Best rugged smartphones 2023

The best rugged phones are perfect for outdoor adventures, camping and dangerous jobs, as they're protected against drops, scrapes and water damage.

Best rugged phones - a mobile device floating against a light blue background

With the market for them increasing, finding one of best rugged smartphones can get a little bit complicated. Whether you’re into outdoor activities like hiking or camping, or your job makes a durable device a must, we’re here to help you find the best rugged phone for your needs and budget. Some phones focus on outdoor adventures with features like flashlights and long batteries, others focus solely on durability, and many also offer advanced camera specs and gaming modes.

Pocket Tactics has years of experience with mobile phones, so we know a good one when we see it. All this experience has been put to good use with the best rugged phones you can buy today all listed below, from specialist rugged brand Doogee as well as household names such as Nokia and Samsung. We’ve also spent time with the best gaming iPhone, the best gaming phones in general, and the best portable gaming consoles so you can make a wise investment with your next piece of tech.

Why you can trust our advice ✔ At Pocket Tactics, our experts spend days testing games, phones, tech, and services. We always share honest opinions to help you buy the best. Find out how we test.

Here are the best rugged smartphones in 2023:

One of the best rugged smartphones, the Doogee S96 GT, shown three times from different angles on the right of the picture against a black background. It is black and gold, with extra plating for protection.

1. Doogee S96 GT

The best budget rugged smartphone.

Doogee S96 GT specs:

Display  6.22-inch 1520 X 720 pixels IPS LCD
Cameras 64MP Main, 20MP Night Vision, 8MP Front
Storage 256GB + MicroSDXC slot
Rugged rating  IP68/IP69K
Battery 6350 mAh
OS  Android 12
Size 167 x 81 x 16mm
Weight 310g


  • Great performance for the price
  • Bulkier protection than others at the same price
  • Nice selfie camera


  • Less frequent security updates
  • Slightly less comfy in the hand than others

While this list is full of feasible options, the Doogee S96 GT is the best budget rugged phone by some distance. With a competent MediaTek processor, fantastic build quality that’s as durable as they come, and 4k UHD video recording capabilities, you’re getting some real value for money with this one. Sure, it lacks 5G, but that’s not likely to matter all too much if you’re using this device as your connection to the outside world on a wilderness excursion.

It’s hard to find any downsides to this budget option, with durable Corning Gorilla Glass protecting the surprisingly vivid 6.22-inch screen, and convenient fingerprint recognition to boot. Still, due to Doogee’s status as one of the small-to-mid-sized brands, you’re not getting the same level of safety updates as you do with the Nokia XR20 below, but the Doogee device is a bit cheaper. Picking between the two depends on where your priorities lie.

If you need a phone that can withstand drops (up to 1.8m) and spills, but don’t want to sacrifice media features, the Doogee S96 GT is the best rugged phone for you.

One of the best rugged phones, a black Nokia Xr20 in a mans hand.. It's plain with a camera at the top in the middle. the man has white hands and is wearing a black hoodie by a bicycle.

2. Nokia XR20

The best discrete rugged smartphone.

Nokia XR20 specs:

Display  6.67-inch IPS LCD
Cameras 48 MP wide, 13 MP ultrawide, 8 MP front
Storage  64GB (exp. with MicroSDXC slot)
Rugged rating  IP68 dust/water resistant
Drop rating Drop-to-concrete resistance up to 1.8m
Sensors Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Size 171.6 x 81.5 x 10.6 mm
Weight 248 g


  • Long-term software support
  • 5G connectivity


  • Slightly underpowered
  • A bit short on features

Matching reliability and value for money, the Nokia XR20 is one of the more discrete options on this list, looking less like it’s intended for military use than other examples. Looks can be deceiving though, and this is still a decently durable device, made slightly more attractive in that it’s the product of Nokia, a reliable and recognizable brand.

With a three-year warranty, free screen replacements for a year after purchase, and the promise of security updates for up to four years, this is the ideal phone for someone who values practicality over fancy features. It’s not quite as hardcore as some of the other options, lacking the top-of-the-class IP69K level of protection against dirt, dust, and moisture, but it’s certainly more rugged than your standard iPhone or Samsung Galaxy alternative.

