Samsung Rugby 4 Review

Talking on the Rugby 4

Samsung is the genuine king of smartphones. It’s easy to forget, however, how many other models they actually produce. Aside for the Galaxy S and associated models like the J, the company actually release all kinds of phones to suit all budgets.

Among the wider range, is the Rugby series. Acknowledging that mobile phones are, let’s face it, fragile things, the Rugby range is a beefier, better protected device.

“The Samsung Rugby 4 is one the only mobile devices in the past few years to have truly reached cult status,” says John Harrin the phone-trends expert from Mr Aberthon. “It’s a rare breed that seems not to have even reached its half-life yet.”

Overall Score for the Rugby 4

Man holding Closed Rugby 4 in Hand

Our phone reviewing experts give the Samsung Rugby 4 a score of 9/10 (or a 4.5/5). It may be surprising to see such an old phone ranking so high, but our score is based on the needs of the consumers who would want the Rugby 4.

We believe that someone who wants a rugged workman-phone will genuinely love this phone. This Rugby 4 Review is based on the following criteria:

  • Price (5/5)
  • Durability and Ruggedness (5/5)
  • Phone design (4.5/5)
  • Hardware and Camera (4.25/5)
  • Internal Software (4.25/5)
  • Availability within Market (4/5)

The types of people who will want/need a Samsung Rugby 4:

  • Anyone in the construction industry and needs a rugged cellular device
  • The young or elderly. Someone who wants a simple phone and wouldn’t enjoy a complex smartphone
  • Anyone who bought the original Rugby 4 when it first came out and doesn’t want to relearn a new phone
  • Someone wants a quality rugged flip phone

Rugby 4 Pricing

Rugby 4 Close up Shot

Unfortunately, the Rugby 4 is not easy to find anymore. It was a limited production phone when it first came out and even during its peak it wasn’t available at all vendors. It has been discontinued for sale by its original vendors (At&t and T-mobile) although it obviously is still works perfectly on all GSM networks.

For the above reason, the Rugby 4 is hard to buy. The only place to get it will be on Amazon, eBay and Mr Aberthon (that’s us).

This phone is not for everyone. Those who need it, love it. And those that loved it, will unlikely move onto any other phone. Finding the phone is hard and the

  • The cost a brand-new and unlocked Rugby 4 will be approximately $200 (assuming that you can find a genuine brand new device!).
  • The Rugby 4 in like-new condition (Grade A) and unlocked will cost about $120 (Mr Aberthon currently has Grade A Unlocked Rugby 4 for a limited time at $89). The advantage of buying from Mr Aberthon will be our incredible money-back warranty. Please note: Even if do find a Rugby 4 in Brand New condition for a good price, it will have been sitting on a shelf for at least 3-4 years. If you buy any Rugby 4 without an incredible warranty, you are looking for trouble!
  • A locked AT&T Rugby 4 will cost approximately $80 – $100. Even if you currently have a plan with AT&T, we don’t recommend getting a locked phone for the following reasons: You may want to change plans later on, you may want to sell the phone later and get more money, you may want to use your phone overseas, or you may want to gift the phone to someone on another plan.
  • Buying broken Rugby 4 for parts is relatively cheap on eBay. You can probably buy a broken Rugby 4 for $30-$40.

Understanding the Rugby Series

Side Angle of the Rugby 4

When any cell phone is toughened-up, it is said to be rugged. When Samsung wanted to create a line of rugged phones, they chose a sport that is renown for its toughness. That’s the simple origin of the Rugby Series.

Right from the time of the original Rugby 1, the range has been a massive success. Suddenly, phones could go into situations in which they would previously have been likely to suffer damage. Environments which would routinely destroy cell phones suddenly stopped being no-go areas.

Here are the phones in the USA Samsung Rugby Lineup:

  • Original Samsung Rugby
  • The Samsung Rugby 2
  • Samsung Rugby Smart
  • Samsung Galaxy Rugby Pro
  • The Samsung Rugby 3
  • The Samsung Rugby 4 (Released October 2014)

How Rugged is the Rugby 4?

Workman using rugby 4 while on construction

We rank the Rugby 4 as a 5/5 for overall ruggedness.

If you’ve been paying attention in the last 3 or 4 years, you’ll have noticed something. More and more phones, and smartphones in particular have been boasting about being IP67 or IP68 compliant. What they don’t do is tell you what those mean.

