Rugged Smartphones Tough Enough For the Construction Site (2021)

Jun 27, 2021

Many of our clients who work in construction and other industrial occupations use iPhones or Samsung devices protected with durable cases and screen protectors. But as durable as the cases may be, regular smartphones simply aren’t built tough enough for the construction site. They’re susceptible to dust, dirt, drops, and other damage that could cause interruptions to their work. In order to prevent any unnecessary disruptions, we recommend rugged smartphones.

Plenty of phones and tablets tout rugged features, but construction sites demand truly rugged smartphones that are waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof. Whether you are looking for 5G, durability, special features, or a solid budget option, we’ve rounded up some of the best rugged smartphones available in 2021.

CAT S48C Rugged Smartphone: $599.99

Image: CAT Phones

Our pick: Best budget rugged smartphone

The S48C is a mid-range rugged smartphone that’s built to last. It features a minimalistic, octagonal shape wrapped in a thick, rubberized case with narrow canals to provide a better grip. Its front display boasts a Gorilla Glass 5 5.0 inch screen with three physical buttons to make navigation easier: back, home, and recent apps. Along the sides, you’ll find the power button, a programmable key, and two volume keys that can be used to take screenshots and photos.

The CAT S48C is IP68 certified, meaning it can handle being submerged up to 5 feet underwater for a maximum of 30 minutes. It also carries the Military Standard 810G certification, which means it can survive vibrations, pressure, thermal shocks, and even falls from up to 6 feet.

Sonim XP8 Rugged Smartphone: $699.99

Image: Sonim Tech

As the follow up to the highly-regarded Sonim XP7, the Sonim XP8 builds upon everything that made its predecessor great. It loses the octagonal shape for a more modern squarish look, but keeps the same top protrusion for the antenna. Below the Gorilla Glass 3 5.0-inch screen, it has the three same analogue buttons as the CAT S48C, along with a push to talk button on the side and the Sonim XPand Connector on top.

The Sonim XP8 is IP68, IP69, and IP69K rated, meaning it can survive down to 6.5 feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. It’s also MIL-STD810G and Non-Incendive Class I, II, and III rated, so it can handle drops from up to 6 feet, extreme pressure, chemicals and oils, and more. Plus, you can even use the phone if your hands are wet, dirty, or wearing gloves.

Samsung XCover Pro Rugged Smartphone: $499.99

Image: Samsung

Our pick: Most modern rugged smartphone

Closely resembling a modern smartphone, the Samsung XCover Pro is a great budget option in the mid-range rugged smartphone market. It boasts a 6.3-inch screen which is protected by Gorilla Glass 5 and a protective lip around the display, but does not have the same physical buttons as the above two options. However, it does have a fingerprint reader and programmable key on the side, along with a removable battery — a rarity on modern smartphones.

The Samsung XCover pro is IP68-rated, so it can survive being submerged up to 5 feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. It’s also rated for MIL-STD 810G, which means it can handle falls from up to 5 feet, pressure, vibrations, dust, and more. With that said, the phone has a plastic case, which makes it much more vulnerable than its rubber-coated competitors.

Kyocera DuraForce Ultra 5G UW: $899.99

Image: Kyocera Mobile

Our pick: Best 5G rugged smartphone

Kyocera has a reputation for building extremely durable phones, and this device is no exception. It features massive plastic and rubber bumpers around the phone, along with a lip around the front that protects the screen in case it lands face down. It has a scratch-resistant 5.45-inch sapphire screen that can be used while your hands are wet or while you’re wearing gloves. It also has a fingerprint sensor built into the power button, along with customizable physical buttons for a camera, push to talk, SOS, and volume controls. However, the main draw for many is the 5G capability. It supports Verizon’s LTE, 5G DSS, and 5G millimeter-wave bands, and houses a faster processor than all of the other devices in this article.

In terms of durability, Kyocera makes no compromises. The DuraForce Ultra 5G UW is IP68-rated, allowing it to survive underwater down to 5 feet for up to 30 minutes, and is even able to take pictures while submerged. Unlike the other phones in this article that are rated for MIL-STD 810G, it holds MIL-STD 810H certification. This means that it can withstand all of the conditions of 810G (vibration, pressure, drops, etc.) plus things like wind, rain, sand, and extreme temperature.

Kyocera Duraforce Pro 2 Rugged Smartphone: $449.99

Image: Kyocera Mobile

Our pick: Best affordable rugged smartphone for outdoor occupations

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro 2 is an affordable rugged smartphone that comes packed with features you might not expect at this price point. Its modern design is wrapped in a mix of polycarbonate and rubber, and each of its ports is covered with protective flaps to block out dust and debris. It features an extremely durable 5.0-inch sapphire screen that can be used while your hands are wet or dirty, but unlike some of its competitors, it does not have analog buttons on the front. However, along the sides, you’ll find a programmable key and a fingerprint sensor on the power key.

The device has an IP68 rating for liquid and dust protection, allowing it to survive up to 5 feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. It also holds a Military Standard 810G certification, along with being Class I Division 2 rated, so it can be used in hazardous places and withstand low pressure, temperature shock, vibration, and more. These ratings, along with its sapphire screen, make it a great option for those who work in construction or other occupations that involve being outside for extended periods of time.

Best Rugged Smartphones 2021

If you don’t have time to read the full overviews, this chart summarizes everything you need to know about the top rugged smartphones:


If you’re currently using iPhones, Samsungs, or other standard smartphones in tough jobs like construction and manufacturing, you could be exposing yourself to unnecessary risk. These types of phones are not built for construction sites, so they might not hold up to the conditions of your regular workdays. And if they break or malfunction, communication with your team or clients may be limited while you wait to have your phone repaired or replaced.

Rugged smartphones can help you reduce risk and prevent unnecessary delays, as they’re purpose-built for tough workplaces. They can withstand water, dust, vibrations, and more without flinching, and are built to last. LINQ can help you procure, deploy, and manage your rugged smartphones through our device lifecycle management solution. Contact us to find out if rugged smartphones through a managed service provider are right for you.

LINQ Tech Team

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