Best Rugged Smartphone Devices for the Enterprise – 2013

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Looking for a guide to the latest rugged smartphones for the enterprise? Check out our 2015 Rugged Smartphone Buyer’s Guide for a comprehensive review of the top 20 rugged smartphones available for the enterprise in 2015.


 

Over the past few weeks we’ve been discussing the value rugged smartphones bring to enterprise environments.

Today were very excited to share a rugged smartphone purchasing guide we’ve been developing which includes a cost and feature breakdown for a variety of rugged Android and iOS devices. The guide also highlights the advantages and disadvantages of each device, and then goes on to make recommendations regarding suitable enterprise use cases.

Here’s a summary of devices we evaluated:

Rugged Android Devices

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro
Samsung Galaxy S4 (with Sedio Obex case)
Samsung Galaxy XCover 2
Sony Xperia Z
Sony Xperia Go
Casio G’Zone Commando 4G LTE
Kyocera Torque
Android Rhino
NEC Terrain

Rugged iOS Devices

iPhone 5 (with Lifeproof case)
iPhone 4S (with Lifeproof case)
iPad 3 (with Lifeproof case)
iPod Touch (with Lifeproof case) 


Rugged Android Devices



Samsung Galaxy S4 Active


Samsung Galaxy S4 Active


Device Cost (MSRP), ~$700 per device,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67,

Battery Life, 17 hrs (talk time),

Weight, 5.33 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 2 GB RAM+
16 GB Storage+
microSD up to 64 GB,

Camera Specs, 8 MP+,

Additional Features, – «Glove Touch» mode provides touch access while gloved+

– NFC Included+

– 4G Capable+

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Pros: The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active provides all the wonder of a high end consumer smartphone packaged with the protection of an IP67 environmental sealant rating. This device is water, dirt and dust resistant and can withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water. The model is attractive, boasting an outstanding high resolution display of 1080 x 1920 pixels at an extremely high pixel density of 443 ppi. Great battery life (17 hrs), a top notch quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM sweeten the deal.

Cons: The greatest weakness of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is that it is not shockproof. While the device is great at handling water, dirt and dust, the lack of rubber padding makes it vulnerable to repeated drops. For this reason its use should be avoided in usage scenarios and environments where drops are likely such as field service, construction and military applications. The other unfortunate aspect of this device is that that screen is unusable when wet.

Conclusion: The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is perfect for employee-issued smartphones in office environments. This device is not good for outdoor or high intensity usage scenarios where the device is likely to be dropped.



Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro


Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro


Device Cost (MSRP), ~$400 per device,

Ruggedness Specifications, MIL-STD-810G,

Battery Life, 11 hrs (talk time),

Weight, 5.33 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 1 GB RAM+
8 GB Storage+
microSD up to 32 GB,

Camera Specs, 5 MP+,

Additional Features, – NFC Included+

– 4G Capable+

– Push-To-Talk Functionality (through AT&T),

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Pros: The Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro is a truly rugged smartphone that still feels like a consumer device. In terms of ruggedness it’s a step up from the Galaxy S4 Active since it’s water, dirt, dust and shock resistant. This makes it an attractive choice for high intensity usage scenarios such as field service, construction, and military applications. This device is also 4G capable with push-to-talk functionality through AT&T.

Cons: No major cons. The camera is middle of the road at 5 megapixels.

Conclusion: Perfect for construction workers, field technicians, industrial workers and a great cost-effective option for many enterprises. Good for occasional barcode scanning but not ideal for frequent scanning scenarios (due to the 5MP camera).



Samsung Galaxy S4


Samsung Galaxy S4


Device Cost, ~$700 per device+

$80 for Sedio Obex Case,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67,

Battery Life, 17 hrs (talk time),

Weight, 5.33 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 2 GB RAM+
16 GB Storage+
microSD up to 64 GB,

Camera Specs, 8 MP+,

Additional Features, – NFC Included+

– 4G Capable+

,

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Pros: The Samsung Galaxy S4 is a high-end consumer device that can be protected by a rugged case (Sedio Obex). The Sedio Obex rugged case provides an IP68 environmental sealant rating with a MIL-STD-810G military protection rating making it water, dirt, dust and shock resistance. The device is also attractive, boasting an outstanding high resolution display of 1080 x 1920 pixels at an extremely high pixel density of 443 ppi. Great battery life (17 hrs), a top notch quad-core processor and 2GB of RAM sweeten the deal.

Cons: No major cons. For the same price tag there are similar phones available like the S4 Active that don’t require a case.

Conclusion: Perfect for employee-issued smartphones in office environments. Great for an occasional or dedicated high performance barcode scanning device.



Samsung Galaxy S2


Samsung Galaxy S2


Ruggedness Specifications, IP67,

Battery Life, 15.1 hrs (talk time),

Weight, 5.33 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 1 GB RAM+
4 GB Storage+
microSD up to 32 GB,

Camera Specs, 5 MP+,

Additional Features, ,

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Pros: The Samsung Galaxy XCover 2 provides a cost effective fully rugged option for the enterprise. This device is water, dirt and dust resistant and can withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water.