In a nut shell, the IP stands for “Ingress Protection” or, in plain language, how protected the phone is from dust and water getting inside. The 6 indicates that it has maximum protection from dust, down to very fine particles. Finally, the 7 and 8 show how good it is at keeping water out. A 7 means that it will survive 3 feet of water for 30 minutes, and an 8 means it will withstand 6 feet of water for the same period.

The Rugby 4 is IP67, so it has decent protection. But it has more. It also boasts MIL-STD 810G compliance. The MIL-STD stands for Military Standard, and the 810G is the level of testing the device has withstood. As you might expect, all products used by the US military have to achieve a standard of workmanship and suitability for purpose. These would include everything from waterproofing up to withstanding a direct hit from a bullet.

The Rugby 4 hasn’t been tested to that level, of course, but it has been tested on a lot of things. Chemical and shock resistance, thermal shock, fungus, humidity, salt, extreme vibration and more.

Crucially, and probably one of the most important things from a  cell phone point of view, it can withstand drops from 6 feet onto hard surfaces. Try dropping an iPhone from that height, and you’ll almost certainly be writing it off. Does that mean the Rugby 4 is indestructible? Not exactly, but it does offer a massive upgrade in confidence that it can survive normal life and lots more.

The Rugby 4 Design

Rugby Devices 4 Views

As you saw above, we have deemed the Rugby 4 as a 9/10 for design.

It is important to note, as noted above, that this score is ranked towards a person who wants the nice services that the Rugby 4 provides. Of course, we aren’t ranking the design against the Note 9. That would be comparing apples and oranges.

Okay, so we can see that the Rugby 4 is tough, but that’s no good if it’s a terrible cell phone. So let’s take a closer look to see where it stands up and where it might fall down.

Design Pros:

  • Clam-shell or flip design. This automatically offers more protection to various elements, not least the display.
  • There is plenty of space to touch the buttons
  • An outer speakerphone (very practical for working)
  • The Rugby 4 feels solid in the hand, whether open or closed, and yet doesn’t feel especially heavy, considering its tough credentials. In fact, at 5oz, it’s nearly an ounce lighter than the average smartphone
  • The sides have easy gripping wedges

Design Cons:

  • If you looking to impress, this phone is rather dull in overall appearance
  • The screw at the back should be black and not shiny metal

We can’t, hand on heart, say it’s a “sexy” looking phone, because it isn’t. It does look pretty smart, though, as flip phones go. The extra padded protection around the edges of the case do add a certain texture that looks and feels pretty good. The back also has a textured finish so it can be easy to grip, even when wearing gloves.

Open the phone up and you will see big, clear number keys, and a Home button which can easily be found blind. This is thanks to the large, again textured, direction pad which surrounds it.

The Hardware Specifications

Open Rugby 4 in Action

The 2.4″ display of the Rugby 4 is small by the standards of full screen smartphones, but is quite adequate by flip phone standards. The secondary display, which remains visible when the phone is closed, is 1.3″. Again, this is pretty standard for the format.

Resolution isn’t the best at 240px x 320px, but it still looks bright and clear, with good colors on show.

The 3MP camera can also record video @15fps. Again, this will not compete with modern smartphones but then it probably isn’t meant to. The point of the Rugby 4 is that it is for people who really need a phone, and a tough one at that. It’s also for those who need a phone, but would find a camera useful from time to time. It’s also, of course, for those who risk a broken phone every time they get out of bed.

Internal Display2.4″, 240 x 320 pixels
External Display1.3″, 128 x 128 pixels
Memory256 MB and 128 MB RAM – External memory up to 32 GB (microSD)
Battery1300 mAh – Talk Time: Up to 14 hours – Standby Time: Up to 22.9 days
Camera & Video3.0 MP fixed focus camera with 2x digital zoom
Video recording (QVGA@15fps)
Dimensions148 grams
10.8 x 5.6 x 2.2 cm
Network & ConnectivityUMTS 850/1900/2100
GSM 850/900/1800/1900
A-GPS (SUPL 2.0)
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/r
Bluetooth 3.0

The keypad feels excellent under use. Gloves are the enemy of the cell phone, and it’s good that Samsung have recognized this. It hasn’t taken huge changes, just some minor but well thought ones.

The battery is a very good 1300mAh and has wireless charging. Given that iPhones didn’t have this until very recently, this is a very big deal in a flip phone. It also has NFC, for moving data to another device or for contact-less payments in stores. A Micro SD card slot has also somehow found it’s way into the amazingly compact size, which is a fantastic addition.

