If you don't care about toughness, stop reading. You can find a better phone at a cheaper price. But if you want an Android device that can take a beating, the Rugby Pro a great choice -- as long as you don't need a top-notch display.
At 5.0-by-2.7 inches and half an inch thick it's as big as the frame is tough -- but not overly large to hold. Coated with a mix of rubbery and hard materials, it meets military-grade specs to withstand dust, rain, shock and humidity, which means you can toss it around a construction site. If you drop it in a puddle, don't worry -- it can withstand up to 30 minutes in a meter of water. Rubber grips line the side so you get a vice-like hold.
Meanwhile, a headphone jack and connector port are tightly covered with waterproof gaskets, but if you listen to music, you can easily lose them. A thick screw-on back keeps the cover in place, so you'll need a coin to open it without a tool.
The 4-inch display is decent for a rugged phone -- but that's not saying much. Tough devices are built for calling and texting, so subpar screens are fine to dial with. But compared to smartphones, the 800-by-480 pixel resolution is rather low -- you can see each pixel up-close. From a reasonable distance, it's okay, but I had bigger concerns with the brightness level. It clocks in at a meager 220-lux rating, well below rival devices, so images look rather dull and muted, making it difficult to see in direct sunlight. Color tend to oversaturate, tinted a bit green as well.
The 5-megapixel camera takes sharp and true-to-life shots. The quality of the lens surprised me -- it's one of the best for a tough phone, and useful to shoot a leaky pipe or a work site. You'll also get a number of editing options too, so you can tweak the light and contrast or choose mode to take more accurate moving shots. To offload photos, you'll need to pry open the back cover to get to the microSD slot, though, since the paltry 8-gigabytes of storage can be bolstered by an extra 32-gigabytes. You can also record 1080p high-resolution video, and video chat with a 1.3-megapixel lens on the front.
But the best part is ICS software. Samsung's TouchWiz interface adds some useless bells and whistles to gussy-up the menu, but shortcuts give you space to reach favorite apps, so you can add the camera or hardware buttons, for example, to the "drawer." It's a nice convenience that cuts down a few seconds, which can add up. And I can see how it'd be useful in a rough environment. My favorite feature: the flip-to-mute option. If you need to silence the phone quickly, just turn it over. It's useful if you don't have two free hands. There's also a convenience key that you can program to trigger the camera, dialer, e-mail -- pretty much any app.
The Rugby Pro runs on AT&T's push-to-talk service, for off-network walkie-talkie communication. It's perfect to give to a fleet of workers because it'll lower your monthly bill. Just touch the button and talk. Over-and-out. If you need to look up directions, just hop online with fast 4G LTE speeds. And S Beam, through NFC, lets you wirelessly transfer data by tapping two phones together.
The 1.5-gigahertz dual-core chip runs smoothly, and I didn't experience any lag. Meanwhile, the 1,850 mAh battery kept me going for around six hours on a single charge. You can prolong by an extra hour by turning off 4G. If you're buying it for work, though, you'll want to pick up a car charger -- just in case. Call quality was excellent on and off-network with GSM and walkie-talkie service.
If you need a tough smartphone with walkie-talkie functions, there aren't many choices. Some phones are tough, others are smart, but rarely do you find both. If you need to rough it, but you want to comfort of a large choice of apps, the Rugby Pro is one of the best, if not one of the only, devices.
It's not as rugged as I would have liked, though. The rubber casing, though ample, isn't quite enough to withstand forceful shocks -- like say a one-story drop. It can withstand your normal waist-level height, but one with force and the back panel pops off. The display is a bit more exposed that I'd like, too, instead of recessed like on other devices. Still, I'd recommend it for its better display, camera and software, but that's only if you need a rugged device.
Price varies with service agreement.
If you need a durable and rugged smartphone, like me, you'll probably consider the Rugby Pro. I've considered the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3, like most people, but the drawbacks of both was the size of the display. What do I mean? They're too big.
It seems phone makers are in an escalating arms race to build the biggest phone with the biggest screen. I need the phone for work, and often can't fit them in my pocket. Enter the Rugby Pro.
Looking at the rugged devices, most specs are mediocre at best. Not the Rugby Pro. Android ICS is nice, through Jelly Bean would be better. The processor is speedy. And the display is plenty nice. Best of all, it's reasonably-sized at just 4-inches. And with the heavy-duty shell, I don't have to put it in a case. It'll stand up to all the elements, which is perfect for me.
I'm not scaling cliffs, I'm not jumping into the deep ocean, but I am an outdoor lover who likes an occasional drink and is clumsy with his phones. That means most phones break on me in a matter of months, so I need something that can take a beating. I used to keep my old phone in one of those heavy-duty cases, and that's the only reason it still works, but there's no way the iPhone or S3 would last for me.
The camera quality is not the best. It's good, but not great. Another issue I have is with the charger port, which sinks in due to the cover. That means some cables won't fit.Was this review helpful to you?
I like the size and form factor. Unlike many other popular phones the Galaxy Rugby Pro is very pocket friendly. And I like being able to wash dust off the phone under a faucet. (Just make sure the back cover is securely closed!)
Quite simply, this phone is not rugged. I've had it for seven months now. The screen has cracked twice from two minor falls (1 meter). The screen is flush and thus very vulnerable.
As many other users have reported, the back cover pops loose easily, which renders the phone not waterproof. The MicroSD slot on my phone has failed, but I cannot warranty the phone because of the physical damage to the screen.
Battery life after six months is poor, it cannot last a full day of light-moderate use.
Samsung advertises this as a rugged phone, but they do not guarantee it! Aftermarket repair is impossible because nobody stocks parts for this rare phone.
My advice: If you want a rugged phone, buy a more popular model and a rugged case (Otterbox, Lifeproof, Griffin, etc.). I had an iPhone 3G for four years and it withstood abuse far, far better than this Rugby.Was this review helpful to you?
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