If You Need A Smartphone That’ll Survive The Apocalypse? Look No Further!
You can convince yourself that you’re an outdoorsy person, or someone who’s work demands a tough phone… but I know the truth… you’re just a clumsy bugger! Heck, even the keyboard warrior can have need for an indestructible smartphone! I should know, as I’m also a proud and somewhat clumsy bugger myself.
In all seriousness though, if you work out in the elements or love the outdoors, you need a smartphone that’ll survive the apocalypse or at least in extreme conditions… a delicate smartphone isn’t going to cut it.
Whether it’s extreme heat, constantly being dropped, surviving underwater or just being 100% sealed from dust and dirt… We’ve put together this rugged phone for you.
You’ll only find the toughest, most rugged & fully waterproof smartphones of late 2018 and 2019.
Don’t know your IP rating from your MIL–STD? Don’t worry, check out the tough phone FAQs at the end.
Let’s get to it!
The Best Waterproof Tough & Rugged Smartphones 2019
AGM X3 – Stylish & Rugged
The AGM X3 is the worlds most powerful tough and rugged smartphone thanks to its flagship level Snapdragon 845 processor.
Since there’s still no sign of a Samsung Galaxy S9 Active (Confirmed – Galaxy Active Range has been cancelled), this makes the AGM X3 a great alternative! And let’s be honest, it looks pretty similar as well.
Featuring a full IP68 waterproof certification as well as MIL-STD-810G drop protection, the 10.5mm AGM X3 hides its rugged credentials well. There’s also an included glove mode that makes it a great choice for anyone working in cold weather.
For the X3, AGM also partnered up with audio manufacturer JBL to create a set of dual rear-firing speakers that provide true stereo crystal clear audio. And finally, we get Wireless charging, NFC and an excellent 20MP dual rear camera setup.
Finally, the AGM X3 weighs in at a lightweight 200 grams meaning you won’t need a pair of suspenders. So what’s the catch? With a phone like the AGM X3 comes a high-end price-tag plus it’s still running on the outdated Android 8.1.
Rugged Credentials: IP68 Waterproof Rating (1.5m), MIL-STD-810G, -25°C to 55°C degrees operating temps, Gorilla Glass 5, Barometer, 1.21m Drop-tested, 10w Qi Charging
Ulefone Armor 6
The latest tough and rugged smartphone from Ulefone is the Armor 6. Released in the first half of 2019, it’s amongst the first tough phones to features a top notch.
Ulefone already has plenty of mid-range tough smartphones, so the Armor 6 separates itself by using a more powerful MediaTek processor. The Helio P60 takes this phone from a chunky brick with excellent battery life to a great day-to-day Android performer. No more compromises on responsiveness here.
The Armor 6 also takes its rugged credentials a step further by being MIL-STD(810g) certified as well as having the top IP69K waterproof rating.
While there are plenty of cheaper options in this list just remember that the Armor 6 is rocking a Full HD display, NFC chip even has Wireless Qi Charging. This is important as the biggest destroyer of tough phones is getting minerals, dirt and water into the charging port.
Ulefone Armor 6
Rugged Credentials: IP69K Waterproof Rating, MIL-STD(810g), GPS (GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, Baidu), Gorilla Glass 5, -20°C to +60°C Operating Temps, Qi Wireless Charge (keep ports sealed).
Update: Ulefone have now released the more cost-effective Armor 6e. It halves the RAM & Storage but upgrades to the newer Android 9 OS. Rugged-wise, both phones are equal.
Ulefone Armor 6e
Cubot Quest – Great Value
If you don’t need all the extra features and want to focus purely on ruggedness, then look no further than the Cubot Quest.
At only 8.8mm thick and weighing in at only 180 grams, it’s one of the lightest IP68 certified rugged phones available. Unlike Cubot’s previous attempt at a rugged phone (Cubot King Kong 3), the Quest still has features like NFC, a Helio CPU and plenty of RAM to run Android smoothly.
Related: Cubot Top 5 Smartphones
The display uses a HD 1440×720 panel (292 PPI) that’s protected by Gorilla Glass 5. The MediaTek Helio P22 while still budget, runs the bloatware-free version of Android 9 speedily. Other positives include a Sony IMX rear camera and a customisable button on the side that can be hot-linked to NFC payment or camera.
Rugged Credentials: IP68 Waterproof Rating, Gorilla Glass 5
Blackview BV9600 Plus – Super AMOLED Display
The Blackview BV9600 Plus is the successor the popular BV9500 Plus, but with a couple of awesome upgrades!
