BARCELONA, Spain--After a hard day on the trail, the last thing you need is a smartphone that can't cope with the rigors of outdoor life. Fortunately, the Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 can take a licking and keep on ticking.
The Xcover 2 is basically the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini in a rugged shell. It's IP67-certified, which is a fancy way of saying it's dust-proof and waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. It'll survive a dunking in your drink or the bathroom, and it'll survive you washing it afterward.
Just because it has an uncompromising exterior, the Xcover 2 doesn't make compromises on the inside. It has a chunky dual-core 1GHz processor with 1GB of RAM and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. The display is a 4-inch, 800x480-pixel touch screen -- respectable midrange stuff.
When you're out in the great outdoors, you're not likely to run across too many power sockets. So the Xcover 2 is endowed with a 1,700mAh battery to keep it running even as you trek far into the forest. But it's still a smartphone, and smartphones eat battery even when you're not looking, so I'd suggest packing a spare battery alongside the glucose tablets in your rucksack, to make sure both you and your phone have access to emergency energy.
With its tough exterior, the Xcover 2 will appeal to the outdoors type, as well as anyone who works on site -- not to mention the clumsy.
On the front, the Android soft keys are on chunky, easy-to-press physical buttons, instead of flush with the face as on regular Samsung Galaxy phones. There's a dedicated camera key on the side to make it easy to snap photos with the 5-megapixel camera when underwater or while wearing gloves.
The headphone jack and charger port are protected by rubber flaps to keep out the elements. And the plastic back is attached by a lock, the type you turn with a coin to open.
The sides have raised ridges for grip, and the back and the buttons have a textured feel to make them easier to get hold of when wet.
Not only does the Xcover 2 feel tough, but with its black and gray design, it looks tough, too. If you want a phone that looks more butch than the average shiny, glossy smartphone trinket -- and you don't mind a bit of extra bulk -- then this could be the phone for you.