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printed September 1, 2014
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Review: Samsung Rugby III for AT&T

Form Performance Basics Extras Wrap-Up Comments  4  

Screen

The RIII has two displays, a small, square one on the exterior for notifications, and the main one visible when the phone is open. The external display measures about 1.3 inches across the diagonal. It is a color display, and can be used with the camera for self-pics. Resolution is pretty much awful, as is brightness. It is just barely visible outdoors.

The main screen measures 2.4 inches across the diagonal and has 240 x 320 pixels. The pixel count works well with the size to create a display that looks good. It is bright, colorful, and the resolution is high enough for a device of this caliber. Yes, you can see individual pixels, but I expect that on a flip phone.

Signal

The RIII is a 3G phone; there's no LTE here. It doesn't use AT&T's fastest HSPA+, either; instead, it sticks to slower WCDMA. During my time testing it, the RIII was a signal-gathering champ. It maintained a strong connection to AT&T's network throughout my review period, and it never faltered. Every call went through on the first dial, it didn't miss any calls, and it didn't drop any calls. It even connected calls from the NJ vault (local supermarket), which is notorious for its poor signal strength.

Sound

The RIII is not a good voice phone. Everything about cellular and PTT calls was unacceptable to me. The quality is abysmal. Every conversation I had sounded like I was talking through a wall. Voices coming through the earpiece were muffled and scratchy, and the sound dropped out entirely far too often. Then there's the volume. With the volume set all the way up, conversations were difficult to hear in my quiet office. Outside in the real world, forget it. You can't hear anything. The speakerphone quality is worse than the earpiece, and though the volume is better, it introduces distortion. On the flip side of the coin, people with whom I conversed said they could hear me no problem, and that I sounded good to them. Ringers and alerts were loud enough, and the vibrate alert was strong.

Battery

The battery life of the RIII is excellent. We're talking days, not hours. I had no trouble getting three days of battery life from my review unit, with regular use of the phone and browser. You can easily get away with charging every other night.

Ruggedization

The RIII is rated to mil-spec 810G and IP67 for protection from water and dust ingress, as well as from humidity and shock. You can kick it around a fair amount without fear of killing it. It can take a short dunk in shallow water, as well as handle phone calls out in the rain. It's not like any of today's fragile, glass-laden smartphones. You can drop it, a lot, and it won't break.

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