Smartphones often conjure up images of sleek and svelte mobile computing products in the mind and the vast majority are just that, but the RugGear range are designed for industry.
As a consumer this is not likely to be your choice but as an IT Director rolling out handsets to your team of security guards, construction workers or engineers, this could be a good option. Specification wise it is about function over frivolity. Put this in the cab of a CAT or JCB digger, in the toolbox with your DeWalt products and it would not look out of place. Chunky and solid the screen is surrounded by thick rubber that offers a lip around it should this be laid face down on an uneven surface. Three clear buttons offer tactile feedback, ideal when using in the wet or with gloves. The removable back cover is secured in place by 2 screws. Accessible are the SIM and microSD slot, but hot swapping is out of the question. At 206g and 24mm thick, it is no lightweight companion but one that feels solid in the palm. 3.2” in size, the screen on this handset is small, but the rugged profile of the phone means that actually the handset size is equivalent to something with a 4.5-4.7” screen. It does take some getting used to, especially when typing on the keyboard. Fat fingers or gloves are a no here. The resolution of 320 x 480 is adequate but nothing special, the bonus as a result is the battery life though which is probably more important to you than crisp and sharp images. Quite an old version by many users standards, Android version 4.2.2 is installed, but it works for what needs to be done on this. It just lacks some of the more interactive, cleaner and more advanced features that latter software versions have brought. Whilst you can use it as a stock Android device, many clients adopting this are doing so to simply install their own apps on top of, thus the software is almost redundant, it is just the apps require Android. How you choose to use it is up to you, but being Android, you get all the Google services, access to the Play Store for apps and can easily add social media accounts as well as corporate email accounts with ease. Continuing the functional trend, the RG500 has the Dual SIM slots that both offer 2G connectivity, but only SIM one offers 3G. The handset takes the larger standard sized SIMs. Which SIM does what can be managed from the SIM management option within the settings. 4G is not available on this handset and the antenna sits proudly on the upper edge of this phone, so you should always get a decent signal as the antenna is not too insulated by the casing. Bluetooth and WiFi are present as is GPS and NFC. A radio is also built into the device and you do not need a headset to use it. There is too a G-Sensor, compass, barometer and altimeter. There is a Push To Talk button on the side of the device. This functionality is an optional extra, with a subscription to third party services, but it is available should you require it. I realise why workmen wear ear defenders on a job, they must be using the RugGear. Catch you unawares and this thing will make your heart skip a beat. It reaches 100 decibels from the 3 watt speaker. Of course you can adjust call volumes and the subtleties of the tones, but you should hear this phone ringing. It does not appear to be quite as loud with media, in fact on par with most other smartphones with rear speakers when it comes to listening to music or watching a YouTube video. 2 cameras are present, one on the front rated at 0.2 megapixels and one on the rear at 5 megapixels. The camera app itself actually offers a quite a few settings and options, however, even with more advanced settings image results are generally poor, lacking clarity, focus, sharpness and colour balance. You will not be showing off the results on social media, but for taking a picture of that shipment that has been delivered, the installation you have just done or to grab a reading of a meter, the camera is perfectly adequate. 4x digital zoom and video recording is all present but the results are no better from the video camera with an obvious struggle to refocus the colours. Ideal for capturing a scene rather than the finer details. Rated at 2060mAh you would have thought the user removable battery would have been slightly larger in such a device, but the small screen means this will last most through an average 8-12 hours shift, unless you are particularly power hungry. There are no real battery saving options built in, but with 300 hours of standby time and 3.5 hours of talk time on a dual SIM handset that is pretty good going. When purchased SIM free the RG500 will cost £275 excluding VAT, some would shudder at the price for the specification. However, compare this to an equivalent business device and this is positively cheap. It is not pretty, it is big, bold and yellow. It does not have the best specification but all this aside, it has what many IT departments are looking for when deploying to small or large teams. An acceptable price point, with performance, connectivity and remote management options that work for all. A versatile solution with push to talk that will survive falls and mother nature. If you are looking for the RG500 or similar to deploy to your team, speak to the experts at Clove who have a range of devices that can be tailored for your business.