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5 tough mobile devices that can take a bath or a beating

Waterproof and rugged gadgets that are tailor-made for klutzes and daredevils

Published: March 03, 2015 03:15 PM

Life can be tough, so sometimes you need a device that's tough, too. It's all too easy to drop your phone in the lake (or the toilet, as my young nephew did recently) or splash the tablet you left on the lounge chair while you indulged in a rousing game of pool volleyball. And rough and tumble activities can take a toll on electronics unless they're built to withstand a little abuse.

We combed our Ratings of mobile devices to find an array of gadgets that can survive—even thrive—in these scenarios, with claims of being waterproof, shockproof, and sometimes coldproof. We came up with a smart phone, camera, action cam, tablet, and wireless speaker that have some of these attributes.

If you go shopping for rugged or waterproof devices, read the small print to determine what they're designed to withstand. Some models are H20 resistant only when they're inside a special case, or you might have to close the covers on the ports and slots that could let water in. Depth varies: Some models can go 3 to 5 feet deep underwater, while others venture 30 feet or more below the surface, and still others can take a sprinkle but not a swim.  

Smart phone: The Samsung Galaxy S 5 smart phone can survive a 30-minute dunk in about 3 feet of water and shrug off dirt and debris. The Active model, which has a heavy-duty case, is shock-resistant. Prices vary by carrier and service plan.  

Digital camera: The Olympus Stylus TG3, $350, is waterproof to 50 feet—attention, scuba divers—and designed to survive a drop from 7 feet.

Tablet: The Sony Xperia Z3 compact tablet, among our highest-rated models, is built to survive several feet of water as well as dust and grit. It sells for about $500.

Action cam: The Ricoh WG-M1 action cam is waterproof to a depth of 32 feet and shock and cold-resistant. You can find it for about $200.

Wireless speaker: The TDK Life on Record A33 wireless weatherproof speaker isn't designed to go swimming with you. But this Bluetooth speaker's weatherized chassis gives it protection from a surprise cloudburst or an errant spray from the backyard sprinkler. It costs about $90.

—Eileen McCooey

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