Tough, rugged phones

If you work outdoors or lead an active lifestyle, you need a hard-working phone that can keep up with you.

It can be tough for your phone to withstand the occasional knocks and blows a busy lifestyle brings. But if you’re after a device that can take on demanding conditions and deal with water, dust, heat and drops, these are the kind of features which you should look for.

Why do IP ratings matter?

Only devices with an IP68 rating (waterproofing and dirt resistance) and MIL-STD-810G rating (durability) are considered tough and rugged.

Phones with an IP68 rating can withstand dust, dirt and sand, and be submerged in deep water. Standard testing doesn't provide a universal depth, but manufacturers normally provide details for each device.

MIL-STD-810G is military-specification which guarantees a very high level of durability. Any device with this rating has been put through its paces to prove its robustness - including seeing how the phone performs when faced with shock, vibrations, heat, cold and humidity.

If you're looking for a rugged phone for company use like the Samsung Galaxy XCover 5, we may have more rugged phones available on our business site or you can chat to one of our business sales representatives by visiting our business plans page

Tough phones for outdoors

If you work outdoors frequently, you may need a phone which can take a tumble and carry on getting the job done. Tough phone cases are a great idea – but you may feel more confident with a rugged phone featuring built-in protection.

You could look for a phone with a durable rubber and plastic shell - these types of devices can normally survive drops and falls onto hard surfaces. Look out for phones with grooves set into the casing, so you can keep a firm grip while you’re making calls and sending texts.

Phone cases you can easily grip are especially handy if you're wearing gloves, or if your hands are wet and cold.

Waterproof phones

Phones and water have never been the best of friends, but rugged phones can handle the odd splash.

If you’re after a phone that has the same water resistance rating as a rugged phone - but you don’t need it to provide the shock and temperature protection that MIL-STD-810G-rated phones offer - waterproof phones offer high levels of protection against splashes and dunks, and can offer the highest IP68 dust and water resistance rating.

An IP rating is an acronym for ‘Ingress Protection’ ratings, and they’re used to classify a device’s resistance to water, dirt and dust. In general, an IP rating will consist of two numbers - the first will be a number between 0-6, and shows the degree of protection from solid objects, such as dirt. The second is a number between 0-9, indicating how a device performs in varying water depths and pressures. The higher these numbers are for an IP rating, the better protected your device will be.

Dust and heat resistant

Dusty, hot conditions can play havoc with mobile phones. If you frequently work outdoors or in hot countries, you’ll need a phone with a well-sealed exterior to cope with sand, dirt and dust. Dustproof phones are made to be easy to clean - if they get a bit grubby, you can wipe them down easily with a damp cloth.

When you're looking to buy a rugged phone, it's a good idea to try and find a device which is resistant to extreme temperatures. So if you leave it in your van or car during a heatwave, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Easy-to-use buttons

It can be tricky to text on a keypad when your hands are cold, or you’re wearing gloves. We recommend that you buy a rugged phone with a well-spaced keypad with easy-to-press buttons.

Buttons with a rubber finish are especially useful, as your finger won’t slip or slide when you’re making an important call. And if the buttons have a backlight, you'll still be able to see what you're typing if you’re working late at night or in the early morning.

Long-lasting battery life

Whether you’re waiting for a call or checking an order is on its way, a powerful battery is vital when you’re away from home. When you're researching which rugged device to get, look for a phone battery which will offer you several hours of talk time and standby time.

Phones with powerful batteries will see you through busy days, especially if you're making lots of calls and frequently sending texts.

Apps and features to stay on track

Just because your phone is built to last doesn’t mean you should compromise on the features you love. Look for a rugged phone which is compatible with the apps and features you need, such as Google Assistant, Google Maps, Facebook, WhatsApp or X (formerly Twitter). Check with the retailer that your phone will support them.

Finally, if you’re worried about having sensitive information on your phone, look for a rugged phone which has anti-theft remote locking capability and erase features for peace of mind.

Protecting your phone

get go fone - our official accessories partner - offers a wide range of accessories that are compatible with our best-selling handsets. From sturdy cases and scratch-resistant screen protectors to power banks, there’s a huge range of accessories to choose from.

You can even buy great-value protection packs which include a screen and a case.

Looking for a smartwatch that suits your outdoor lifestyle?

If you love exploring the great outdoors, then as well as a rugged phone, another great companion for your adventures is a smartwatch.

For avid hikers, you can check out our picks for the best smartwatches for hiking to find the ideal device to help you navigate the trail. If you’re a fitness fanatic who loves running, climbing, and cycling outdoors, then you should check out our pick of the best smartwatches for fitness

For the best smartwatches for all types of outdoor activities, visit our smartwatch buying guide