What’s the Best Rugged Smartphone in 2020?


A Zebra rugged smartphone on whitebackground - one of the best rugged smartphones of 2020

When you invest in a rugged smartphone, you want the best available in the market. We’ve done the research so you don’t need to do the guessing. Depending on the features most important to you and the type of work you do, will determine which rugged smartphone you choose. 


Knowing What You Need in a Rugged Smartphone 

There is no one rugged smartphone that’s best for every worker. What’s best for one industry, might be second or third for another. The requirements of a field worker, in hot, dusty and outdoor conditions are very different from those working in a retail environment. Both workers require a rugged smartphone that can last the distance. They need to work in varying conditions, but they need different features to be the top pick for them. 


Best Rugged Smartphone for Field Workers 2020 

Australia has some of the most extreme field conditions because of our hot, dusty environment. Even when working in the metropolitan area, you need to contend with the bright sun exposure, which makes it difficult to read the screen and rain wetting your device. 


What Rugged Mobile Brand is Most Durable?

If you work in a hostile environment, you need a rugged device that will stand up to the extreme conditions. You can’t go past the Zebra brand for offering some of the best durable smartphones available on the market.   


The Zebra TC57 Fully Rugged Handheld

The Zebra TC57’s unibody is a step-up from its predecessor, the TC56. The TC57 can cope with drops on concrete, water submersion, and dust. The TC57 is one of the most durable smartphones for workers out in the field. Suitable in all outdoor conditions, it can cope with operating temperatures between -20 and 50°C.  



Consumer smartphones are notorious for screen cracks, so when you’re investing in a smartphone, you want to eliminate the weak spot that is the display. Rugged smartphones are designed to take the hard knocks.

Protected by 5-inch Corning Gorilla Glass touch panel and imager window offer maximum scratch-resistance. The touch panel is optically bonded to the display for further protection from multiple drops and the unit’s strong body provides screen protection.


Drop Test

The Zebra TC57 can survive drops of 1.2 metres onto tile or concrete, but with the rugged boot accessory, the smartphone can survive six-foot drops onto concrete.


Ingress Rating

Ensuring a device is fit-for-purpose is vital when it comes to fieldwork. Work cannot stop because of a heavy downpour of rain, the device must be reliable, and cope with all environmental demands. These types of conditions would destroy a consumer smartphone. The best rugged smartphones can cope with being dropped in water and other liquids, and continue working through a long shift. 

The Zebra TC57 is ruggedised to military standards IP67, the smartphone can survive being immersed in one metre of water for half an hour and be dust resistant.


Battery Powered   

Many workers do more than an eight-hour shift in one day and their device needs to keep up with them. With hot-battery swap, the unit doesn’t need to be turned off to change batteries. Once the unit’s batteries are changed, it’s ready for another 12-hour shift. 


Specs of The Zebra TC57

Dimensions: 155 mm L x 75.5 mm W x 18.6 mm H  

Weight: 249 g with battery

Operating System: Android 8.1 Oreo

CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 octa-core, 2.2 GHz

Multi-touch: Works with wet, gloved finger or stylus pen

Drop: 1.2 m onto tile over concrete

Multiple 2 m drops on concrete with rugged boot accessory 

Tumble: 0.5 m tumbles


Best Rugged Smartphone for Warehouse Applications 

Warehouses expose devices to a range of extreme operating temperatures. A rugged smartphone is built to handle these sudden changes in temperatures. Bright sunlight, vast temperatures, vibration and long shifts are just some of the demands of a warehouse. 

Although these conditions aren’t as harsh as outdoor fieldwork, the warehousing industry requires a device that will keep up with the demands of the job. A warehouse worker needs a unit that has a different level of durability. The rugged smartphone needs to be ergonomic, easy to read out in direct sunlight and complete multiple functions at the touch of a button.


What Rugged Mobile Brand is Best Suited for Warehouses?

The Honeywell brand is specially designed with retail and warehouse workers in mind. 


The Honeywell Dolphin CT60 

Warehouse and retail workers need high performing smartphones to complete several functions. The smartphone needs to be comfortable, but also rugged enough that it can cope with being dropped on the concrete floor. The top warehouse and retailer smartphone is the Honeywell Dolphin CT60 Android Handheld, because it offers worker productivity and customer service capabilities. Being able to check inventory levels across multiple locations means the staff don’t need to leave the warehouse or customer’s side. After locating stock, the smartphone handles the sale with its industrial-grade barcode scanner. Scanning outside in the loading dock isn’t a problem with the scanner able to cope with bright sunlight. 


