Rugged Mobile Phones for the Outdoors

Rugged Mobile Phones for the Outdoors

by kenlo on ‎28-02-2012 18:00 - last edited on ‎23-06-2014 14:04 by handy giff-staffer zobia22

 

 

Climber.jpgIf you work outdoors or you spend a lot of time taking part in outdoors activities and sports, you may prefer not to carry an expensive, top-of-the-range smartphone such as the iPhone 4S, Galaxy Nexus or Nokia Lumia. Although some of these top smartphones include chemically toughened glass such as Gorilla Glass which provides some protection against drops and scratches, they are still at risk of being damaged by dust particles or contact with water (for example during heavy rain or dropping your phone in the toilet!).

 

For people who want mobile phones which are protected against impact, dust and water, there are a class of “rugged” mobile devices. These devices are certified to be waterproof and dustproof and often feature specially designed glass displays which are guarded against the force of drops and impacts. These rugged handsets can either be used as a replacement for your primary phone or can be kept as a secondary phone purely for use when outdoors. In this article, we look at the range of rugged mobile devices available on the market. We also look at how to assess the level of protection they provide against the elements.

 

IP Certification: Classifying rugged phones

 

Rugged handsets differ from normal mobile phones in that they are additionally certified by the level of protection that they offer against the elements.

 

The standard certification method is called the Ingress Protection Rating (an IP Rating for short). An IP rating consists of two numbers, the first of which measures the level of protection against dust and the second of which measures the level of protection against water.

 

Most rugged phones are IP67 certified. This means they score 6/6 on dust protection (they are fully dust tight) and 7/8 on water protection (they can be immersed in water up to a depth of 1m).

 

Rugged Android Smartphones: Motorola Defy, Samsung Galaxy XCover & Sony Ericsson Xperia Active

 

Almost all rugged smartphones available on the market run on the Android operating system. This is due to the flexibility of Android which allows it to run on a range of different form factors.

 

Popular rugged smartphones include the Motorola Defy+, the Samsung Galaxy Xcover and the Sony Ericsson Xperia Active. All 3 devices cost around £200 and are IP67-certified providing complete dust protection and water protection up to a depth of 1m.

 

Compared to mainstream smartphones, rugged handsets tend to feature slower processors, smaller amounts of memory and lower resolution displays. This means they’re not as good for web browsing and viewing multimedia, but it’s the trade-off that needs to be made for the phone to be rugged. All 3 handsets provide torch and GPS functionality, both of which can come in handy in the outdoors and all 3 handsets will run the majority of standard Android applications.

 

The three handsets compare as follows:

 

 

Motorola Defy+

Motorola DefyPLUS.jpg 

Samsung Galaxy Xcover

 Samsung Galaxy Xcover.jpg

Sony Ericsson Xperia Active

 Sony Ericsson Xperia Active.jpg

IP Rating

IP67-certified

IP67-certified

IP67-certified

Processor

1GHz single core

800MHz single core

1GHz single core

Display

3.7-inch TFT display

3.7-inch TFT display

3.0-inch TFT display

Screen Resolution

480x854

320x480

320x480

Operating System

Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

Google Android 2.3 (Gingerbread)

Android UI

Motoblur

TouchWiz

Timescape

Storage

2GB internal memory & up to 32GB micro-SD

150MB internal memory & up to 32GB micro-SD

1GB internal memory & up to 32GB micro-SD

Camera

5 megapixel with LED flash

3.2 megapixel with LED flash

5 megapixel with LED flash

Battery

1,700mAh (6.8 hours talk time)

1,500mAh (11 hours talk time)

1,200mAh (5.5 hours talk time)

Text Input

On-screen software keyboard

On-screen software keyboard

On-screen software keyboard

Approx. price

Approx £220 SIM-free

Approx £200 SIM-free

Approx £230 SIM-free

SIM card size

Standard SIM

Standard SIM

Standard SIM

 

All three devices are compatible with giffgaff and some great savings can be had by buying these devices upfront and using one of our giffgaff goodybags.

 

Note that although these phones are designed to be used outdoors, their batteries have much the same capacity as mainstream smartphones. This can potentially lead to problems when constantly using GPS functionality as it can consume a lot of power. If you plan to use the GPS functionality on long hikes or runs through the countryside, it may be worth investing in a portable external power pack.

 

Basic Rugged Handsets: JCB Toughphone & Samsung Solid X-Cover

 

If you’re looking for a more basic rugged handset to be used as a second phone rather than to replace your main phone, it may be economical to opt for a more basic model such as the JCB Toughphone or the Samsung Solid Immerse. Although these phones lack advanced features such as GPS, the two phones are available for around £80 and can offer better battery life than their rugged smartphone counterparts. The JCB Tradesman Toughphone also has the unique distinction of floating on water.

