One problem with smartphones these days is that that in the quest to make them lighter and thinner, they also break easier. When most people purchase a new smartphone, they end up shelling out extra for a phone case that will keep their expensive purchase in pristine condition for longer.
There are a few companies that do make rugged phones, whether it’s for those who work in more demanding environments or just for general everyday use. These rugged phones give users the added peace of mind that their phone isn’t going to break should they accidentally drop it.
Our Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro review takes a look at a rugged phone from the company best known for its Galaxy and Note series devices. Read on to see how it performed during our time spent with it.
The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro has the following features and specifications:
|Processor||Exynos 9611 Octa-Core 2.3GHz/1.7GHz|
|Display||6.3″ FHD+ TFT 2340×1080 resolution|
|Memory||64GB Storage, 4GB RAM|
MicroSD support (up to 512GB)
|Camera||Rear: 25MP/8MP Ultra-Wide|
|Network||LTE: Cat.11 (3CA), Band 48; Dual SIM|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/na, 2.4/5GHz|
Type C USB 2.0
|Sensors||Accelerometer, Proximity, Gyro, Compass|
|Battery||4050mAh removable battery with Fast Charging (15W)|
|Key Features||IP68, MIL-STD-819G compliant, 1.5m drop|
|Operating System||Android 10|
|Dimensions||159.9 x 76.7 x 9.94mm|
What’s in the box
- Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone
- Travel adapter
- USB data cable
- Quick Start Guide
- Samsung Care+ leaflet
While the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro does follow the basic smartphone design as of late, there are a couple of notable differences. Rectangular in shape, this smartphone also has rounded corners — which is the norm these days.
The XCover Pro has a couple more buttons than is normal, however. On the right edge, you’ll find the usual power and volume up/down buttons. The power button doubles as a fingerprint scanner as well. While we’re on the subject of biometrics, the device supports face recognition unlock as well.
On the top edge of the phone is a textured top key alongside a 3.5mm audio jack. The left edge has another textured key with a copper border around it that Samsung calls the XCover key. Finally, the bottom edge of the device is where you’ll find the USB Type-C charging port and bottom speaker.
The three buttons — side (power), top, and XCover can be programmed in the settings menu to perform different functions. These include press and press and hold options. You can program these to launch Bixby, an app, toggle the flashlight, or even send a voice to text message.
The next difference you’ll notice is that instead of smooth metal or plastic edges, the Galaxy XCover Pro has a nice, slightly thicker rubberized edge. This edge extends past the front of the display as well. This gives the phone screen some extra protection by lifting it up from surfaces when the phone is placed face down.
The back of the device has a nice textured surface as well, with the Samsung logo stamped near the bottom of it. The dual rear-facing camera and flash array is stacked towards the upper left of the back. It is also recessed slightly into the back cover, providing some protection for the glass around the lens when the phone is placed display up on a table or other surface.
The back cover also has a small notch along the right edge towards the top. Pry the cover open from this notch and it can be removed, exposing the SIM card slot, microSD card slot, and a removable battery. Yes, the Xcover Pro has a 4050Wh removable battery which can be swapped out for an extra if you need it. While most people won’t, if you’re working in a remote place with limited access to power, an extra battery could be a lifesaver. The cover snaps back on easily and tight, which is good considering the phone is also IP68 rated.
Unlike some other rugged phones and phone cases that look beefy and bulky, the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro retains a relatively thin and sleek look while having added protection on the edges and corners.
The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro has a 6.3″ FHD+ TFT 2340×1080 resolution display. The screen does have some side and top bezels to it, but nothing overly huge. The front-facing camera is located in a pinhole to the upper left of the screen, more or less out of the way of any apps or games you may be using.
While not the AMOLED displays found in other Samsung smartphones, it is still crisp and has decent colours. As with most devices, you can adjust the brightness, toggle adaptive brightness, enable dark mode, and more. In addition, you can increase the sensitivity of the screen for use with gloves, definitely a handy feature for a rugged phone when used outdoors in cooler temperatures.
Oddly enough, you can’t set up the phone without inserting a SIM card first. It’s not a huge deal though but when I’m setting up a new device, I like to set it up first, copy/transfer over from my old phone, then swap my SIM card out once the new device is set up to my liking.
At any rate, the Galaxy XCover Pro runs Android 10 with Samsung’s One UI 2.0 on top. As a result, instead of default Google apps for some things, you’ll get Samsung’s defaults instead. This includes the Gallery, Phone, Browser, Camera, Samsung Daily instead of Google News screen, the Galaxy Store, and Bixby instead of Google Assistant. That’s not to say you don’t have access to and can’t use Google’s default apps because you can as most are included with the device as well. Both One UI and Android 10 run just fine on the device and experienced and new users shouldn’t have any issues navigating the phone.
