproof ratings, which is achieved by having each corner built with rubberised projection, and rubber gaskets on each entry point. This makes it a well-armoured phone for hiking and other outdoor sports.

The camera isn’t its strong suit, and the S88 Pro weighs around 372g, which is quite heavy. In return, you’ll get NFC and reverse wireless charging though, so it’s pretty worth it of you’re going to use this outdoors more than indoors. Storage is super decent too at 6GB of RAM and a whopping 128GB of flash storage to access. You can add another 256GB of Micro SD storage via the card slot if you need to.

Downsides? Its camera. Quality isn’t great, details are low and colours can appear quite lacklustre. If you are shooting more complex objects, the camera processing may find them too complex and give up on them entirely.

When it comes to tough phones, though, you shouldn’t give the Doogee S88 Pro a miss.

What’s in the box?

  • 1 x S88 Pro rugged smartphone (with screen protector) 
  • 1 x Explosion-proof screen protector film 1 x charging head (UK specification) 
  • 1 x cable data (12V / 2A) 
  • 1 x headphone converter 
  • 1 x mobile phone lanyard 
  • 1 x instruction manual 
  • 1 x warranty card 
  • 1 x card pin.

Technical specs

  • Weight: 372g
  • Dimensions: 171.6 x 85.5 x 18.7 mm
  • Cellular technology: GSM, HSPA, LTE
  • OS: Android 10
  • Screen size: 6.3 inches
  • Resolution: 1080 x 2340 pixels, 19.5:9 ratio
  • CPU: Octa-core (4×2.1 GHz Cortex-A73 & 4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • RAM: 6GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Expandable storage: None
  • Battery: 10000 mAh
  • Rear camera: 21MP, 8MP, 8MP
  • Front camera: 16MP.

Pros

  • Phenomenal battery life
  • Practically indestructible.

Cons

  • Updates unclear as it’s a smaller brand
  • Camera is poor.

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Best cheap rugged phone

4. Doogee S58 Pro — £159.99

doogee s58 cheap rugged phone orange background

One of the most affordable robust mobile phones on this list has to be the Doogee S58 Pro. While it’s one of the predecessors of the S88, it shouldn’t go amiss when buying your next indestructible phone. “Rugged on a budget” we like to call it.

It’s certified to MIL-STD-810, the US Department of Defense standard for ruggedised devices. And if you’re out hiking, you’ll be pleased to know its IP68 certification will protect it against 1m of water submersion and dust. It also claims to resist temperatures of temperatures between –55°C and 70°C too

Aside from resistance, the display is a 5.71in LCD panel and has quite thick bezels. This isn’t the best, but if you’re not bothered about using the phone to watch tons of Netflix on, then its other features should outweigh this. 

A very handy feature we love about the Doogee S58 Pro is the exterior’s customisable side button. This allows you to quickly access a particular function or feature you assign to it, like the flashlight or camera. You can also set it to open a specific app by pressing the button a specific number of times or holding it down. This is something that could be useful in extreme situations and is quite a unique feature for most rugged phones out there.

What’s in the box?

  • 1 x DOOGEE S58 PRO Smartphone
  • 1 x 12V2A Power Adapter
  • 1 x Type-C Cable
  • 1 x Card Pin
  • 1 x Protective Film
  • 1 x Instruction Manual
  • 1 x Headphone Adapter type C
  • 1 x Warranty Card.

Technical specs

  • Weight: 284 g
  • Dimensions: 162.8 x 81 x 15.9 mm
  • Cellular technology: GSM, HSPA, LTE
  • OS: Android 10
  • Screen size: 6.71-inch
  • Resolution: 720 x 1520 px
  • CPU: Octa-core MediaTek Helio P22 MT6762
  • RAM: 6GB
  • Storage: 64GB
  • Expandable storage: 256GB
  • Battery: Li-Ion 5180 mAh
  • Rear camera: 16MP, 2MP, 2MP
  • Front camera: 16MP.

Pros

  • Very long battery life
  • Potentially life-saving side button.

Cons

  • Not the best processing speed
  • Not the best camera.

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Best 5G rugged phone

5. Ulefone Armor 10 — £389.99

ulefone 5g rugged phone

The Ulefone Armor 10 is a 5G rugged smartphone and is a goldmine if you need an indestructible mobile phone with 5G connectivity. In fact, it’s one of the first rugged phones to come with 5G-compatibility, and though it may not be the best-protected handset compared to the other units on this list, it’s still got other features you might want to consider.

Measuring 6.7-inches, the Ulefone Armor 10 does qualify as a phablet, which can make it great for streaming when you need a break on a camping or hiking trip. To get its MIL-STD-810G/IP69K certification, and allow for all of its extra features, it, unfortunately, needs to weigh a bit more than the average rugged smartphone. 333g to be exact. It’s a pretty fast phone though, sporting 8GB of LPDDR4x RAM and 128GB of UFS2.1 storage.

Another reason the Ulefone Armor 10 weighs so much? Other than the 5800mAh battery, Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 5 connectivity and a 15W charger (5V,3A) there’s also an FM radio and a whopping five camera sensors, totalling a staggering 95MP with the main one being a 64MP.