Cons: The camera is middle of the road at 5 megapixels. Another issue that the screen isn’t quite bright enough in bright outdoor situations. The device also lacks of both an ambient light sensor and a second-mic for noise cancellation, which makes it very difficult to use outdoors.

Conclusion: A bargain option for indoor workplaces. Good for occasional barcode scanning but not ideal for frequent scanning scenarios (due to the 5MP camera).



Sony Xperia Z

Sony Xperia Z


Device Cost (MSRP), ~$550 per device,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP57,

Battery Life, 11 hrs,

Weight, 5.15 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 2 GB RAM+
16 GB Storage+
microSD up to 32 GB,

Camera Specs, 13.1 MP,

Additional Features, – 4G Capable+,

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Pros: The Sony Xperia Z  is a semi-rugged smartphone with an IP67 environmental sealant rating. This device is resistant to water, dirt and dust and can withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water. The camera on the Xperia Z is an outstanding 13.1 megapixels. The device is beautiful and thin with a large 5″ display.

Cons: The greatest weakness of the Sony Xperia Z is that is not shockproof. While it is great at handling water, dirt and dust, the lack of rubber padding makes this device vulnerable to repeated drops. For this reason it should most likely be avoided in usage scenarios where drops are more likely such as field service, construction, and military applications.

Conclusion: A lower cost semi-rugged option with beautiful design and performance. Not good for outdoor or high intensity usage scenarios where drops are likely.



Sony Xperia Go


Sony Xperia Go


Device Cost (MSRP), ~$200 per device,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67,

Battery Life, 6.5 hrs,

Weight, 3.88 ounces,

Memory and Storage,  512 MB RAM+
4 GB Storage+
microSD up to 32 GB,

Camera Specs, 5 MP,

Additional Features, ,

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Pros: The Sony Xperia Go is available at the very low cost of $217. This device is resistant to water, dirt and dust and can withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water.

Cons: The greatest weakness of the Sony Xperia Go is that is not shockproof. While it is great at handling water, dirt and dust, the lack of rubber padding makes this device vulnerable to repeated drops. For this reason it should most likely be avoided in usage scenarios where drops are more likely such as package field service, construction, and military applications.The screen on the Sony Xperia Go has a low pixel density, making for a mediocre visual experience. Battery life is also limited to less than 6 hours of active use between charges.

Conclusion: A bargain option for indoor workplaces. Good for occasional barcode scanning but not ideal for frequent scanning scenarios (due to the 5MP camera).



G-Zone Commando 4G LTE


Casio G’Zone Commando 4G LTE


Device Cost (MSRP), ~$500 per device,

Ruggedness Specifications, MIL-STD-810G & IP67,

Battery Life, 9 hrs,

Weight, 6.17 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 1 GB RAM+
16 GB Storage+
microSD up to 32 GB,

Camera Specs, 8 MP,

Additional Features, – NFC Included+

– 4G Capable+,

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Pros: The Casio G’Zone Commando 4G LTE is an extremely rugged device. Not only is the device rated for water, dirt, dust and shock resistance but it also can withstand extreme temperatures and solar radiation. The battery life is good and the LTE connectivity is excellent.

Cons: No major cons. Design looks a bit goofy. Screen resolution is average.

Conclusion: An excellent option for those working in extreme environments. This device is great fit for field service, construction, industrial and military applications.



Kyocera Torque


Kyocera Torque


Device Cost (MSRP), $370 per device,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67 & MIL-STD-810G,

Battery Life, 18 hrs,

Weight, 5.9 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 1 GB RAM+
16 GB Storage+
microSD up to 32 GB,

Camera Specs, 5 MP,

Additional Features, – Impact-Resistant Touchscreen+
– Smart Sonic Receiver (for hearing calls in loud environments)+
– Textured Android Hard Keys+
– Reinforced Housing+
– non-slip Dura-Grip Coating+
– NFC Included+
– 4G Capable,

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Pros: The Kyocera Torque is a very high powered and extremely durable device. This device is resistant to water, dirt and dust and can withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water. One especially unique feature of this device is the smart sonic receiver which transmits sound through vibration making it great in very loud environments.

Cons: No major cons.

Conclusion: An excellent option for those working in extreme environments. This device is great fit for field service, construction, industrial and military applications. Good for occasional barcode scanning but not ideal for frequent scanning scenarios (due to the 5MP camera).



Android Rhino


Android Rhino


Device Cost (MSRP), $585 per device,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67 & MIL-STD-810G,

Battery Life, 6 hrs (talk time),

Weight, 9.17 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 512 MB RAM+
4 GB Storage+
microSD up to 32 GB,

Camera Specs, 8 MP,

Additional Features, – Impact-Resistant Touchscreen+
– Suited for Extreme Conditions+
– 2x SIM card slots (GSM + WCDMA),

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Pros: The Android Rhino is an extremely durable smartphone device. This device is resistant to water, dirt and dust and can withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water.