Range of Accessories That Make the Job Easier

Depending on the user’s job demands, will determine what accessories are required. A scan handle that easily snaps on and off the unit will convert it from a mobile computer to a scanner. The protective accessory range includes a holster, pouch, rubber boot, screen protectors, and replacement hand straps.


Specs of Honeywell Dolphin CT60

Dimensions: 83mm W x 160mm H x 19mm D

Weight: 278 grams

Operating System: Android 8.1 (O), upgradable through Android R

CPU: 2.2 GHz Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 660 octa-core 

Display: 4.7 inch

Drop: 2.4 metres

Tumble: 0.5 metres can be completed 1,000 times


Best Smartphone for Small Business Owner

If you’re busy running a small or medium-sized business, you want a rugged smartphone that allows you to manage your day-to-day tasks while on the road. You might need to invoice customers and order materials on-the-go. A top rugged smartphone will allow you to work smarter, not harder. 

What Rugged Mobile Brand is Best Suited for a Mobile Small Business?

Zebra understands the needs of small business owners and their employees, across a wide range of industries. 


The Zebra TC25 

You want a rugged smartphone that has a superior call capacity and best-in-class software applications to perform multiple functions including invoicing, ordering, scanning barcoded stock, and monitoring stock. The Zebra TC25 Rugged Smartphone does it all for an excellent price. Rated IP65, the device can’t be immersed in water, but it can operate in extreme temperatures and cope with dust. There is no front facing camera but the rear facing camera is 8MP. The low-resolution screen translates to a longer battery life. 

The range of accessories includes trigger handles, battery power packs, hand straps, holsters, and cable chargers.   


Specs of Zebra TC25​​​​​​​

Dimensions: 134 mm L x 73.1 mm W x 16 mm D

Weight: 195 g

Operating System: Android Oreo 8.1

CPU: QCOM MSM8937® 64-bit 8-Core, ARM® Cortex A53 1.4GHz, 512KB L2 cache, power-optimization

Display: 4.3 inch

Drop: Multiple 1.2 m drop to tile over concrete per MIL-STD 810G at room temperature

Tumble: 300 0.5 m tumbles


FAQs When Choosing the Right Rugged Smartphone 

It’s a big decision when you’re choosing the devices for your organisation that they’ll use for five years or more. Below are some questions people often ask when making their decision. 


What Is the Easiest Smartphone for Employees to Learn Quickly?

Using Android technology, Zebra and Honeywell rugged smartphones are intuitive,  so workers need only limited or no training before they use the phone. If workers are familiar with consumer Android phones, they can pick up the rugged smartphone in the workplace and use it straight away. The highly graphic interactive apps aid fast employee usability.    


How Long Do You Have with a Rugged Smartphone until End of Life? 

With Zebra or Honeywell, there is little to no risk that they’ll leave customers with obsolete smartphones soon after investing in one. Honeywell is future-proofing the CT40 and CT60 devices by supporting the Mobility Edge Platform™ for four generations of Android from Nougat through to Q.

The Zebra TC57’s Android 8 Oreo is upgradeable through Android R. 


What Is the Most Secure Phone? 

Cyber attacks on mobile operating systems are on the rise. The information contained on a company smartphone needs the highest level of security. The Honeywell Mobility Edge platform doesn’t sacrifice security and reliability for its mobile worker productivity tools. Zebra’s Lifeguard for Android extends security support from three to five years to cover the service life of your device.


What Rugged Smartphone Will Survive a Drop from a Ladder? 

The Honeywell and Zebra brands produce top smartphones, but even the best rugged smartphone might not survive a drop from the top of a ladder. The drop surface also needs to be taken into consideration. If your workplace floor is concrete, you will need a unit that can handle the tough knocks. Look at accessories that will increase the durability of the rugged smartphone and a hand strap so drops are less likely to occur.  


Rugged Advice 

If you're looking to replace your consumer device or upgrade your current rugged smartphone, but aren't too sure what model is best for you, let us know your requirements and we'll match you with the right one. You can contact the experts at Roaming Technologies by calling 1300 131 933 or contact us online.

Category: News