Straight out of the box it runs Android 9 Pie, it’s also powered by the very-capable Helio P60 CPU and even features a full HD AMOLED display. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, it’s packing a side facing fingerprint reader and a large 6.21″ notch display!
Blackview has given the BV9500 a strong dose of Hulk Juice to create the BV9600 Pro! Now available to purchase directly online as the pre-order phase has ended.
Blackview BV9600 Plus
Rugged Credentials: IP68/IP69K Waterproof Rating, MIL-STD-810G, -30°C to 60°C degrees operating temps, Thickened Gorilla Glass.
Doogee S40 – Super Tough – Super Cheap
The Doogee S40 keeps all of the tough credentials of the S80 & S90, but cuts down on performance to make it the most affordable IP69K & MIL-STD(810g) smartphone.
Best of all it features the latest Android 9 Pie OS and weighs in at a reasonable 238 grams. You’d think with a sub-£100 price-point that NFC would be off the cards, but delightfully the S40 has full NFC capabilities.
Related: Top 5 Doogee Smartphones
So what’s the catch? With an old CPU, 2GB’s of RAM and only 16GB of storage it’s definitely not a performance heavy-weight. Also, the screen has been pared back to a basic 480×960 resolution panel meaning text and images aren’t the sharpest.
If you’re looking for a cheap smartphone that you can safely drop in the bath, drop down the stairs and treat like your worst enemy… then the S40 might just be for you! If you’re looking for a daily driver, then you’ll find the S40 a little lacking.
Doogee S40 Rugged Budget Phone
Rugged Credentials: IP68/IP69K (1.5m) Waterproof Rating, MIL-STD-810G, -30°C to 60°C operating temps, Gorilla Glass 4.
Doogee S90 – Action Man’s Best Friend
The Doogee S90 ain’t for no regular guy or girl, it’s for the Bear Grylls wannabes and the action man amongst us!
That’s because carrying an array of modular components around with you plus the actual S90 (14mm thick + 300 grams) is, well… erm… just not very practical. The good news is that the S90 is already packing an impressive 5050mAh battery already which is more than enough for two days usage.
The rear and selfie cameras are from the Sony IMX range and modular Night Vision Mod offers a 12x sensitivity boost to capture any night scene easily.
In terms of performance, we see MediaTek’s P60 quad-core CPU coupled with a healthy 6GB’s of RAM and 128GB storage as standard. You can also add a Micro-SD card up to 256GB in size. Disappointingly though, the Doogee S90 is still running the outdated Android 8.1 OS even though it’s a 2019 release.
Rugged Credentials: IP69K Rating, MIL-STD-810G, Walkie Talkie Mode, Battery Module, Night Vision Module, Dust & Dirt Proof, -30°C to +60°C operating temps, Compass, Barometer, Gorilla Glass 4, 10w Wireless Charging, Titanium Alloy Frame
Doogee S80 – Walkie Talkie Phone
It’s looking like every major rugged phone is soon going to have Walkie Talkie mode! The Doogee S80 comes with a detachable antenna letting you use it as a Digital Walkie Walkie with a range of 5-10km.
It comes with all the usual rugged credentials as well as the higher IP69K rating which means it can handle high-temperature pressurised water jets as well as submersion.
What really makes this smartphone the outdoor adventurers best friend is that gigantic 10080mAh battery that’ll get you over 4 days light usage! All the best explorers log their journeys, so Doogee has implemented a dedicated PPT (push to talk) button onto the side of the S80 as well.
Looking at performance, the S80 is sitting in high-midrange with 6GB’s of RAM, 64GB’s of storage (+ room for expansion) and the power-efficient MediaTek Helio P23. I think a smartphone of these proportions (metaphorically & physically), deserves a high-end Helio processor (Helio P60), but the P23 does help keep the cost down.
Finally, no explorer is worth their salt unless they record their journey. So the S80 has a 16MP Samsung selfie camera coupled with a dual-lens Sony IMX363 (12MP + 5MP) rear camera that’s more than enough for crisp, vibrant photos.
While the 21mm thickness and 398g weight is enough to put people off, just remember it’s a fully fledges (DMR) Walkie Talkie as well as a great mid-range smartphone!
