Rugged, tough, active, call 'em what you will, but waterproof, dustproof and shockproof all-weather devices are steadily becoming more popular. A number of companies unrelated to the smartphone industry are now throwing their hats in the smartphone ring by announcing such ruggedized handsets targeted at the outdoorsy types and industry workers. Of course, the devices will also offer additional options to the large number of consumers who spend lots of money each year on cases and covers hoping those accessories will protect their costly investments from total destruction in case of drops or liquid spillage.
As for companies that are getting into the rugged smartphone business, power tool-maker Dewalt announced its MD501 handset earlier this month, while British automotive brand Land Rover announced a tie-up with an electronics design firm earlier this week to launch its own lineup of rugged devices. Sadly though, not all tier-1 smartphone vendors look to tap into the niche rugged smartphone market, leaving it wide open for companies such as Caterpillar and Kyocera to be major players in an admittedly miniscule market. Samsung though, is an exception. The company is one of the only top-flight smartphone OEMs to have actually released at least one rugged smartphone every year over the past few years as part of its 'Galaxy Active' lineup. Now, rumors originating out of Vietnam seem to suggest that the South Korean tech giant is prepping a new rugged smartphone that will be released on AT&T in the U.S. as the Galaxy S7 Active.
What we do have are a bunch of low-resolution images that seem to show the camouflaged back panel of a smartphone with what looks like rubberized protection on all four sides. While there's no way to verify the legitimacy of the report at this stage, Samsung's Galaxy Active range has launched on AT&T every year since 2013, so it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to expect that the two companies will look to extend their partnership this year as well, especially as rugged smartphones are believed to be seeing more demand in recent times. Meanwhile, the leak also suggests that the Galaxy S7 Active will be powered by the Snapdragon 820 and sport 4 GB of LPDDR4 RAM, making it quite possibly the most powerful rugged device once launched.