The 8 best outdoor smartphones in comparison

Their intended use is on construction sites, on hiking tours or in the wilderness – outdoor smartphones have to be more than just waterproof. atechbook has therefore picked out the best phones for outdoor use that not only offer good performance, but also that little bit extra.

Nowadays, outdoor smartphones combine the qualities of a classic smartphone with the robust features of a waterproof phone. They can survive a swim in water, withstand mud and dirt, and can even be dropped from certain heights without breaking. In some cases, manufacturers also integrate special functions like barometers, hydrometers or thermal imaging cameras. Outdoor smartphones differ visually from classic smartphones because their construction is usually a bit rougher and includes shock-repellent rubber. atechbook has looked around on the market and picked out the best outdoor smartphones for you.

What does an outdoor smartphone have to be capable of?

Compared to classic smartphones, the models suitable for outdoor use are often somewhat less well equipped. Here, the manufacturers mostly use mid-range processors, classic display formats without a notch, and a reduced memory configuration. Therefore, the technical performance cannot be compared with that of the upper-range models. But it does not have to be. After all, outdoor smartphones focus on other features.

Outdoor devices have to be water-resistant, which they prove by at least IP68, if not the military standard MIL-STD 810G. The rugged, often rubber-covered cases can also withstand drops and impacts. Special seals on the ports, on the other hand, prevent water vapor and similar moisture from penetrating.

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

That is 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 therefore 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 dust-proof. The number 8, on the other hand, stands for protection against continuous submersion up to a maximum water depth of 1.5 meters for a maximum of 30 minutes. It should be noted, however, that water resistance can only be guaranteed with professionally sealed access points, undamaged seals and clear water. With other liquids, e.g. salt water, soapy water, alcohol or heated liquids, the protection does not exist due to a deviating surface tension.

MIL-STD 810G: The designation stands for a US military quality standard. It was introduced as early as 1962, and it has been adapted more and more in the following years, which can be seen in the generations MIL-STD 810A to MIL-STD 810H marked by the letters. The latter has been considered the current standard since 2019. However, the MIL-STD 810G from 2008 is still used more frequently. It certifies outdoor devices not only for unrestricted performance at fluctuating temperatures (between -25 °C and 55 °C for up to 24 hours) and air pressures, but also for protection against sunlight, moisture, chemicals, and high acceleration forces, vibrations, and oscillations.

These are the best outdoor smartphones

Cubot Kingkong 7

… for photo enthusiasts

Das Cubot Kingkong 7 ist ein Outdoor-Smartphone, das sich sehen lassen kann. Das 6,36 Zoll große Display steckt in einem äußerst robusten Gehäuse aus Hartgummi und Metall. Im Inneren bietet es dank Mediatek Helio P60 dabei einiges an Leistung. 8 GB RAM und 128 GB Speicher bringt das Outdoor-Smartphone mit, der sich dank microSD-Karte auf Wunsch erweitern lässt. Das Gehäuse ist nach IP69K und IP68 vor Wasser und Schmutz geschützt, lässt auf der Rückseite aber auch Platz für eine Triple-Kamera. Diese hat einen Weitwinkel mit 64 Megapixel sowie einen Ultra-Weitwinkel mit 16 und ein Makroobjektiv mit 5 Megapixel. Vorne gibt es zudem eine 32-Megapixel-Kamera in einer lochförmigen Notch. Ausgeliefert wird das Cubot Kingkong 7 mit Android 11. Wer möchte, kann das System mittels seitlichem Fingerabdrucksensor sichern. Der Akku ist fest eingebaut und hat eine Kapazität von 5000 mAh.