All in all, it’s hard to fault the Rugby 4 on build and hardware. Samsung have somehow managed to straddle the simple/smart phone worlds perfectly.

Camera Quality and Functionality

As mentioned before, the camera on the Rugby 4 is nothing to get excited about. It’s simple and it works, but that’s where its praise ends.

If you want to take a few pictures for documentation or for memory purposes, the camera is ideal. Social pictures won’t be horrible, but the quality won’t hold a light to the modern Samsung smartphones that are now on the market.

Technically speaking, the camera can shoot 3-Megapixels, but in our experience the camera still isn’t good enough to be considered on the spectrum of impressive.

In short, if you need a phone with a high-quality camera, the Samsung Rugby isn’t a good idea for you.

We will soon upload pictures to understand the quality of photos that were taken on the Rugby 4.

The Software

Lots of coding words on a black background, in a computer

The Rugby 4 runs Samsung’s own proprietary operating system. This means no app store, but they have included some essential features. Email and web browsing are here, and the phone is 4G ready. Any browsing or emailing you do will, therefore, be at the second-best available speeds.

There’s a dedicated GPS button for turn by turn navigation. Bluetooth is present for use with in car systems or external speakers, and wi-fi is here for the first time in the Rugby range.

Because the Rugby 4 is meant for tough work environments, there’s also a Push To Talk button. Push To Talk, or PTT, allows the creation of a small, local wi-fi network. This then lets other PTT devices in range to work like a walkie talkie system. This is an incredibly useful feature, and well done to Samsung for including it.

The Rugby 4 Competitors

Interestingly enough, the Rugby 4 doesn’t have many true competitors in the market. As John said above, the cult status of the Rugby 4 doesn’t really lend itself to competitors. Those who love the Rugby 4 (or Rugby 3) will not be pleased with any other phone aside for the Rugby 4. No amount of convincing will make any difference. They know the phone and they love the phone. And that is that.

That being said, there are a few phones on the market that are fantastic competitors for someone who is interested in branching out.

Kyocera DuraXe – The Kyocera DuraXe is probably the strongest crossover phone for the Rugby 4. It is just as sturdy. The design is similar. Battery and internal storage is a lot better. It’s a little heavier but not by enough to truly notice.

It’s a rugged phone and so obviously Mr Aberthon carry it their store. The price for a Brand New Duraxe is $149.

For a full comparison between the Rugby 4 and the Kyocera, click here.

Samsung Rugby 3 – This competitor is the most natural competition for the Rugby 4. It is the earlier edition of the Rugby Series. Surprisingly enough, there are some customers who swear by the Rugby 3 and won’t touch the Rugby 4. Go figure. They got used to the Rugby 3, loved it, and won’t look back. There are also a few features that are in Rugby 3 that they didn’t continue with the Rugby 4. The Rugby 4, however, is far superior to the Rugby 4.

Mr Aberthon has the Rugby 3 in stock. Click here to purchase a Brand New Rugby 3 for $129.

Cat 60 – The Cat 60 and the Rugby 4 are worlds apart. We have included the Caterpillar 60 in this list because it is the king of rugged phones and therefor deserves to be mentioned. It is in a completely different league as the Rugby 4 but if someone was interested in upgrading to a higher-quality rugged smartphone, this would be the top choice. Like the Rugby 4, it’s simple and uncomplicated, but unlike the Rugby 4, it is very expensive for a rugged phone.

Mr Aberthon have a licensing agreement with the Caterpillar Company and we sell the Brand New Cat 60 for only $629.


Front View of Rugby 4 being held

In all honesty, it’s hard to fault the Rugby 4 for what it is. Yes, you can point to it not being Android and not having an available app store, but that would be defeating the object. You can also point to it looking rugged and, therefore, functional. But it really isn’t meant to be in competition with an iPhone or a Galaxy S. It’s a phone that is there to be used and even, on occasion, abused.

With that in mind, and for a price that barely buys a good dinner for two, it’s impossible to fault. To buy the Unlocked Rugby 4 from Mr Aberthon, click here.

If you have any questions or comments about our Samsung Rugby 4 Review, feel free to ask in the comments below. We have technology experts who check our blogs daily.

Rachel C.
Rachel C.
Rachel is the researcher and blog writer for the Mr Aberthon website. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York and eventually made her way to Connecticut in order to become a part of the Mr Aberthon Team. She is passionate about technology and electronics, and nothing gives her more pleasure than discovering insights into the latest gadgets to hit the electronics market.