Most smartphones and tablets are just terrific, until they get dropped or wet. You don’t want to be stuck with a busted device just because you had the bad luck to fling it into a mud puddle.
Fortunately there’s a whole category of devices designed to withstand the rigors of field work, many designed to military specification. These devices (mostly running Android software) are gasket-sealed to resist water and reinforced so they don’t shatter when they crash screen-first onto the concrete.
If you’re in the market for a rugged smartphone or tablet, here are a few of the choices available for you today.
The newest rugged smartphone on the Verizon network is the Kyocera Brigadier. It stands out for its sapphire-coated screen, plus it’s drop-resistant, waterproof, and protected against dust, shock, and vibration. This Android-powered phone may be your best choice if your business is already a corporate Verizon customer.
Sprint also offers an Android-powered Kyocera phone, the Torque, which is encased in an outer shell built to Military Standard 810G. This phone claims to be waterproof (immersible to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes) and drop-proof, and it has that chunky plastic look that might as well say “TOUGH” in capital letters.
On the AT&T network, this phone is essentially a regular Samsung Galaxy suped up to Mil Spec standards. It’s another worry-free phone that’s dustproof, water resistant, and built to handle bumps and scuffs. It features a 5.1-inch display, which is great for photos and visually intensive apps.
If you want a rugged smartphone on a major network with an actual, physical keyboard, here’s your only option. The NEC Terrain on the AT&T network is waterproof, dustproof, and built to Mil Spec standards for shock, low pressure, extreme temperatures, and salt fog. Some of the specs seem a little dated compared to newer phones, however, with only a 640 x 480-pixel screen and a single 5 megapixel camera. But hey: It’s got a keyboard.
Caterpillar sells phones? We were surprised too, but here it is. The CAT B15 is another Android device that’s dustproof, waterproof, and able to survive a tumble. You won’t find it for sale in U.S. stores, but you can order it unlocked from online retailers. It’s expensive, but if you want an eye-catching phone nobody else has, this one might be for you.
Fully ruggedized and built with robust security features, the Toughpad is one of the biggest names in construction-friendly tablets. Running on the Android platform, this tablet has a dedicated security core for data encryption, and comes in either a Wi-Fi-only or 4G LTE version.
Want to run Windows? Want a tablet that looks like it belongs on the Space Shuttle? Here you go. This tablet has impressive specs, including an 80GB solid state drive. It’s also one of the few tablets you can crack open and fix yourself—it claims to be the industry’s “only field repairable and upgradeable rugged tablet.”
Another rugged tablet from Xplore, the RangerX runs Android rather than Windows. It boasts such features as a glove-friendly touchscreen, an outdoor-readable display, and battery life of up to 10 hours.
This 7″ Android tablet manages to be compact, powerful and rugged. Built to Mil Spec standards, the Getac Z710 features front- and rear-facing cameras, a sunlight-readable display, and a glove-friendly touchscreen.
This Windows tablet has a 9″ touch-screen that works with your finger or a stylus. It’s highly resistant to shock and vibration, and is also water-resistant and sunlight-readable. And it features a swappable battery so you can tote a spare with you and save having to recharge.