Ausstattung des Cubot Kingkong 7 im Überblick

  • Display: 6.36 inch, LCD, 2300 x 1080 pixels
  • Processor: Mediatek Helio P60, Octa-Core with 2.0 GHz
  • Memory: 128 GB expandable via microSD, 8 GB RAM.
  • Front camera: 32 MP
  • Main camera: triple camera with 64 MP wide-angle + 16 MP ultra-wide-angle + 5 MP macro.
  • Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, WLAN a/b/g/n, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou
  • Battery: 5000 mAh
  • System: Android 11
  • Other: Dual SIM, IP69K, IP68
  • Price: 220 euros

Cubot Kingkong 7

+ Modern design, good memory configuration, strong battery, triple camera
– No special outdoor features, no exchangeable battery

Samsung Galaxy XCover 5

…the compact with Android 11

The Samsung Galaxy XCover 5 is one of the newer models on this list. Introduced in March 2021, it is also one of the most compact outdoor smartphones with its 5.3-inch HD display. Unlike the predecessor Galaxy XCover 4S, Samsung does without the haptic buttons in the 5 model. Instead, the device now has a more modern look and also comes with better features overall. However, the 3000 mAh battery is no longer replaceable.

The technical equipment is on the level of a mid-range smartphone. The octa-core Exynos 850 processor together with 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of internal and expandable storage provide the drive. Photos can be taken with a 16-megapixel camera on the back. A 5-megapixel camera is also available at the front. With Android 11, Samsung’s Galaxy XCover 5 is up to date in terms of the operating system, and a fingerprint sensor is also on board. The Galaxy XCover 5 meets the IP68 and MIL-STD-810H standards for protection against external influences.

Features of the Samsung Galaxy XCover 5 at a glance

  • Display: 5.3 inch, TFT, 1600 x 720 pixels
  • Processor: Exynos 850, Octa-Core with 2 GHz
  • Memory: 64 GB expandable via MicroSD, 4 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 5 MP, f/2.2
  • Main camera: 16 MP, f/1.8
  • Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a/b/g/n/ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou
  • Battery: 3000 mAh, 15 watts
  • System: Android 11
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, MIL-STD 810H, KNOX security function, SOS message function, walkie-talkie function
  • Price: from 225 Euro

Samsung Galaxy XCover 5

+ Compact format, modern look, Android 11
– Only a few special outdoor features

Cubot Kingkong Mini 2

…the compact and inexpensive model

Introduced in early 2021, the Cubot Kingkong Mini is one of the most compact and, above all, cheapest outdoor smartphones. Thus, the loss is bearable if it is lost. However, the features have been reduced accordingly. The FullView display measures just 4 inches diagonally. Nevertheless, the device offers a decent performance thanks to the Mediatek Helio A22, 3 GB of working memory and 32 GB of internal storage. The storage is expandable and has a separate slot from the SIM cards for that. However, the access points are not on the side, but on the back under the smartphone’s battery cover. Despite the removable cover, the 3000 mAh battery cannot be replaced, which is a shame.

Android 10 is used as the operating system. There is no fingerprint sensor, but the system can be unlocked via facial recognition. With its rubberized casing, the Cubot Kingkonk Mini 2 is robust, but it looks modern due to the Infintity display and the relatively narrow edges. The smartphone is water-resistant according to IP68 and brings sensors like an accelerometer (G-sensor), gyroscope and a magnetometer, but also a digital compass.

Features of the Cubot Kingkong Mini 2 at a glance

  • Display: 4 inch Infinity, LCD, 1080 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: 13 MP, f/2.2
  • Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 4.2, WLAN a/b/g/n, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou
  • Battery: 3000 mAh
  • System: Android 10
  • Other: Dual-SIM, jack socket, IP68
  • Price: 100 euros

Cubot Kingkong Mini 2

+ Modern design, compact, very affordable.
– No special outdoor features, limited performance, no removable battery

Ulefone Armor 10 5G

…outdoor smartphone with 5G

Ulefone is a Chinese manufacturer that provides a smartphone with the Armor 10 5G that has a lot to offer in terms of performance. It is one of the very few outdoor models with 5G. Powered by the Mediatek Dimensity 800, the model belongs to the mid-range. It comes with 8 GB of working memory and 128 GB of expandable internal storage. The 6.67-inch Full HD display is modern thanks to its Fullview optics with notch, and the Armor 10 5G also looks less clunky than some other models in the list of the best outdoor smartphones in other respects.

On the back is a quad camera with 64 megapixel wide-angle, an ultra-wide-angle with 8 megapixels, a macro lens with 5 megapixels, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. Thus, the Ulefone Armor 10 5G offers one of the most extensive camera configurations. There is also a 16-megapixel front-facing camera. The outdoor smartphone also features a whole range of sensors. These include a gyroscope, a digital compass and a barometer. The IP68 and IP69K standards also certify that the Ulefone Armor 10 5G is protected against water and shocks, and the strong 5800 mAh battery ensures a long endurance. The battery can even be charged wirelessly if desired.

