The 9 Best Outdoor Smartphones in Comparison

They are used on construction sites, on hiking tours or in the wilderness – outdoor smartphones have to be more than just waterproof. TECHNOLOGY BUTTON has therefore selected the best mobile phones for outdoor use that not only offer good performance, but also that certain something.

Nowadays, outdoor smartphones combine the qualities of a classic smartphone with the robust properties of a waterproof cell phone. They can survive a dip in water, withstand mud and dirt, and can even fall from certain heights without breaking. In some cases, the manufacturers also integrate special functions such as barometers, hydrometers or thermal imaging cameras. Outdoor smartphones differ optically from classic smartphones because their design is usually a bit coarser and contains shock-resistant rubber. TECHNOLOGY BUTTON has looked around the market and selected the best outdoor smartphones for you.

Table of Contents

What does an outdoor smartphone have to be able to do?

Compared to classic smartphones, the models suitable for outdoor use are often less well equipped. Manufacturers mostly use mid-range processors, classic display formats without a notch, and reduced memory equipment. The technical performance cannot therefore be compared with that of the upper-class models. But she doesn’t have to either. Because other properties are the focus of outdoor smartphones.

Outdoor devices have to be waterproof, as evidenced by at least IP68, if not the military standard MIL-STD 810G. The robust housing, which is often covered with rubber, can also withstand falls and blows. On the other hand, special seals on the connections prevent water vapor and similar moisture from penetrating.

Another indication of a good outdoor smartphone are special functions. For example, powerful GPS antennas for navigation can be connected to some devices, while others bring a thermal imaging camera or action cam with them. As a rule, most models also have sensors that measure, for example, air pressure, humidity and the position of the smartphone.

That’s behind IP68 and MIL-STD 810G

In connection with outdoor smartphones, we will mention the IP68 and MIL-STD 810G standards more often in the text. For a better understanding, we would like to explain at the beginning what kind of protection is hidden behind the designations.

IP68: The number 6 within the IP standard proves that a device is dustproof. The number 8, on the other hand, stands for protection against continuous submersion up to a maximum of 1.5 meters water depth for a maximum of 30 minutes. It should be noted, however, that water resistance can only be guaranteed with properly sealed accesses, undamaged seals and with clear water. For other liquids, e.g. Salt water, soapy water, alcohol or heated liquids, there is no protection due to a different surface tension.

MIL-STD 810G: Die Bezeichnung steht für einen US-amerikanischen, militärischen Qualitätsstandard. Eingeführt wurde er bereits 1962. In den folgenden Jahren wurde er immer weiter angepasst, was sich an den durch die Buchstaben gekennzeichneten Generationen MIL-STD 810A bis MIL-STD 810H zeigt. Letzterer gilt seit 2019 als aktueller Standard. Häufiger wird allerdings noch der MIL-STD 810G von 2008 genutzt. Er bescheinigt Outdoor-Geräten nicht nur die uneingeschränkte Leistung bei schwankenden Temperaturen (zwischen -25 °C und 55 °C bis zu 24 Std.) und Luftdrücken, sondern auch Schutz vor Sonneneinstrahlung, Feuchtigkeit, Chemikalien sowie vor hohen Beschleunigungskräften, Schwingungen und Vibrationen.

These are the best outdoor smartphones

Caterpillar Cat S62 Pro

… with a thermal imaging camera

Caterpillar is one of the best-known manufacturers in the outdoor sector. In addition to smartphones, the company also produces construction machinery. With the Caterpillar Cat S62 Pro, it offers an outdoor smartphone with solid features, but one that impresses above all with one feature: the integrated thermal imaging camera from Flir. It can be used to highlight warmth and temperature contrasts that are invisible to the naked eye at a distance of up to 30 meters. This is not only exciting for hunters, but also for the fire brigade, for example to track down hidden sources of fire.