By default, you need to press the side (power) button and volume down button to turn off the phone. It then asks if you want to power off or restart and then confirm you want to power it off. This is a weird combination as this is also the button combination for taking a screenshot and if held too long it triggers the restart/power off prompts. That being said, you can set the side key to show the power off menu if you prefer. Doing so will override the default Wake Bixby command though.
As mentioned in the Design section, the three buttons — side (power), top, and XCover can be programmed in the settings menu to perform different functions. These include press and press and hold options. You can program these to launch Bixby, an app, toggle the flashlight, or even send a voice to text message.
As for security updates, the device seems to be about a month behind. At the time of this review, the phone has the July 1, 2020 security update which came through a couple of weeks ago. While some of Samsung’s other devices get the security updates pretty quickly, it’s interesting that this one is a tad slower. That said, it is still faster than a lot of other OEMs out there.
On the subject of security, the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro also features Samsung Knox and McAfee anti-malware for additional protection of your data and device.
With 4GB of RAM and the Exynos 9611 Octa-Core 2.3GHz/1.7GHz, the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro will be more than adequate for most users. Phone navigation is smooth as is launching and switching between apps. Those that many users run frequently like the web browser and social media apps worked well and the games I tried, including Call of Duty: Mobile ran just fine. Some of these games you’ll have to run at reduced settings but at the end of the day, you’ll likely not notice the difference given the screen size.
The Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro has a single speaker at the bottom edge. While it does get loud, it is a bit tinny sounding and has no low bass tone whatsoever. While it’s standard fare for smartphones, there are plenty of other phones out there that have much better sound.
That being said, the phone does have a 3.5mm audio jack and Bluetooth support so you’ll be fine with a good set of headphones when it comes to listening to music or watching videos on the device.
Samsung smartphone cameras are among the best you can get. However, those are typically reserved for their higher-end and more expensive smartphones. The rear camera on the Galaxy XCover Pro is a dual 25MP/8MP Ultra-Wide shooter while the front features a 13MP lens. For the most part, the camera performed well enough both indoors and outdoors.
The camera also has reduced functionality as well. There is no zoom on the rear camera. You do still have access to live focus (blur), pro, panorama, food, night, super slow-mo, slow motion, and hyperlapse features though. While the camera isn’t as good as higher-end phones, it is still decent and, honestly, should be acceptable for most user’s needs.
Sample Photo Gallery
Typically there aren’t many issues with reception and call quality on today’s smartphones. During our testing period, I had no issues with reception or call quality with this device.
With the included 4050mAh battery, I was able to easily get a full day and then some out of the Galaxy XCover Pro. In fact, some days I was still at 50% at the end of the day. As mentioned a couple of times, the phone also has a removable battery so if you are going to be off the grid for a few days, you can pick up an extra battery or two to get you through a weekend or few days easily without having to find a charger.
I covered this briefly in the design section as the ruggedness is part of the Galaxy XCover Pro’s design. The reinforced edges and corners coupled with the device’s IP68 dust and water and MIL-STD-819G compliant ratings offer up to 1.5m drop protection and protection from the elements. In addition, the lip over the edges for the display and the recessed camera array on the back add extra protection for those elements of the phone.
My only complaint with the protection aspect is it’d be nice if a screen protector was included as well. It is a rugged smartphone after all and that would have been the icing on the cake.
With an MSRP of US$499.99/CA$699.99, the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is about the middle of the road when it comes to pricing. Given its performance and extra ruggedness, as well as the removable battery option, it is pretty reasonably priced considering what you can spend on a smartphone these days.
NOTE: While you can get it from Verizon in the U.S., apparently they will only sell it to business customers. If you are looking to pick one up, you’ll have to buy direct from Amazon or Samsung.
In a time when smartphones can be complex, extravagant, and expensive, the Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro is a simple, rugged smartphone — and that’s not a bad thing. I’ve long lamented that flagship smartphones, while nice, are overkill for what the majority of people use a smartphone for.
At the end of the day, the Galaxy XCover Pro is easy to use, has decent performance, is rugged and element proof, and even comes with a removable battery should you need extra power while out and about for extended periods of time.
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Samsung Galaxy XCover ProUS$499.99/ CA$699.99
- Slim, yet rugged design
- Decent performance
- Great battery life
- Removable battery
- Extra programmable buttons
- Fingerprint and facial recognition login
- No need for an external cover
- Affordably priced
- Sound isn't the greatest
- Camera is decent but not up to par with other Samsung devices
- No included screen protector given it's a rugged phone