Features of the Ulefone Armor 10 5G at a glance

  • Display: 6.67-inch full-view with hole-notch, IPS, 2400 x 1080 pixels, 60 Hz
  • Processor: Mediatek Dimensity 800, Octa-Core with 2 GHz
  • Memory: 128 GB expandable via microSD, 8 GB RAM.
  • Front camera: 16 MP, f/2.2
  • Main camera: Quad camera 64 MP + 8 MP ultra-wide + 5 MP macro + 2 MP depth sensor, f/1.9 + f/2.2 + f/2.8
  • Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a/b/g/n/ac, LTE + 5G, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass
  • Battery: 5800 mAh, wireless charging, 15 watts
  • System: Android 10
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, IP69K, MIL-STD 810G, fingerprint sensor, compass, barometer
  • Price: from 408 euros

Ulefone Armor 10 5G

+ Strong battery, quad camera, lots of memory
– A bit hard to find

Ulefone Armor 13

… the battery wonder

The Armor 13 is also from Ulefone, but it does not focus on 5G, but on battery performance. The outdoor smartphone has a battery with a huge capacity of 13,200 mAh. It can be charged quite quickly thanks to 33 watts, but it also supports wireless charging with 15 watts. Even reverse wireless charging is possible, i.e. charging other devices via the battery.

The outdoor smartphone has a large 6.81-inch display that resolves 2400 x 1080 pixels. Moreover, the Ulefone Armor 13 is not only very powerful thanks to Mediatek Helio G95, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB storage. The device also comes with an infrared rangefinder as an additional feature, is particularly robust, and is water- and dust-resistant. The IP68, IP69K and MIL-STD 810G standards are supported. A quad camera is also part of the equipment. It offers a wide-angle with 48 megapixels, an 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle as well as a macro lens and a depth sensor with 2 megapixels each. A screen protector is also included, as well as a power adapter and a USB cable.

Features of the Ulefone Armor 13 at a glance

  • Display: 6.81-inch full-view with hole-notch, IPS, 2400 x 1080 pixels, 60 Hz
  • Processor: Mediatek Helio G95, Octa-Core with 2.05 GHz
  • Memory: 256 GB expandable via MicroSD, 8 GB RAM
  • Front camera: 16 MP, f/2.2
  • Main camera: Quad camera 48 MP + 8 MP ultra-wide angle + 2 MP macro + 2 MP depth sensor.
  • Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a/b/g/n/ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass
  • Battery: 13,200 mAh, 33 watts, wireless charging with 15 watts, reverse wireless charging
  • System: Android 11
  • Other: Dual SIM, jack socket, IP68, IP69K, MIL-STD 810G, fingerprint sensor, compass, barometer, infrared sensor
  • Price: from 408 euros

Ulefone Armor 13

+ Very strong battery, quad camera, lots of memory, infrared sensor
– A bit hard to find

Caterpillar Cat S62 Pro

…with thermal imaging camera

Caterpillar is one of the best-known manufacturers in the outdoor sector. Besides smartphones, the company also manufactures construction machines. With the Caterpillar Cat S62 Pro, it offers an outdoor smartphone with solid features, but one feature in particular stands out: the integrated thermal imaging camera from Flir. It can highlight heat and temperature contrasts invisible to the naked eye at a distance of up to 30 meters. This is not only exciting for hunters, but also for firefighters, for example, to detect hidden sources of fire.

With its Snapdragon 660, 6 GB RAM and 128 GB internal storage, the Cat S62 Pro offers good performance on the level of a mid-range smartphone. The price is quite expensive, but users get the special outdoor equipment in return. The display of the Cat S62 Pro has a size of 5.7 inches and resolves in Full HD+. In addition to the thermal imaging camera, there is a main camera with 12 megapixels and a front-facing camera with 8 megapixels. The battery is permanently installed and has a capacity of 4000 mAh.

