Outdoor smartphones only fill a small niche, but they have to manage a remarkable balancing act between a robust case, acceptable hardware inside and then an affordable price.

Technically, the rugged devices often lag behind smartphones in the same price segment – and even if you would want to spend the money, there are no real high-end models. With its latest smartphone from the Xcover series, Samsung has now presented an option that has halfway modern components.

With the various outdoor smartphones that I have tested so far (e.g. CAT S42 or Land Rover Explore), savings have been made on the screen. It’s also understandable: The device is rarely used for watching films and a high resolution is a real battery hog. However, Samsung installs a 6.6-inch screen with a solid 2,408 x 1,080 pixels and even a refresh rate of 120 Hertz in the Xcover 6 Pro. In addition, it is protected by Gorilla Glass Victus+.

5G, microSD and jack connection

While Samsung used a chip from its own Exynos series for the previous models, the company is switching to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G for the Xcover 6 Pro. Big advantage: It supports 5G and should be significantly faster overall. It is supported by 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of data storage, which can be expanded via microSD. Also a rarity these days is the 3.5 millimeter jack connection for wired headphones and the like.

Ultra wide angle on board

You shouldn’t expect too much from the cameras, but the fact that there’s a second one on the back with an 8 MP ultra wide angle is a step up compared to the Xcover 5. The main sensor also offers a significantly higher resolution of 50 MP and is even capable of 4K recording at 30 fps. You can also expect sharper selfies from the 16 MP front camera.

Latest Android 12

Finally, there is the large, replaceable 4,050 mAh battery, which unfortunately can only be charged with a maximum of 15 watts via USB-C. On the other hand, the USB-C interface with generation 3.2 is up to date and promises significantly higher data rates. Ready for 2022 are Wi-Fi 6e, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC and Android 12 with Samsung’s One UI 4.1 manufacturer interface.

But what really sets the outdoor smartphone apart is the case. This is certified to IP68 protection class as dust and waterproof, plus the military standard MIL-STD-810H. Falls and extreme temperatures shouldn’t bother the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 6 Pro either. Above all, the thicker battery in combination with the larger screen should have led to the smartphone becoming noticeably heavier at 235 grams.

Coming soon for 609 euros

However, the Pro addition in the name also justifies a significantly higher price. Samsung estimates 609 euros for the Galaxy Xcover 6 Pro. It is slated to go on sale this month. The later launch of a “normal” Samsung Galaxy Xcover 6 is not known, but rather unlikely.

Are such outdoor smartphones interesting for you or do you prefer to invest in a good case?