Text by Christian Camerota
Here's the thing about iPhones: They're poor substitutes for footballs and they don't do well in water.
Before the estimated 21.4 million iPhone users start lancing this claim on Facebook mobile and firing off angry tweets, hear this out. For as great as Apple's revolutionary all-in-one techie status symbol is, it's just not all that practical while underwater, in freefall, or for mittened hands in the arctic.
Enter next generation, bombproof cellies.
More mortar shell than cute accessory, Sonim's XP3 is the perfect device to carry with you to doomsday…assuming, of course, there will be anyone around afterward for you to call. You can use it as a hammer, a sinker for fishing, and ammo for your slingshot, and it will come out none the worse for wear. Plus, its extra-loud ear piece means it's finally possible to talk to mom while you kayak over those 100-foot falls you've been wanting to try and the extended battery life will give you up to 18 hours of talk time during your recovery.
GPS and a built-in LED torch make it useful as a beacon and a life-saver, and you can take solace in the fact that it has an unlimited 3 year warranty. The downside? All that armor ain't cheap. The XP3 will run you around $500.
A frequent complaint made of surlier cells is that they often don't jive with major carriers. But, as its name suggests, the Boulder gets down with one of the largest companies there is (both a good and bad thing). With a two-year contract, this puppy will only run you $130, which is cheap for a pocket rock. The call quality is dubious, but maybe that's outweighed by the built-in electronic compass and the military-certified durability. If not, the 1.3 megapixel camera and streaming video options at least help a little.
If your 3720 feels hot, just dip it in your beer or toss it in the fridge to cool it off. It can handle it. Nokia's newest rugged doohickey also has a 2-megapixel camera, a music player, and audio and video recording capabilities, so it's multi-faceted while also well-protected. The dust/water/shock-resistance only goes so far (meaning you might not want to go storm chasing with it), but for $175, it's a pretty solid value. And if you're not feeling chatty, just switch over to the FM radio that's included and tune in while you tune out.
Photographs, from top, courtesy of Sonim (2); Verizon; Nokia