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Best rugged smartphones and tablets for construction in 2021: rough, tough and waterproof

Smartphones and tablets have become an indispensable part of our lives, allowing us to remotely edit spreadsheets, manage multiple tasks, check inventories, and maintain seamless communication. However, most phones and tablets are not designed to resist harsh environments such as a construction site, changing weather, emergency situations, and repeated drops. Therefore, for such purposes, there is a special group of devices featuring special strength and resistance to moisture and external factors – these are rugged smartphones and tablets for a construction site. They are frequently an expensive purchase, but due to their durability, they will save you a lot of money that you will otherwise spend on device repair or replacement.

The best tablet/smartphone for construction workers will be the one that meets your specific needs. Aside from durability, there are other aspects that all construction gadgets should have:

  • Screen size. The most convenient device for construction will be one that is large enough to view and work on the go without being too heavy to carry. If you visit the site on occasion, a tiny (approx. 6 inches) tablet or a powerful smartphone will be a good choice. In case most of your work is in the field, a bigger tablet (ranging from 9 to 13 inches) may make your life simpler in the long term.
  • Device characteristics. On a construction site, you should be able to connect to the Internet quickly and have a reliable operating system. Moreover, a good tablet/smartphone for construction workers should have a high IP (Ingress Protection) rating – a globally accepted measurement of device resistance to external factors. The IP consists of two digits: the first one (1-6) describes a degree of protection against the intrusion of solid objects (dust, hands, fingers, accidental contacts), and the second one (1-8) – a degree of water resistance including high-temperature steam. The best rugged smartphones are equipped with dedicated SOS and PTT buttons allowing you to quickly get help in an emergency or talk with your teammates while inspecting a construction site. Finally, a construction tablet/smartphone should have sufficient storage space for every software and application you require, as well as adequate RAM (processing speed) for multitasking.
  • Battery life. Everything depends on your work requirements. If you’re only going to be in the field for an hour or two, an average battery (approx. 4000mAh) will be enough. If you spend most of your day outside, you’ll want something that can stay without charges for a longer period.

Here is our list of the top rugged smartphones and tablets to take in the field:

#1. Getac F110: the best tablet for construction built to survive

Top 10 best models of rugged tablets and smartphones in 2021 -Getac F110

Screen Size: 11.6 inches

Device characteristics: Windows 10 Pro, Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7,  IP65, storage space 256 GB, 16 GB RAM

Battery life: dual batteries for 48 watt-hours

Weight: 1,390 grams

Getac F110 is the newest fully-protected tablet by Taiwanese multinational technology company Getac that specializes in rugged computing solutions. It’s one of the thinnest and lightest robust Windows best rugged tablets existing on the market. Getac F110 is a pretty configurable device since you can choose additional modules, such as a barcode reader, dedicated GPS, or 4G LTE mobile internet, as well as the most appropriate accessories to meet any work conditions.

Pros:

  • Tough exterior
  • Two batteries
  • Anti-glare screen
  • GPS and 4G LTE
  • Bumper-to-bumper coverage with three years guarantee, including accidental damage

Cons:

  • The capacitive stylus is less accurate than the digitizer
  • There is only one USB 3.0 port
  • Screen resolution is less than 1080p

#2. Panasonic Toughbook: a fully-rugged Android solution

Best rugged smartphones and tablets for construction in 2021 - Panasonic Toughbook

Screen Size: 10.1 inches 

Device characteristics: Android 9, Qualcomm Snapdragon 660,  IP65, storage space 64 GB, 4 GB RAM

Battery life: Dual 3,800 mAh

Weight: 1,760 grams

The Panasonic Toughbook A3 is an excellent outdoor tablet with good protection, a display screen ideal for work in direct sunlight, and a plethora of customization choices for field workers. The tablet also works well in noisy places with loudspeakers that can be heard over the din. Quality hardware makes this tablet viable for a variety of tasks.

Pros:

  • Can withstand a six-foot drop
  • Display is bright even in direct sunlight
  • Optional dual SIM 4G LTE connectivity, FirstNet certification, and GPS
  • Hot-swappable batteries
  • Physical, programmable buttons for Android

Cons:

  • The lack of Wi-Fi 6
  • Slow MMC storage
  • There is no real inking support

#3. Dell Latitude 7220EX – the best tablet for construction workers in extreme field conditions

Best rugged tablets for construction in 2021 Dell Latitude 7220EX

Screen Size: 11.6 inches 

Device characteristics: Windows 10 Pro, 8th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-8365U, IP65, storage space 512 GB, 8 GB RAM

Battery life: 34 watt-hours

Weight: 1,65 kg

The 7220EX rugged tablet is one of Dell’s newest gadgets which deserves a special place in the list because it has a lot of upgrades compared to previous Dell rugged tablets. Dell Latitude has a more up-to-date CPU and additional protection. This Windows tablet is built to be used outside in harsh weather, getting wet and dropped, and being used with gloves on when it’s extremely cold. It has an IP65 ingress protection certification, which means it is resistant to dust and sandstorms, and spray from water nozzles, except full water immersion.