Rugged Credentials: IP69K Rating, MIL-STD-810G, Detachable Antenna / Walkie Talkie Mode, Dust & Dirt Proof, -30°C to +60°C degrees operating temps, Compass, Barometer
Ulefone ARMOR 5
Now surpassed in performance by the Armor 6 above, the Armor 5 is still the prettiest tough phone you can lay hands on. It also happens to be the very first rugged phone to feature a display notch and an impressive screen-to-body ratio of over 91%!
It’s fully waterproof to an IP68 rating which allows the Armor 5 to be submerged in water 1.5 metres deep for up to 60 minutes. It also features 10w wireless charging meaning you don’t have to mess around with USB port when charging. The battery itself is a healthy 5000mAh, more than enough for a full days power usage or two days normal use.
The shiny back of the phone is made from a scratch-proof shatter-proof acrylic with a reinforced TPU bumper for protection against drops. This is all held together by the central metal chassis.
This one tough phone to beat while still fitting into your pocket.
Ulefone Armor 5
Tough Credentials: IP68 Rating, Waterproof to 1.5 metres for 60 minutes, Dust-proof, Gorilla Glass 4
Display: 5.85″ HD+ (1512×720) | PPI: 286 | CPU: Helio P23 (8-Cores) | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB (expandable 256GB) | OS: Android 8.1 | Rear Camera: 16MP + 5MP | Selfie Camera: 13MP | Full UK Network Support: Yes | WiFi: Dual-band n | NFC: Yes | Battery: 5000mAh (+Wireless) | Weight: 228 grams
Caterpillar CAT S61 – The Predator
The CAT S61 likely won’t be your rugged smartphones choice, but I’ve added it to this list anyway as it’s awesome. Why? because it’s the first camera to feature as full-blown thermal imaging camera sensor
The successor to the CAT 60, the CAT 61’s thermal imaging sensor is now twice as powerful measuring up to 400 degree temps with HD image data. It also includes an air quality sensor that measures VOCs.
It’s not just a fancy thermal camera either; it’s 1.8 meter drop-proof thanks to a strengthened die-cast frame and it can be left underwater for up to an hour at depths of 3 metres. The screen uses Gorilla Glass 5 and is also certified to work in wet conditions.
Unless you need the thermal imaging though, there are much better value rugged phones. The downside is that you won’t get to re-enact any scenes from Predator. : (
Tough Credentials: IP68 Rating, Dust Proof, Drop-proof to 1.8m, 3 metres for 60 minutes water submersion, MIL-SPEC 810G, Operating Temp: -25°C to 55°C, Category 4 vibration, Thermal imaging camera, Laser Measure, Gorilla Glass 5.
Display: 5.2″ FHD+ (1920×1080) | PPI: 312 | CPU: Snapdragon 630 (8-Cores) | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB (expandable 256GB) | OS: Android 8.0 | Rear Camera: 13MP | Selfie Camera: 13MP | Full UK Network Support: Yes | WiFi: b,g,n | NFC: Yes | Battery: 4500mAh | Weight: 228 grams
BlackView BV9500 Pro – The Beast
Blackview is the king of rugged with a pedigree that goes back to 2014. They’ve been making tough phones for years and are experienced in making some of the most badass smartphones ever!
The BV9500 Pro is one of these and comes with the highest protection of IP69K. To get this rating, the BV9500 was blasted with high pressure water jets at 80°C. It also passed the MIL-STD-810G drop & shock testing.
We also get a side-facing fingerprint readers, NFC and wireless charging for that humongous 10000mAh battery. With great power comes one seriously heavy smartphones that weighs in at 365g.
And saving the best until last, there’s also a screw on antenna so you can use the phone as a walkie talkie! Awesome!
The Blackview BV9500 Pro is a beast!
Tough Credentials: IP69K Waterproof, 120 minutes water submersion at 1.8m, Dust Proof, 1.8m Dropproof, Gorilla Glass
Display: 5.7″ FHD+ (2160×1080) | PPI: 425 | CPU: Helio P23 (8-Cores) | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 128GB (expandable 128GB) | OS: Android 8.1 | Rear Camera: 16MP + 2MP | Selfie Camera: 13MP | Full UK Network Support: Yes | WiFi: 2.4GHz (a,b,g,n) | NFC: YES | Battery: 10000mAh (+Wireless) | Weight: 365 grams
Ulefone Armor X – The Budget Defender
The Ulefone Armor X doesn’t meet our minimum hardware requirements, but I’ve included it anyway. Why? because the Ulefone Armor X has a lot to offer. Not only is it IP68 waterproof but it has NFC, Wireless charging and comes with the latest Android 8.1 OS.
