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Car Gizmos

Tough cell phones for tough jobs Add to ...

For those who work as truckers, construction workers, delivery drivers or in the oil and gas industry, to name a few, having a rugged-ized phone is probably worth considering. This is especially true if you’re driving vehicles that don’t have all the bells and whistles – or serenity – of typical passenger cars. Here are a couple of options that are considerably different from each other, but still get the job done.

Motorola i1

$149.99 on a three-year contract

Available at: Telus

For a rugged phone, the Motorola i1 is pretty unique in that it has a 3.1-inch touch screen that runs on Android. In its form factor alone, it differs greatly from the Samsung Rugby II, but it still works like an iDEN Mike phone with push-to-talk (PTT) features. The handset is tougher than it looks, and it was able to withstand an array of elements from dust, shock, vibration, rain and even a drop in the snow – although the phone is certainly not waterproof nor water-resistant.

One big advantage for the i1 is access to Android Market and the more than 100,000 apps within it. Depending on what your vocation is, you’d be hard-pressed not to find something in there that could help you on the road or on the job. The downside is that it’s running on Android 1.5, which is dated compared to what’s out now, where most Android handsets are using 2.2 or 2.3.

The touch screen is usually responsive, but could be a bit more consistent. Battery life also leaves a little bit to be desired. It’s not bad on standby, but you likely won’t get more than three hours of talk time, so having a car charger handy would be a good idea. As a PTT phone, it works well with clear voices on both sides and a simple setup to treat this thing like a walkie-talkie. The built-in Bluetooth also makes it easy to pair with a headset or speaker when you want to truly go hands-free.

Samsung Rugby II

$129.99 on a three-year contract

Available at: Bell, Rogers and Telus

The Rugby II won’t win any design awards, but that’s partly the point. Its military-grade specs and design are meant to be able to handle just about anything that’s thrown at it, including extremes of cold and hot weather. It’s not waterproof, by any means, but this is a flip phone that can be dropped often and still work as good as new.

While this phone has PTT features in the United States., none of the Canadian carriers seem to have taken up the feature themselves. That’s an unfortunate oversight, given the phone is not only designed for it, but also ideally suited to have it as a feature with its big speaker in the front. At the very least, the speaker is definitely loud enough to be used while driving, and the voice recognition features make it easy to call or message contacts without having to rely on your hands. Call quality is very good, so even in a loud truck or car, you should have no problem conversing.

Unlike the Motorola i1, there is no access to apps to enhance the usability of the phone, so what you see is really what you get. This works for those who want something durable and functional for work, while having something more delicate for leisure.

Surprise! The snow, the cold, the treacherous driving conditions have taken us by storm – again

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