Equipment of the Caterpillar Cat S62 Pro at a glance

  • Display: 5.7-inch, 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
  • Connectivity: 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, IP68, MIL-STD 810G, Flir thermal camera, compass, thermometer.
  • Price: from 520 Euros

Caterpillar Cat S62 Pro

+ Powerful battery, thermal imaging camera
– Expensive

Blackview BV9900 Pro

…the one with the strong performance

Blackview is a rather unknown manufacturer in Germany. It is based in HongKong and has primarily manufactured outdoor devices there for a few years. Blackview’s smartphones are known for their good features, whereby the Blackview BV9900 Pro is the current flagship. It was only introduced in May 2020.

The spec sheet of the Blackview BV9900 Pro makes excellent reading. The outdoor smartphone brings a fairly compact 5.84-inch Fullview display with a resolution of 2280 x 1080 pixels and is powered by the Helio P90. It offers 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of expandable storage. However, the equipment also includes the triple camera with 48, 5 and 2 megapixels, a 16-megapixel front camera as well as a battery with 4,380 mAh and support for wireless charging.

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

Features of the Blackview BV9900 Pro at a glance

  • Display: 5.84-inch full-view with notch, IPS, 2280 x 1080 pixels
  • Processor: Helio P90, Octa-Core with 2.2 GHz
  • Memory: 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
  • Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 4.1, WLAN a/b/g/n/ac, LTE, USB C.
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Beidou
  • Battery: 4380 mAh, wireless charging
  • System: Android 9.0 Pie
  • Other: Dual-SIM, jack, fingerprint sensor, IP68, IP69K, MIL-STD 810G, VOC sensor (air quality), Flir thermal imaging camera, blood oxygen meter, barometer, heart rate monitor.
  • Price: from 520 Euros

Blackview BV9900 Pro

+ Strong processor, lots of memory, extensive sensors, thermal imaging camera
– No OLED, battery only average

Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro

…the modern outdoor smartphone

Samsung introduced the Galaxy XCover Pro in January 2020. It primarily catches the eye with its 6.3-inch Infinity display with Full HD+ resolution and very narrow bezel. The manufacturer has developed it “especially for industries where employees perform their work under difficult, sometimes rough conditions every day”. It is available for both business and private customers. The Samsung XCover Pro is both waterproof and dustproof according to IP68 and can withstand drops from up to 1.5 meters. It also comes with MIL-STD-810G certification, which certifies that the outdoor smartphone is protected when used in extreme temperatures, humidity and other harsh environmental conditions.

Samsung has removed the home button due to the Infinity display. However, users can program important functions on two side-mounted buttons if desired. Samsung relies on Android 10 as the operating system as well as several partnerships for special software applications. For example, the company says users can use the push-to-talk features from Microsoft Teams as well as software and hardware solutions from Infinite Peripherals, KOAMTAC, Scandit and Visa.

Features of the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro at a glance

  • Display: 6.3 inch Infinity, LCD, 2340 x 1080 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
  • Connectivity: NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, WLAN a/b/g/n/ac, LTE, USB C
  • Navigation: GPS, Glonass, Galileo, Beidou
  • Battery: 4050 mAh, exchangeable, Fast Charging 15 Watt
  • System: Android 10
  • Other: Dual-SIM, jack socket, IP68, MIL-STD 810G, KNOX security function, SOS messaging function
  • Price: from 355 Euro

Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro

+ Modern design, large display, current Android, replaceable battery
– No special outdoor features

Verdict: Outdoor smartphones for (almost) every situation

The selection of the best outdoor smartphones shows that meanwhile actually every device offers the necessary robustness and protection against water. Exactly this protection also makes the phones a bit clunky in some cases. In terms of performance, they are usually on the level of a good mid-range smartphone. Nevertheless, the prices are quite different, which is not least due to the additional features.

Other selected smartphones

  • The best smartphones under 100 euros
  • Smartphones under 200 Euro
  • Smartphones under 400 Euros
  • The best smartphones to transmit on the 5G network
  • The smartphones with the best camera
  • Smartphones for kids
  • The best smartphones for seniors

Users can narrow down the selection of suitable outdoor smartphones by searching for certain features. This could be the aforementioned thermal imaging camera, an action cam or a modular design, for example.

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