With its Snapdragon 660, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage, the Cat S62 Pro offers good performance on par with a mid-range smartphone. The price is quite expensive, but users also get the special outdoor equipment. The display of the Cat S62 Pro is 5.7 inches and has a resolution of Full HD +. In addition to the thermal imaging camera, there is a main camera with 12 megapixels and a front camera with 8 megapixels. The battery is permanently installed and has a capacity of 4,000 mAh.

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Features of the Caterpillar Cat S62 Pro at a glance:

  • Display: 5.7 inches, IPS, 2160 x 1080 pixels
  • Processor: Snapdragon 660, Octa-Core with 2.2 GHz
  • Memory: 128 GB expandable via MicroSD, 6 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 8 MP
  • Main camera: 12 MP
  • Connections: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a / b / g / n / ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou
  • Battery: 4000 mAh
  • System: Android 10
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, MIL-STD 810G, thermal imaging camera from Flir, compass, thermometer
  • Price: from 636 euros

 

Ulefone Armor 9

… the enduring

Ulefone is a Chinese manufacturer with the Armor 9, an outdoor smartphone that has a lot to offer in terms of performance. Powered by the Helio P90, the model joins the upper class. There is also 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of internal storage. The 6.3-inch full HD display is modern thanks to its full view optics with notch, and the Armor 9 also looks less clunky than some other models in the list of the best outdoor smartphones.

On the back there is a dual camera with 64 and 2 megapixels including a Penta-LED flash and a heart rate monitor. At the front, however, there is an 8-megapixel front camera. The outdoor smartphone also has a whole range of sensors. In addition to the heart rate monitor, this also includes, for example, a gyroscope, a digital compass, a barometer and, as known from the Caterpillar devices, a Flir thermal imaging camera. The IP68 and IP69K standards also certify the Ulefone Armor 9’s protection against water and shocks, and the strong 6600 mAh battery ensures a long endurance.

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Features of the Ulefone Armor 9 at a glance:

  • Display: 6.3 inch fullview with notch, IPS, 2,340 x 1,080 pixels
  • Processor: Helio P90, Octa-Core with 2.2 GHz
  • Storage: 128 GB expandable via MicroSD, 8 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 8 MP, f / 2.2
  • Main camera: Dual camera 64 MP + 2 MP, f / 1.9 + f / 2.2
  • Connections: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a / b / g / n / ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass
  • Battery: 6600 mAh
  • System: Android 10
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, IP69K, MIL-STD 810G, fingerprint sensor, compass, barometer, heart rate monitor, lirthermal imaging camera
  • Price: from 550 euros

Doogee S95 Pro

… the modular outdoor smartphone

With its 6.3-inch display, the Doogee S90 Pro is one of the largest models on the list of the best outdoor smartphones. At the same time, it also offers one of the best features. It has a battery with a whopping 5050 mAh and a good memory configuration of 128 GB and 6 GB of RAM. The Helio P70 provides the drive. The dual camera with 16 and 8 megapixels is very similar to that of the Blackview BV9700 Pro and can be triggered using a separate camera button.

Unlike this model, the Doogee S90 can be expanded with modules. There is, for example, a battery module, a night vision camera module or a walkie-talkie module. Even a gaming module is available. The casing of the smartphone is surrounded by a frame made of a titanium compound. In addition, the edges are protected by rubber attachments. Special sensors such as the integrated barometer, gyroscope or the Coloumeter for measuring electrical charge should support the outdoor character of the Doogee S90 Pro.