For light Android users who need the extra protection of a rugged smartphone, the Ulefone Armor X is an excellent choice… but… it does have its cons.
The MediaTek MT6739 isn’t the fastest and the 16GB’s of included storage is low. On the bright side, there is an expandable SD card port available.
For a smartphone with a massive 5000mAh battery, the 13.9mm thickness and 256 grams weight can be forgiven. Overall, it’s a great budget option is money is tight and you’re a light Android user.
Ulefone Armor X
Rugged Credentials: IP68 Waterproof Rating (1.5m for 60 minutes), 1.2m drop protection, -40°C to 80°C degrees operating temps, Gorilla Glass
Display: 5.5″ HD+ (1440×720) | PPI: 293 | CPU: MediaTek 6739 (4-Cores) | RAM: 2GB | Storage: 16GB (expandable 256GB) | OS: Android 8.1 | Rear Camera: 13MP + 5MP | Selfie Camera: 8MP | Full UK Network Support: Yes | WiFi: Dual-band (a,b,g,n) | NFC: Yes | Battery: 5500mAh (+Wireless) | Weight: 256 grams
Vernee V2 Pro
The Vernee V2 Pro offers not only a waterproof IP68 rating and solid drop protection armour, but actually resembles a smartphone. A lot of tough & rugged smartphones look more like 80’s Walkie Talkies than modern smartphones.
The IP68 rating is good for 30 minutes submersion at depths of 1.5 meters and it comes with an anti-slip design making it easier to use in wet conditions. Inside we find the capable Helio P23 8-core chip combined with a very healthy 6GB’s of RAM and 64GB’s of storage. To top it all off, the Vernee V2 Pro comes with a large 5.99″ full HD display.
No rugged phone is complete without an epic battery life to match. The V2 Pro doesn’t disappoint with a 6200mAh battery that’ll easily last you two full days. The 18w fast charger will top you up 30% in only 30 minutes.
Vernee V2 Pro
Rugged Credentials: IP68 Rating (1.5m waterproof for 30 minutes), Dust & Dirt Proof, Corning Gorilla Glass, Magnalium Frame, TPU Armoured Corners, Anti-slip Design, -30°C to +60°C degrees operating temps, Compass, GPS+GLONASS.
Display: 5.99″ FHD+ (1080×2160) | PPI: 293 | CPU: Helio P23 (8-Cores) | RAM: 6GB | Storage: 64GB (expandable 256GB) | OS: Android 8.1 | Rear Camera: 13MP + 5MP | Selfie Camera: 8MP | Full UK Network Support: Yes | WiFi: Dual-band (a,b,g,n) | NFC: Yes | Battery: 6200mAh (+Wireless) | Weight: 259 grams
The Doogee S55 is made from an aluminium chassis surrounded by reinforced TPU drop bumpers. It uses a textured leather patter to improve grip and is IP68 rated for submersion of 1.5m for 24 hours.
Protecting the display is Gorilla Glass and it’s also certified to work in extreme temps of +60°C to minus 30°C. The S55 is one of Doogee’s budget rugged handsets with the S60, S70 being also available with enhanced rugged protection and faster performance.
The S80 is soon Doogee’s soon to be released rugged flagship phone which can be found later on in the coming soon section.
Rugged Credentials: IP68 Waterproof Rating (1.5m for 24 hours), -30°C to 60°C degrees operating temps, Gorilla Glass 3.
Display: 5.5″ HD+ (720×1440) | PPI: 292 | CPU: MediaTek 6750T (8-Cores) | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB (expandable 128GB) | OS: Android 8.0 | Rear Camera: 13MP + 8MP | Selfie Camera: 5MP | Full UK Network Support: Yes | WiFi: Dual-band (a,b,g,n) | NFC: Yes | Battery: 5500mAh | Weight: 265 grams
Oukitel WP1 – Stylish & Rugged
Oukitel are no strangers to creating tough smartphones with their latest, the Oukitel WP1, being a beauty!
I love it when smartphone makers get the design on a rugged phone just right. The perfect mix between toughness and elegance! But none of that matters if the WP1 can’t take a beating!
It comes with an IP68 rating making it waterproof, dustproof and dirtproof and has also been ruggedized to withstand shocks and vibrations. All four corners are made from shock absorbing TPU held together with metal supports either side. If you spend a lot of time outdoors, you’ll also appreciate that the WP1 has an inbuilt barometer sensor & e-compass.