Aspects like its fingerprint sensor, 5G connectivity, and three years of Android software updates are a bonus, and at such a good price it’s the best option for most. The downside is that it isn’t a bespoke device for hardcore outdoor use – if you have specific needs, look to Doogee. It’s also just been upgraded to the Nokia XR21. 

The Doogee S100 Pro torch being tested in a wood

3. Doogee S100 Pro

The Doogee S100 Pro is the best rugged phone for outdoor adventures.

Doogee S100 Pro specs:

Display 6.58″ FHD+ 120hz IPS Waterdrop screen
Cameras AI Triple camera (108MP+20MP+16MP), 20MP Night vision camera, 32MP front camera
Storage  256GB ROM
Rugged ratings IP68 / IP69K / MIL-STD-810H
Battery  22000mAh / 33W charging
Features  130 lumens camping light
Size (HxWxD) 179 x 83 x 27mm
Weight  400g


  • Impressive build and screen quality
  • Bright camping lights
  • Great for gaming and photography


  • Incredibly big and bulky

If you’re an intrepid adventurer who gets a kick from braving the elements, the Doogee S100 is the perfect companion for your travels. Boasting IP68 / IP69K and MIL-STD-810H rating for certified protection, this thing can face all sorts of extreme weather conditions without an issue. It’s not a bad regular old smartphone either, packing a Helio G99 processor, a triple camera system, and even a gaming mode for your adventuring downtime.

The S100 Pro feels durable in your hands, mainly due to the fact it’s pretty heavy, weighing in at 400g. For context, that’s double the weight of the iPhone 14 Pro. Still, this dense durable device is generous in the features department, including a 22000mAh battery, 130-lumen camping light, and a fantastic night vision camera. Throw in a 960-hour standby battery, and it’s no wonder this is our number one recommendation for outdoor adventurers.

The Doogee S100 Pro is the best rugged phone if you value having a decent camera and media features, as well as a hardy casing. It’s not the cheapest model on our list but for a limited, Pocket Tactics followers in the UK can get 10% off the S100 Pro on Amazon with code S100PROUK.

Read our Doogee S100 Pro review

One of the best rugged phones, the Ulefone Power Armor 20WT, showing a man holding it to his mouth. He is in abeanie and hiking gear, and the phone has an antenna attached for walkie talkie usage.

4. Ulefone Power Armor 20WT

The Ulefone Power Armor 20WT is the best hardcore rugged phone.

Ulefone Power Armor 20WT specs:

Display  5.65-inch 1080 x 2160 pixels IPS LCD
Cameras 50 MP wide, 16 MP front camera
Storage  256GB
Dust/water protection IP68/IP69K dust/water resistant
Drop rating Drop-to-concrete resistance up to 1.5m
Battery 10850 mAh
Size 164.8 x 79.2 x 18.1 mm
Weight 382 g


  • Latest MediaTek Helio processor
  • Excellent battery life


  • Bulky
  • Might be overkill for some

My personal favorite rugged phone is the Ulefone Power Armor 20WT. With a great design, additional features ideal for adventurers, good performance, and excellent battery life, it’s the best rugged phone for anyone who is hardcore.

The phone also comes with a walkie-talkie attachment, letting you have instant communication with longer battery life than a standard walkie-talkie. It seems a little like a gimmick (but maybe proper adventurers can find a use), but it sure does look cool.

Downsides? Well, there aren’t any obvious ones – it’s great value for money. However, its bulkier design, smaller screen, software bugs, and lack of updates all make it a harder recommendation for a more general audience. Make sure you can make use of its additional features, however, and then it could be a good one to get in on.

One of the best rugged phones, the Cat S75, a black phone in a persons hand as it points towards a lake, taking a photo by a hilly terrain.

5. Cat S75

The Cat S75 is the best rugged phone with satellite connectivity.

Cat S75 Specs:

Display  6.6-inch 1080 x 2408 pixels IPS LCD
Cameras 50MP rear, 8MP superwide, 2MP macro with underwater mode, 8MP front camera
Storage  128GB
Rugged rating  1P68/IP69K
Drop rating  1.8m on steel
Battery  5000 mAh
Size  171 x 80 x 11.9 mm
Weight  268g


  • Latest Mediatek Dimensity processor
  • Two-way satellite texting


  • Limited storage
  • Not the best selfie snapper

While Cat might be better known as the company behind those big yellow diggers you see on construction sites, they also offer a range of durable smartphones. The Cat S75 is the best of the bunch, with 5G connectivity, satellite messaging, and a sturdy sand, dust, and dirt-proof build.