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Features of the Doogee S95 Pro at a glance:

  • Display: 6.3 inch fullview with notch, IPS, 2,160 x 1,080 pixels
  • Processor: Helio P90, Octa-Core with 2.2 GHz
  • Storage: 128 GB expandable via MicroSD, 8 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 16 MP, f / 2.0
  • Main camera: Triple camera 48 MP + 8 MP + 8 MP, f / 2.0
  • Connections: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a / b / g / n / ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass
  • Battery: 5,150 mAh, wireless charging
  • System: Android 9 Pie
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, IP69K, fingerprint sensor, modular extensions possible, compass, barometer, coulometer
  • Price: from 390 euros

Blackview BV9900 Pro

… that with the strong performance

Blackview is a rather unknown manufacturer in Germany. He is based in Hong Kong and has been manufacturing outdoor equipment there for several years. Blackview smartphones are known for their good features, with the Blackview BV9900 Pro being the current display. It was only presented in May 2020.

The data sheet of the Blackview BV9900 Pro reads superbly. The outdoor smartphone has a rather compact 5.84-inch full-view display with a resolution of 2,280 x 1,080 pixels and is powered by the Helio P90. It offers 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of expandable storage. The equipment also includes the triple camera with 48, 5 and 2 megapixels, a 16-megapixel front camera and a battery with 4,380 mAh and support for wireless charging.

As far as the outdoor qualities are concerned, there is more than just an IP68, IP69K and MIL-STD 810G protected housing. The Blackview BV9900 Pro also offers a Flir thermal imaging camera, a VOC sensor for measuring air quality, a blood oxygen meter and a barometer. It comes pre-installed with Android 9 Pie.

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Features of the Blackview BV9900 Pro at a glance:

  • Display: 5.84 inch full view with notch, IPS, 2,280 x 1,080 pixels
  • Processor: Helio P90, Octa-Core with 2.2 GHz
  • Storage: 128 GB expandable via MicroSD, 8 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 16 MP, f / 2.0
  • Main camera: Triple camera 48 MP + 5 MP + 2 MP, f / 1.8
  • Connections: NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, WLAN a / b / g / n / ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Beidou
  • Battery: 4,380 mAh, wireless charging
  • System: Android 9.0 Pie
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, fingerprint sensor, IP68, IP69K, MIL-STD 810G, VOC sensor (air quality), Flir thermal imaging camera, blood oxygen meter, barometer, heart rate monitor
  • Price: from 470 euros

 

Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro

… the modern outdoor smartphone

Samsung only presented the Galaxy XCover Pro in January 2020. Together with the models from Blackview and Doogee, it is one of the most modern smartphones in the outdoor group. The Galaxy XCover Pro catches the eye with its 6.3-inch infinity display with full HD + resolution and very narrow bezels. The manufacturer developed it “especially for industries in which employees do their work every day under difficult, sometimes harsh conditions”. It is available for both business and private customers. The Samsung XCover Pro is both waterproof and dustproof according to IP68 and withstands drops from up to 1.5 meters. It also has a MIL-STD-810G certification, which certifies the outdoor smartphone’s protection when used in extreme temperatures, humidity and other harsh environmental conditions.

Aufgrund des Infinity-Displays hat Samsung den Home Button gestrichen. Nutzer können auf Wunsch aber wichtige Funktionen auf zwei seitlich angebrachten Tasten programmieren. Dabei setzt Samsung auf Android 10 als Betriebssystem sowie auf mehrere Partnerschaften für spezielle Software-Anwendungen. So stehen Nutzern laut dem Unternehmen die Push-to-Talk-Funktionen aus Microsoft Teams sowie Software- und Hardwarelösungen von Infinite Peripherals, KOAMTAC, Scandit und Visa zur Verfügung.

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Features of the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro at a glance:

  • Display: 6.3 inch Infinity, LCD, 2,340 x 1,080 pixels
  • Processor: Exynos 9611, Octa-Core with 2.3 GHz
  • Memory: 64 GB expandable via MicroSD, 4 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 13 MP
  • Main camera: Dual camera 25 MP + 8 MP, f / 1.8 + f / 2.2
  • Connections: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a / b / g / n / ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou
  • Battery: 4,050 mAh, exchangeable, fast charging 15 watts
  • System: Android 10
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, MIL-STD 810G, KNOX security function, SOS message function
    Price: from 432 euros

 

Cubot Kingkong Mini

… the compact and affordable model

Introduced at the end of 2019, the Cubot Kingkong Mini is one of the most compact outdoor smartphones. The fullview display in 18: 9 format measures just 4 inches diagonally. Nevertheless, thanks to the Mediatek Helio A22, 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal storage, the device offers a reasonable performance. The memory is expandable and has a separate slot from the SIM cards. The entrances are not on the side, but on the back under the smartphone’s battery cover. Despite the removable cover, the 2,000 mAh battery cannot be replaced, which is a shame.