Cons: The battery life on the Android Rhino has a mere 6 hours of active use time. The Kyocera Torque offers better hardware at a lower cost.

Conclusion: Despite the Android Rhino’s ruggedness, it is overpriced considering the hardware.



NEC Terrain

NEC Terrain


Device Cost (MSRP), $430 per device,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67 & MIL-STD-810G,

Battery Life, 10 hrs,

Weight, 6.06 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 1 GB RAM+
16 GB Storage+
microSD up to 32 GB,

Camera Specs, 5 MP,

Additional Features, – Comfortable Shape+
– QWERTY Keyboard+
– NFC Included+
– 4G Capable,

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Pros: The NEC Terrain is an affordable fully rugged smartphone option featuring a QWERTY keyboard. This device is resistant to water, dirt and dust and can withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water.

Cons: The NEC Terrain’s weakest feature is it’s camera, which is lacking both an autofocus and a flash.

Conclusion: A good option for indoor work environments where having a QWERTY keyboard is a priority. Good for occasional barcode scanning but not ideal for frequent scanning scenarios (due to the 5MP camera).


Rugged iOS Devices


Because iOS is exclusive to Apple’s line of iPhones, the only option for ruggedness lies in encasing the iPhone in an environmentally sealed case. The most popular and well known of these rugged cases are provided by Lifeproof. Let’s take a look at the breakdown:


iPhone 5


iPhone 5


Device Cost (MSRP), ~$500 per device+
$90 per Lifeproof case,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67 & MIL-STD-810G,

Battery Life, 8 hrs,

Weight, 3.95 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 1 GB RAM+
16 GB-64GB Storage,

Camera Specs, 8 MP,

Additional Features, – ,

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Pros: The design and performance of the iPhone is considered unmatched in many circles. The user experience and intuitiveness of iOS devices makes this device incredible to use. The Lifeproof case  makes the iPhone resistant to water, dirt and dust and able to withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water.

Cons: The lack of a microSD card slot is inconvenient.

Conclusion: A rugged encased iPhone 5 is the perfect employee smartphone for any company who is or intends to develop internal apps on the iOS platform.



iPhone 4S


iPhone 4S


Device Cost (MSRP), ~$450 per device+
$90 per Lifeproof case,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67 & MIL-STD-810G,

Battery Life, 8 hrs,

Weight, 4.94 ounces,

Memory and Storage,  512 MB RAM+
16 GB-64GB Storage,

Camera Specs, 8 MP,

Additional Features, – High Pixel Density «Retina» Display,

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Pros: The design and performance of the iPhone is considered unmatched in many circles. The user experience and intuitiveness of iOS devices makes this device incredible to use. The Lifeproof case  makes the iPhone resistant to water, dirt and dust and able to withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water.

Cons: The lack of a microSD card slot is inconvenient.

Conclusion: A rugged encased iPhone 4S is a more cost effective option than the iPhone 5, making it perfect for any company who wants to  develop internal apps on the iOS platform while saving some cash.



Apple iPad 3


Apple iPad 3


Device Cost (MSRP), ~$500 per device+
$90 per Lifeproof case,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67 & MIL-STD-810G,

Battery Life, 8 hrs,

Weight, 23 ounces,

Memory and Storage, 1 GB RAM+
32GB Storage,

Camera Specs, 5 MP,

Additional Features, – High Pixel Density «Retina» Display,

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Pros: The iPad 3 provides top of the line performance and design, and is considered by many to be the best  tablet available in today’s market.  The Lifeproof case  makes the iPad resistant to water, dirt and dust and able to withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water.

Cons: The lack of a microSD card slot is inconvenient. There is also no flash on the camera.

Conclusion: A rugged encased iPad 3 is perfect for mobile point of sale terminals as well as many other enterprise usage scenarios including procurement, field service, and patient bedside care.



Apple Pod Touch

Apple Pod Touch


Device Cost (MSRP), $299 per device+
$70 per Lifeproof case,

Ruggedness Specifications, IP67 & MIL-STD-810G,

Battery Life, 8 hrs (video playback time),

Weight, 3.10 ounces,

Memory and Storage,  512 MB RAM+
32 GB,

Camera Specs, 5 MP,

Additional Features, – High Pixel Density «Retina» Display,

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Pros: If you’re looking for a low cost yet high performance device that doesn’t need GSM or CDMA connectivity the iPod touch is a great option. The Lifeproof case  makes the iPod resistant to water, dirt and dust and able to withstand up to 30 minutes of being submerged under water.

Cons: The iPod touch lacks GSM or CDMA connectivity. The lack of a microSD card slot is  inconvenient.

Conclusion: As a low cost option the iPod touch is unbeatable in performance. Apple’s unique design and emphasis on quality makes this device easy to use, consistent and reliable.