Pros:

  • Very strong structure
  • Anti-glare, anti-smudge Gorilla Glass top layer screen
  • Stylish keyboard cover
  • Long-lasting, hot-swappable batteries

Cons:

  • A big size
  • There is no HDMI or Thunderbolt 3 port
  • In comparison to other devices in the list, Dell’s glove-compatible touch screen and touchpad require more pressure

#4. Samsung Galaxy Tab Active Pro – a rugged tablet with Samsung’s ecosystem

Best rugged tablets for construction in 2021 -Samsung Galaxy Tab Active Pro

Screen Size: 10.1 inches

Device characteristics: Android, Qualcomm Snapdragon 670 8 x 2 GHz, IP68, storage space 64 GB, 4 GB RAM

Battery life: 7600 mAh (15 hours of active work)

Weight: 653 grams

Unlike other best rugged Android tablets on our list, Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2 was not initially created for industrial use. It does, however, have IP68 certification for dust and water ingress that enables you to use NFC-functionality in almost all circumstances that would be too demanding for most standard tablets. The Samsung tablet can handle it all, whether it’s a dusty industrial hall or a construction site. The tablet also has a good camera, long-lasting battery that can be exchanged. It has successfully undergone a drop test from 1.2 metres. The newer Galaxy Tab Active Pro has improved many of the characteristics of the first Tab Active versions, including additional RAM, and a faster CPU. Galaxy Tab Active Pro is available in two models: LTE and Wi-Fi.

Pros:

  • Can withstand harsh working conditions on a construction site
  • Equipped with biometric access and the latest digital workflow tools to increase operational efficiency
  • Has a sensitive stylus ideal for typing, navigating, sketching in different weather conditions

Cons:

  • Sound quality
  • Price

#5. Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3 – rugged and portable

Best rugged tablets for construction in 2021 - Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 3

Screen Size: 8 inches

Device characteristics: Android, Exynos 9810 SoC, IP68, storage space  64 GB or 128 GB, 4 GB RAM

Battery life: 5,050mAh

Weight: 429 grams

It’s a more compact version of the Tab Active Pro. It has an 8-inch display, MIL-STD 810H certification, and an IP68 dust and water rating. That means you may drop it from up to 1.5 m or submerge it in water for up to 30 minutes, and it will survive. There are two types of models. The 64 GB and 128 GB models both include 4 GB of RAM and a 5,050 mAh battery. The battery can be exchanged, making it easy to work without a power source for a long time. Android 10 is pre-installed, and it includes Samsung’s DeX platform, which transforms the tablet interface into a laptop-like experience.

Pros:

  • Durability and high performance
  • A sensitive stylus
  • Replaceable batteries

Cons:

  • There are no connectors flaps
  • Outdated design

#6. Nokia XR20 – the best smartphone for construction workers for a long run

Best rugged smartphones for construction in 2021 -Nokia XR20

Screen Size: 6.67 inches

Device characteristics: Android 11 Qulacomm Snapdragon 4800 / Adreno 619, IP68, storage space 64 GB/128 GB, 6 GB RAM

Battery life: 4,630mAh

Weight: 248 grams

Nokia XR20 is the first rugged smartphone to be released under the Nokia name. Unlike most rugged smartphones that stand out because of their massive designs, Nokia XR20 looks quite compact and elegant. The XR20 is IP68 certified, MIL-STD-810 rated, and the first rugged smartphone to have Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. In addition, the smartphone has a red emergency button and a dedicated, non-customizable Google Assistant button. What really makes the XR20 distinct from its competitors is HMD Global’s assurance that guarantees four years of security upgrades.