Android 9 Pie is used as the operating system. There is no fingerprint sensor, but the system can be unlocked using face recognition. With its rubberized housing, the Cubot Kingkonk Mini is robust, but looks modern thanks to the infinity display and thin bezels. The smartphone is waterproof according to IP68 and comes with sensors such as an acceleration sensor (G-sensor), gyroscope sensor (gyroscope) and a magnetometer, but also a digital compass.

The strengths of the Cubot Kingkong Mini are not only in the compact shape, but also in the low price. On the other hand, the equipment is a bit less than in the other models in this selection.

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Features of the Cubot Kingkong Mini at a glance:

  • Display: 4 inch Infinity, LCD, 1,080 x 540 pixels
  • Processor: Mediatek Helio A22, quad-core with 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 32 GB expandable via MicroSD, 3 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 8 MP
  • Main camera: Dual camera 13 MP and unknown sensor, f / 2.2
  • Connections: NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, WLAN a / b / g / n, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou
  • Battery: 2,000 mAh
  • System: Android 9 Pie
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68
  • Price: 108 euros

 

Land Rover Explore

… with a clickable additional battery and GPS antenna

The Land Rover Explore bears the name of a well-known car manufacturer. And indeed, the outdoor smartphone comes from a cooperation between Land Rover and the smartphone manufacturer Bullitt Group. Visually, for example, the grid-like cover of the loudspeaker below the 5-inch display is reminiscent of the typical radiator grille of the car brand.

The Land Rover Explore also offers a special look – not least because of the metal frame that runs around the device and ensures stability. There are also magnetic contacts on the back that can be used to connect additional accessories. For example, the manufacturer supplies the so-called “Adventure Pack” for the outdoor smartphone with an additional battery and integrated GPS antenna for greater range when navigating.

The Land Rover Explore offers good, if rather average, equipment. A Helio X27 together with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage provides the drive. Photos can be taken with the 16-megapixel camera and selfies with the 8-megapixel front camera. It is a bit of a shame that the Land Rover Explore is still delivered with Android 7 Nougat. At least the manufacturer promises an update to Android 8 Oreo. Part of the system is the “Explore Hub”, which combines access to tools such as a flashlight or a compass as well as sensors for measuring altitude, the probability of rain and freezing point.

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Features of the Land Rover Explore at a glance:

  • Display: 5 inches, TFT, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
  • Processor: Helio X27, Octa-Core with 2.6 GHz
  • Memory: 64 GB expandable via MicroSD, 4 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 8 MP
  • Main camera: 16 MP, f / 2.0
  • Connections: NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, WLAN a / b / g / n / ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Beidou
  • Battery: 4,000 mAh, including an additional battery with 3,620 mAh
  • System: Android 7.0 Nougat, update to Android 8 Oreo
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, MIL-STD 810G, clickable GPS antenna, SOS light function, apps: Explore Hub
  • Price: from 300 euros

 

Samsung Galaxy XCover 4S

…das mit dem wechselbaren Akku

The Samsung Galaxy XCover, with its 5-inch HD display, is one of the most compact models in the selection. With the Galaxy XCover 4S, Samsung uses a touchscreen for input. The smartphone also has a number of haptic buttons that are used instead of the otherwise more typical sensor buttons. So it is still easy to use with gloves. The Galaxy XCover provides protection against external influences in accordance with the IP68 and MIL-STD-810G standards.