 

 

JCB Toughphone Tradesman

JCB Tradesman.jpg 

Samsung Solid Immerse

Samsung Solid Extreme.jpg 

IP Rating

IP67-certified

IP67-certified

Connectivity

2G only

2G and 3G

Display

1.4-inch CSTN display

2-inch TFT display

Camera

No

2 megapixel

Torch

Yes

No

Battery

650mAh (3 hours talk time)

1,300mAh (7.3 hours talk time)

Text Input

Hardware keypad

Hardware keypad

Approx. price

Approx £75 SIM-free

Approx £85 SIM-free

SIM card size

Standard SIM

Standard SIM

 

Both phones are compatible with giffgaff.

 

Can I switch my SIM card between a normal handset and a rugged handset?

 

Yes. With giffgaff, it is easy to switch your SIM cards between handsets at any time, providing both of your handsets are unlocked. This means you could use your normal smartphone in the office during the week and switch to a rugged handset when visiting music festivals or taking part in sports at the weekend. If both of your handsets run on the Android operating system, it is simple to keep your phone book, calendar and e-mail synchronised between your two devices through your Google account. For a basic non-Android rugged handset, you must copy your phone book between handsets manually.

 

Your thoughts…

 

In this article, we’ve looked at mobile phones which are designed for the outdoors and provide greater protection against the elements. For people who regularly spend time outdoors, rugged smartphones provide most of the features of standard smartphones whilst providing greater protection against drops, dust and water damage. For people who only occasionally spend time outdoors and are looking for a second handset, a range of basic rugged handsets are available for around £80.

 

Have you ever had an unfortunate accident with your mobile phone? Have you broken a mobile phone by dropping it on the pavement or flushing it down the toilet? Do you think a rugged handset would come in handy or would you prefer the technology to be built in to mainstream smartphones? We’d love to hear your thoughts: drop us a comment below.

 

Ken Lo writes about mobile technology and the mobile industry at Ken's Tech Tips.

 

Comments
by stealthybigboss2 on ‎28-02-2012 18:13
good blog thanks, once my nephew who was 2 at the time put my phone in a glass of water lol, now I ALWAYS keep my phone on me
by oldyorkie ‎28-02-2012 18:41 - edited ‎28-02-2012 19:20

Another good read kenlo ... thankyou.

 

you may or may not know of the latest edition due to be added to the rugged phone market this year....

one that I had never heard of ... the Durrocomm Oberon.....(this one's a dual sim :smileyhappy:)

 

I would imagine this would be more at the top end of the price range for a rugged handset, as this actually has a 5.1mp camera AND GPS ... though if I felt there was a risk of dropping it into water ... I wouldn't care how good the IPR was .... it would be the price that would put me off ... :smileysurprised::smileytongue:

 

There's a link that contains a youtube video by The Phone Trader below for members to have a look...:smileyhappy:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r43VEygbL20

by wizzler on ‎28-02-2012 20:00
My phone is a good tough phone! Its the Nokia 1208 everybody!
by tiggerjj on ‎29-02-2012 11:57

I work in the outdoor in a wet, windy and sandy environment where I often drop my phone, My little Motorola defy is doing awesomely well,  I have killed many other phones at work, but not this one yet.  Behaves and looks completely like a normal phone just more hard core!!!

by andycarvalho on ‎29-02-2012 12:17

I have recently purchased a otterbox deffender case online for my iPhone 3gs and its the most rugged thing ever. A company in the UK also sell rugged military standard cases for the 4g/s.

by marvel andy0 marvel ‎29-02-2012 12:38 - edited ‎29-02-2012 12:43

if it's just dust and water to worry about then get a waterproof cover like Aquapac

 

or I have one of those cheap silicone rubber covers which is good enough to allow answering the phone with slightly wet hands 

by inspiron42 on ‎29-02-2012 14:43
I have seen phone cases advertised which protect smartphones from rough treatment. Perhaps these should have also been covered in the article.
by christg26 on ‎29-02-2012 15:32

What is going on with Giffgaff? Everytime I want to purchase a "goody bag" the bloody thing is down, "due to gremlins". Is this just to make more money out of us? So we buy credit aswell? Sort it out Giff Gaff..or im going else where, this is really **bleep** me off.

by kulsum on ‎29-02-2012 23:38
motorola defy looks gudd :smileyhappy:
by ledjps on ‎01-03-2012 12:31
Good article. I own the Moto Defy Plus *JCB Edition* which comes with a JCB branded case that is made from a special material that is flexable but will harden when subjected to an impact. Battery life on the Defy Plus is insane and will get around 21 - 24 hours with alot of use, so in standby this phone will get you days.
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