Best Rugged Phones for 2018

Here are the best rugged phones for 2018 that don’t suck. Many times if you want a rugged phone you need to buy a phone with a bad camera, outdated software or from a manufacturer you’ve never heard of. We’re here to help you avoid that problem with a list of rugged phones you’ll actually want to use.

Surprise, you can also get a rugged iPhone with a great case, and while you will need to adapt to using a case on your iPhone, it is a better option for a rugged phone in 2018 than many others you will find out there. Here are the best rugged phones on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

In addition to showing you the best rugged phones overall, we’ll share the two best rugged phones on each carrier so that you can pick a phone that fits with your carrier and your coverage needs. You can buy these rugged phones outright or on a payment plan. Forget random phones you have to buy on Amazon with old software and without fast connections or good cameras.

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Active is the best rugged phone you can buy in 2018.
The Samsung Galaxy S8 Active is the best rugged phone you can buy in 2018.

To be the best rugged phone in 2018 these phones need to be able to survive water, dust and dirt without a case. They need to be able to withstand drops on their own or with a case and they need to still offer good software with security updates that will keep your information safe and all the features you’d expect like taking good pictures and acting as a hotspot to connect your laptop or tablet to the Internet.

The best rugged phones you can buy in 2018 are in order;

  1. Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
  2. iPhone 8 with a LifeProof Case
  3. iPhone X with a LifeProof Case
  4. Moto Z2 Force Edition

If you’ve only looked at traditional rugged phones in the past because you need a phone that can handle getting wet or being used in a dirty environment, you might be surprised to know that most of the best smartphones you can buy are now dust and water resistant for up to 30 minutes. While you won’t want to swim with them, they can survive an accidental exposure while fishing or boating as long as you get the phone out of the water quickly. You can jump down to the slides at the bottom to see more on each phone, but here are the best rugged phones on each carrier to help you narrow your focus.

Best Rugged Phones on Verizon

Verizon has one of the biggest selections of rugged phones in 2018, but they don’t have the newest Android option that is an AT&T and T-Mobile exclusive. Still, you have several great options and if you buy your iPhone and a LifeProof case at Verizon you get an even better warranty on your iPhone that covers your phone for any water damage for the first year you own the iPhone and a LifeProof case purchased from Verizon directly.

  1. iPhone 8 with a LifeProof Case
  2. iPhone X with a LifeProof Case
  3. Moto Z2 Force Edition

That’s the order if you plan to buy a rugged smartphone on Verizon in 2018. The iPhone with a LifeProof case is a better option than the Moto Z2 Force Edition if you plan to keep the phone for a few years since the iPhones will get better software updates long term. If you like Android or if you don’t want to use a case then go with the Moto Z 2 Force Edition which is still a very good phone.  The Kyocera DuraForce PRO With Sapphire Shield is a runner up since it gets regular security updates and it just got the Android Nougat update on Verizon, but it’s not the best you can buy.

Best Rugged Phones on AT&T

AT&T offers the biggest number of the best rugged phones, offering customers a lot of choice. The AT&T rugged phone options include two iPhones the best rugged Android phone you can buy.

  1. Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
  2. iPhone 8 with a LifeProof Case
  3. iPhone X with a LifeProof Case
  4. Moto Z2 Force Edition

This is the order for the best rugged phones on AT&T. Forget any other phones they sell and go with one of these if you need a great rugged phone with or without a case in 2018. The Galaxy S8 Active is the only new rugged phone announced in the last year that is worth buying if you don’t want a case. It gets good software upgrades through Samsung and shares many features with the standard Galaxy S8. The Kyocera DuraForce PRO is a good rugged phone, but the AT&T version did not get the Android Nougat update yet.

Best Rugged Phones on T-Mobile

There are three best rugged phones to consider on T-Mobile. The top choice is the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active, which is new, comes with a name you can trust and software support. The two new iPhones with LifeProof cases or another rugged case is also a very good option. The Moto Z2 Force Edition is especially tempting since T-Mobile is selling it for 50% less than Verizon.

  1. Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
  2. iPhone 8 with a LifeProof Case
  3. iPhone X with a LifeProof Case
  4. Moto Z2 Force Edition

The Kyocera DuraForce Pro is an option to look at, but when you can buy the Moto Z2 Force Edition for $50 less the choice is clearly to buy the Motorola rugged smartphone.

Best Rugged Phones on Sprint

The best rugged phones on Sprint line up with those on T-Mobile. The Galaxy S8 Active is a great choice here and you can also opt for the Moto Z2 Force Edition for as little as $11 a month on a Sprint Flex Lease. The iPhone 8 and iPhone X with a rugged iPhone case is another

  1. Samsung Galaxy S8 Active
  2. iPhone 8 with a LifeProof Case
  3. iPhone X with a LifeProof Case
  4. Moto Z2 Force Edition

Like most carriers the Kyocera DuraForce Pro is an option, but the Moto Z2 Force Edition is a better value at a lower price, and will likely get longer software support.

Here’s more about each of these phones so you can pick the best rugged phone for you in 2018.

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

Samsung Galaxy S8 Active

The Samsung Galaxy S8 Active is the best rugged phone you can buy in 2018. This phone is relatively new, and it will be a little while before we see a Samsung Galaxy S9 Active version arrive on many carriers. 

The Military grade body is ready for the abuses you throw at it and it's IP68 rated for water, shock and dust. This phone also has a shatter resistant Super AMOLED display so you don't need to cut corners on a display or worry about a screen protector. 

You get very good cameras, can add a Micro SD card for more memory and it looks like it will be getting an update to Android Oreo in the near future. 

You can buy the Samsung Galaxy S8 Active on AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile so it's available on most carriers. There is no word if it will come to Verizon. The Galaxy S8 Active is $849 but you can buy it for monthly payments of $17 to $30 a month depending on downpayment and the number of payments you are willing to make.  

One Comment

  1. Jamie Banks

    02/09/2018 at 10:17 am

    Kyocera specializes in rugged phones, so why isn’t there any Kyocera phones in there? If the phones need a LifeProof case, then they should be excluded. A Brigadier is still more rugged than those LifeProof cased phones (since a case doesn’t help with Polar Vortex cold, damaging the battery)

    Reply

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