The big difference between this device and many of the others on this list is the weight. The Cat S75 is just 268g. That’s not just less than some of our other recommendations for the best rugged phones, but lighter even than some of the swankier smartphones on the market. This lightness makes it one of the more practical options here, combined with fantastic water resistance of up to 5m for 35 minutes.

It’s not all rosy, however. It’s for sure the most expensive phone on this list, which makes sense given its feature set. But still, if you’re planning to take a phone to dangerous wildernesses, you may not want to spend so much money.

Official press image for the Fossibot F102 against a tree stump for guide to the best rugged phones

6. Fossibot F102

The best rugged phone for battery life

Display 6.58-inch 1080×2408 pixels IPS
Cameras 108MP primary, 5MP macro, 20MP night vision, 32MP front camera
Storage 256GB
Rugged rating IP68/IP69K/MIL-STD-810G
Drop rating Drop resistance up to 1.5m
Battery Li-Ion 16500 mAh
Size 172. x 82.6 x 25.6 mm
Weight 495g


  • Long-lasting battery
  • Affordable
  • Powerful flashlight


  • No 4k video
  • Decent but not great performance

The Fossibot F102 is a bit of a beast. While its most prominent selling point is its incredible battery life, surviving for over 30 hours providing you’re not spending all day watching videos and playing games, it’s as durable as the rest of the phones on this list and surprisingly capable in the camera department. Better still, it’s great value for money, retailing at less than $350.

The F102 is a particularly enticing pick for anyone who enjoys outdoor excursions, thanks to the stellar battery life we’ve already mentioned and a dazzlingly bright flashlight that saves you from taking a torch on your travels. Even when the battery eventually runs low, you don’t have to stop and charge for long, with 33w superfast charging juicing this powerhouse device back up to 50% in less than 90 minutes.

There are barely any noticeable caveats with this device. All we can think to point out is that it lacks 4k video recording, and it’s not as smooth a performer as some of the more expensive options on this list. Still, as far as the best rugged phones go, you’re getting plenty of bang for your buck here.

One of the best rugged phones, the Samsung Xcover6 Pro, diagonally floating in the air with a blue and red sandy background and the time on its screen. It is black.

7. Samsung Galaxy Xcover6 Pro 5G

The best rugged phone for Samsung fans.

Samsung Galaxy Xcover6 Pro specs:

Display 6.6-inch 1080 x 2408 PLS LCD
Cameras 50 MP wide, 8 MP ultrawide, 13 MP selfie
Storage 128GB
Dust/water protection IP68 dust/water resistant
Drop rating Drop-to-concrete resistance up to 1.5m
Sensors Fingerprint, accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
Size  169 x 80 x 10 mm
Weight 235 g


  • Trusted manufacturer
  • Excellent build quality


  • Small battery
  • More for business than adventure

If you feel comfortable with one of the biggest phone brands globally, then the Samsung Galaxy Xcover6 Pro is the rugged phone for you. With the company’s years of expertise in making mobile phones, you can have peace of mind picking this one up.

Given its higher price, it also comes with some premium features. You get a high-refresh-rate 120Hz screen, 5G, Wi-Fi 6E, and consistent security and software updates promised. You can even remove the battery, making it a great environmental choice if you want to keep it going for years.

Performance-wise, it pretty much outclasses all other rugged phones. But then it should be at that price, right? Yep, that price is one downside, plus the fact that it’s not quite as rugged as some of the more hardcore models in this list.

How do I choose the best rugged smartphone?

Choosing the best rugged phone for you is simple: work out what you need it for. Some people want a rugged phone for simple peace of mind. If you’re used to dropping your phone and tired of spending money on fixes, focus on the sleek and simple rugged phones in the list above, like the Nokia XR20.

If you need one of the best rugged smartphones for outdoor activity, go for something that has a greater waterproofing rating and shockproofing against drops. Alternatively, if there are specific features you need, such as gaming modes or advanced cameras, check out the features in more detail.

These are the best rugged phones on the market today, but we’ll update this list as we get to review more devices, so be sure to check back regularly. For more advice on your next big tech investment, check out our guide to Android controllers.