Mobile phones have come a long way in the last few decades. We’ve seen improvements right across the board, from more powerful processors and cameras to slicker and higher-quality screens. But there’s one area of mobile phones that has remained disappointingly poor – durability.
In most people’s books, it’s just as easy today to break your mobile today as it was back then. In fact, some might argue that it’s even easier now that 90% of the surface area of the average phone is made of glass. And whilst durability might not be the top of our priority list when shopping for mobile phones, it’s still somewhat important to most of us.
We’ve all experienced that sinking feeling you get when you drop your mobile phone. That horrible moment of uncertainty when it hits the ground with a dull thud. Your first thought is usually something along the lines of ‘That sounded like a crack’, or ‘Oh no, did it land face down? Yep, it landed face down.’.
Usually, all you can do in this situation is cross your fingers and pray that when you pick it up, everything is ok. Maybe it’ll have a broken screen, but that’s fixable, right? As long as it turns on.
No one likes that feeling, but there are some people that hate it so much, that they’ll deliberately seek out phones that just don’t break – ever. Believe it or not, these types of phones do exist. Whilst not outright indestructible, there are some phones on the market that have been designed to be as close to this as you can get – phones that have prioritized durability above all else.
Let’s take a look at some of the leading models in this arena…
1. Cat S61
You probably know Cat as ‘that brand that sells construction equipment and vehicles’, but you probably didn’t know that they sold phones too.
As you’d expect, being manufactured by a company that’s known for building hard-wearing equipment, the Cat S61 is nothing if not tough. It’s made using materials like thick aluminum and black plastic, which make it extremely durable and resistant to all sorts of things.
Its water-resistance is second-to-none. It’s able to be submerged in water for up to an hour without external housing and it won’t break. It’s also capable of resisting high-pressure water jets. Blast this baby with a fire-hose if you want, it’ll be fine. You can also still use the touchscreen with wet fingers, but you have the option of using navigation keys instead if this is a bit fiddly for your tastes.
You don’t need to worry about dropping this phone either unless you plan to drop it from a multi-story window, that is. It can be dropped from up to 1.8 meters without breaking.
In addition to these durability-oriented features, it also offers users 64gb of storage space, 1080p resolution, a 2-day battery life, and a whole host of specialist features, like a thermal-vision camera, air quality sensor and laser measurement tool.
As you might have guessed, this phone has been designed for tradesmen working in very particular environments, but that doesn’t mean the average joe can’t also take advantage of it if they so choose. That’s if you can afford the hefty price tag, of course, as this phone costs around 1,300 AUD.
2. Land Rover Explorer
Land Rover is a brand known for making vehicles that are ideally equipped for the great outdoors, and their mobile phone is no different. Unlike the Cat model above, which has been built for construction workers and similar tradesmen, the Explorer has been built for – yep, you guessed it – outdoor life.
It has water-resistance rated IP68 and uses Gorilla Glass 5, plus an extra screen protector, to make it extremely durable and impact-resistant. It also runs Android 7.0, offers midrange specs, and has an HD 1080p resolution. One of the best things about this phone is its battery life. It has a 4,000mAh battery. You can also purchase additional features through the ‘Adventure Pack’. If you purchase this with your phone, you get the added benefits of an additional 3,600mAh battery pack and a GPS Antenna that boosts your GPS reach and capabilities.
Whilst cheaper than the Cat model, it still doesn’t come cheap. Purchasing the Explorer will set you back around $1100 AUD, which might be slightly out of the average consumer’s budget range.
Nonetheless, if you’re an avid camper or outdoor enthusiast, there’s no better phone to see you through the wilderness safely. It’ll last longer, keep you linked up to GPS, and survive harsh outdoor conditions with ease. It’s tough. It’s reliable. It’s everything Land Rover stands for. Unfortunately, though, it’s also only available in the UK at present, which is a bit of a disappointment for us Aussies.
3. Unihertz Atom
This phone is perhaps more suited to the average consumer than the previous two mobiles on this list. It’s much more affordable, for a start, costing around $400 AUD and right now it’s even cheaper. Atom hasn’t hit the general market yet and is still only available through Kickstarter where backers can access an exclusive early discount.
As the name suggests, this phone is small – tiny, in fact. Like the two aforementioned models, it’s built for durability. It’s encased in tough TPU-style materials and is rated IP68 waterproof.
It’s balanced this durability with style and power. Unihertz seems to recognize that the average consumer still wants their durable phone to provide everything that a regular smartphone offers, so they’ve made sure to put in some cool features. It has an octa-core processor, for a start. Combine this with the 4GB of RAM that this phone offers, plus the fact that it runs on Android 8.1 Oreo, and you’ve got one heck of a powerful little gadget.
In addition to this, it also offers some mod-cons of the mobile world, like face recognition, fingerprint scanning, and an enormous battery-life.
It’s not perfect though. To be durable, powerful, affordable and tiny all at once is no easy task, so Unihertz has had to make a few sacrifices. For example, the camera is quite poor, and typing can be difficult on the small screen. But, depending on where your priorities lie, this is potentially a great option.