The ruggedized smartphone market is small, but not so small that it's ignored. Admirable entries like the Samsung Rugby Smart and the Casio Commando might not have all the bells and whistles of their flagship contemporaries, but they take a licking and keep on ticking. Phone retailer Wirefly decided to put Sprint's Kyocera Torque (Bear Grylls approved!) through its paces via some decidedly extreme tests: a drop from two stories, hibernation in a block of ice, and most dramatically, a trip through a 30-minute washing machine cycle.
The Kyocera Torque made it through all three, proving its worth for those who value durability over all else. The drop test gave it some problems: after being thrown 15 feet onto concrete, the Torque's body was noticeably warped, and the volume buttons ceased to function. (The phone is only rated for a 4-foot drop.) But it still works and kept its data intact. The washing machine test is perhaps the most impressive, and definitely the most fun to watch.
Smartphones are getting tougher all around. Motorola's Kevlar-equipped RAZR line is known to take a beating, CNET performed a similar temperature test on the Galaxy S III (which survived), and Gorilla Glass and upcoming synthetic sapphire are making screens stronger than ever. But for those who need phones that can double as a tiny piece of body armor, it looks like the Torque is a pretty good option. You can watch the full 30-minute washing machine cycle below.
If you're interested, the Torque has a 4-inch WVGA screen, A Snapdragon S4 1.2Ghz dual-core processor, 4G LTE, 4GB of storage plus a MicroSD card slot, and Android 4.0. It's IP67/Military Standard 810G rated for resistance to dust, shock, temperature and humidity extremes, and one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. At Sprint it's $99 on-contract, but in deference to their work on these videos, we'll mention that Wirefly has it for $29.99.