What’s in the box?

  • 1x Ulefone Armor 10 phone
  • 1x Battery (built in)
  • 1x Charger Adapter (UK plug)
  • 1x Data Cable
  • 1x Type-C to 3.5mm Audio Adapter
  • 1x SIM Needle
  • 1x Tempered Glass Screen Protector
  • 1x Warranty Card
  • 1x Multi-language User Manual.

Technical specs

  • Weight: 271 g
  • Dimensions: 176.5 x 82.8 x 14.6 mm
  • Cellular technology: GSM, CDMA, HSPA, EVDO, LTE, 5G
  • OS: Android 10, planned upgrade to Android 11
  • Screen size: 6.67-inches
  • Resolution: 176.5 x 82.8 x 14.6 mm
  • CPU: Octa-core (4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A76 & 4×2.0 GHz Cortex-A55)
  • RAM: 8GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Expandable storage: NA
  • Battery: Li-Po 5800 mAh
  • Rear camera: 64MP, 8MP, 5MP, 2MP
  • Front camera: 16MP.

Pros

  • 5G connectivity
  • 15 W fast charging and 15W wireless charging.

Cons

  • Only 60Hz refresh rate
  • Not the best for night time photography,

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Best small rugged phone

6. Caterpillar CAT S62 Pro — £479

caterpillar cat s62 phone with purple background

The CAT S62 Pro is a heavy yet durable rugged smartphone with IP69 water resistance rating, Gorilla Glass 6 to protect the 5.7in Full-HD display, and an aluminium casing with non-slip TPU rubber on the rear. The latter means even if your hands are wet, you won’t damage your phone. When it comes to rugged phones, these features combined make it a very tough mobile phone indeed.

Battery size is pretty decent at 4,000mAh and it also comes with a 2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 octa-core chip, along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, expandable via microSD card. It also has a thermal-imaging camera, It is a Lepton 3.5 professional-grade camera, that can generate 1440 x 1080 HD output with VividIR, uses an MSX linear overlay from the visible light camera and can differentiate a thermal scope from -20°C to 400°C. Pretty cool if you ask us. 

In terms of regular photo taking, the 12MP sensor can take some decent HDR imagery, and can even record 4K video. 

What’s in the box?

  • 1 x Caterpillar CAT S62 Pro phone
  • 1 x USB Type C Cable.

Technical specs

  • Weight: 248 g
  • Dimensions: 158.5 x 76.7 x 11.9 mm
  • Cellular technology: GSM, HSPA, LTE
  • OS: Android 10
  • Screen size: 5.7 inches
  • Resolution: 1080 x 2160 pixels, 18:9 ratio
  • CPU: Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680)
  • RAM: 6GB RAM
  • Storage: 128GB
  • Expandable storage: NA
  • Battery: Li-Ion 4000 mAh
  • Rear camera: 12MP
  • Front camera: 8MP.

Pros

  • Thermal imaging
  • Large 128GB storage.

Cons

  • No wireless charging.

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That’s the best rugged phones rounded up for 2022! Which one caught your eye? Check out our other tech student deals and use our Amazon student discount to save on Amazon Prime delivery!

How to fix a phone with water damage

There are some easy ways to repair a water damaged phone at home. Try these steps:

  1. Remove your phone from any liquid it’s fallen into immediately. The longer it’s submerged in liquid, the worse the damage will be.
  2. Turn your phone off (if you’re able to) and remove any protective casing you may have added to your phone
  3. Remove the SIM, any microSD cards and battery if you can
  4. Use some paper towels to dry your phone. Don’t rub your phone as you could accidentally move any liquid into other parts of the phone. If your phone was submerged in liquid, you could use a hoover after drying it off in an attempt to suck up any remaining droplets
  5. Some people recommend submerging your phone in rice in an attempt to soak up any remaining liquid. But if you have silica gel, this works wonders. Fill a plastic zip-top bag with silica gel or rice and bury the phone in the bag. Leave your phone in the bag for at least 24-48 hours
  6. Take the bag out of the silica gel or rice and try turning it on. If it doesn’t turn on, you may need to see if you can get it repaired under warranty, recycle it or take it in for repairs yourself.

What does phone insurance cover?

Mobile phone insurance policy covers vary. Some cover theft, loss and even accidental damage. So if you’ve dropped your phone and cracked the screen or chipped it, your insurance provider may pay for the repairs or replacement. Some mobile phone insurance providers may even give you a replacement phone until yours is fixed, but always check the fine print in your policy to ensure this is the case.

You may need to pay an excess when you claim on mobile phone repairs or report it lost or stolen.

How much is phone insurance

The cost of mobile phone insurance varies per provider. Typically, your mobile phone insurance costs will depend on the make and model, as well as how you pay. If you pay for an annual insurance premium, it will typically work out cheaper. 

The cost of your mobile insurance will also depend on the level of cover you take out and any extra features included in your policy, such as accidental damage cover, additional gadgets, overseas travel, fraud and much more.

Curious about our other phone and tech roundups? We’ve got a great one on the best dumb phones with long battery life. Don’t forget to sign up to Student Beans to make the most of our student discounts.