Rugged phones have been around forever, but melding extreme survivability into a true Android smartphone that's not laughably large or looks like an off-road tire is a challenge. Samsung feels it has created a tough device that has beaten the odds.
The $99.99 Samsung Rugby Smart certainly has a rough and tumble name. The company claims it's built to meet both the U.S. military Mil-spec 810f and the IP67 international standards for ruggedness. In a nutshell, that means the phone should be able to withstand submersion in 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, plus prolonged exposure to blowing dust, driving rain, extreme temperatures, and the odd drop onto hard surfaces.
That's all well and good, but if it looks like a tank, what's the point? Judging from the claimed dimensions, though, the Rugby Smart doesn't appear overly massive. The handset is 4.8 inches tall, 2.5 inches wide, and half an inch thick. Its weight seems manageable, too, at 4.2 ounces.
Despite its armor plating, the phone features decent midrange components and software. The Rugby Smart runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and comes equipped with a 3.7-inch Super AMOLED screen, 4GB of internal memory, and a microSD card expansion slot. There's a front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera, but the main imaging device tops out at a low 5 megapixels. Still, Samsung claims it's capable of recording 720p HD video.
The GSM phone connects to AT&T's HSPA "4G" data network, not the carrier's much faster LTE infrastructure, which is a letdown. Still, for a low $99.99, I guess I can't expect the world. Interested in checking out the Samsung Rugby Smart? The phone officially goes on sale March 4. In the meantime, take a look at AT&T's promotional video of the device for a closer look.