Pros:

  • Free 1 year screen replacement and 3-years warranty
  • Dedicated emergency button
  • Long-lasting battery and wireless charging
  • 5G support
  • Stereo speakers

Cons:

  • The Google Assistant button cannot be customized
  • It is not possible to use two SIM cards and a microSD card at the same time.
  • Average camera

#7. Ulefone Armor 9 FLIR – impressively tough smartphone

Best rugged smartphones for construction in 2021 - Ulefone Armor 9 FLIR

Screen Size: 6.3 inches

Device characteristics: Android 10, Helio P90, IP68, storage space 128 GB, 8 GB RAM

Battery life: 6,600mAh

Weight: 320 grams

The Ulefone Armor 9 FLIR is one of the greatest mid-market ruggedized smartphones available. It has an endoscope and a FLIR camera, a large battery, and adequate computing power for most operations. The thermal FLIR camera is the most interesting feature, as it can help you find warmer or cooler spots in various environments, see what’s in the dark, find leaks or even wall fires that are invisible to the naked eye. The Armor 9 looks like it is wearing heavy armor. It is a drop-, shock-, water-, dust-, pressure-, temperature-, sun radiation-resistant. Ulefone Armor 9 FLIR is a good choice if you need something affordable, tough, and long-lasting.

Pros:

  • Drop-resistant, durable
  • With hook and endoscope mount
  • Massive battery with exceptional durability
  • Thermal camera
  • NFC, sealed 3.5 mm jack and sealed microSD slot

Cons:

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Accidental taps on the fingerprint sensor frequently result in the function being disabled owing to “too many tries.”
  • Regular photos and videos are not of the best quality

#8. Blackview BV9900 Pro – a fast rugged smartphone

Best rugged smartphones for construction in 2021 - Blackview BV9900 Pro

Screen Size: 5.84 inches

Device characteristics: Android 10, Helio P90, IP68, storage space 128 GB, 8 GB RAM

Battery life: 4,380 mAh

Weight: 273 grams

The Blackview BV9900 Pro includes a FLIR thermal imaging camera with a range of ‘standard’ cameras, led by a 48MP one that may be used for a variety of photographic tasks. The smartphone performs well thanks to its MediaTek Helio G90 CPU combined with 8 GB RAM. It has Gorilla Glass 5, a tough and immersive FHD waterdrop screen. Moreover, when the temperature drops below -30 °C, the Blackview BV9900 Pro can still perform four fundamental phone operations.

Pros:

  • Great camera for different purposes
  • Durability and resistance to external factors
  • High performance
  • Dual SIM
  • Wireless charging

Cons:

  • No 5G connectivity
  • The battery could be better

#9. Doogee S97 Pro – amphibious, all-terrain support with large battery

Best rugged smartphones for construction in 2021 - Doogee S97 Pro

Screen Size: 6.39 inches

Device characteristics: Android 11, Mediatek Helio G95, IP68/IP69K, storage space 128 GB, 8 GB RAM

Battery life: 8,500 mAh

Weight: 320 grams

The Doogee S97 Pro has a lower screen resolution than its predecessor Doogee S95 Pro, but the manufacturer compensated for this limitation by incorporating a laser rangefinder for estimating volumes, surface areas, and angles, as well as a massive 8,500 mAh battery. With a weight of 350g, it is also one of the heaviest tough smartphones. Despite this, the S97 Pro looks pretty due to its curved edges and bright display. There are also two programmable buttons, a fingerprint reader, and four camera sensors on the device’s back. The smartphone is designed for extended outdoor use and harsh conditions. It has been tested in all environments and is resistant to damage caused by falling, water evaporation, flushing, shock, and impact.

Pros:

  • Laser rangefinder
  • Long battery life
  • Water and extreme temperatures resistance

Cons:

  • Low-resolution screen
  • Heavy size

#10. Cat S62 Pro rugged smartphone – functional design and durability

Best rugged smartphones for construction in 2021 - Cat S62 Pro

Screen Size: 5.6 inches

Device characteristics: Android 10, Snapdragon 660, IP68 & IP69, storage space 128 GB, 6 GB RAM

Battery life: 4,000 mAh

Weight: 248 grams

The Cat S62 Pro is a flagship tough smartphone from Cat, one of the industry’s most recognized brands, that improves over its predecessors in a few key areas. When you buy the Cat S62 Pro tough smartphone, you get Snapdragon 660 CPU, FHD screen, and 128 GB storage. There are also features that are beneficial for more robust capacity such as a fingerprint sensor, a tough design, and a programmable additional button on the side. It offers two SIM slots and expandable capacity via microSD. It’s tough with a non-slip rubberized TPU shell designed to withstand any extreme situation.

Pros:

  • Very durable, fully-rugged
  • Elegant design, it doesn’t look like an industrial smartphone
  • Adequate battery and performance

Cons:

  • Low-resolution single rear camera
  • No wireless charging

All the devices listed above are well-designed to survive the elements with high IP ratings for dust and water resistance. Which one to choose depends on your needs, working conditions, and budget. To make any of these devices even more efficient, try the PlanRadar project management app for free for 30 days.

 

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