Why did we take the Samsung B2100 Solid Extreme phone to the gym, dunk it in the shower and boil it in the steam room? Numerous reasons: to time our steam, listen to music, take pictures of our feet, and even try calling a few friends. But mostly the reason was: because we could. The B2100 makes that kind of crazy stuff possible, thanks to its rugged rubber exterior and waterproof flanges.
All this ruggedness won't drain your wallet, either. The B2100
is available for free on a £15-per-month contract if you sign up for 24
months, or for about £90 SIM-free.
Tough as nails
The B2100 is compliant with the MIL-STD-810F (this should only be said in the loudest drill-sergeant voice you can muster) military standard. Samsung says it can withstand 'blowing rain, dust, shock, salt fog, humidity, water, immersion, solar radiation, vibration and extreme temperature'. That all sounds great, although we're pretty sure that 'solar radiation' just means 'sun'. Anyway, the B2100 lived up to its rating in our tests.
After making sure that the rubbery cover on the proprietary headphone socket was on, and the battery cover was locked tight, we took the B2100 for a boot-camp workout of 20 minutes in the steam room and 5 minutes in the shower. Throughout, the phone worked fine for surfing, music (without headphones, so the cover could stay closed) and calls. After we were kicked out of the gym for bringing a camera phone into the shower area, we opened the back cover and it was as dry as a bone inside.
The B2100 also has a rubbery keypad that will keep out the dirt, but it's slightly harder to use than a keyboard with independent, separated keys. We found that we had to press the keys quite hard to register our intentions, and you certainly wouldn't be able to type a text with your ski gloves on.
Back in the '90s
It's just too bad that this rugged phone can't be as attractive and modern as a normal phone. Even if you like its rubbery outside -- and we happen to love a bit of rubber -- the B2100's low-resolution, 46mm (1.8-inch) screen is unlikely to impress. The user interface makes you feel like you've stepped back in time to about 1997. If you long for the simplicity of the phones of yesteryear, you might love the straightforward user interface, but we found it dated and dull.