In terms of performance, it’s powered by the MediaTek Helio P23 with 4GB of RAM and 64GB’s of storage. The dual rear camera setup also uses a Sony IMX lens with a resolution of 13MP.
Finally, not rugged phone is complete without a big battery. The WP1 has 5000mAh which is fast-charge and wireless charge ready. What you don’t get is a full HD display or NFC. But considering the price, the WP1 is a good option.
Rugged Credentials: IP68 Waterproof Rating, Dustproof, Shock Protection, Barometer Sensor
Display: 5.5″ HD+ (720×1440) | PPI: 292 | CPU: Helio P23 (8-Cores) | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB (expandable 128GB) | OS: Android 8.1 | Rear Camera: 13MP + 2MP | Selfie Camera: 5MP | Full UK Network Support: Yes | WiFi: 2.4GHz (b,g,n) | NFC: No | Battery: 5000mAh (+wireless | Weight: 257 grams
Cubot King Kong 3 – Value Defender
Cubot is better known for its range of reliable budget smartphones, than its rugged phone lineup.
More information: Cubot King Kong 3 Review
The Cubot King Kong (1) was a bit of a flop. It was underpowered and didn’t stand out against the competition. The Cubot King Kong 3 brings some much needed performance upgrades. Most notably; NFC, a large battery and Gorilla Glass protection.
It may not be armoured up to the core, but it has price on its side as one of cheapest phones in this list.
Cubot King Kong 3
Tough Credentials: IP68 Rating, 1.5 Metres for 30 minutes water submersion, Dustproof, waterproof fingerprint reader, Gorilla Glass, -30°C to 60°C degrees operating temps, 1.5m Droptested
Galaxy S8 Active
If you hadn’t heard, Samsung’s 2017 Flagship, the S8 has also been released in a tough rugged version called the Samsung Galaxy Active. You might find it hard to get your hands on the Galaxy S8 Active though, as Samsung has partnered with American network AT&T to release it exclusively.
If you’re lucky enough, you can find unlocked Galaxy S8 Active on sites like eBay. The Active version of the Galaxy S8 does away with the curved infinity display in place of a flat screen. It has rubberised corners to protect it from drops, has a shatter resistant screen and has an improved IP68 rating of 50 minutes at 1 metre depth.
In terms of hardware, we also see a jump in battery size up to 4000mAh. Overall, it’s not a huge jump from the original and you might be better off getting a case like this from Amazon for the standard Galaxy S8 instead.
If you’re still waiting for news on the release of a Samsung Galaxy S9 or S10 Active, then you’re out of luck as the line has been cancelled.
Tough Credentials: IP68 Rating, Dust Proof, 30 minutes water submersion at 1.5m, shatter resistant (5 feet flat surface), Gorilla Glass 5
Display: 5.8″ UHD (2560×1440) | PPI: 577 | CPU: Snapdragon 835 (8-Cores) | RAM: 4GB | Storage: 64GB (expandable 256GB) | OS: Android 8 (Update to 9) | Rear Camera: 12MP | Selfie Camera: 8MP | Full UK Network Support: Yes | WiFi: Dual-band (ac) | NFC: YES | Battery: 4000mAh (+wireless) | Weight: 208 grams
Smartphone Waterproof / Dustproof Ratings Explained (IP Rating)
I’m going to explain the most common IP ratings that you find in modern smartphones. IP56, IP57, IP58, IP66, IP67 & IP68.
The first number in the IP rating refers to intrusion. Anything solid that might try to get inside a device like dust, sand and dirt.
- IP5* stands for protected. Dust may enter the device but can not interfere with the operation of the device.
- IP6* stands for sealed. No solids can enter the device.
The second number stands for the liquid rating of the device.
- IP*6 is protected from high-pressure water jets.
- IP*7 is protected water immersion up to 1 metre.
- IP*8 is protected water immersion to manufacturers specifications.
Your best bet is to choose a phone that has an IP68 rating and then check with the manufacturer as to how deep and for how the long the smartphone is rated for underwater.
What does the IP69K rating mean?
IP69K means that the device has to withstand jets of water heated to 80°C at a pressure of 1160-1450 PSI.
What is MIL-STD Protection?
MIL-STD stands for United States Military standard and is a series of tests developed to make sure a device would continue to work in an extreme environment.
MIL-STD-810G is a combination of tests that manufacturers can choose from to test their device. The common smartphones tests are shock and vibration.
Further information on surviving the Apocalypse!
Let me know what’s your favourite rugged phone in the comments below!