Sometimes PR people make up words they think are clever—they usually aren't. Kyocera's new "fragiphoniphobia" line is an example of this. The "fear of fragile phones" will allegedly be mitigated by the new ruggedized Kyocera Hydro Life. Whether or not you want a rugged phone, I think we can all agree that fragiphoniphobia should never appear in print again.
Someone at the Caterpillar equipment company had a lot of fun devising this promotional video for CAT's Android-powered, ruggedized smartphone, the B15. In addition to some dramatic drops using machines right out of a Tonka fantasy, the demonstrators set up a line of 600 smartphones, all powered on and running, then ran over them with a CAT 277D Multi-Terrain Loader weighing over 9,000 pounds. Let's watch!
Naturally the phones come out unscathed, or at least apparently so.
Do you like the idea of water and ingress protection on the Galaxy S5, but don't feel like ponying up for a flagship phone? Then Kyocera hopes you'll consider its Hydro Vibe smartphone, at least if you're a potential Sprint or Virgin Mobile customer. The "ruggedized" Android phone will be launching on Sprint on May 9th and Virgin on May 27th. Sprint is talking up its "Easy Pay" payment plan, where the phone costs ten bucks a month for two years, but Virgin will sell it outright for $149.99.
If you habitually rock climb, scuba dive, ski cross-country, or do any of the things you might regularly see on a heath food or Viagra commercial, you're probably in the market for a ruggedized smartphone. And if you're on Verizon, your options have been somewhat limited as of late (try not to drool over AT&T's shiny new Galaxy S4 Active, please). Verizon just made the Casio G'zOne Commando LTE official: it's a super-sturdy Android device in the same vein as the former Commando and the G-Shock watch line.
NEC's first entry into the American Android market isn't exactly auspicious, but it does fill a much-neglected niche. AT&T is now offering the NEC Terrain for sale, right on time and online only. $99.99 on contract gets you the QWERY candybar phone with a miniscule 3.1" screen, or you can shell out $429.99 to own it outright. Considering its ruggedized, semi-waterproof build, that's not such a bad deal... but you will have to live with Ice Cream Sandwich, a year after Jelly Bean 4.1 was released.
Samsung's tougher brother to the flagship Galaxy S4 is a pretty poorly-kept secret, with multiple leaked photos, videos, and different sets of specifications coming out weeks before its announcement. Samsung confirmed the device today in a press release coinciding with Computex, painting a picture of the S4 Active as a device that mostly matches the Galaxy S4 for power and capability, with the ruggedized design seen on some of Samsung's Rugby smartphones.
The @evleaks Twitter account has become a surprisingly accurate source for pre-release hardware information, and the elusive Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is its latest target. The tipster revealed to The Unlockr that the ruggedized version of the S4 will be headed to AT&T's network in the near future, along with a handful of other Samsung phones, including the Galaxy S4 Mini, S III Mini, and the Galaxy Mega 6.3. Only the Active was shown with a convincing set of AT&T-branded press shots, so that's what we'll focus on.
Throughout the history of the modern smartphone, those who wanted something that could take a beating but keep going were left with one option: buy a device with at least year-old specs. For some reason, manufacturers just couldn't get behind the idea of releasing an ultra-ruggedized device with cutting-edge specs. That has slowly started to change as of late with devices like the Sony Xperia Z, and now Samsung is looking to join the party and with a rough-and-rugged device featuring top-tier specs.
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.
Sony loves making stuff that's hard to break. The Xperia Active was probably the pinnacle of this obsession (see: hilariously awesome video), but now that Sony has decided to make pretty much all of its phones look exactly the same, it's out with the old, in with the new.
The Go and Acro S are the newest additions to Sony's rugged family, and for rugged phones, they don't look nearly as god-awful ugly as almost everything else in that segment of the market.