The technical equipment is on par with a mid-range smartphone. The drive is provided by the Exynos 7884 octa-core processor together with 3 GB of RAM and 32 GB of internal and expandable memory. Photos can be taken with a 16-megapixel camera on the back. There is also a 5 megapixel camera at the front. With Android 9 Pie, the Samsung Galaxy XCover 4S is up to date in terms of the operating system, but there is no fingerprint sensor. The battery offers a special feature – it is exchangeable. The capacity of 2,800 mAh is rather average for an outdoor smartphone.

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Features of the Samsung Galaxy XCover 4S at a glance:

  • Display: 5 inches, TFT, 1,280 x 720 pixels
  • Processor: Exynos 7884, Octa-Core with 1.6 GHz
  • Memory: 32 GB expandable via MicroSD, 3 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 5 MP, f / 2.2
  • Main camera: 16 MP, f / 1.7
  • Connections: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a / b / g / n / ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou
  • Battery: 2,800 mAh, exchangeable
  • System: Android 9.0 Pie
  • Other: Real dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, MIL-STD 810G, KNOX security function, SOS message function
  • Price: from 217 euros

 

Crosscall Trekker-X4

… the one with the action cam

Crosscall is a manufacturer from France known for its waterproof smartphones. The Crosscall Trekker-X4 combines an outdoor smartphone with an action cam (dual camera with 2 x 12 megapixels) with a wide-angle lens and slow-mo function. Recorded videos can be cut directly on the smartphone and shared with friends.

5,5 Zoll misst das Full-HD-Display des Trekker-X4 in der Diagonale. Dank „Glove Mode“ lässt sich der Touchscreen auch mit Handschuhen bedienen. Mit seinem Snapdragon 660 reiht sich das Outdoor-Smartphone von Crosscall in die Mittelklasse ein. Zusätzlich stehen 4 GB RAM und 64 GB Speicher bereit.

Nicht nur das Smartphone ist vor Wasser und Staub geschützt, auch das mitgelieferte USB-C-Kabel sowie die Kopfhörer sind besonders widerstandsfähig. Der 4.400-mAh-Akku ist dank Quick Charge 3.0 besonders zügig geladen. Crosslink bietet auch ein externes Akku-Pack mit 5.000 mAh an, das sich über einen magnetischen Anschluss namens „X-LINK“ mit dem Trekker-X4 verbinden lässt. Über den Anschluss lassen sich auch Solarzellen oder ähnliches Zubehör verbinden. Außerdem bietet das Gerät diverse Sensoren wie ein Thermometer, einen Kompass, ein Barometer und einen UV-Sensor.

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Features of the Crosscall Trekker-X4 at a glance:

  • Display: 5.5 inches, IPS, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
  • Processor: Snapdragon 660, Octa-Core with 2.2 GHz
  • Memory: 64 GB expandable via MicroSD, 4 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 8 MP
  • Main camera: Dual camera 12 MP wide angle / fisheye + 12 MP telephoto
  • Connections: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a / b / g / n / ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou
  • Battery: 4,400 mAh
  • System: Android 8.1 Oreo
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, MIL-STD 810G, fingerprint sensor, action cam, acceleration sensor, gyroscope, proximity sensor, light sensor, compass, barometer, altimeter, thermometer, hygrometer
  • Price: from 645 euros

 

Conclusion: Outdoor smartphones for (almost) every situation

The selection of the best outdoor smartphones shows that almost every device now offers the necessary robustness and protection against water. It is precisely this protection that makes the cell phones a bit clunky in some cases. In terms of performance, they are usually on par with a good mid-range smartphone. Nevertheless, the prices are quite different, which is not least due to the additional features. Users can narrow down the selection of suitable outdoor smartphones by searching for specific functions. This can be, for example, the thermal imaging camera mentioned, an action cam or a modular structure.

 

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