When smartphones first started to roll out in the market, Samsung Rugby had made a name for itself. It was considered to be AT&T’s best or top of the line rugged style smartphone with push-to-talk feature as well. Two years ago, Samsung Rugby II took the spotlight and continued the legacy left behind by its predecessor. It was as rugged as before and was liked by many. Now in our hands we have the Samsung Rugby Smart which tries to keep itself updated to the current smartphone industry but at the same time keeping the ruggedness it’s well known for. Indeed, the Samsung Rugby Smart looks like it will be able to take on some rugby-like incidents, but will the specs appeal to the masses?
Looks are the last thing in the list for this smartphone, which we came to expect for a rugged style device. The Samsung Rugby Smart comes has rubber grips on the sides and also a textured back cover. The rear cover also boasts a lock mechanism to cap off the ruggedness-oriented features in the phone’s design. So you can be assured that this phone will be able to take its daily dose of wear and tear. Adding on to that, the phone is also up to military standard 810F for protection against shock and rain among other things. This means that it will withstand the occasional drops much better than most of the other smartphones out there. Samsung also says that you can bring this phone for a 1 meter dive in the water for about 30 minutes and still be able to use it afterwards.
At 4.82 x 2.59 x 0.48 inches, it’s pretty wide, but that’s down to all the design features meant to make this phone as rugged as it can be. Moving on to the buttons on the sides of the phone, they have all been made to be very strong. The volume rocker on the left and the power button on the right have both been made out of tough plastic. It’s also impressive that they still give good response to our touch. You will find the microUSB port on the bottom hidden under a flap and the standard audio jack on the top hidden in the same fashion. On the front sits a majestic 3.7 inch WVGA Super AMOLED screen that will be talked about later on. Also on the front, there is an 1.3 MP camera and of course the trademark Android buttons – they are physical buttons rather than the usual capacitive ones. It’s nice that Samsung threw in some good specs with the Samsung Rugby Smart as on the back, you find a 5MP camera as well.
Aimed at fitting nicely in the mid-range category for smartphones, the Samsung Rugby Smart comes with a 1.4GHz single core CPU rather than a dual core CPU like most smartphones of the present. Samsung also throws in a 512MB RAM to make the experience better for you. It is able to handle everything well except for those live wallpapers.
In terms of software, there’s nothing revolutionary about the GUI as the Samsung Rugby Smart uses Samsung’s TouchWiz. Since it’s a mid range phone, the fact that it ran Anrdoid v2.3.6 Gingerbread didn’t shock us. We are already familiar with TouchWiz’s deep personalization features, and we get the same offering in this phone as well. No doubt, the much loved Android experience was also there. Typing speed might take a hit with this phone as the onscreen keyboards are quite cramped. Although we loved its good response rate but that of course can’t mask the fact that using this keyboard leads to many errors due to the cramped layout. Since the Samsung Rugby Smart is an AT&T phone, so it did come with a list of apps made by AT&T. Some of these apps are the AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T FamilyMap and AT&T Navigator.
Having a 3.7 inch WVGA Super AMOLED screen on a phone that’s not exactly on the top end list is a blessing. So we thank Samsung for doing that with the Samsung Rugby Smart. The Super AMOLED display as always impresses with its astounding details and bright colors. The screen also has wide viewing angles. Unfortunately, Samsung hasn’t been able to solve the problem of being able to see the screen under bright environments.
You usually do not put too much hope on the camera of a phone aimed at being rugged. However, the Samsung Rugby Smart gives us a pleasant surprise. The 5MP auto-focus camera on the back of this phone was able to reproduce colors well. However it’s not all a bed of roses as the photos do appear to be washed out and lacking a little in terms of detail. If you go indoors, you are going to need that LED flash or your pictures are going to be grainy. Sadly, the decent performance in the photo taking section cannot be said for video recording. Albeit recording at 720p, the details were really lacking and artifacting was way too apparent. However, your mood is lightened up a little thanks to its 30fps recording and clear audio.
Samsung Rugby Smart comes with HSPA+ connection rather than LTE, but it still managed to impress us with its speeds. Web browsing using Samsung Rugby Smart was a delight as we were able to do all the navigational controls without any hiccups. It can even take on Flash content so there was really nothing to complain about. In terms of connectivity options, running on GSM network makes it a global phone. Other than that, the usual options like aGPS, Wi-fi together with mobile hotspot functionality and Bluetooth are all offered.
The call quality is the most important thing for any phone, but sadly the Samsung Rugby Smart does let us down here. Voices were muffled on our end but our friends on the other end of the line had no complains. The phone gets its juice from the 1650 mAh battery and is able to last a full day if you are an average user.
Pros and Cons
The Samsung Rugby Smart proves itself as a rugged phone as well as being waterproof. The Super AMOLED screen is also awesome. At $100, it’s also very affordable.
We would have loved to have gotten a much better calling quality. The on-screen keyboard was also a downer as it was quite cramped.
So if you are an avid fan of AT&T and have been looking for a phone that would be able to withstand your clumsiness, the Samsung Rugby Smart is definitely rugged enough for you. Being extremely affordable for the specs it offers makes it all the more attractive for you.